‘The heart of NZ cycling’
As Chairman of Bike Manawatu I can scarcely believe that this is only the second report presented to our Club AGM. So much has happened in our brief history and so much has been achieved.
Last year, soon after the AGM, the new Board met at a special strategy meeting where we agreed and moved that the new vision for the Club is “to be the heart of cycling in New Zealand”. You may or may not have noticed that since then both Destination Manawatu and Vision Manawatu, along with the City Council and Manawatu District, have adopted a regional strategy which states their vision as being “to be the best place in New Zealand to ride a bike”.
Our vision and the vision of the greater community have melded together into what I believe is a powerful and unstoppable force. The Board’s task now is to see that all the great cycling outcomes and initiatives that we collectively strive for, are met. There will be “bumps” in the road. But overall I believe Bike Manawatu has delivered fantastic results for all its members and in turn, our members have given the Board and the general community great satisfaction in terms of what they have achieved for the Club and cycling generally.
There is no doubt that the Club is multi-faceted and caters to a wide and diverse group. The Club relies enormously on the goodwill, effort and time given by the different working groups, volunteers, administrators and general membership. Without their input, the outcomes by way of Club events, special events, promotions and lobbying could not happen.
On behalf of the Board, I thank you each personally for your contribution. When I list the events or activities organised by the working groups you will start to appreciate the effort required:
- Club road races.
- Track racing.
- Time trials.
- Sunday social rides.
- Club championships.
- Manfield 6-hour.
- Feilding Festival of Cycling.
- Novice tour.
- Le Femme Tour
- Manawatu Secondary School Champs.
The membership of Bike Manawatu has grown by approximately 10% over the past 12 months. At the time of writing this report, the Club had over 248 members broken broadly down as follows:
- Club/Centre Licences 79
- Junior Licences 63
- National/International Licences 40
- Social Riders 50
- Associate/Technical 6
- Life Members 10
It has become apparent that one of the real barriers to new members joining the Club is the cumbersome and complicated membership model that exists with Bike NZ. This is to be addressed by Bike NZ. In the future there will be a “Ride” or “Race” membership category which are to apply across all the cycling codes and disciplines. There is a great body of cyclists who just want to ride socially that are not being captured by respective clubs throughout the country. The difficult online registration portal and licence fee is acting as a barrier to membership. We have been lobbying with Bike NZ to fix this.
You may also have noticed that there has been some recent publicity around the social/recreational riders that have joined in on our Bike Manawatu organised Sunday rides. Many of these riders have chosen not to join Bike Manawatu for whatever reason.
I believe that the Boards position is now clear and well understood. We are about delivering cycling for all riders in the region and are about incentivising and encouraging all riders to join our Club. We have to do this by demonstrating the benefits that the Club can bring for its members.
Our membership is diverse and the achievements of our members and the Club can be measured in many ways from “breaking” a distance barrier or bettering a course time for a social rider through to winning medals on the international stage. These achievements, big or small, can be aspirational for fellow members at whatever level of ability they may be riding at.
Having a broad membership base is essential to keeping the Club sustainable so that we can deliver what our members are looking for.
The Club’s goal is to ensure that pathways to achievement, enjoyment and success are in place for all its members.
As already mentioned, we have built on an already established event calendar and have introduced two new events into the Club.
It is Board policy to ensure that every event has a sound financial footing, a safe traffic management plan and has potential for growth. Your support is vital to keep these events on the calendar and viable. I can report that all events over the past 12 months have been successful from both a riding/racing aspect and from a financial aspect. However we are very reliant on grants to ensure the financial viability of each event.
New events this year included the Manawatu Secondary Schools Champs at Ashhurst and the La Femme Tour which “piggybacked” off the New Zealand Women’s Cycle Classic in February.
The Manawatu Secondary Schools Champs and the La Femme events were primarily instigated, organised and successfully implemented by Ross Castle and Glenys Taylor respectively with support from certain key people. The Board applauds and supports such outstanding initiatives.
However, the cycling calendar is very full with virtually every region/club in the country competing for a weekend to run a particular event. We have to be very careful not to over extend or over sell as the budgets/time/training requirements for riders to attend these events is becoming more and more stretched.
A possible victim of the busy calendar has been the weekend Club road races which have had a mixed level of attendance. The Board is addressing this matter on how to deliver more quality racing rather than quantity for weekend Club events. The Board also wants to attract some of our social or recreational group riders to these weekend events. Various ideas have been floated. Your thoughts are always welcome.
The Club is financially sound. Through the prudent running of events, success in attaining grants and with increased membership subscription, we have traded through the current year successfully.
As you can see from the membership numbers, one of the significant categories is junior membership. Bike Manawatu has a very good rapport with the local school cycling group and we see school cycling as being an essential part of the future of the Club.
The schools group are very active in promoting cycling, holding training camps and organising Sunday training/racing on a regular basis. We look forward to their continued growth and one day a local school winning the coveted time trial trophies at the New Zealand Secondary School Cycling Champs.
It was by no accident that Bike Manawatu provided the bulk of the West Coast North Island Age Group Team to the Track Championships in Invercargill where a record haul of medals were attained. The school cycling program had a significant part to play in this.
On this note, the Board recently received a generous donation from Matt van Wagtendonk who has provided funds to go into a Junior Development Fund. This gesture is very much appreciated.
It is abundantly clear that the kids (and their parents) enjoy the social aspect of being together in camps, travelling together, training together and then of course racing hard, often for each other.
We should never lose sight of the fact that clubs at their “heart” need a social aspect. The schools group is a wonderful example of this.
It is absolutely essential that the Club stays in regular contact with all its members so that it can signal events, keep all members informed on activities, post results, etc.
The website is extremely important and the Board again thanks Vaughan Hunt for his role as our webmaster.
A newsletter is also produced and is posted to all members on a monthly basis.
The Board is currently looking at ways of improving communication especially around instant text messaging to alert members to cancellations, postponements, reminders for time trials, track, road, recreational rides. This is still work in progress but is an important goal for the upcoming year.
The Board also recently upgraded its rider’s booklet for new members. Ian Gray coordinated this and we thank him for his contribution.
The Board has recognised the need for suitably qualified coaches in the Club structure to ensure that the correct coaching advice is imparted to our members who require same. We recognise how important the coaching resource is. One of our Board members, Oiroa Kaihau coordinated the coaching working group this year and also secured a Bike NZ coaching course where a number of members attended. The Board sought and received grants to assist with the cost of same. The Club now has at least four newly qualified coaches and others who are keen to expand their knowledge in this area.
The Board also identified that properly qualified STMS personnel are essential to the Club to ensure that planning and control of road events are proper and safe. Again, the Board sought grants and we now have two new qualified STMS members in the Club.
We are also fortunate to have Chris Foggin in our “camp” as the new Bike NZ Regional Development Coordinator. Chris is delivering bike skills and programs to all schools in our region.
As with any organisation there are risks around key personnel. The Board has identified areas that are essential to the successful sustainable functioning of the Club. Strategies are being developed to ensure that there is capacity and backup in the event of key personnel being lost to the Club for whatever reason. It is vital that we keep our foundations strong and that secure systems are in place. Sport Manawatu staff have been huge in providing vital support to the Club.
Three of our club members were finalists at the Manawatu Sports Person of the Year Award, a reflection of the strength of cycling in this region. But perhaps the biggest and most pleasant surprise was when our club won the Grassroots Club of the Year at the Property Brokers Grassroots Club evening. This award reflected the wonderful results achieved by the whole club in way of administration, communication, marketing and “best run event” (Feilding Festival of Cycling).
The Board appreciates the generosity of all those sponsors who have contributed handsomely to the various events organised this year. For the fear of leaving someone out, I will not try to mention them all. As always sponsorship is essential to making our events viable, as are the number of grants we receive from various charities.
I would also like to mention the Marist Sports Club who generously provide these rooms as and when required by us.
During 2011 we were extremely disappointed by not being chosen as the preferred location for the New Zealand Cycling Centre of Excellence. The Board has however attempted to embrace the momentum, goodwill and emotion that this bid brought to cycling in our region. We have worked hard to continue to grow the cycling “brand”.
I believe this has been largely successful. The City/District wants now to be the “best place in New Zealand to ride a bike”. Our vision is to be “the heart of cycling in New Zealand”.
I believe it was no coincidence that the New Zealand Cycle Classic for men and women has been confirmed for this region. The Country Road Classic is also growing in stature and has potential to become an iconic event. The New Zealand Cycle Trail now passes through our region, cycle paths and tracks are now well and truly in the City’s Draft Annual Plan and our schools are amongst the strongest in the country. Our international riders excel against the world’s best, our roads are recognised as being some of the best for recreational riders with the weekend pelotons testament to this.
It is however the duty of the Bike Manawatu Board to ensure that cycling remains relevant to all of our members, that we stay viable by growing our membership base, that we provide interesting and exciting events and activities, that we continue to lobby hard for cycling facilities and increase road safety, and that we continue to enjoy the association and camaraderie with other Club members.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Board members. Through extenuating circumstances we have had a number of Board changes throughout the year. I am pleased to report however that the Board is very united in its determination to deliver to members. I believe that our governance strategy is sound. The outcomes this year have proven same.
And finally, to Glenys Taylor, our hard working secretary, Glenys you are the “glue” that keeps the Club rolling. Thank you again for all your good work.
Paul van Velthooven
20 April 2012