By Roy Wyle Smith
The South West Cyclo-Cross League was born out of an idea that Graham Edwards and I had back in
2002 to run a couple of cyclo-cross events in Devon. Events at Exeter Racecourse and MARJON’s,
Plymouth, were organised by friends in an attempt to introduce cyclo-cross into the South West
after a very long hiatus.
Following the relative success of two seasons of events, an inaugural committee was formed in 2003
composing a number of volunteers that became the backbone of cyclo-cross in the South West for
many years to come, these included Roy Smith, Karen Wyle, (now Roy and Karen Wyle Smith),
Graham Edwards, Lester Young, Trish Stockting (Tilley), Vin Cox, and Richard and Janet Barretto.
Growing from the original 3 race league (2002) the following year saw the events double, covering
Devon and Cornwall, but largely supported by the above-mentioned small core of volunteers.
Event equipment was purchased by organisers and shared amongst the events in an attempt to
create an inclusivity that didn’t isolate organisers or communities from enjoying cyclo-cross.
A healthy relationship was developed with Brian Furness, British Cycling Cyclo-Cross Coordinator,
who mentored and supported the League volunteers, and guided the focus that the League
possessed to develop cyclo-cross in the South West. This included hosting and organising national
standard events including the Inter Area Team Championships and a round of the National Trophy
series at Bicton Arena.
In building towards promoting National level events the committee pushed hard to promote the,
then prestigious, South of England Championships. As well as providing a stepping stone and
valuable experience in event promotion, this event was televised locally and publicised the League’s
positive and inclusive profile.
It soon became apparent that with little financial support available from British Cycling, outside
funding would be required to support the development of cyclo-cross in the South West. A
successful bid for £5000 was made, by myself, with the support and on behalf of the South West
Cyclo-Cross League in 2005 to gain funding from Awards for All. The fund supported the following
● Novice Competitions
● Coaching/Taster Days
● First Aid Training for Event Promoters and Volunteers
● Event Safety and Promotional equipment
● Cycle equipment for Novice and Newcomers
● Event/Promotional equipment Trailer.
The League was also responsible for an end of award evaluation form that was independently
completed and submitted successfully. A further grant was also secured from Sport England in 2009
to purchase equipment to support the judges and volunteers in delivering safe cyclo-cross events.
In the absence of any cyclo-cross commissaires in the South West, a commissaire training day was
organised by the League and was held on the 25th & 26th September 2004 in collaboration with Vin
Cox’s event at Dragon Leisure Centre, Bodmin. Six volunteers, who were all committee members,
participated in the training and became the core commissaire group for the South West for many
years to come.
The ethos and set-up of South West Cyclo-Cross was always to promote safe, off-road cycling events
and the format of the League facilitated event organisers in providing them the equipment and
support to promote a successful cycling event. This format was praised at a National level and was
seen as best practice. To date this format continues with a central source of equipment that is
moved around the South West, by League volunteers, for the benefit of cycle sport and the
communities of the South West.
With the initial efforts to gather event infrastructure and equipment the League continues to grow
at pace. Over the last 19 years the League has self regulated its decisions and projects, and managed
its own finances for the benefit of cyclo-cross in the South West, while always being accountable to
British Cycling, and audited by the Regional board. This has demanded the accurate administration
of area and national race levies from the League outset and has facilitated the League’s growth,
including the promotion of Regional and National events, participation in the Inter Area Team
Championships, regularly maintaining and replacing equipment to support the volunteers and
promote cyclo-cross across the South West. This spending and purchasing was always completed in
an open and democratic manner, with due consideration for all the members’ views.
South West Cyclo-Cross has always acted in a transparent and fair manner, with accounts and
minutes available for the wider audience and shared with the South West regional board. The
investment of time and money by volunteers into promoting Cyclo-Cross in the South West is
priceless and I’m very proud to have been part of this fantastic group of people. The League has
always acted in the best interests of cyclo-cross within the South West and it alarms me that during
a global pandemic the decisions and commitment of the League should be brought into question.
There is a higher moral standing that eclipses our love of cyclo-cross, and that is the safety and love
of our friends and family.
I fully support the decisions made by the outgoing committee members who have invested a huge
amount of personal time in the South West Cyclo-Cross League and they can walk away from the
League with their integrity and values intact.
Roy Wyle Smith