Supported by Cyclopark, Gravesend
Where it all started...
We have researched the origin of the league's somewhat patchy history. To the best of our knowledge it appears it was originally the idea of Bill Best of the Sydenham Wheelers, founded either in the late 60's or early 70's, named the South London Road Race League. As clubs all over the division stopped promoting races it was obvious that another route to provide competition was urgently needed. In the mid 70's Colin Coe aided by Dave Creasy and Pete Harris remodelled the league to make it easier to run. The name was then changed to Kent Cycle Road Race League.
The league flourished, promoting 2 races at each circuit with higher category races in the morning and lower categories in the afternoon. Many Kent and South East London division clubs attended and enjoyed the racing that was provided. Such was the success of the Kent League, Keith Butler, one of Britain's former pro riders established a similar league in Surrey. The Surrey League has grown into an extremely well attended league. During the 90's under the leadership of Bill Lewis and Vic Hopkin the league continued to provide most of the racing in the Kent area. The name of the league was changed to the South East Road Racing League, to reflect it's popularity. The league then ran one larger race per day as race helpers were thin on the ground. Both Bill and Vic decided to retire at the end of 2002 and so Paul Bridgeland stepped up to administer the league in 2003, assisted by Preston and Kim Anderson and Adrian Kingwell. The races continued to be well attended and a full calendar was run. The SERRL had a difficult start to 2004 as Paul Bridgeland could no longer devote enough time to the administration of the league. It was then that Kim Anderson offered to take on the responsibility of co-ordinating the league to prevent a massive shortage of racing in the area. The season provided much exciting competition across all categories. Moving on into 2005 the SERRL had a full programme of racing and dedicated support staff along with newly acquired league sponsors. It is with the help of these sponsors that the league could now run an informational website and offer both increased overall prizes and on the day race prizes. 2006 saw the introduction of a group of National Escort Motorcycle riders who the League recruited to assist in the safe passage of the races on the open road. The N.E.G. riders massively transformed the presence of the convoy on the road allowing all riders peace of mind even on busy or technical circuits. The membership of affiliated riders and clubs in the league was still quite low; however the field sizes grew substantially with the ever increasing professionalism of the race organisation. 2008 saw several major changes to the league. Firstly for the first time Points no longer meant prizes. As affiliations had been in decline for some while not many riders were benefiting for payouts at the end of the year. It was decided that we would continue offering the on the day cash prizes and winners medal, and offer the overall top 3 riders a Medal / Trophy. Secondly came the introduction of online entry via RiderHQ.com courtesy of Nat Spurling. RiderHQ has helped transform the administrative side of the league for riders and staff. This has also helped increase numbers as entry is so much easier and faster for all concerned. And finally we got our Grant for timing Transponders after 3 years of trying. The equipment cost a little over £12000, including a laptop & Honda Generator to power the system and a Tent to keep it all dry. The addition of the transponder equipment has allowed some variation in the courses and Finish points used because of the increased accuracy. It also means that human resources are decreased as the system negates the line judges. Using the transponder system does mean a lot of time is added setting up before a race, and this is all done by Preston. In addition to a risk assessment and putting out course signage on the morning before the marshals arrive, he also has to mark out the finish line loop and connect to the laptop, put up the “dunny” tent and the finish line flags. Then a call has to be made to HQ signing on to check if any riders have entered online, these have to be added manually to the laptop transponder program. After all this Preston can often be seen Chief Commassairing the event, before handing out prizes to race winners and then collecting all the signage and packing up the equipment. 2008 /09 was the inaugural year for a winter series based at the Fowlmead circuit nr Betteshanger. While numbers have been low the racing has been good, seeing some newcomers into cycling gaining their first wins. These riders went on to race in the summer series and benefited from their early season racing. In 2009 the league decided to make Affiliation to the league compulsory for all riders. The cost was £10 for the year, and the cost was to maintain the leagues ability to run safe races for all. With this new amendment it was possible to track how many riders used the league and we were proud to realise that by the end of the season over 400 riders would ride our races on at least one occasion, usually more. In 2009, the website saw an overhaul after growing since 2005. Originally set up and maintained by Luke Anderson the website was now used as a way of entering races via RiderHQ and checking up on the overall points tables and race results. Then came along Dave Hayward, an IT whizz who offered to redesign the website and link it with the excellent photography service he now provided the league. Dave can often be seen on the back of a NEG motorbike taking pictures of the riders in full up close race action. The new website is a real boost for the league and adds another touch of professionalism. In 2009 /10 numbers have been much higher for the winter series, running fewer events has been the key in driving up the desire to race. Running the league is an almost full time job in itself. The whole Anderson family is involved as Kate does a great job of following the race convoy to provide first aid and a spare wheel to get riders back on after a puncture. Luke has been hands-on from the start of the family “takeover” in 2004, firstly creating the website and running the points spreadsheet, and also in helping provide assistant commassaire time for some races.