My name is Orianne I live in Llanddeusant, a tiny village just within the Brecon Beacons National Park with views of the Black Mountain & Llyn y Fan. I only started working for A Cycling a few weeks ago and I have hardly any previous knowledge about bike events, but I enjoy being outdoors and I am a very sporty person myself.
When I had my first week of working in the office it was full on straight away. We were finishing organising Battle on the Beach, so we were making number boards, signs etc. I was shown how much equipment was going to be used at the event and was shown how to use it all. I was surprised by how much equipment there was and everything that goes into an event behind the scenes as I wouldn’t of even thought that you would need a PA system, Generator and various other items. But it was all used at the event and all needed to be prepped.
When I first arrived at Pembrey Country park, venue for Battle on the Beach on Saturday 21st March to help finish setting up the course, I started to realise just how big the event would be. At first it was just Matt’s van that was parked up on the big arena field on its own but by the time we were ready to leave at 7pm there were several sponsorship vans parked up, the start arch, info boards and setting up their stands ready for the event on Sunday. There was Roller Racing in the night time, but I couldn’t take part myself because Matt and I were still setting up the 150 heavy metal barriers along the coastal path – which I really enjoyed…not! I could have skipped the gym session the night before as moving the barriers was enough of a workout.
After a comfy night in my bed back home while participants slept in their frozen over tents I returned on Sunday; the day of the event. As an introduction to events, I helped out at Round 4 of the Pembrey XC Series and this was the first time I have ever been to a cycle event. There was just over 100 competing at the XC race, so with over 600 riders at Battle on the Beach it was significantly bigger! I was really taken back by the size of the arena and how passionate people are about cycling.
My first job of the day was in the registration tent, handing out number boards and timing chips to the eager riders. I was working alongside Louisa, Catriona & Lorna who have all helped out at A Cycling events before. Everything seemed to go smoothly and together we handed out over 500 chips and number boards. At 11am as registration closed I headed for the beach to set up the music equipment so we could have music and a commentator speaking at the start line.
You could really feel the atmosphere building whilst the riders were preparing to start the race and listening to Matt’s dodgy 80’s playlist from the top of the sand dunes with the sun blazing and barely a cloud in the sky! That was until some clever person decided to pull the plug, quite literally. There was a big panic on the dune and after some fiddling I ran down to see the plug had been switched off and unplugged by someone. Why?!
As the starting pistol started and riders shot off the start line the sight of watching all 600 riders heading away and forming one long line visible into the distance. I was surprised that there were no major accidents as it looked like carnage from above! Once the race was in progress I then took control of the social media though the event, taking photos and uploaded them onto the Battle on the Beach Instagram and Facebook page so that others who couldn’t be at the event could follow it online.
As soon as the last few riders came across the finishing line there was a sigh of relief that the majority of the event all went to plan! We were so lucky with the weather, and riders were able to hang around and enjoy chatting about their own race.
At about 3.30pm, once every single rider had finished we began to give out prizes on the podiums. All the riders were very supportive of each of the winners who got to stand on the podiums. It was amazing to see different people from all over Europe coming together for this unique cycling event and feeling that I helped organise such a special event.
After all of the prizes were awarded the carpark soon cleared away and all of the noise calmed down, but I wasn’t able to disappear just yet!
Most of the equipment within the arena was cleared away by 5pm and it was time to go home. I was so glad that I didn’t have to help take down the 150 barriers as my arms were still aching from setting them all out on Saturday, so that was a lucky get out! I definitely slept well Sunday night, absolutely exhausted from one of the longest and hardest days work I’ve ever done but also it is by far one of the best events that I have experienced and I found it to be very rewarding.
The next Tuesday it was back to the office, packing the equipment, checking all the stats on the social media and seeing all the amazing feedback following the event.
I am already looking forward to next years Battle on the Beach! The countdown has already begun, with entries opening for the 2016 edition at midnight January 1st.
Well…everything except the barriers.