Almost 20 years after its first iteration, Si Paton resurrected the Malverns Classic event in 2018. Here’s how the festival showcases the very best of the MTB lifestyle
This piece first appeared in the June edition of BikeBiz magazine – get your free subscription here
What is the history of Malverns Classic, and what makes the event unique?
The Malverns Classic first ran from 1989 to 1999 and was the first festival to ever be held at Eastnor Deer Park, the spiritual home of the festival at the base of the Malvern Hills.
After 11 years at the helm as event director to British Cycling’s National Downhill Mountain Bike Series, it was time for a new direction for me. A lengthy phone call developed with Clive Gosling, CSG marketing director who at the time was sponsoring the downhill series with GT. He said ‘why don’t you bring back the Malverns, everyone loves a festival right? Plus the cycling industry is crying out for something like this and we will support you from day one.’ Clive also connected me with Jay Hardy (Malverns Classic 1989 – 1999) to get his seal of approval and advice, then within a week the sponsorship funds were in the bank and we announced the 2018 GT Bicycles Malverns Classic.
Uniqueness? First and utmost for us is to put the customer first, be that the festival attendee right through to the trade. My mobile number and email is on every page of the website and available on all our social media channels. In fact I’ll leave it here as well, I am available seven days a week, anytime on 07968 229 359 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Besides that we really focus on looking after the kids: we offer racing and riding for all ages and abilities from two years of ages up as well as free weekend festival entry for children aged 12 and under.
- 100+ Expo/Trade Stands
- Balance Bike World Championships across the three days.
- World famous lakeride
- Free fun fair
- Free airbag, pumptrack and Hans Rey trials area
- BMX and MTB retro show
- DirtWars – national dirt jump series
- British Cycling National Championships for both Dual Slalom and 4x.
How have cycling events changed in the past few years?
I believe there is now less emphasis on the racing element and more about the participation. I mean look at every trail centre, if you are not in that car park on a dry sunny weekend by 11am then you are forced to be parked precariously on a grass verge outside the venue somewhere.
Let’s also talk about health and safety, as well as spectator management and for good measure, litter. The amount of times I have been asked to bring the lake jumping back is unbelievable, that lake is about three feet deep folks on a wet day. Courses now have to be double taped and we are working with ‘Trash Free Trails’ to implement some really good litter initiatives to help reduce the impact of the event.
What do participation events like yours offer to the wider bike trade and brands?
Bums on seats. The Malverns Classic is the perfect taster/introduction to a MTB event by allowing everyone to ride all of the courses when they are not being used for official practice or racing. This is super attractive to the weekend warrior and especially the new influx of MTB fans that came our way during Covid-19. The festival then delivers a captive audience to the 100 plus expo stands over the three days with the attendees having a fantastic opportunity to talk to the experts face to face, interacting with the products and services on display. It really is a great retail opportunity.
What is in the works for 2023 and beyond for Malverns?
The festival is growing from strength to strength with a 20% increase each year in both spectator and expo attendance. This allows us to improve and fine tune the event to deliver exceptional customer service, improved services (a prime example is medics, security, showers and toilets) and of course delivering unforgettable memories at what we believe as do our customers, to be the best family/friends weekend of the year! Lets not forget about the nights out, new for 2023 and after each set from the top class covers bands we have named DJ’s, Leeroy Thornhill – Prodigy, Shades of Rhythm and The RatPack.
Malverns Classic 2023 takes place from August 24-27 at Eastnor Deer Park in Herefordshire.