"I want to upgrade and refresh the rally, not to change it," the York Rally secretary told BikeBiz.co.uk.
Melita Luxton became the Rally organiser in November 2001 and was responsible for introducing last year’s paramedics race which gained much publicity for the 58-year old event.
For most of those 58 years the York Rally was a CTC-organised event but it’s now run by an independent organising committee and, although affiliated and tightly connected to the CTC, the Rally is no longer organised by CTC staffers.
In 2000, the Bicycle Association staged a cycle exhibition alongside the York Rally and an entrance fee was levied. Many CTC members were incensed at the charge to get into "their" show and these complaints were in addition to disappointing visitor numbers: the BA had predicted 50 000 visitors but, instead, the trade expo part Rally attracted just 8000 paying members of the public.
For the 2003 show, entry to the trade tents and saddlebag sale will be via programmes costing £2. Luxton says the Rally needs this cash for the event to continue:
"Its not too much to ask for people to pay £2 to go into a show. Without this the Rally is quite simply out of business. We have kept the Rally free for 58 years but time and health and safety regulations wait for no man. We really would like to keep it free but simply cannot afford to anymore. Doubtless people will complain. Hopefully most will appreciate the nominal amount this is, and pay up."
Luxton wants new blood at the Rally:
"We are arranging events which, hopefully, will start attracting a younger and more family orientated audience. We have new posters being done in full colour and we are working on improving our publicity."
This year’s events include ‘What the Bicycle Did For Us’ history exhibition ("one of the largest temporary cycle history displays ever mounted," says Luxton); launch of off-road routes in the Yorksire Dales and Moors parks, linked to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Bike Bus; a self-explanatory ‘Phil Liggett Entertains’; children’s entertainment from Bo the bicycling clown and the Woodcraft Folk; and Emergency 999, a series of events and seminars organised by North Yorks police bike division.
Of course, the cyclists’ service at York Minster remains, as does the traditional parade back to the Knavesmire.
Stands in the trade tents will be slightly more expensive this year, but Luxton says the York Rally and Cycle Show is "still far and away the cheapest priced show in the country despite this year’s increase."