WVCC Cheshire Classic Results

Well that was an interesting start to the season! Today was the Weaver Valley Cycling Club Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race and had everything thrown at it. 2 riders were taken to hospital after a 15 rider pile up due to a woman in a blue car running into the peloton. She didn't stop and however we do have her wing mirror as evidence. If this was you on the A49 between Weaverham and Acton Bridge at 10 - 11 this morning please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

As if that wasn't enough someone thought it would be funny to litter the top of the climb with tacks. As we only use the course twice a year for 4 hours I can't believe anyone would be upset but if this was you, again I would love to hear from you.

I was going to write a race report however CK images have done a fantastic report (plus images!!) which I would recommend you read instead!

In short, Lucy Garner came first for Motorpoint followed by Hannah Rich of Horizon Fitness and the rather tanned Emma Grant of For Viored. Cheshire's very own Hannah Walker came fourth. Last year's winner Sarah Storey, although not in the top 10, did a great job on the front all day.

WVCC Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race 2011 Results

1st – Lucy Garner - Motorpoint

2nd – Hannah Rich - Horizon Fitness Prendas

3rd – Emma Grant – For Viored

4th – Hannah Walker – Motorpoint

5th – Lowri Bunn – Abergavenny RC / Gateway Cycles

6th – Lauren Creamer – Nick Lane Construction

7th – Hannah Barnes – Motorpoint

8th – Kara Chesworth - For Viored

9th – Penny Rowson - Horizon Fitness Prendas

10th – Laura Murray – Velocity 44 Stirling

T-Mobile Royal Wedding TV Ad

Genius! A great, great ad produced by Saatchi and Saatchi with support from Gorgeous featuring lookalikes of the royal family. The ad plays on the number of wedding dance videos which feature on You Tube. Made purely for online consumption only, which again demonstrates the power of digital and Social Media. After all "Life's For Sharing".

It captures the moment brilliantly.

Start List for WVCC Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race

Just seen the start list for this Sunday's (17th April 2011) Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race, promoted by Weaver Valley Cycling Club. We recieved 80 entries for just 60 places.

It looks set to be a cracker. Paralympic gold medalist Sarah Storey returns to defend her 2010 title. Sarah will be racing alongside fellow Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Romero and Wheelbase's Lynn Hamel who was featured last week in Cycling Weekly.

We will also see Hannah Rich and Penny Rowson supporting Sarah Storey for the Horizon Fitness team. Penny came 3rd in 2009. Speaking of quality youth talent, Motorbase are bringing 5 riders including National Crit Champion Hannah Barnes, Hannah Walker and Lucy Garner.

100% ME's Hannah Mayho will also feature having now fully recovered from a major incident with fellow British Cycling members in Belgium.

Also look out for Corrine Hall, Ceri Dipple and Kara Chesworth who has represented Wales.

The race takes place in Weaverham, Northwich, starting at 10am. Riders do 10 laps of a 7km circuit. If you're coming to watch, the best vantage point will be on Acton Bridge Cliff. This is the big hill on Acton Lane which the riders go up and where the race finishes.

Start List
1 Sarah Storey Horizon Fitness Prendas Elite
2 Hannah Rich ditto 1st
3 Penny Rowson ditto 2nd
4 Corrine Hall Team Corridori/Specialized 1st
5 Marianne Britten VC St Raphael/Waite Contracts/Hewitt Cycles Elite
6 Hannah Layland ditto Jun/2
7 Sarah Byrne ditto 2nd
8 Rachel Przybyliski Rapha Condor 2nd
9 Sarah King Motorpoint Jun/2
10 Hannah Walker ditto 2nd
11 Hannah Barnes ditto Jnr/1
12 Lucy Garner ditto Jun/2
13 Hannah Shenton ditto Jun/2
14 Iona Sewell Squadra Donne/Bike Food/Shutt Velo Rapide 2nd
15 Gail Aspden ditto 2nd
16 Tamina Oliver ditto 2nd
17 Hannah Manley For Viored Jnr/2
18 Kara Chesworth ditto 1st
19 Emma Grant ditto 2nd
20 Rebecca Curley ditto 2nd
21 Charlotte Colclough ditto 2nd
22 Lowri Bunn Abergavenny RC/Gateway Cycles/ 2nd
23 Lauren Creamer Nick Lane Construction/ 2nd
24 Fern Cotterill Govilon Garage 4th
25 Sarah Kennedy ditto 4th
26 Hannah Mayho 100% Me 2nd
27 Sorrelle Le Cornu Primal Europe Rutraingtoday/Bikechainricci 3rd
28 Heather Booth ditto 3rd
29 Ann Bowditch Scienceinsport.com 3rd
30 Louise Murray ditto 3rd
31 Eve Dixon Maxgear RT Jnr
32 Anne Ewing The Bicycleworks/Bristo Yoga School 2nd
33 Lynn Hamel Herbalife/Wheelbase 2nd
34 Helen McKay Look Mum No Hands café 2nd
35 Elise Sherwell ditto 2nd
36 Xieyue Fan ditto 3rd
37 Anna Grundy ditto 1st
38 Laura Murray Velocity 44 Stirling 2nd
39 Jane Barr ditto 2nd
40 Kate Evans Wolverhampton Wheelers 3rd
41 Hayley Edwards Halesowen A&CC 3rd
42 Molly Weaver ditto Jun/4
43 Sharon Underhill ditto 4th
44 Claire Macaulay Sandy Wallace Cycles 3rd
45 Anna-Jay Burgess ditto 2nd
46 Ishbel Taromsari Sandy Wallace Cycles 4th
47 Gemma Neil ditto 3rd
48 Gabriella Nordin ditto 4th
49 Ceri Dipple Twenty3c/Oreba/Mercedes Vito Sport 3rd
50 Dyanne Holland Inverse Cyclaim RT/Bikefood/Continental 3rd
51 Joanna Le Cocq ditto 3rd
52 Katie Noakes ditto Jun/3
53 Kimberley Ashton ditto 2nd
54 Louise Mahe Sutton CC/De Ver Cycles 3rd
55 Rebecca Romero XRT-Elmy Cycles/Orbea 3rd
56 Liz Chellingsworth Deeside Thistle CC 3rd
57 Natalie Creswick Unattached 1st
58 Gabriella Shaw For Viored 3rd
59 Natasha Perry ditto 3rd
60 Alli Holland ditto 1st

61 Eleanor Jones VC St Raphael/Waite Contracts/Hewitt Cycles 4th
62 Louise Clowes Inverse Cyclaim RT/Bikefood/Continental 4th
63 Nicola Soden Buxton CC/Sett Valley Cycles 4th
64 Samantha Buckingham Wakefield CC 4th
65 Karen Popplewell Seamons CC 4th
66 Abi Fletcher Unattached 4th
67 Eilidh Wells Unattached 4th
68 Siobhan McNamara Cambridge Cycling Club 4th
69 Vicky Ware Squadra Donne/Bike Food/Shutt Velo Rapide

New Lucozade Sport TV Ad

I love this new Lucozade Sport TV ad. It sees Lucozade hitting on teenagers as a sport drink of choice with a fusion of sport and urban electronica music.

The soundtrack features rapper Tinie Tempah alongside Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker. They push out a big Drum and Bass backed number (which I think is a remix of Simply Unstoppable). It brilliantly touches on all elements of urban, grunge and electronica (much like work using Wretch 32 in our recent getthelabel.com TV ad). The sport is covered by Irish boxer Katie Taylor. I love the choice of Katie which nicely gets across the female representation.

Lucozade mean business as the ad hits 90 seconds! The ad was created by Grey London.

New KFC TV ad

Following straight after the Hovis ad below was the new KFC TV ad created by BBH. They were also responsible for the ridiculous 'Fresh' TV ad which tried to pursuade us that their "fresh" chicken was produced by highly trained chefs. I'm yet to meet anyone who believes in that ad, or anyone who hasn't laughed out loud when they see it.

KFC has been through the wars: with food, restaurants and staff taking a battering. It takes more than a fancy TV ad to change public perception though. The chicken needs to actually taste fresh not greasy, the chips not cold and hard, the restaurant not dirty and smelly. I'm yet to pass a KFC without Max Power holding a cruise outside, litter strewn around the car park and staff that look they've only just woken up.

For me this new lovey dovey TV ad isn't going to help matters either. Why on earth would an extended family, meeting up on a gorgeous summer's day, go to KFC? It would just never happen. "Hi Woody, gorgeous weekend coming up. We're having everyone round for a bucket of KFC chicken, you coming?" "Erm...no having a BBQ thanks".

You are never going to remember the moment of falling in love over a bucket of KFC. KFC are kidding themselves if they think they are moving the brand into this sort of close, social eating.

The direction is also confused. The surroundings work hard to not put across a middle class semi-detached property, but then we end up with palm trees and actors looking like they are from a Joules catalogue.

The only good thing about this ad is the soundtrack, it rounds up the family message, although it would be better suited to John Lewis.

I imagine this is a brand development ad which sets KFC off on a family safe journey of reduced fat and salt but in my opinion it is another ad away from where KFC should be.

It is easy for me to criticise. What would I do? I believe they've got it right with the "all hands in the bucket" party approach but I'd take it away from this to something more real and stripped back. I would perhaps introduce people telling stories. It could be perhaps met with the message "what would you share over a bucket?".

Hovis Farmer's Race TV Ad

Caught the new Hovis TV ad this evening which features farmer's racing cross country. The ad was created by Dare with production support from Blink.

I thought it was uplifting, everyone had a smile on their face and gave the impression they were striving to achieve something (I believe it uses actual suppliers to Hovis in the race). Although beautifully shot and directed, whether this will translate into people remembering the brand next time they are out in the shops compared to Victoria Pendleton & "through time" ad I'm not sure. In a further note, it was filmed just down the road from me in Macclesfield. From the looks of things I would say around Wincle.

Grand National

Because The Times online subscription policy is probably one of the most ridiculous business decisions (in my opinion) known to man, I am unable, yet again, to share a comment by Simon Barnes, their Chief Sports Reporter. In a world where online content is king, people constantly sharing articles and opinion, why The Times would want close down any content is beyond me. Anyway enough of that, I'm sure they would say that Mr & Mrs Smith in Derby love it on their iPads along with a few other thousand.

In his article Simon Barnes describes how 2011's Grand National would be his last. That, although he had no "beef" against the sport he couldn't continue to watch it because of the deaths.

What I find personally digusting is that winning jockey Jason Maguire has been given a 5 day ban for excessive use of the whip on the winning horse, yet still wins the Grand National? What sort of message does that send out?

I am involved with the equestrian community. I'm luckily to have been involved with it through Becky, and through the years with 3 beautiful horses. Becky and her Mum won't watch the race, however I did and got involved with the sweepstake at work. Needless to say nothing hurt me more than to see the camera pan across two fences being missed and seeing two corpses covered over in green sheets.

The excitement of the day immediately left me, I had no feeling for it anymore. I felt sick in the pit of my stomach.

Horses are beautiful, part of God's mysterious work. Wierd, quirky, four legged creatures that even after 4 years of being around them, I still can't quite understand their nature. They aren't like dogs for example who love you to death. Horses don't show affection very well. There doesn't seem to be any loved lost, until tea time anyway. That's not to say they don't have personalities, they all do: be it bubbily, quiet, impatient or grumpy.

I'm sure those that ride horses would say different however. I think the relationship becomes apparent once you ride with them. You build this relationship and understanding with the horse. I've only ridden twice (Becky's horses tend to be highly strung showjumpers and not for the novice) however when I have had the opportunity to ride I've been taken away to another world. I've never been so relaxed as I have when sat on a horse.

There is something about a horse that relaxes you. Even just watching them, they are intriguing creatures, so big and strong yet inside their heads they are vulnerable, nervous things. Their only fight is to run and jump.

When you work with them, and love them as you do, nothing is more saddening than to see them being worked to death for the owner looking to make a few bob. The jockeys are no better as seen with Maguire's ban.

I have nothing against the Grand National, it is a wonderful event. I just feel there needs to be more care taken over the course (especially in hot conditions as it was) and more caution taken on the choice of horses and especially the jockeys being entered.

Ads I liked in March

Thought I would share with you some of my favourite ads for March.

My favourite comes from agency BBDO in Paris. The ad is for Mars' Celebrations, cheekily looking at "when YOU want to celebrate". I love the Creative Direction; the photography is beautifully shot and captures a moment. If you look at the Gymnastics version, every face is telling a story. I'm not aware of the brief but I think it would be a nice strategy for Celebrations if they were looking to pick a new customer base away from being bought in big, party occasions. Perhaps it's those little moments that mean the most.....hey Mars you can have that one on me!

More from France, and this time the agency is Euro RSCG Paris. These ads look at Canal + supporting film makers. I just love the detail involved with these ads. A huge amount of thought and attention to detail (not to mention passion) has gone into producing them. I would spend time looking if I came across it in a magazine.

I think this is very clever from Cole & Weber for the Washington Lottery. The tagline says it all. The ad looks at extreme ways in which lottery winners could spend their winnings. I'm not sure if it did, but it could lead to a very nice Social Media campaign where people could put forward their own ideas (or even invite winners to share their experiences).

This ad is from German agency Serviceplan. It is very simple but I love how the image works with the tagline "Makes your horses purr". Engine oil ads can be all the same with whirling cogs and the like: it's nice to see something different.

And since Easter is just round the corner, I thought it would be nice to include an Easter themed ad. This is another ad from Germany with agency Preuss and Preuss pushing this one out. A very nice, light hearted ad which reminds folk to visit Kolner Zoo during the Easter school break. The ad nicely reminds us that Spring is normally a good time to see newborns come into the world too. A tug on Mum's heartstrings I'm sure!

Weaver Valley Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race Sunday 17th April 2011

Weaver Valley Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race
(National Women's Road & Circuit Race Series)
Sunday 17th April 2011

Calling all women riders, Weaver Valley Cycling Club is holding their annual Cheshire Classic Women's Road Race on Sunday 17th April 2011.

The race is based at Weaverham, Northwich in Cheshire and completes 80km of tough circuit including several climbs up the dreaded Acton Bridge Cliff. Over 30 years old, the race has hosted riders such as Nicole Cooke (who won in 2000) and Lizzie Armistead (who won in 2007). The race also featured teams such as Rapha Condor and Motorpoint.

More details can be found on the British Cycling website here, however entries close on Saturday 2nd April and the race is open to 4th cat right up to Elite. Entry is £16 before the event. £18 on the day.

Bridgewater Riding Club Website

In my spare time, other than cycling, I am a committee member of Bridgewater Riding Club. Bridgewater is a grass roots riding club based in Northwich, Cheshire offering Show Jumping, Working Hunter, Showing, Equitation & Family rings.

My job on committee (since I don't know a great deal about horses) is naturally looking after the website and advertising. This is a hobby project with no input from work at all. I use it to experiment with my ideas and practice what I'm learning. Needless (and proudly) to say we are getting some fantastic results.

Website traffic is up 45% on last year. We are now achieving on average 2,500 hits a month with 46% being new visits. Importantly our bounce rate (people clicking on and clicking straight off) is 0.56% with people spending on average 3 minutes 11 seconds on site, viewing 6.50 pages on a visit. 16,291 pages were viewed in February alone (a quiet time of the season too) and last week we saw traffic up 75% alone!

I'm delighted! The stats show people are visiting, finding the content relevant and having a good look around. Our data capture form performs superbly, we have a lovely database now and entries for the first show were fantastic (up 75%!).

I rebuilt the website from scratch last year using a Wordpress CMS and free template from Woo Themes. From day one I've been mindful of optimising the website for search. I spent a huge amount of time researching key terms. It was important for me to get the website listed in important local terms around Cheshire (as for a relatively small riding club it is rare for people to travel more than 30 miles).

I'll admit that this blog performs terribly. Bounce rate is at 75% with people spending about a minute on average each visit, with a 1000 views a month. That is because this blog has not a lot relevance. I touch on a whole manner of subjects, primarily cycling and marketing, and not one sole key area. Bridgewater Riding Club meanwhile is devoted to equestrianism and the local area. Relevance is key, but that is basic business marketing at the end of the day.

Getting Social

Another important area for us is Social Media. Not many riding clubs get involved with their members, something that both the Chair and I wanted to focus on. We've made it easy for people to get in touch. The website allows members to comment on anything. We are very open. Anyone who contacts us gets a constructive, positive response within 24 hours.

The website being Wordpress based allows people to comment on any post. We get asked questions before hand, receive feedback afterwards.

We were the first, and still one of only a few, Riding Clubs on Twitter. Twitter has brought a lot of interest to the club. Interestingly the interest hasn't really been from competitors (I still feel that our target in this area of 14 - 18 years old still don't get Twitter. I see a lot of people setting up accounts and giving up within a few weeks). However commercially it's been great, we've been getting press calls recently, more store traders coming to the shows and impressively the riding club was featured in Horse & Hound the other month!

I find Facebook to be far more effective with our target audience. Young teenagers (and Mum's!) spend a lot of time on Facebook. Now the website is rolling along nicely, this year I'm working on developing our Facebook page. We are currently set up as a group, and I'll be moving us to a fan page soon.

Setting up individual Facebook event pages has been great. This brings a lot of hype to the event, hopefully once the season gets going we will see more activity.

Our pictures and video pages perform highly each and every month. An area we will be working on later in the year.

All our efforts saw us nominated in the Equestian Social Media Awards alongside eventing giants Badminton, Your Horse Live! and Burghley!!

In Conclusion

I think what I'm trying to demonstrate here is: understand your target audience, do your research, start from the bottom up and for anyone out there who has a small business and doesn't think they can mix it up with the big boys, then can think again. A small riding club in Cheshire was featured in a national weekly magazine to thousands of readers!

Before a Horse had even trotted onto the show field we had 75% more pre-entries and 90 memberships (in previous years we would have been happy with 90 in a whole season!). The first show was a huge success, welcoming a huge amount of new visitors. The committee worked incredibly hard and did a great job. In short it was record breaking.

Although as a business you would seek the services of an agency to complete the design and build (and most probably look to them for a Social Media strategy), all this was achieved within 2 years with me working on the site in my spare time.

Get The Label TV Ad

Thought I would share a TV ad work has produced for online fashion retailer GetTheLabel.com.

Getthelabel.com offer high street brands such as Adidas, Nike, Police, Sonnetti, UGG, Henleys, Berghaus, Firetrap, Teddy Smith...you name it...at discounted prices. I've purchased some Boxfresh hoodies from them in past and they were spot on (even if I do say so myself!).

We currently work with getthelabel.com on PR and Social Media which lead to us being commissioned to produce their first TV ad. The brief was aimed at 16-24 year olds and we also considered stay at home Mums too. The media was bought and planned by Mediacom North while the filming was shot with Chief Productions and the brilliant Nate Camponi (great blog by the way) directing. We had used Chief and Nate before on a previous ad for a bathroom retailer.

It was important to get across the huge range of product on offer, key benefits of using the website and we spent a lot of time getting the right models involved. We commissioned Wretch 32's "Traktor" as the soundtrack which gave it a nice edge, both on a electronica, urban and slightly grungy tip.

Put all together it worked beautifully to create a great, great ad which the guys in creative can be very proud of.

World Track Cycling Champs 2011

I thought I would comment on the recent World Track Cycling Championships. Listening to some people you would think the world had ended. I agreed with a chap called Owain Doull from The Times (unfortunately I didn't keep the article) who wrote a well observed summary similar to mine below.

Four years ago in Majorca we dominated and went on to be highly successful in Bejing. In the same position before London 2012, it is the Aussie's (and also in my opinion the French) on top form. They picked up 11 medals. Great Britain weren't that outclassed though, we still picked up 9 medals, a Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze.

In my humble opinion we are yet to peak. You read inbetween the interviews from the Great Britain coaches, especially Chris Boardman, and you feel there is more to come. Great Britain is blessed to have great coaches, in particular Paul Manning, who will build these guys up. Reading Bradley Wiggins' and Mark Cavendish's autobiographies, they talk in great length about tapering their training so they peak for their main races, in particular The Tour de France. It is such a delicate skill.

Speaking of Bradley Wiggins, we didn't have him nor Geraint Thomas on board due to road commitments. They bring a lot to the Great British team. Dave Brailsford, leading this Titanic through the murky waters, although vocal, has also had his hands full with Team Sky.

British Cycling recently paid vast sums to Deloitte, commissioning a report which found Brailsford clear of any conflict from his work with British Cycling and Team Sky. I don't believe the report was needed, I believe he does a great job and delighted with the outcome of this needless report. But if we are being honest here, I personally believe he is more involved with Team Sky at the moment.

The team had a torrid first season, not living up to the Tsunami wave of hype they created. However 2011 has so far started on the right foot. The team looks more structured, positioned in all the right places in races with good results coming. I believe the track will get Brailsford's full focus after July (The Tour) this year, together with Wiggins, Thomas, Stannard and possibly Ben Swift.

There were lots of positives, it was great to see the young talent of Laura Trott and Dani King do really well, alongside Jess Varnish who must surely be knocking on the door of being Victoria Pendleton's lead out.

I have no worries and 110% faith in everyone at Great Britain come London 2012.