master of ceremonies
The recipient of our Local Hero Award, sponsored by Freewheel, has put in over 50 years organising races
Organising this year’s Road Race National Championships was the latest of a long list of achievements from our 2018 Local Hero, Peter Harrison.
“My mantra has always been to put back in the sport more than you take out, so I was very proud, humbled and honoured to have been awarded this,” Harrison told us. “It’s the first time I’ve been nervous going on stage — when my photo came up I thought, this is getting real!”
Harrison’s life in cycling dates back to the early 1960s when he joined Gosforth Road Club, aged 14.
“I’d be playing rugby on a Saturday and there was not much to do on a Sunday and it just seemed like a good idea to join this club. There were probably six or seven of us who joined the Gosforth at the same time. The north-east of England was a very strong region and we started to go out and train and ride with them.”
Now the club chairman, at one point he was the only member. “Everyone else had gone to other clubs and I thought, ‘Balls to this, I’m not going to let this die!’”
He began helping organise races in his 20s, despite continuing a competitive road and track career which saw him claim his first-category licence, and by the time he hung up his race wheels his passion for organising was in full flow.
He organised his first pro race in 1986 at the request of South Tyneside Council, after already being in charge of the Beaumont Trophy for some years. He took that up to UCI level, has staged the Road Race National Championships twice, and in the 2000s added recreational events in the form of the Cyclone Festival of Cycling.
“I had some great tutors who taught me the craft of putting on a professional race where everything was right and I’ve tried to carry that forward.”
“I don’t know,” he sighs when asked why he does it. “I enjoy the challenge of organising.”
It’s not just races. Harrison has sat on numerous national and local committees, helped create the Cytech mechanics’ qualification, worked for Shimano, been a technical consultant for Team GB, owned bike shops and is a commissaire.
Whatever his motivation, it’s clear that without people like Peter Harrison, our other nominees and others like them, British cycling wouldn’t be what it is today.
“Put back in the sport more than you take out”
Peter Harrison (centre) receives his award from sir Bradley wiggins