Is Dead Dog Dying?

I saw this on the ACA forum late last week:

Registration closed last night. There are only 325 racing. Not sure why we are down about 100 registered racers from last year. SM Pro-1-2 field is slim with only 25. Last year we had just over 60 register. Maybe they are all at nationals? Anyway, weather is looking pretty good and we hope to have a good race!

This to me is very interesting when other events fill up with days. The Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race filled up immediately and so have many of the Leadville 100 Alternatives. The Triple ByPass has become extremely popular and filled up in less than a day! Yeah I know you might say well these are mountain bike events and a long one day tour and Dead Dog is a road stage race. Well, The Front Range Mountain Bike Series cancelled there last few racers due to low turn out. Here is what they said:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

End of FRMTB Series for 2010

We would like to thank all the racers, racer's families, volunteers, and sponsors who supported the series this year - you made each of the races an absolute blast to be a part of. Unfortunately, the reality is that turnout isn't where we'd need it to be, which, when combined with the time constraints of everyday life, means we are cutting the series short at the halfway point. It seems the sweet-spot for this type of race is in the early spring - wind, rain, and rescheduled races permitting - so that's a lesson learned for us. Actually, we learned a lot of lessons along the way from the valuable feedback many of you gave us after the races. Lessons we'll put to good use in the future.

We're finalizing the point standings for each of the cats this week and will get prizes out the door ASAP to the folks that put the stomp on the competition (nope, we didn't forget about you, the goods are comin'). Aside from that, if anyone wants to grab a pint at the Southern Sun sometime, send us a quick note and we'll meet you there.

Again, thanks for all your support. We'll likely post-up early next year to see how folks are feeling about another series for 2011 (looking at the possibility of a full length xc race in there as well). Meanwhile, keep racing, riding, supporting your local mtb association, helping build trails, and keeping the sport cool.

- Erik and Alec
Race Pace Promotions

So, what is it? Location? The course? Lets hear it.

News Item: 

42 Comments

I sometimes just can't

I sometimes just can't believe the stuff I have been reading.... I do have to say that no "the people in Pueblo are not arrogant" in believing that the "first" year would fill up. That was never expected this year. And for that matter, maybe it will never get great attendance if people have this kind of attitude that I am hearing and reading. As far as the ACA forum, that was a comment just as yours is. Like your attitude towards other communities....bad form.

As far as Pueblo.... I really don't know what it will take to get racers to come here. Of course being from Pueblo I really can't say enough, in that it is a great town and a welcoming community towards racers and families. I really don't know if "Pueblo" is the problem. I can't say that racers are "lazy" but SPOILED.

I have been racing for many many years so I do know the two sides of the fence as far as being a racer or being a promoter. And I do believe I have heard it all. First I must say I do feel to some degree that the ecomony is a factor. The numbers are down for many races. But this is what I hear (not from just the Pueblo Crit).... its to far to drive, the entry fee is to high, why the late fee?, no CAT 35+ 3 (how come you don't have a category that I can upgrade easily? Why don't you freaking train harder?), I'm not a climber, I not a crit person, just have a TT and RR, not good enough prize money, not gonna do Pueblo after Hugo, "Pueblo is not a place I would take my family".....

As I said I have been racing for many years and living in Pueblo means that I have to drive to Boulder, Denver and where ever my racing loving heart takes me, or up to 5 or more hour drives. I have to pay entry fees, gas, hotel, food and accommodations every week-end out of my own pocket. I remember racing when all the women were together and very few men categories. But back then athletes raced because that is what they did, raced their bikes, every week-end, little or no prize money. Because their heart was taking them there.

I really don't know what would make a race more attractive. But what I know is that the sponsor for Angelos and myself are more determined to make Angelos Criterium de Pueblo bigger and better than ever for next year. We have a sponsor for next year and the promoter promises to match the money. We are hoping for two days of criteriums including a full day of racing Saturday with a twlight crit and full day of racing on Sunday to include juniors. The dates of course are pending as per the new schedule and attendance of the promoters meeting in December. But of course for you "non Crit" racers the fun will not include you. But for you speed junkies it will be a hell of a good time. The race takes place on the Old Union Historic district that includes crossing the river walk.

Okay, so your spoiled, so here goes, "What the hell do you want to make a race more appealing?"

Signed
Carla Flores
Promoter, Pueblo Criterium de Pueblo

alright

Ok Carla, if you set up the race like that for next year with a weekend of racing and a twilight event on Saturday, not only I but my family will be down in Peublo that weekend. That gives me a whole weekend to be down there vs. driving 4+ hours for 60min of racing. I love the sport, I've been doing it for over 10 years but I've got to be practical about it a little bit. Even you mention you drive up to boulder/denver for a weekend of racing. Plus I am a sucker for racing under the lights. :)

Consider me your first registered rider for the p/1/2 event.

I think if you price it

I think if you price it reasonably, people will come. If it's $45 + $10 late fee again for the P12 category next year, I'll skip it again. Cost and demand need to line up and if there's no demand, you can't charge exorbitant registration fees. In my opinion, you should charge less for registration fee since it's more of a commitment and expense from the majority of the racers to attend your race.

As for increasing the prize money, it makes no difference to me. I'm not fast enough to get part of that, so even if you tripled the prize money, I'd skip the race. I don't race for prize money, I race for fun.

I do want to do this race. I like racing different courses and seeing other parts of the state. However, if it costs me 2-3x as much money and time as it would a local crit, I'll skip it.

Crit Saturation

Problem is that we have a lot of crits already on the schedule. Numbers where not that great at some of the Denver/Boulder area crits this Spring.
If y'all offered a Saturday afternoon/evening Crit and then a Road Race on Sunday morning, you would definitely increase ridership. Two crits in a row - Probably not as many. Also, the Aspen crit was the same weekend this year as Pueblo. I know a few that headed up for that.
If you had a $5K or $10K Pro-1-2 prizelist, you would get a big group for them. Outside of that group, prizelist doesn't really help numbers.

It will be interesting to see this July race numbers. 5 Crits. One weekend of back to back crits. + mid-week $15 crits. I wonder if a few races will suffer low numbers?

What to do

Carla,

Unfortunately as you learned the hard way this year is that there is definitely an aversion for Boulder/Denver riders to come South over the Palmer Divide. With the exception of the Black Forest RR and AFA RR all the other events down here have always been small going back to the mid 90’s in comparison to the events North of the Divide. Even when the crits have been BAR/BAT the turnout was low as well, remember the Ed Burke Memorial crits at UCCS or downtown ‘Springs (If memory serves me correctly I even think the downtown one was Master State Champs).

So what’s a promoter to do:

1. Plan your break-even point to be around 100 riders – as an example of the disparity between Southern Colorado and Boulder/Denver area is that when I was involved with a high profile race up North we used 250 riders as our break-even point, we never lost money. Also, being South the officials fee’s & timing is always higher than North as the mileage is just a killer so you need to figure out how to control those costs as well.

2. Set reasonable entry fee’s as you can’t be the most expensive crit of the year – There’s a Japanese proverb that is applicable here, “the nail that sticks out is hammered down”. Fact of life if you’re different (e.g. on the expensive end) on the crit spectrum then riders get a bad impression right off the get go. Remember the first couple of Parker Crits (run through USA Cycling) with a $50 entry fee and how much bad publicity that race got for that despite having a great prize list.

3. Run a RR instead of a crit – easier said than done but the only successful races (in terms of numbers) down here have been RR’s. It’ll be interesting to see if the AFA RR does good numbers down South this year, if the numbers suck for that then I wouldn’t try a RR in Pueblo.

Not sure I told you anything you didn’t know already but just my thoughts.

cheers, matt

Bottom Line- SUPPORT RACES!!!

Very simply put, If we bike racers want to have good races to go to, we need to support them by going!!! Bike races are put on by bike racers. There is no one making significant money and as a multiple time promoter myself, it is a major PAIN in the butt putting on a race.
So if we want to continue to have great races to go to, we need to SUPPORT THEM! Racing in Colorado is NOT just a Denver/Boulder thing that everyone else has to drive there to compete. Support ALL of the great races in Colorado as much as possible!!!
((PS, I am on a bit of a caffeine high right now!!!))

Priorities, not laziness...

First, the name-throwing and race bashing going on is pretty foolish. Instead of throwing darts, a little construction opinion/criticism would be useful. Here are my thoughts:

Pros ride for prize lists, the rest of us for fun and glory. If you want more pros, add to their pot, if you want the rest of us, provide a chance for thrills and memories of a great time.

Raccers opt for different types of races. One of my teammates who dominates in his category will not race a crit for safety reasons. I won't typically take on a big grinding uphill, my motor konks out. The race format will determine the participation. ACA may have some stats on this from their surveys to help determine ridership opportunities.

Effort to participate matters. Given similar racing action, the closer event, with lower fees, at a more favorable start time, etc. will make a difference in rider selection. That's not laziness, it's priority setting, especially if you can only do a certain number of events due to time or money constraints.

Special events don't always matter. When you race at 7am you may not want to stay for a festival that takes place late in the day, especially if there is a long drive home. I enjoy a party as much as the next guy, but duty calls on the home front as well.

Become epic. It doesn't happen overnight, we've seen some events that tried to be glamorous fall short in their inaugural year because they over-reached. Offer consistent value, don't burnout your own planning teams and sponsors trying to be too important too fast, stay the course and you may have one of the popular events in a few years.

Be selective in the categories you offer. Trying to cram too many categories into a day makes all the races too short. Getting to race a 75-90 minute crit would be awesome since we often only get 40-50. That makes your event unique, and potentially more attractive. I'd like to see the ACA do a better job of reducing categories in crit events, so long as they offer a balanced number of events throughout the year for all categories.

Ask the riders. If you can get the list of rider contacts ask them what they liked, why they chose you, and what would bring them back. With that information, and some ideas from those who didn't go you can set your course for next year.

Good luck!

I wonder if the same

I wonder if the same negative idiots who complained about Steamboat before it had even happened last year are the ones now complaining about Dead Dog and Laramie.

http://303cycling.com/2009-steamboat-stage-race

Colorado races absolutely need support and positive input, but expecting a race to cater to your strengths/individual needs and then complaining when it does not is a joke. If you want to see changes to the ACA calendar then let the ACA know and have your club promote a race as you want it to be done.

Support goes both ways

I've never quite understood the concept of supporting races just 'cause they're there.

I'll sometimes do a first time event to help out a club or promoter have a shot at getting their race off the ground. But, for long-standing events the race has to stand on its own. If the race doesn't appeal to you, what is served by spending limited resources (time, money, etc) to attend, aside from allowing a race that folks don't care much for to continue.

Instead of promoters berating or begging folks to come to their races, maybe they should spend more time figuring out why folks didn't come and then figure out if there's anything that can be done to fix the problem(s). Sometimes races are just not ever going to be popular, or well attended, or well run, or whatever, and if that's the case maybe they shouldn't be held after all.

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