Coffee Talk - Getting more newbies into bike racing

Today's coffee talk is about newbies. So a few weeks ago we said that it's not heros that got you into the sport, so what is it? Coffee talk discussion gives me the chance to rant and you a chance to fire back with your 2 or 4 cents.

The question is, how do we lure these race virgins into our sport? Every racer has them, friends who'd like to try racing but just haven't. What does it take to convert them? What is holding them back, is it nerves, lack of equipment, not enough training? Remember your first race, what got you to take the plunge?

This coming Sunday, Oct. 5th, the Primal Racing team will be offering a first timers only race at their PrimalPalooza event. At 10:55 newbie racers can experience cyclocross through a 30 minute race. Even better, the first timers race is offered at half price ($15 rather than $30 race entry fee) and it all benefits a great cause Trips for Kids. So a nearby race, at a discount, competing against only fellow race virgins for only 30 minutes. What could possibly be holding your wannabe friends back? Cyclocross really has the lowest barriers to entry of any of the cycling disciplines, but is the Colorado racing scene too intimidating for many to attempt?

Take our Poll, are we too serious?

With over 1 million spectators showing up for the US Pro Cycling challenge can't we get .01% of them to try out a bike race?

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30 Comments

CX Charity/fun ride

That would be interesting. Make a CX event a 2 day'er, say day 1 could be more endurance focused, like #number of laps completed in 2 hours. Each lap you donate X dollars or cents to a charity and the Sunday event is the race.

This would be needed because CX doesn't have the concept of a charity ride like Elephants rocks, or Ride for a Cure, etc. Today it's either racing or no racing. Time for someone to do some market analysis of this don't you think?

Kris

newbies...

I DO think the Colorado racing scene is intimidating. What gives you super-star status in many other states is merely mediocre at best here. But then again, it's why we all live here and want to race here...and someday I will travel to do a race somewhere in the South, at sea-level and raise my arms in victory.

I love the beginner racing category. The Tough Girl was my first cyclocross race as a roadie. I did it on my mtn. bike and had a blast. Even though the "scene" is intimidating (on the outside), it is what you make of it on the inside. Kind of like a really old box of raisins I find at the bottom of my purse. It looks horrible, the box is most likely stained with coffee and is a touch mean looking. The first layer of raisins just need to be pitched--too hardened. But scrape those off and it's gold. I stay away from the hard crusty raisen racers. My cat 4 women's team is nothing but the "gold".

"Race virgins" need support. This can mean a variety of things. Someone there to just talk to you while you're unracking your bike, someone to pin numbers, a smiling face at the registration tent, a joke at the start line, etc. We believe as a team that if you see someone struggling and you can do something about it before a race, DO IT! Don't withhold help, joy or encouragement. One of the best things that happened to me as I was awkwardly getting my mtn. bike off my car for my first cx race, was when a Cat 1 woman next to me wished me luck and told me she did her first cross race on a mtn. bike too. That LITTLE bit of encouragement helped me get to the start.

Personally, I find bike racing a little less intimidating than the Colorado triathlon scene that I fled a few years back. Rolling into the Boulder res. and seeing seemingly thousands of cars rolling in all filled with perfection was enough to make me lose sleep...for weeks. I still have nightmares about losing my bike in the murky, shark infested sea of the transition area. When I roll into a bike race, it just seems easier. Sheer volume of racers doesn't always make it better. That being said, am I trying like crazy to get more women to race? Yes. Did any of my former bike riding girlfriends take me up on the offer to join my team? NO. They were intimidated before they even really considered it. These are women who have done marathon after knee-crushing marathons, and iron-man tris. This totally baffles me. "Oh, I could never do that." Hmmmm. Really? I just don't get it. Huge fear of failure mixed with the fear of "crashing". As if you can't get hurt doing a marathon or a tri. Remember a few years back when the woman hit a bear on the bike leg during a Boulder Tri? Point made.

Hoo-rah!

To your team (theCyclist-Lawyer.com women's cycling team), which now has 17 --that's right --17 women who are BRAND NEW or relatively new to the sport of cycling -all disciplines of cycling. It's in large part due to your recruting efforts!! Cheers to the growth in cat 4 women's races this will mean for the 2012 season! Gooooooo ladies!

First Time CX Racer

I tried CX for the first time this year primarily because of the Queens of Cross "Newbie" category. I almost chickened out, but I knew it was my only chance to try CX in a less intimidating environment (I didn't have to line up with other women who fell into any particular category). I had an incredible experience, laughing as I bungled my remounts, being passed at the barriers and then catching someone on the straightaways, and listening to the announcer over my deafening heartbeat tell everyone we were getting our VO2 workout for the day. I've gone on to do almost every CX race held over the last couple months since that first one. I think I would have made up a bunch of excuses to not race if it hadn't been for the "Newbie" category. I think there's something to be said for race promoters who invite new people to give it a shot.

Beginners race at Primalpalooza November 6th Golden, CO

Kim,

Great to hear that. We are hoping to have a great turnout at the Primalpalooza beginner/Newbie category. I hope to hear a bunch of stories like yours from our cross event. As far as I know it is just us and Queens that are offering that category in their cross race. I also found out that all the high school mountain bike racers who had their finals moved to a later date can now race for free in our junior categories at Primalpalooza this Sunday. Let's get your friends introduced to cyclocross and for a great cause Trips for Kids and come out to Primalpalooza.

If you can't make it you can still help Trips for Kids by going to our Facebook page and "like" the Primal Wear p/b 1st Bank Team and we will donate a dollar to Trips for Kids and it's matched by another foundation....so it's like 2 dollars. If you want to do more you could "share" our Trips for Kids Facebook fundraiser on your page.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Primal-Wear-pb-First-Bank/240556529289959?...

Cross Experience (Beginners') Race

Michael,

Well, my wife entered the beginners' race at Primalpalooza and had a great time. She is hooked and we will be looking for bike for her (She rode mine). 30' minutes was a good amount of time to let them know what it's like to suffer out there. It looked like almost all of the newbies really enjoyed the low pressure atmosphere.

Suggestion: Separate the men from the women next time (1' apart) and give prizes for both groups.

Also too bad for the lady that fell during the start and probably broke her collarbone. Three factors might have played into this: 1) Having 40 riders, men and women, doing a mass start in a beginners' race may have been too many. 2) My wife, who was right behind the crash, said one male rider obviously didn't know that he needed to hold his line in the start and was swerving in and out, probably causing the lady rider to fall and, 3) The lady had bar ends on her mountain bike, which are illegal (maybe someone should have checked bikes prior to the race - race officials??).

Hope more race organizers do more beginner races in the future. Thanks again!

I may have a bike for your wife

Rich,

I am so glad she had fun and not only did we have 45 starters in the beginner race but we sold 90 one day licenses. I am not say 90 people tried cyclocross for the first time but I is an indicator. We raised a lot of money for Trips for Kids and look forward to getting more first timers involved next year, and yes we will divide it. It was way cool to see father and son and husband and wife both having their first race together. BTW- my email is on the flyer, hit me up cause I think I have a bike for your wife.

Too late

Just got a 49" Specialized CruX Expert with SRAM Force on Friday for her. Sorry, didn't see your post until tonight. BTW, what did you have in mind? She is jumping off the deep end for CX!

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