Coffee Talk Tuesday - The Inflation of Participation

Coffee talk Tuesday deals with a topic commonly brought up in tangental comments on various posts here and that is the rising cost to participate in cycling events. Tuesday Coffee Talk allows all of us to engage in community related topics and share your 2 cents worth

It's getting more expensive these days to race or to ride a 1 day tour. We've seen all kinds of comments over the last few years about how much more expensive both races and rides are costing these days yet on the flip side some of these events are also getting record turn-outs for them and we see it all happening on more and more carbon, powertaps, skinsuits and coaches. But before you start the finger pointing at the promotor know that it costs a fair amount of money just to put on the smallest of races as pointed out by DBCEvents a few years ago with our topic of cost to promote a race and don't forget the risk too. Also not every promotor is doing their part for charity and there is nothing wrong with operating for a profit. But not all events are worthy of their fees. So how do you go about prioritizing your summer event calendar?.

Few ground rules in comments if you want them to remain up, don't call out any events in a negative way (you can mention how awesome some are). Don't forget to add up how much your A & B bikes, power accessories, monthly coaching invoice and top shelf organic food costs you each month divided by monthly race fees

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12 Comments

the cost of these events is

the cost of these events is fine. the cost is really inline with what you get. I did a couple of half marathons last year and we got a tech tee, medal, food afterwards, etc. but it was also like $90. And part of the point is that I only did 2. This year I'm racing just about every weekend, so I prefer the lower cost over the extra frills.

If you look at some of the "tough man" events on the rise like warrior dash or tough mudder, those things cost over $150 for a couple of hours. We cyclists are VERY lucky.

But at $25-$40 depending on the race, that is about right.

As you mention, we all have fancy gear that we're expecting "sponsors" to subsidize as it is. And a fair number of teams are reimbursing riders for some portion of their races.

we are just a whiny, whiny bunch that need to shut up and ride.

its complicated

Yes it has been hard to keep up. Last couple of years I have only been racing cyclocross only. Its interesting to see some races at $25 and other at $40. Don't understand the price difference. The additional $15 a person can be an additional $10k for one race.

Also the new timing system introduced last year I personally thought was a low blow. Never in all my years in racing, road races, mountain bikes, triathlons, running races, have any race withheld my time unless I purchased an additional piece of equipment. What was my race entry for?

All in all its tough, 4 cross races a month at $25 is an extra $100 or $160 if at $40 a race. Unfortunatly, I don't know enough to know what is fair and what is not, but trying to raise a family its hard to justify tacking on an extra large bill during race season. And that is *just* race fees, i break stuff too:)

good topic, hope to understand this a bit more.

Is it "fair" or supply & demand with want added?

Why try to come up with what is a "fair" price for an event? Some promotors just might be taking 25% as profit and that is their business model. I don't expect a promotor to have a fair price... it has to match my want to be a part of it. Some races could be $1 before I would consider them and others I would pay $100 to be apart of. What qualities do you want to consider pulling out the bills for?

Myself, this is what I like
- fair course (one that feels like I will have a fair chance at competing in... not one where risk might be the winner
- good location. I hate to drive
- epic course. Sorry, no office park crit... unless it is nearby and is $1 entry fee.

Reminder... This is not about..

This discussion is NOT about "I think event X costs too much" because what is one person's junk is another person's treasure. There are some "great" events here in Colorado and some I will never do for my own reasons.

What is trying to be brought up is what characteristics do you look for in selecting a event to compete? If price is your only means then your selection is easy... but I bet it's more complicated.

Anything over $50 I really

Anything over $50 I really have to love the course and think I will be competitive in the field.
I budget around $120 for race entry fees. So that means 1 or 2 MTB races and 1 or 2 road events a month. All must be over 2 hours in length to make it worth while.

Cycling races are on average affordable. Ironman way overpriced!

I believe the USA Cycling/ACA events are relatevely well priced. Lower budget events can be in the $25 range and events that offer more can go up to $50. Anything over that I have to really want to do the event. It is really great that we can do stage races at $80-$120. Cyclists tend to race more than say runners or triathletes, so spending a lot of money on one event is tough to swallow. Ironman events that are upwards of $500 are absolutely ridiculous. You're pricing the middle class out of the market. I don't think it's good for the sport even if the event is in high demand. I understand the promotor wants to make money and that there are costs, but $500 is too much. When you have to decide between whether to buy new carbon aero wheels or do a single event something is wrong. $120 would be about right.

Depends on quality of the race

I agree with a lot of what you are saying Kris - some races are well worth the price, and some are just not. I do feel on the road side, as well as cross, that for the new rider, it is very expensive just to check things out. Without a license, membership, timing chip and everything else, when you sign up on the day of, you can be looking upwards of %50 for a race - and if it is a crit or cross race, that can be expensive. So can the start up costs of obtaining a license, chip and membership just to get into a race. For the avid racer, this isn't much, as the cost can be spread out over the events.

On the mountain side, with several promoters going outside ACA,USAC or whatevery for insurance, it seems that there is a better value. While many of the races are a little more expensive with the entry fee, all of the other fees are not there. And with the mountain events, it seems like slow guys like me are getting a better value, being able to race for a longer time in the saddle, as well as food and refreshments to follow the races.

I think that bike racing, in order to grow, needs to figure out why and how runners and tri folks can have such big numbers and be able to get those sae type of numbers by being more inclusive. Maybe Grand Fondos and Etape Tours are the way to go.

How I prioritize: 1. time of

How I prioritize:

1. time of day
- i prefer either early morning or late afternoon as that allows me to maximize the time i spend with my family. i hate racing mid-morning or around lunch time
2. distance from home
- see item 1. if given the choice of driving 2 hours to a race venue or heading out my door. I'm pretty much comparing getting a good 5-6 hour ride in or driving 4 hours to race 2, which then really means i'm looking at an 8 hour day. unless there's something truly amazing about the race, i'll pass
3. quality of course
- i was going to mention something about the length of race, but it's really about the course. for me, the quality boils down to how selective the course is over the duration of the race. if it's a really "cool" course and the whole field gets to the finish together, i'll pass. i'd rather see something a little less interesting but more selective. Candelas is a good example. It's out and back, but it will wear you down over the course of the race. not much too it otherwise. i race in the 3s and i have no interest in my path to upgrading coming through sprint finishes. that is just setting me up for a hard road in the 2s. seen it happen to a number of guys.

these reasons have made cx a really attractive discipline. started out mountain biking, then work made riding on the road more palatable. with kids, the duration, closeness, and spectator friendliness of cx just works. it's awful having your spouse come out and watch the kids so the can "see" you race for like 10 seconds every 30 minutes. Or hang out in an office park. races like N. Boulder Park are perfect. The kids can play in the bouncy castle or the playground, I can get in a quick race, and then we can all hang out.

cost doesn't really play into to much for me.

My process: 1. I tell the

My process:
1. I tell the wife how many and which races I plan to do around in March.
2. She tells me which I can't (weddings, cousin in town, etc..)
3. Based on the course and how I feel at the time I make my choices, ie "I feel like going big this year, the courses are killer at the Hundo, Breck Epic, Firecracker 50, etc."
4. I put my A races on our joint Google calendar.
5. I remind her again in May that I plan to do a few races, the dates, commitment level and she usually responds "you never told me about those races" and I point to the Google Calendar.

I'd race every weekend if I could, I love it that much, but I'd rather do well at three races than be so burned out to perform poorly at many.

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