Tuesday Coffee Talk - Are road races going extinct?

This week's coffee talk focus's on the possible extinction of the road race from the Colorado cycling calendar. What can we do and how, if possible, can we change to adapt to our own version of climate change

Every year people can hear a low mantra chant by many cyclists, "more road races please, more road races please..." Obviously this higher being they are chanting to is not listening as the existence of RR on the Colorado racing calender is getting slimmer and slimmer year after year. Like the potential extinction of the Polar Bear due to global warming, there might not be much that can be done to change this trend unless something changes. Currently getting permits for RR are challenging as many counties like Boulder already have so many county events going on every weekend they need to limit it for the sake of the residents of the rural area. There are very high and rising costs of RR, ask Chris Grealish of DBCEvents he'll tell you the thousands of dollars he is forced to pay to off duty officer to manage every major intersection (20 years ago that wasn't required). Then you need a flood of volunteers, and in the end you have to hope for good weather as on bad day by Mother Nature can keep nearly 50% of the field away hence putting that race in the hole as had happened to the Boulder Roubaix years ago.

It's been ask before with polls on 303 how much you would be willing to pay and rising prices doesn't look like it is an option for many racers and the cost isn't going to drop even if the prize list was set to zero. The only logical option seems to go east like Deer Trail or restart Hugo RR but even that seems just like a band-aid to the problem.

Is it time to change to format of racing up some? Why does a crit/curcuit have to be just 45min or 60 min? What if we turned a curcuit into a RR by extending it to 2hr for longer circuit courses with fewer technical corners? Yes, this would eliminate categories or require combining categories which some would not find acceptable. But where do we go, can road cycling evolve a little and try something new? One can look at the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series to see where evolution has occurred and racers are voting with their registrations as that series is growing very well. One could say, those events are a alternative to a road race... at least it works for me.

Now that we can look past chip timing and who got 35th place in race x maybe we can talk about items that some say are core to what road cycling is all about road cycling, or at the least find ways to evolve into something new and fun to try out like the roadterium -;)

News Item: 


Colorado Sp Races

Actually, Colorado Springs doesn't have all that many racers.

Races in Colorado Springs never fair very well in terms of number of riders. The 2010 State Senior Road Race Championship I did at the AFA had 350 riders.

While we do have potential road courses here, they are on the southeast side of town. That is an even further drive.

Even mtb races here have trouble drawing riders from "up North." This year we have the Men's XC Championship race and I don't expect huge numbers. See http://www.sandcreeksports.com

The Visitor's and Convention Bureau does want a good event year after year unlike "The Race With The Ever Changing Name." But it still has to be paid for.

I haven't raced in Belgium,

I haven't raced in Belgium, BUT... I've read plenty of race reports of Kermesse races where the courses were shorter than the Fed Center course. Apparently the Belgians don't mind multiple laps around a relatively short course. The racers make the race, and over there they make it hard (so I've read).

If the Fed Center race isn't exciting enough, it's as much the racers fault as it is the course.


A clarification - what I mean by the above is that I think we need to look at holding more road events, yes, but that BRAC needs to consider the fact that if they want this to happen, it will require a lot more time, money, effort, and that ultimately points to professional promotion and a greater advocacy and marketing effort on their end; we can't just rely on volunteer efforts anymore from a bunch of local amateur club guys who've all got day jobs. It means making road events more expensive but I think if you focus on quality / community experience, you could swing a decent number of marquee road events across the calendar during the year.

they just can't be backyard 'bronze' level events tho, I guess is what I'm saying. It's more of a hassle, and entry fees will go up accordingly, but if we can pay $150 for an enduro race or triathlon, we can probably swing a $60-$75 entry for a high quality road race, yes?

With the litany of fees

With the litany of fees associated with BRAC, USAC, etc., I can't understand putting on a RR. If anybody wonders why we don't have more RRs, look squarely at our governing bodies and their ineptitude and lack of creativeness in cutting costs.

For the sake of "quality events” promoters are forced to adhere to a ridiculous regimen: timing, prize money mandates, course materials, feeding marshals and volunteers, online prereg fee’s, reg fees for non-paying racers, i.e. Jrs. all this and much more. BTW, why are promoters paying per reg fees on juniors? What's the incentive to attract juniors in this model? In many cases venues are now charging promoters for individual registrations, so promoters get dinged for Jr and non-paying volunteers.

There are additional costs that pinch RRs even further such as road closures fees, off duty officers, additional medics, etc., etc., etc. Additional hoops must be jumped through to have a Gold race, and if the race is held outside of Boulder, you probably want a Gold race or else you will be sweating/nervous through the whole process worrying about getting enough registrations. A lot of this isn't unique to RRs, but they can certainly be far riskier. Just guessing, but I think the difference between Mt. Evans vs Boulder Roubaix in final take home cash has to be in the tens of thousands. THUS, why we have so many crits and hill climbs.

At some point if costs continue to rise we will have 1 or 2 clubs putting on ALL of the races because they have the resources (and apparently no day jobs) doing everything. I'm not criticizing these promoters, it's a free market, so good for them and good for us.

Chris G is exactly right; it's far too risky to put on a road race given variables like weather.

I hadn't, thanks for pointing

I hadn't, thanks for pointing this out. There are few bandit CX races in Colorado and are not hard to find if you pay attention.

I think people want a sanctioned, insured and points based RR and they are frustrated with the dearth of races on the calendar. I'd pay a little more a cool RR like Boulder Roubaix.

this is where actively

this is where actively advocating for community buy-in is so important. Example - I used to promote a race in a very upscale wealthy community in Cincinnati. Originally they said no. So I worked with local law enforcement and the elementary school to create a "bike rodeo" format for the school kids to do a bike safety course, which was taught concurrently by police officers and local elite bike racers (who donated a half hour or so of their time periodically throughout the event), so that the kids could get a "safe rider permit" to ride their bikes to school. This was done in conjunction with a program that is similar to Safe Routes To Schools. Oh right they also registered kids' bikes to ID them in case of theft, etc. Anyway, the kids ate it up, and the police were so stoked about the program that THEY DONATED THEIR TIME FOR FREE. That's right, our club did not have to pay a dime for police coverage for that entire event, any of the years we held it.

That's what I'm talking about. Get creative. And don't throw out excuses about "expensive fees" just because you want to take the easy way out and hold a crappy low-level backyard event. If we want road races in this area, we as a community of bike racers, clubs, and promoters, have got to suck it up and step up our game and accept that we are going to have to throw a lot of resources at them.

Our own club has seen this over the past 5 or 6 years of holding Haystack. We've had to get extremely organized, streamlined, and do a ton of additional resourcing and paperwork up front in order for everyone involved to have a quality experience and for the club to make a profit. Is it a pain to have to have additional meetings and create a "race bible" and "volunteer bible" set of documents in order that the knowledge transfer is 100% good from year to year? Yes. Is it a pain to have to have multiple planning meetings beforehand, and a set of strategic "lessons learned" meetings after the fact? Yes. Is it all worth it? Absolutely.

It's like I said below. The old days of seat-of-the-pants training races are dead, at least using the road race format. Accept it and move on. If you want to have a road event, you're going to have to accept the fact that it will be expensive and logistically formidable to put on. Now that that's over with, what do you want to get out of it? What can you do for the community that you'll be putting at some inconvenience while you're there?

Those are the concepts we really need to start promoting here.

Blaming USAC/BRAC is so

Blaming USAC/BRAC is so ignorant.

Racers and the local governments dictate what has to be provided at races.

Local governments have rules and laws that cover group gatherings, road closures, insurance, bathrooms, police, food venders, beer, medical services, ETC.

Riders/races demand fast, accurate timing for all racers, points, prizes, medical, closed courses, insurance, bathrooms, and a separate race for each category

No promoter will run a race without insurance and medical.

Have you ever heard of the lawsuits that USAC and race promoters have to deal with every year? You would be shocked.

USAC, governing bodies, local associations provide many things along with a stable set of rules for all participants. Who coordinated the promoters, helped new ones, and put the race schedule together.... BRAC. Who sponsors and trains officials.... BRAC. Did any of the CO champions buy their champion vests and medals.... NO. Who provides race day insurance for everyone at a race for only a couple bucks.....USAC/BRAC.

Everyone has to chip in to cover all these costs even if you don't use the bathroom or the ambulance. Guaranteed that someone is using those services.

This is the type of

This is the type of entitlement that is so prevalent in Colorado. Me, me, me "I got to have everything the way I want it" because "I'm a freaking Cat 3" and "I got a podium in 2007". There are FAR too many fee's associated with putting on a race and you're slightly right, racers have dictated these changes. Are laps times worth $800 to a promoter? Did you think about that the last time you checked your lap times? Promoters often loose money so you can look at your precious lap times.

99% percent of us couldn't give a rip about champion vests, timing chips, orange fences at races, whatever...but we live in this world because of the few delusional neo-Lances that need that "pro" feel because they saw it on TV.

"Put the race calendar together", woop-dee-freakin'-doo, a monkey could do it and BRAC is paid. Don't forget that BRAC judges and referees combined payout for one race is over $600. What about the "operational surcharges" which are beyond the USAC Racer Insurance, that's $3 x racer and $2.4 X racer. So, 500 racers and that's $2750. It goes on and on.

Lastly, now BRAC is talking about mandatory preregistration fee's. Do racers pay or do the promoters? You know there will be hundreds of complaints on this very website when this shoe falls.

So if I'm ignorant and you're right, where are all the road races?


I found the USAC/BRAC surcharge sheets. Not so bad. Tells you exactly where the money goes.

USAC officials are the lowest paid officials in sports. How is that for a bargain? Most get just over minimum wage for 8.5 hours.

Look at the racers (cheaters, blowhards, Jr parents, ETC) that officials have to put up with? Amazing the the few keep coming back.

Are you really attacking the pennies that officials get? Lame

I will toss out the age old comment of "If you can run the place better then sign up for the job".