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: 


"Put the race calendar

"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.

Those charges are only if a racer shows up and starts a race. So one racer pays their $5.5. 100 racers pay a total of $550 ($5.5 each). I only see the promoter collecting the money for USAC and passing it on. Just like a business and sales tax collection.

You're forgetting mileage

Don't forget mileage for refs coming to the race and additional mileage for motorcycle refs while officiating packs. Usually 4 or 5 moto refs at a road race. Sometimes there has to have two moto refs for the Pro-1-2 fields, as they need extra help following the rules.
At $ 0.58 a mile, refs cost around $2K for a Road Race.

As a promoter, I could not

As a promoter, I could not put on our event on without the guidance and support of BRAC, our race officials and D&L timing. They are extremely professional, experienced, and from my experience in the past 5 years under compensated across the board. I would not hesitate to pay more for the level of support I received. And I beg to differ that the race calendar is an easy thing to execute, have you been part of that process before? USAC fees are a different argument entirely.


I started the Steamboat race over Labor Day weekend specifically because I wanted to see more road racing in Colorado and after many years of racing it was time to make a contribution back to the sport. When I moved here 5 years ago, it seemed easier to just launch a new road event rather than complain about the calendar being all crits and Hill climbs. Overall the Steamboat Stage race has been a success financially and I think a good addition to the Colorado calendar. I give you my thoughts to chew on-

The challenges of putting on this race and the road race specifically have included:

1)CO Riders won't race X type of course, especially if they have to travel to it. Too flat, too hilly, too hard, elevation profiles not accurate. Over a long road course, it is more likely you will have all kinds of terrain that might result in someone getting dropped! Racers seem to be very vocal here about what they don't like, what they won't race on, and why your race is going to fail. I have saved some pretty awesome quotes from various folks complaining over the past 4 years. However I never forget that it is a business and racers are customers, but sometimes I think Colorado has a very different mindset about what racing should be and maybe that is giving promoters pause before starting something new.

2)More masters categories with every sub category wanting non combined races. The 35+_3 won't race with the 1-2 or the 4s. The 35+_4s don't want to race with the 45+_4s, the 55+ don't want to be combined with women. Group X has so many more racers than this group, so they should get their own race. A lot of promoter energy is expended dealing with every group wanting their own separate race and each year we have made an effort to accommodate this. But more categories = longer days & higher costs, especially for a road race. And it honestly leaves no energy or resources as a promoter to look at ways to grow non masters categories like juniors, women, cat 2 riders, etc. Beyond the argument that they are the biggest fields and generate the money, what is the goal with the current masters classification and how is it impacting racing positively or negatively? The circuit race and crit is always easier to run more categories, unlike the road race. If I dropped the road race and just did a crit/tt, I know it would be incredibly easier to promote based on staging road race categories alone.

3)Getting out of state racers to travel to Colorado for a race. Less of an issue now that their USAC licenses are honored here, but it there is no reason in my mind why Colorado should not have more national events and more road races creating more draw.

4)Fee's and rules that don't make a distinction between one day race and 3 or 4 days of racing. For example, expecting that we should have a podium presentation and prize list for every Cup category for every day of racing. Or charging out of state racers ridiculous one days fees over four days ($40s in additional fees in past years). More a general challenge, but sanctioning bodies that recognize the importance of and cost of promoting road races would help.

5)Trying to have a G.C. competition as well as BRAC cup points competition taking place within the same race. A few racers have said the stage race format is pointless and we would be better off with an omnium so they can target cup points. How much are we dumbing down the sport of cycling to a simple points competition?

What makes it work:
1)All of the BRAC staff and D&L timing have been outstanding, could not have done it without their input and support. Dean Crandall, J Tarkington, Yvonne and others helped us design ambitious courses from the year one.
2)Steamboat is a Mountain town with interest in economics of the race and has big community buy in. We have rural roads and no use of state highways for our courses.
3)Cash Sponsorship, every year we overcome the road race costs through healthy sponsorship.
4)In-kind sponsorship: We use over 20 vehicles for our road race support caravan, All of them are volunteer vehicles. The number of volunteers needed is also highest for the road race.
5)Road racing get's people excited to race. We have seen it first hand with new racers in Steamboat getting very excited to tackle the stage race and the road course. It is not the same excitement and interest for a one day crit.
6)Having pro riders compete. Even a handful of high profile racers elevates the media attention, sponsor interest, and spectator turnout. High level pros come to race because we have ambitious and challenging courses.

If anyone wants input on promoting a road race I will gladly offer my time.

Good feedback. For the

Good feedback. For the record, I complain about too many HC events, but did all three steamboat races, even though it was essentially an uphill TT and a climbers RR. Good event all the way around.

Agree with too many masters categories, most people think so.