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 -;)

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85 Comments

Sea Otter Classic in Cali,

Sea Otter Classic in Cali, granted this is in another state but..... they include 35+ & 45+ cat 5's. They break up the RR into three days where there is also the Circuit Race split up over those days. The Crits are all held on a Thursday. Also offering 3 types of mountain bike races and a Cross race. A hand cyclist Circuit Race also. A huge event for sure and it isn't an international pro event. I guess the closest thing we have in Colorado is Superior Morgul. Must be a population thing or altitude thing but we should be able to put on a big AMateur event for people to travel to race.

Sea Otter

However, Sea Otter is not using highly traveled public roads for the race series. In addition, they pull from a much larger race demographic than we can in Colorado. Most CA races have 2 cat5 fields, sold out as well. Here the cat3's are averaging well below the max capacity.

Weld Co.

As the promoter of Mead last year and Weld Co. RR this year I am with Corey in wanting to do something about the lack of RRs in the state. As has been mentioned by him and others here, it's a lot work and pretty expensive. I'm far from a expert promoter, have a full time job, family, blah, blah, blah. But I know what I like (or at least used to like when I had time to train) as a road racer and that's interesting, fun road race courses. So that's what I'm trying to provide. But having people like me promoting one of the only RRs in the state is not a sustainable situation.

I appreciate the possibility of circuit races replacing RRs due to cost, etc. but I think they're a poor substitute. Maybe the future of racing is all crits and cross. But there is demand for good road races as evidenced by the turnout at Boulder Roubaix last year and the consistently good turnouts at Deer Trail. To get and keep more races like these we either need more professional promoters, like Without Limits, stepping in or more help from BRAC/USAC in laying the groundwork for RRs so that amateur promoters can step in without it being a full time job.

The glut of categories and the long race day that creates is an issue but I don't think it's the major limiting factor why we don't have more RRs. The amount of work and cost to get a RR course in the Front Range is fairly prohibitive. But if RRs were a priority for BRAC/USAC they could lessen both the work and cost through simple things like establishing contacts with local county and city officials, reducing fees for RRs, etc. A little bit would go a long way. I don't see that kind of support coming though.

Boulder Roubaix

Boulder Roubaix got 900 entries. Huge. Awesome.

But with the bad record keeping at race day registration and no chips, the results didn't come out.......forever. They should have spent a little of the reg money on real timing and scoring.

1. Cost: Look at how much it

1. Cost: Look at how much it costs to participate in an Ironman Triathlon. They pay about $650!!! Top notch events for ALL levels! Raise entry fees for RR's (I'd pay $75, maybe even $100, for a great RR event. In return, racers expect a top notch event. No 180 degree turns on a 2-lane road and only use one lane with a huge field.
2. Closing an entire road and using the entire road, not just a lane with threats of disqualifications for crossing the centerline. If every category starts 3-5 minutes behind another starting with the fastest categories going first, a section of road will be closed for just a few minutes and then reopened. If by chance a group is coming up on another group, a motorcycle escort honks early enough to inorm the slower group to pull over to one lane to let the faster group pass. No out and back courses.
3. Why are there 35+ 3 and 35+ 4 categories? Those ages have not lost that much skill. I can understand the 45+4 category and the 55+/65+.
Start a race with: 8:00am Men P/1/2, Men3, Women 1/2, Men4, Men45+4 Women 3/4, Men 55/65+, Women 55/65+. Last group would start only 35 minutes after the first group. Granted as the race goes along, the span between them does get bigger but the road would not be closed for very long, sectionally. Look at Deer Trail. It is using the roads ALL DAY LONG and affecting traffic and needing police coverage ALL DAY LONG.

Unless I am not in the knowledge of something, it can't be that complicated!

RRs

Sure, rolling closures are good things. It does take police at the front and back. But will cars really stop on the side of the road for 40 minutes and with so many gaps between riders? No way. Or police at the front of each group?

Good luck on getting enough racers in the M55+ and W55+ to make a field. Putting W3s with W4 is very unbalanced. Don't forget that those fields are the most "vocal".

Do all groups do the same distance or multiple laps or different loops or ....?

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