Tuesday Coffee Talk - No one is watching

Where are the fans?

This past Sunday Colorado was lucky enough to hold another run of the Koppenberg Race. The race was fairly well attended with about mid 500's in terms of registration and the pro's field had an good representation of elite riders in our area. The weather was great...hell it was perfect considering how the last 30 days had been in Colorado yet at is with many Colorado races few turned out to watch, less than 50 during the 3rd wave on the hill.

Why is it Flagstaff can pack on nearly 20,000 spectators and spend nearly a full day to watch a field go by once? Watching a pro level race like that is exciting as the race usually gets to take advantage of roads that would have never been opened up to normal racing. But is it that much better? It is better but a difference of 20,000 to 50 does not reflect the quality of racing Colorado has to offer crowds. But still few showed up, why?

"Cycling is a participation sport, if you like it you should be out racing it!" I agree with that statement but the total registration for the race did not exceed 5000 so again, where is the gap? That section of the hill could have been just as fun as any pro race with (at least) hundreds of fans, music, beer, and all that goes on with the energy of watching a great race. Sure their speed might have been a few mph slower than that what Lance Armstrong could have done had he done the Koppenberg in his "prime years" but does it matter? It's a beautiful day, on a epic race course, away from city regulations... this hill could and should be rockin!

This conversation can go in many directions but one thing I hear often on 303 is how crappy courses are and how expensive the registration fees are. We are partly to blame... and I am talking not only to the racers but ALL CYCLISTS. If we gave Colorado races 10% the love we gave the USAPro Challenge it would completely change the landscape of racing in Colorado. Imagine 2,000 fans on the Koppenberg hill! Get those numbers and the quality of the field (which is good) will go to awesome and probably double if not triple in size.

I leave you with this one request. In 2013 add this to your list of todo's
- If you are a racer - attend and watch one race (field) that you are not racing
- If you don't race - attend and watch one race (MTB, Road or Cross)
- Tell and cycling friend (who might not ever consider racing) to watch a great race (we have at least 1 great event a month (at least).

Tell us your opinion on this

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Koppenberg fans

I agree. I raced on Sunday and also stuck around with a few teammates to watch the next wave of racers. I try to stay out there and give others the cheers that I received. I also had 3 non cycling friends show up. It's a good way to show these people why I'm on my. Bike all the time. Bottom line, make time for others, it might even make you feel all warm inside

Sunday was the first time in

Sunday was the first time in years I have not made it out to either race, or spectate, or (preferably) both at the Koppenberg - only because I'd pre-registered for a rather expensive MTB race (Battle the Bear) that got moved to Sunday in conflict (thanks, snowstorms). Plus almost my entire team was out of town, either at 18 Hours of Fruita or at Gila. I did talk the event up to everyone I know. My former boss lives in Rock Creek and rides his MTB out there with his 2 sons every spring - they love to hang out and watch the fun, and they're not even bike racers.

Battle the Bear had a real festival going on - they moved their start/finish down to the creek this year and put up a big bouncy castle, dealer / demo / expo area, a beer tent you could ride through, food trucks, etc. There were probably 50% more spectators scattered around the course than what you'd see at the Kopp, but Lakewood and the park / lake itself is also a more popular and populous venue anyhow, and there's arguably more "captive audience" appeal with a 3-4 hour enduro cross-country event than a short circuit road race.

And seriously, this is no slam on Without Limits at all - they do a fantastic job of organizing and promoting events, and I think they are on the right track. This was their first (?) year holding the Kopp, no? I would guess that a lot of their road events promotions budget for this year (and rightfully so, I think) is likely targeted towards Superior Morgul, and that **IS** a big public festival, and should remain so - otherwise where is the impetus for Superior to keep bringing it back every year and go through all the cost and hassle of road closures, etc.?

as a final thought - the logistics for the Koppenberg are really, really challenging for spectators. You can't really safely access the hill during the event with an automobile, so where do you imagine spectators are going to go? Where are they going to park? Is every family going to want to tow their toddlers up Coal Creek Drive in a kiddie trailer, or brave dodging the fields to get there? The Mayhoffer-Singletree trail, unfortunately, doesn't come close enough to offer a good alternate bike access either.

Party on The Kopp

I have seen the number of spectators on the Kopp ebb and flow over the years. Some years, the hill is packed for the SM3's & Pro 12 fields, others (like this year), just a hand full. Was it race promotion? Not really, but...Without Limits has been a Tour de Force when putting on races along the Front Range. Where was the party atmosphere? Missing. Where were some of the marquee riders? Giro, Gila, retired. Here is where the "But" comes in...maybe step it up for 2014 by having a second announcer on The Kopp with KOM points, so to speak...adding "legal" beverage tent and Belgian flags lining The Kopp. The one thing I have noticed over the years is many of the spectators on The Kopp are racers hanging out after their race. Just my take.

Dejan you are brilliant - I

Dejan you are brilliant - I've said the Kopp needs a KOM points competition for years. And yes, some years it's been insane up there. I know of at least 25 beer-drinking, cowbell-ringing insane-in-a-good-way individuals from my team alone who would have been out on the Kopp hill in force had they not taken the party to Fruita instead.

Doesn't even need a 2nd announcer - any idiot in a costume with a bullhorn and a good spiel could pull it off if they had some publicity / forewarning. I can think of at least 3 good candidates right now...

apples to oranges

How many commercials did you see advertising the Koppenberg?
How many top level pros raced? (Evans, Cancellara, etc.)
How many of us can see these same guys race almost every weekend?
How many people raced the Pro Challenge first and then kept their family around to watch the pros?
There is nothing better than a large crowd cheering you on but unfortunately your comparing apples to oranges.

They are the same

It would be fun to take a camera to one of the pro races and ask the fans to name 5 riders in the field. I bet most will stop after 3. Bottom line, it's just bike racing. Do you think the fans that showed up at Flagstaff were true fans of some of the riders in the field?

Here is another spin, I like to go watch the Rockies play... I might be able to tell you 1 or 2 players on the team. I can't even explain the score board to a newbie but I do it about once a year and have a great time.

One more spin. In Illinios, each memorial weekend they have 4 races in the Quad cities (border Iowa). For years the big race was held in Moline. Moline is not a hot bed for cycling.... but come every memorial day that town really turns out! Yet here in at the Tigris and Euphrates of American cycling we can't equal that.

Moline IS a hotbed for racing

Moline IS a hotbed for racing. There's a large Belgian community there that's always come out in full, if mildly inebriated, support of bike racing. And Moline sure doesn't have "race fatigue" like Boulder, where if you miss this one, there's always another one in a week or two.