Cross of the North Exec Director, Tech Director, Course Director all step down

cx-of-the-northFrom Cross of the North’s Facebook Page

First off, I’d like to thank every individual that made the Cross of the North what it has become over the past 6 years – Our participants, our sponsors, our vendors, our officials, all the photographers that captured the activity, and especially our volunteers. You all played a role in making this event the best cyclocross event on the calendar (I admit to being biased.)

It is at this time that I have made the decision to resign my position as Executive Director. Our Technical Director Tommy Taylor has also made the decision to step down at this time. This decision is not as much in response to the resignation of our Course Director Jay Zorn a day ago rather, in support and alliance of it.

cotnWe have worked very hard over the past 6 years to break the model of typical CX racing in Colorado. Our primary goal was to create a destination event that showcased our lifestyle and community. We raised the bar in the details, (min. 3+ meter-wide lanes, double tape, two-way pit with water whether needed or not, a Friday night race under the lights, multiple food vendors, beer, kids zone, no gimmick features, hard fencing where needed, and in the last two years, the incorporation of live music.) It is unfortunate and frustrating that the race numbers (participants and spectators) have been unable to reflect the passion, vision, and level of enthusiasm we each have for this sport and community.

There have been a lot of suggestions and opinions on how to improve our model. Shorten the weekend, loose the night race, eliminate live music, reduce number of courses, etc., but this is our brand. This is our vision. This was the Cross of the North.

At this time I do not know the future of the Cross of the North and it pains me to let go. I love these people very much. However, I need to spend some time with family and get back to why I fell in love with this sport a decade ago.

Thanks for playing
Timothy Lynch
aka “Timmy”

14 thoughts on “Cross of the North Exec Director, Tech Director, Course Director all step down

  1. As a manager of the First City Cycling Team, I’d be interested in hearing legitimate and constructive feedback on the event.

    We’re trying to decide where to go with it from here.

    Thanks,
    Dan Porter
    First City Cycling Team
    Your Group Ride

  2. It’s always tough figuring out a good weekend with all the crap going on but I’d have liked to gone. Unfortunately this conflicted with the last regular season high school race. I’d guess you lost a couple hundred racer days to that as I know several other parents who race cx.

    I can’t imagine there are that many people from the bubble to impact things to this magnitude (I saw the graphic on facebook) but perhaps future events should consider this?

  3. I loved everything cross of the north did and they always run a quality event while looking at the details. I think you simply have to look at the trends of racers over the past few years. 1) Cross is more of a mainstream sport now than it has ever been. While it’s roots are from the beer drinking, don’t take it seriously crowd, things have evolved. That’s not to say that cx should go they way of all A type sports ie ironman, but that there is a larger percentage of riders/racers who take it very seriously. Our saving grace is that there is a good mix of everyone out there and we’re all having a great time racing cross.
    With that said, it also brings up the point that racers are taking things more seriously and are targeting races instead of racing twice every weekend. They aren’t traveling as much since there are a lot of races on the calendar and there’s simply more options these days.
    These are just a few of the trends that are occurring which would account for reduced participation no matter how glamorous an event is.
    So in my humble opinion three days of racing in Ft. Collins (don’t get me wrong I love the city) is going against the racer trend. It gets time consuming and expensive to travel to Ft. Collins multiple times a weekend so racers pick one day or the other.
    I’m not sure if there was a hotel deal advertised, but that could be a possible improvement to entice racers to spend the weekend up there and enjoy all that Ft. Collins has to offer.
    Other than that do 2 days and reduce your expenses.

  4. I realize that the three day format and live music make Cross of the North unique in Colorado, they also greatly add to the expenses, and I’m not sure how many additional people they draw in. (Especially the live music.)

    The reality is that most of us are busy enough that racing even two days in a weekend is unlikely to happen unless they’re both nearby. From Boulder, this year’s venue was an hour each way. Many people are willing to do that once in a weekend, but not twice, much less three times.

    I don’t know what the overall racer numbers look like (I’d be interested to know) – how many unique racers did you have over the weekend? Not racer-days, unique racers. Looking at the 50+_4 category, I see 24 different guys, only six of whom raced two days (and none raced all three). Of those six, two are from Fort Collins, two from Loveland, one from Windsor, and one from Longmont.

    The first thing I’d kill is the live music. I never saw more than a couple people actually standing around listening to it (the same was true at Valmont this year when they had a band), and if there is a crowd, wouldn’t you rather they be out watching the races? It’s a non-trivial expense that as far as I can tell doesn’t draw anyone to the venue, much less the race.

    Next I’d drop the Friday races. Yes, racing under the lights is cool (for those races that actually go after sunset), but you’re simply not going to get many non-locals if we need to take the afternoon off work to make it. While cross is great, we’re not going to burn vacation time for a Colorado race.

    Frankly, even having races both Saturday and Sunday is both good and bad. While you’ll likely pick up a few racers that can’t make the other day, what you’re largely doing is splitting the field in half.

    So yes, suddenly you’ve lost many of the things that make Cross of the North unique, but if it makes the race viable, isn’t it worth it? Personally I’d miss it if it’s done. I’ve liked all the various venues and courses you’ve had over the last few years. It would be a shame to lose it.

  5. Here is some feedback I heard and my own comments.
    * Friday is difficult for people to get to even if they live in Loveland/Fort Collins much less to the south.
    * Two days of racing just takes too much of the weekend, much less three. Especially if you’re adding 1.5-2 hours of driving total each day for the Boulder crowd. We don’t race two days on a weekend except for the Boulder Cup weekend or if we really like the courses for both days. Otherwise it is better to train and be able to get other ‘life’ things done.
    * CX of the North is known for technical courses. This is fine but the course this year with steep, loose drop offs scared off cat 4 and 5 racers or frankly most newbies. All you have to do is watch Facebook and you’ll see most of the pics are of people yard sailing it down an off camber in to a fence. While this seems funny at first, do you think this increases ridership from new racers? Is this a course that you would honestly tell a friend to come out and try CX for the first time?
    * I don’t particularly like courses that I would have went faster on a light hard tail mountain bike. Technical is fun but doesn’t need to be so bumpy and loose that it isn’t fun to race on a CX bike. I know it is difficult to do but some courses just aren’t fun to race for some people. This course would be one I put in that category. Better off on MTB, Really Dusty, Run Up that was very hard for some to get up period, down hills that got so loose they were getting dangerous even for good bike handlers.
    * The extra stuff done to make a cool atmosphere doesn’t mean much to some people. A bouncy house, live music, food trucks, coffee trucks, kids zone, etc. are nice but: A lot don’t have kids or leave them at home, bring their own food, make their own coffee before they leave the house, and won’t hang out just for the music.
    * Payouts don’t drive Cat 5-3 ridership. I’ve raced for 5 years and my highest finish is a 9th. Payouts make no difference to all but a few in each category. Only the people that have a true shot at winning or placing at least 3-5 would care about prize money.
    Recommendations:
    * Take it down to one day of racing
    * Reduce the number of extra amenities
    * Look for a date and tie in to another event in FC/Loveland area so it might be more worth it to drive up here. Easier said then done I know.
    * Do everything you can to find a permanent home so people can count on the terrain for the course. Some people say, “why would you want to race on the same course each year?” Well, maybe you like the course, you can count on not having too many goat heads, you know what to expect (especially if its not close to your house), its different from the other courses on other weekends so why does it matter if it is the same, not hurting attendance at other races.

    Finally I would say that I’m wondering if bicycle racing has hit a peak and is on a downhill slide due to the number of events and saturation. Winter Park’s MTB series has taken a huge slide in ridership, Road and CX racing are down this year as well. I am wondering if there is a shift happening where people just are tired of the competition and just want to enjoy riding their bike. Events like Grand Fondos, the Grinduro, Enduro, Gravel Grinding, marathon MTB rides/races, etc. seem to be growing. These events are more about the experience than where you place and seem to be where people are gravitating. The days of people racing two days of cyclocross just because that is what you’re supposed to do whether you like it or not seem to be gone. We’re picking and choosing where to spend our time and really no amount of money or special superfluous amenities will entice people to spend 2 hours in the car if they don’t really enjoy the event.

  6. Maybe three days of racing in the mud in Portland or Providence is a big deal, but three days of wallowing in the dust in Fort Collins doesn’t have the same appeal. I’d suggest dialing back on the non-race activities and focus on the racing, and just do 2 days.

  7. First, three days in Fort Collins is overkill. What other race has three days of racing in a row? Could a Boulder event even get a good turnout on all three days?

    Second, while you can be proud of your “brand” you have to ask how much is just adding costs without attracting racers. As a lowly Cat 4 racer all I want is a course, port-a-potties, convenient registration, and Larry (the announcer). I don’t need live music, food trucks, beer, hard fencing, bouncy houses, night race, water in the pits, etc. I show up to race and then head home so my wife doesn’t file for divorce. I know lots of married guys who simply can’t kill all day at a race. Not to mention bike racing is not exactly a fun spectator sport (unless you have some impossibly icy hill or perhaps a 30-foot mud pit)…it’s kind of like NASCAR just way slower (round and round).

    Third, a Friday race is a pain in the rear if you’re coming from the South. Have you driven I-25 on a Friday afternoon? No thanks…never for a bike race.

    In summary, pick one day and lose the fluff. The various venues you’ve had have been fine (in fact changing it up every couple years has been the main draw for me driving so far).

  8. Thanks for the feedback everyone. There are definitely several comments that come up consistently. If you haven’t done so, please fill out the BRAC survey whether you were at COTN 2016 or not. We plan to take all this into consideration when we decide what COTN 2017 will look like.

    Thanks again,
    Dan
    FCCT
    YGR

  9. I only raced Saturday, so take my feedback for what it’s worth:

    1) The course was awesome. I see comments above that it was too challenging, but that’s fine. It was really no more technical than Louisville’s Bowl of Death and people dig that race. We all race the same course on the same day and it encourages all of us to step up our game when the courses are more than grass crits.

    2) That said, having a different course for COTN every year starts to dilute the “brand.” If you don’t know what product you’re buying, it gets harder to justify the drive. Ideally, you guys could settle on one venue and really dial it in year after year.

    3) The Friday race is a no-go for those of us who work outside the Loveland/Ft. Collins area. Some will drive, yes, but if we get off work at 5pm and the drive is 1 hour, that’s just not going to work.

    4) The separation between parking and the race venue meant that most racers weren’t hanging around the tents on the hill. Back in the USGP days, the course, parking, and vendors were all very closely spaced. I think that’s a better setup.

    Hope you can keep the race going — I definitely enjoyed it last Saturday!

  10. Sunday Drop in numbers…
    From the US Open of Cross. Two days at same course at Valmont Park. Non-UCI number of racers.
    Saturday – 574
    Sunday – 404
    Would be interesting to see how many riders did both days vs. different riders per day.

    1. Take a look at non-UCI numbers from 2015 US Open of Cross:
      Saturday – 649
      Sunday – 378

      Looks like Sunday for this year was an anomaly, but not surprised that Saturday’s numbers were lower this year.

      General estimation: spectator numbers were down this year, too. Again, not surprised. With the weather as nice as it was, it would take a pretty die hard ‘cross fan to stand around and watch someone race instead of running, riding, hiking, or whatever.

      1. so if numbers drop we blame the Boulder bubble, BRAC, and it’s expected???? But if numbers go up, like they did Sunday at the US OPEN it’s an “anomaly”???? Cuz that makes sense

        1. it makes sense if you understand the definition of “anomaly”.

          You see, participation trends for the last couple of years indicate we should expect lower numbers. Not a lot lower, but at least a little. So, when a particular day of racing has higher numbers than you’d expect, that’s an (wait for it…) anomaly.

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