Coffee Talk - Time for unsanctioned races?

Nothing was better in my early years of being a bike racer than the Wednesday night TT's we did. About 20ish riders would roll up to one of the only roads that had a shoulder in town and we'd go 5 miles out, look for the painted arrows turn around and race back. No permits, no, cops, no volunteers at the corners stopping traffic (you had to time it right with cars) and no "posted results or points". Cost was $0. Best experience I ever had in my early days of racing, you learn so much about how much pain the body can take in those early years that is valuable for the training or racing coming up that weekend.

Where did those Wednesday TT's of my youth go? Some of the races today are getting pricey, I'm not complaining, big races like Boulder Cup takes big investments and lot of expenses and risks but some riders just can't do it anymore, especially if they don't get the royal treatment.

While reading the Daily Camera today I was for a moment returned to the 90's racing those Wednesday night TT's for no prizes, results or points, just for pain and knowledge, unsanctioned racing. Their article was about a new ad campaign by Pearl Izumi to forget about those big events and go rouge, underground. Why not? Permits are nearly impossible to get these days from local governments and the police force you need to have on had can get pretty pricey and there are plenty of nice parks around. Of course unsanctioned races have no insurance if you crash but you learned from Megan Hottman, The CyclistsLawyer that race insurance isn't going to cover a whole lot if you are hurt. What's stopping you besides very illegal and you could get sued to death?

Thanks Pearl Izumi for taking me back to those days and remembering what it is like to race for nothing but glory.

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16 Comments

There are many Denver,

There are many Denver, Littlefun and Golden options. You just need to know the right guy/gal to get the skinny. Stop in pretty much any bike shop and someone will get you hooked up. I've ridden in 100+ groups on Wadsworth in the Spring, several pro/neo pro's attend.

Don't get Group Rides mix up with Races

Are you mixing up intense group rides (or just group rides) up with unsanctioned races?

Folks have complained about Lookout HC is too expensive considering how long you are on the bike... so why not have a rogue underground race up Lookout the day after so something like that?

Heck, Boulder could use that for Flagstaff, no problem if the city won't give you a permit...

Maybe it's up for

Maybe it's up for interpretation. I consider Meridian a fast group ride but also a non-organized race of sorts. Same thing with the Wadsworth ride. Not exactly races but many people from multiple teams going hard, ego's at stake. :)

Off topic but this thread is blowing my mind. Several years ago I pitched a Website called "Rogue Racing" which uses almost the exact tech as Strava. We blew off the idea because we thought it would promote unsafe riding. Yeah, I'm an idiot.

Just call 10 of your friends and tell them meet you at the Pillar. Word will spread. Sounds cool to me.

Well, Meridian is south of

Well, Meridian is south of Denver and goes Tu/Th over daylight savings (March till now). Chatfield "worlds" goes Sat mornings beginning the 1st Sat of year; 9 and 10, basically A and B groups. And plenty of good riders organize at Deer Creek Sat/Sun morns throughout the year. These rides may not have the rich talent depth of Boulder, but there are several elite riders on down, so one can ride as hard as they desire.

You had me at "rogue" and "underground".

The whole Fight-Club approach to racing has always appealed to me. Probably more in the spirit of rebellion than anything else. How many times have you been riding somewhere random and thought to yourself: "This would be a fantastic place to have a bike race!"? This happens to me about once a week.

Then reality sets in...oh, I could never do that. There's the cost, the man-power, the permits, the results, closing the streets and or/moving that rusty broken down tractor, etc. BUT. If it were all done UNDER the radar like drag racing (which apparently, is quite a problem down in Littleton--in places like the parking lot at Kohl's after midnight)...if it were like that, well. Sign me up.

Yes, the Bus-stop and Weds. Worlds are all fine and dandy if you are super-fly fast and live in Boulder. Not that there's anything wrong with either of those things...they just don't apply to me or countless others. But I have to hand it to this group: they did it. I imagine that someone back in 19-diggity-two was out riding with friends, had a happy little sprint-fest and then they repeated it. It caught on and stuck.

Let's jump on the "keep it local" bandwagon. Where do you ride? Where is your sprint-fest? Where is your Kohl's parking lot after midnight? Pick the place, set the casual start/end point, show up and bring your friends. The results are easy. You won, you lost, or you were somewhere in the middle. the podium is sitting in the back of your car with a beer. And if you fall or crash, don't be a baby. Don't be a jerk. That should be your waiver. Promising not to be a big, fat, jerk-baby.

I live in Golden by the way. Let's get this rolling, Goldenites.

I am in favor, however the

I am in favor, however the only caveat is that the bustop ride and other poorly-regulated local group "races" (deer creek canyon rides, the unsanctioned crit (Meridian) south of town, etc, have done a fair bit of harm in terms of advocacy, driver relations, etc. If you don't mind the ride getting pulled over and ticketed, and the negative image you're sending to the community, then by all means go for it.

I guess one of the other things to consider is that cycling has grown quite a bit since the mid 90's and the chances of keeping this sort of thing under wraps are slim to none these days. This introduces additional risks - my experience has been that any regular groupride / mock race, etc... eventually gets taken over by a lot of "straphangers", rec riders, and others with limited to appalling bike handling skills.

It used to be in the late 80s/early 90s that there was a strong tradition that dictated that the elite and experienced racers (aka padrones) of the ride would take the n00bs in hand, mentor them, correct them, dress them down, or kick them off the rides, depending on the frequency and level of intervention required, and the leaders were correspondingly well respected and listened to, as that was an integral part of their leadership role. Sadly I don't really see this happening anymore, whether for the sake of being politically correct / inclusive or just from lack of interest.

last but not least on the litigation piece - from the mid 80s up until about 1994 there used to be a fantastic, successful and very well-run unsanctioned Tuesday night road racing series in the Dayton, Ohio area. It ended badly when a (rookie) racer made a poor decision on a descent, crossed the centerline and got hit head on by a car. Fortunately he survived but his family sued the club and race organizers into bankruptcy and the region did not hold another event (sanctioned or no) for several years afterwards - no one was willing to take the risk. It only takes one bad decision or honest mistake to really ruin it for everyone.

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