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

As an active observer I can say...

I read a lot of comments on this website, but I believe there are others who read even more of them than I do, but I can say from experience what you are missing above.

1. Registration fees, we did a poll on 303 and have read in comments as well and that is $80 race fee is out of range for many, if any thing racers are wanting more ghetto style races with no whistles, prizes, timing devices, etc and be cheap. (poll link has already been added to this comment thread somewhere). Some would speculate that the grand Rist Canyon RR was run out of biz by costs and expensive registration, otherwise that great race would still be here at a cost of maybe $150 a rider.

2. Why the 35+3 or 35+4? Don't forget how big the pool of cyclists there is to pull from. I am the perfect customer for this, I do about 2 road races a year and as a licensee holder of cat 3 I can say there is no way I could hang with the cat 3's. If I could do 4's than maybe but considering my history I can't so if there is any chance you want to me race you have to lower the bar and give me a sub category, otherwise my registration fee was simply a donation.... still might be that but at least I have a better chance. (sorry 35+3 if you feel insulted by this). Racing is never easy but every participate wants to feel like they have a chance before they consider racing.

Putting on a race is HARD work and high risk. I've said this many times over that while 303 takes a lot of time I'd much rather do this than attempt to put on a race, especially an RR!

Kris

Let's not forget, too, that

Let's not forget, too, that the typical triathlete, especially IM competitor, doesn't race more than a handful of times per year. Plus, doing any IM is a huge life event for most folks, maybe even a once in a lifetime event. Spending more money for such a memorable event is one thing... spending upwards of $60-70 or more for a typical CO RR or Crit every weekend for a whole summer is another thing altogether.

I didn't race Rist Canyon when it was being held, but I'm pretty certain that it did not rise to the level of a $150 race in anyone's book.

Wait....you can't hang with

Wait....you can't hang with the group in you're categorized, and therefore won't bother racing unless there is another middle ground race where you might have a shot?

If you can't deal with the anguish of finishing a race behind the main group, you should have to either train harder/get faster, downgrade, or not race. Creating endless race categories means the event lasts ALL DAY, so recruiting volunteers is harder, spectating gets really boring, and if it is on the road, longer (expensive/difficult to secure) road closures are involved.

"or not race"

I understand your point, really and for that very reason I don't race that much road any more and I'm ok-ish with that, there are plenty of other options in Colorado. Now put yourself in the position of a professional promoter or the ACA who wants racer retention and racer grown, I just told you why I don't spend many with them any more or don't race as much on the road. My view point is not a rare one.

Also, is downgrading a promoted concept by officials and other racers?

I am speculating here but there is a large group of racers who want to compete but Colorado racing is too stiff (nothing wrong with that, Colorado racers are fast!) but where do they go, a tour? No way, there isn't a tour I am aware of that can remotely fill that desire to compete. Sure they could train harder. IMO the Centurion was a great solution but it's cost ran itself out of business in Colorado

Kris

Problem with USAC is that

Problem with USAC is that they changed the rules so that One-Day racers can only race as a Cat. 5 (Men) / Cat. 4 (Women). There are a lot of "ex-racers" out there that would probably toe the line at a few races if they could do their old category. They don't want to pay $30 + $10 for a 20 min. crit or a 1 lap road race, they want to race 45min+ at crits or 3 or 4 laps at road races.
This rule is starting to show in racing numbers and will only get worse as people don't feel like spending $85 on licenses just to do a few events...

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