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

Does the Buffalo classic turn

Does the Buffalo classic turn into a defacto race?

I'm wondering how feasible it would be to do a combo race / gran fondo type event where the race is a mass start (all racers) and the fun ride starts 5 minutes later. It seems like financially it would work a lot better and it would be over quicker.

Be thankful

One year, back in the early 90’s, I promoted a crit in downtown Tucson and a road race down near Green Valley. I was the first to use the road race course and it is still in use today, 20 years later, for the Tucson Bicycle Classic. Many a CO racer is familiar with the course, and they’ll get it when I explain how it fits into this conversation.

When I first started my planning for the race, I soon found that a major cost would be traffic control and police presence. Many of the courses I was considering were off limits, as it turned out, because some of the responsible parties wouldn’t even consider granting a permit. Or, they’d grant a permit ONLY with extensive police presence.

For example, my crit was essentially a simple four-corner affair. I had to have a patrolman at each corner. For every two patrolmen, I had to have a police sergeant. Since I had four corners, each with a patrolmen, I had two sergeants. Guess what? Now I need a police lieutenant to oversee the two sergeants, who were each overseeing two patrolmen. Couldn’t keep ‘em all day, so I had to have two shifts worth. And, they wanted over-time rates since they were off duty. MAJOR expense. If not for the fact that the city had signed on as a co-sponsor of the event, it never would’ve happened. The cost was a deal breaker.

However, I lucked upon a really nice, challenging road course that didn’t use any state highways and didn’t go through any city or town boundaries. The route was exclusively on country roads. That way, I only had to deal with a county sheriff, and luckily he was very supportive. I ended up with ONE deputy to work the one major intersection nearest to Green Valley itself, volunteers from a club that was helping promote the event at the four intersections on the course, and members of the Sheriff’s auxiliary, a volunteer group that donated their time free of charge just for the experience of helping patrol the roads and play on their radios. Including a donation to the auxiliary and a payment for the deputy, the cost for traffic control for the road race was a minimal expense.

As for the course itself, luckily it was within a 45 min drive the center of Tucson, so most cyclists didn’t have to drive more than 30-45 minutes, maybe an hour. Additionally, it was in an area with minimal development, so I didn’t have to worry too much about traffic on the course itself. It’s different these days, of course, but still not too heavily trafficked a route.

The experience was eye-opening, especially in retrospect, in that it was nearly impossible to find a suitable road course. Luckily, I found one that was for all intents and purposes perfect. I got lucky, but I feel for promoters in CO today trying to put on road races. Any time any of us want to rag on race promoters or clubs for not putting on “road races”, we should stop, take a deep breath, and ask ourselves if we could do it at all, much less better.

Next time you get to compete in a real, live road race (here in CO or wherever) please take the time to thank the promoter, the volunteers, and the officials.

Amen

Nice comment on your experience. Having searched for RR courses in the Boulder/Longmont area the last two years I can testify how hard it is, and it's only getting harder. I think we got lucky finding a course near Johnstown this year but we'll just have to see how much the racers like it.

We've had the benefit of support from one particular State Patrol officer and that has made things a lot easier. As you found in your experience somebody like that can make all the difference in whether you can get and afford to use a course. Totally lucky that we found this officer.

Those kind of relationships are gold and establishing and keeping them are crucial to having RRs in this area in the future. This is where BRAC/USAC could really help but they don't have the vision.

The cop story is pretty

The cop story is pretty absurd on their part. Wonder if that town ever had a special event. What a money grab by the cops and city. Hopefully some newly elected council member looked into that and told them to knock it off and chasing away business.

Money

Racing 20+ crits at $35-$40 per plus travel expenses and gear costs maxes out my budget. I know everyone has different budgets, but road races, although way cooler, cost too mush and I, for one, simply cannot afford to race them anymore. I crossed every race off my list this year that charges over my price range. I'm sure that I am not the only one that thinks like this.

^if you are on a team, and

^if you are on a team, and they have a race requirement, then cutting out a couple crits doesn't accomplish anything, because then I just paid alot for a RR, and still have to fulfill at least the minimum. If you aren't on a team and have no-one to answer to for your results and race schedule, then sure, whatever.

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