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Talk me off the ledge (Race Promotion)

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Talk me off the ledge (Race Promotion)

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Old 11-26-18, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by DieterDrake View Post
... why kids aren't racing bicycles on the road... ...
They were as juniors. Now, most I know, no longer do. Maybe it was a been there, done that, or they had to make a choice. Not being able to race adults under the same rules might have kept some from assimilating into the adult racing culture, and increased cost. Seems less than 20% of the kids I knew (~2014-2016) that raced dozens of UCI Euro road races are racing on the road now. USA junior world ability level being higher now pressures USA kids to decide earlier to be a pro-or not. Once they decide you are not going to climb to the top it is understandable why they don't want to continue the grind. The goal is gone. Maybe USAC shouldn't take kids to Europe to race, rather have them race here, how they want, vs how USAC wants.


Originally Posted by DieterDrake View Post
...While all the above has and is happening, non-sanctioned mass-start riding and racing is thriving everywhere. ...
Mike Nosco, Rogers Cup and other fondos can be far more competitive and seen as more fair than USAC RR. All kinds of groups race together, for fun. They get more riders, more spectators and more video hits. I'll likely head out to Rogers Cup (non Race) to watch - in a few days.

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Old 11-26-18, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
They were as juniors. Now, most I know, no longer do.
Yes, but the point is that kids today are not now. That's a real problem for which a solution to has been neglected for a really long time. Solve that problem and we won't have this discussion in another 10 years...
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Old 11-26-18, 05:24 PM
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I can't wait for the documentary: Junior Gearing and the Downfall of American Cycling

Specifically the part where all those kids raced on unfair gears until they were old enough to use proper gear inches and then they quit.
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Old 11-26-18, 05:31 PM
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I've posted many times about things that I think would help kids stay in longer and transition to adult racers.

-Don't have rules based on age, or handicap kids with equipment restrictions, from bikes they may ride to gear restrictions.
-Don't have rules on how kids may / may not ride (2018 VOS penalized for forearms on handlebars).
-Don't have racing groups by gender and age, make categories based on ability.
-Do not have a USAC junior program. Keep national coaches out. That makes for yet another grouping and takes kids out of the USA. Kids at low ages may not appreciate Europe the way older kids/adults might.
-Rather than USAC (and UCI) calling anything with 2 wheels cycling, narrow to classic cycling.
-Shorten national amateur road races to UCI mins, and below for Cat 1s.

I am torn on having overlapping championships, but staggering them so kids can do all of them I think causes more burn out.
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Old 11-26-18, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I am of the opinion that without a "Lance" the sport will continue to dwindle. It doesn't get media attention at all, at any level in this country. We are car-centric and without an american hero out there beating up on the twiggy Euro boys, there's no story. No story means fewer people ever see it and think "that looks like fun!"
The race license trends reflect only our performance in road in Europe. It truly is the overriding factor that determines our popularity.

I didn't read everything in detail from everyone but in general to those that don't know me outside of Bikeforums, etc - I've developed the second largest team in Illinois. That team has had a main focus on women's racing since day 1. We have bouts of men's cat3 fabulousness at times but meh - team rosters are always in constant flux. We worked hard at developing what I saw as a the segment with the most potential - women's racing - for the better part of the last decade. Most of the pros and teams I have sponsored are usually women's programs. My races over the years - I have always bucked convention and tried all sorts of new or different approaches. 10 years ago it was "payouts need to be equal!" my response was "no - let's pay the women more". While I enjoyed doing that and the tiny handful of women's racers who actually raced told me they appreciated it, there was definitely no change or long term growth because of that. To this day we still pay the women's field $1 more than the men's.

I have had women's masters races when there hasn't been any. I changed race duration to equal the men's (on that one got strange pushback I still don't understand but whatever). Cut men's duration to equal the women's.

I've had large payouts. I've had no payouts. When clubs full of middle aged North Shore white men decide that promoting their race is just "too expensive" for them to continue doing I step in and take it over....only to see numbers continue to drop as it's not hosted by the cool kids club anymore.

We've had Juniors functions, years of women's clinics. I paid to put together a composite women's team to race Joe Martin. That started a movement here in Chicago leading to some to create their own team and calling it Chicago Women's Elite Cycling - still around technically today who somewhere had the main purpose to develop and grow the women's cycling population in this area. In reality the number of women racing in races here locally has actually dropped to a near all time low in road (since I have been here ~2008 or so).

Advocacy doesn't work. Sponsorship don't work. Payouts don't work. Making it less expensive doesn't work. Making it more expensive doesn't work.

Time and time and time again I keep coming back to the fact that I have seen things work. They work when people WANT them. It doesn't matter who it is geared towards. It doesn't matter what it costs. It HAS to hold the imagination in a pop culture desire and want sort of way and it JUST DOESN'T have that as a sport right now.

Right now and for the last 5 -8 years or so we have had some of the most compelling racing and racers in cyclocross on the women's side. They are now considered some of the best in the world (at least able to compete, podium and sometimes win in Europe). They are amazing racers. They all have huge personalities and are more than gracious with their time and access. Any idiot with a microphone can make even the fairest of fair weather fans a rabid addict of the sport ..... and yet at our best right now cross number are "holding" (unless you have cross weather then they are down like mine )

Sorry - it's winter and I am going to keep coming back here every now and then and unloading. Have to do that enough so that I still do this next year.

Also - I go to just about every race all year. I pre-registered even to race myself this last weekend. It's a smaller race outside of our series and held across the border in Indiana. That means the fickle crowds of Chicago cross won't drive the 30 minutes to go to it. The course is fabulous and the people are great. By all means a better race than many that are in the Chicago Cup as it is. Winter storm blows in. Wife is like - if we get caught there and can't get home our lives are going to suffer greatly. So at the end of a long season and with my pre-registration fee already paid for myself and my son I decide to pull the plug and not go. I have been getting constant crap about not going ever since. It's like somehow now I am a traitor. Meh.
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Old 11-26-18, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I can't wait for the documentary: Junior Gearing and the Downfall of American Cycling

Specifically the part where all those kids raced on unfair gears until they were old enough to use proper gear inches and then they quit.
I always love hearing about how kids would cheat during the Superweek era. They would stack a 11 or 12 cog at the back of the cassette - hidden behind the 25 or 28. When going for the sprint they would shift it up and over the large cog and into the 12 to finish. After winning - stop and pull the chain back up onto the cassette and no one is the wiser.....until the official caught on.
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Old 11-26-18, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
The race license trends reflect only our performance in road in Europe. It truly is the overriding factor that determines our popularity.
so you're saying I'm right, right?

anyway, you do you. I'd never give up what it takes to put on a race. I appreciate all the bull**** promoters go through, and would gladly race w/o prizes (and do that in the early-bird races every year) if the course is something I can reasonably get to and compete on.
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Old 11-26-18, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
I always love hearing about how kids would cheat during the Superweek era. They would stack a 11 or 12 cog at the back of the cassette - hidden behind the 25 or 28. When going for the sprint they would shift it up and over the large cog and into the 12 to finish. After winning - stop and pull the chain back up onto the cassette and no one is the wiser.....until the official caught on.
I'd want to see that before I believe it. The chainline alone from the big ring to the innermost cog is usually garbage, now make that inner cog tiny and next to a fat cog directly in the line?

Also, what kind of ref who is looking at the cassette to ensure you're in the biggest gear isn't going to spot something that weird! All sounds like a made-up ****** post.
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Old 11-26-18, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
so you're saying I'm right, right?
Indeed
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Old 11-26-18, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
I'd want to see that before I believe it. The chainline alone from the big ring to the innermost cog is usually garbage, now make that inner cog tiny and next to a fat cog directly in the line?

Also, what kind of ref who is looking at the cassette to ensure you're in the biggest gear isn't going to spot something that weird! All sounds like a made-up ****** post.
I have heard it from more than 1 person and from the officials who worked Superweek back in the day. This is most likely 7-8 speed drivetrain era and most of those junior cassettes were corncobbs anyway - they may have only been dropping off a 21. Pretty sure I heard it from Rich Weiss - Here's a shot of him from back in the day overlooking the guys at moline (89)



Hell if I get bored enough this winter maybe I'll throw one together to see how it works. I'm guessing you'd need a small spacer to push the cassette out enough to clear it well enough.

As for the ref - it was behind the biggest cog so you never saw it. Rollout was always down in the smallest cog so they only look to the farthest outside.
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Old 11-27-18, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
simply become another in a long line of people that gave everything, got used up and burned out and then walked away.
That sounds like... well it sounds a lot like amateur bike racing - I guess as a competitor and as a promoter.

I have no idea what the solution is. All I can say is THANK YOU for going through this, giving those that do show up a reason to train!

I see local promoters going through a similar struggle: trying everything under the sun to get more people to show up, and getting nothing but flak from seemingly all sides. I'll tell you what I told him: for every person complaining on Facebook, there are (hopefully!) five people silently showing up and enjoying what you do.

So, thanks.
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Old 11-27-18, 05:04 AM
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The New Jersey State Masters Road Race was held in conjunction with the NY State Road Race (in New York) because all the road race promoters in New Jersey stopped promoting road races. For years there were a bunch of great courses (including the classic P12 race sommerville weekend which was a legit point to point RR with a rolling enclosure - coolest race I've ever done) but over time they became limited to racing in the pine barrens (read: 75 mile crit courses). This year the guys who put on those races packed it in, leaving no one to promote states and a bunch of holes for longer races.

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Old 11-27-18, 06:49 AM
  #38  
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Weve stopped promoting road races. We held more last year than in many previous years but they were just long circuit races (read crits with long laps) there are no legitimate road races left that I can think of.

Well actually we call those gravel races now anyway.
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Old 11-27-18, 07:29 AM
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A bunch in new england that are legit. The NJ/NY championship I mentioned above was held in harriman state park which is a course that had been previously used for nationals.

Indeed, not many though
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Old 11-27-18, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
Weve stopped promoting road races. We held more last year than in many previous years but they were just long circuit races (read crits with long laps) there are no legitimate road races left that I can think of.

Well actually we call those gravel races now anyway.

i know it's not a true road race and tbh 80 miles or whatever we did was too much, but Elgin is still one of my all time favorite courses.
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Old 11-27-18, 03:31 PM
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Somebody tell me what is wrong with the race all groups together by ability with no rules based on group (men, women, juniors race those of equal ability, with same equipment) idea.
Fondos are doing just fine doing just that.
I though it was really cool I raced with Connie Carpenter and Rebecca Twigg and some of my favorite rides were with older celebs that dumped me like a rock.
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Old 11-27-18, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Somebody tell me what is wrong with the race all groups together by ability with no rules based on group (men, women, juniors race those of equal ability, with same equipment) idea.
Fondos are doing just fine doing just that.
I though it was really cool I raced with Connie Carpenter and Rebecca Twigg and some of my favorite rides were with older celebs that dumped me like a rock.

In an imaginary world where there are only long road races with natural obstacles (read: hills) to break things up it might be fine. The majority of races are crits or circuits where lapping is a reality. Fondos are fine, but they're typically long on open roads with some folks racing and others aren't. That's just not what everyone is looking for. The market will ultimately decide, and since there's a much larger populace of non racing cyclists that fondos appeal to they're going to be successful, at least for a while at least. Triathlons are apparently on a downswing, so the one constant is that things change. Get your kid to win the tour in dramatic fashion and perhaps we'll have a sport for the next generation in this country.
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Old 11-27-18, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
In an imaginary world where there are only long road races with natural obstacles (read: hills) to break things up it might be fine. The majority of races are crits or circuits where lapping is a reality. ...
It can work for crits as well, better than what we now have. I must not be explaining this correctly. In a crit you would still have several races, just with fields of similar ability. So Cat 1 women racing with Cat 2/3 men and some juniors, as opposed to the fields of single digit sizes now.


Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
... Get your kid to win the tour in dramatic fashion and perhaps we'll have a sport for the next generation in this country.
Sports/cycling was always a means to another goal for my kid/s. That is a big issue for USA kids. Our best cyclist attend college. Our best 2015 junior batch was better than the Euros. It is not about being good enough, just they just chose to move off the path to being a road racing pro, and most - go to school. Many are USA "pros", some UCI world podium in different disciplines while living at home or school, but they basically moved off the path of cycling as a European career. For this forum, for USAC, that may be bad. For the kids, not so much. I think the unintended consequences of USAC policy contributed.
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Old 11-27-18, 09:04 PM
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Based on what Gary wrote i figured this might be worth seeing so I un-blocked it..... I might change my mind but - here....

Originally Posted by Doge View Post
It can work for crits as well, better than what we now have. I must not be explaining this correctly. In a crit you would still have several races, just with fields of similar ability. So Cat 1 women racing with Cat 2/3 men and some juniors, as opposed to the fields of single digit sizes now.
This is the entire basis of the system we have now. the only thing we actually put in to separate fields was "men" and "women" qualifiers. Then people that were good started to think it would be fun to still be able to race and do well. Enter masters. Then it never seemed fair to have to compete with kids - either because the kids are too good or they suck so badly they pose a safety risk to all - so we have juniors.

I have watched a LOT of people walk away from the sport because we don't currently offer women's masters races. One of the best racing talents in this area is a coach (triathlon - Age group Kona podium annually) who could bring between 30-100 women to the sport but she refuses to even think about racing road anymore. When asked why on the numerous occasions when I have pleaded with her to race: "Rob - no way. There's no masters races and I'm not going to compete with a 20 something. And the second is that road racing means crits and crits are too dangerous. Don't tell me they aren't either as remember I was racing when someone in our field died in the race." The issue for the racer is NOT the field size - that is only an issue to the promoter if that promoter actually cares. Speaking as a promoter you're going to drive yourself bonkers if you start caring about field sizes. People want to compete where they at least feel they have a chance at winning.

People DON'T want to lose to someone they don't feel they should lose to. Whether that's someone younger, someone older, or someone of a different gender that difference will always be brought up as either a reason for them losing or the "only reason they won". In short we are too stupid and vain to allow ourselves to truly admit where we are on the talent spectrum and too stupid to admit that we still judge others as inferior by age or gender. It's a self absorbed sport based on vanity/ego.

BUT......
Our category system is busted in a couple of major ways. We all know the ways but let me speak to the one that affect race participation the most. There are 2 and they are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

1. Cat5. Category 5 is an experience upgrade category. It has absolute f*[email protected] to do with talent or ability. The "purpose" is so that you learn the important things. how to get to a race, pin a number on, line up when you should, learn how to know how long the race is, what the format will be, how to corner with all your friends and what to do when you wreck, flat, think you were placed wrong in the results at 35th instead of 32nd, etc. This has always made sense to cyclists that are indoctrinated already in the sport. It has NEVER made sense to new racers. I assure you that every racer when they start to learn about the sport they almost always ask "so what category am I then? How do they determine that? Is there some sort of trial or test race or something?" So even as a new racer with no experience we all believed that there should be some sort of way of separating people based on their ability - ESPECIALLY when they start.

Because of this disconnect we have created a system whereby a rider who has been finishing in the "faster group" on their Saturday shop ride decides to give it a try and does it in the "beginners" category of 5. They toe the line next to some HGH drugged out masters aged racer who has been training with power for 5 years and just decided to "give racing a try". They get slayed. They get yelled at. Most likely they also got pulled. If they're smart they also just decided that was a colossal waste of money and time. They aren't comforted by the reality that "even someone that will become the next Lance will have to start as a cat 5" It will also dawn on them that it isn't just some guy that is sandbagging. That they will constantly be competing with riders completely above their ability unless they themselves get to at least Cat 3 and are able to be in contention in nearly every race. Because before then you are always being visited by riders "on their way up". Meaning every time you toe the line you are toeing the line with talent that far exceeds and excels in comparison tot he rest of the field.

If we were able to somehow identify those talents and better predict where people "belonged" at least physically then we would end up with a more evenly matched fields in the area and level that is most important - at the starting level.

I have tried to come up with actual answers. My current one is to have 2 cat 5 races on the same day. Only allow riders to enter as a cat 5 - not for the specific cat 5 field. Then painstakingly and manually make judgement about every person who enters by searching strava, garmin, trainingpeaks, facebook profiles/pictures, etc and make judgement on whether I think they should be in the "fast race" or the "citizen actual entry level" race. Although this would seem to open a minefield of ethical and legal issues - I have actually been told I am allowed to do that as long as I keep certain things impartial like duration and awards and I make it clear that riders could be in either race. but seriously how do you really rank people without having been able to watch them perform?

2) In today's reality there is little to no point in having a P, 1 and a 2 designation. These are subtle and minor ways of describing really small differences, nay nuances of ability (as in the ability to talk a patron into giving you money being the only difference between P and 1). It makes perfect sense to those that "struggled" to achieve those levels but in reality they are all racing the same race almost all of the time. 3 different designations to describe close enough talent levels that they all feel competitive in all of the races they race together. Yet we have roughly 1 category designation at the most crucial - entry level of the sport. Oh and the p/1/2 designation - even thought it is 3 different levels are so exclusive that when deciding whether to award a cat 2 state championship in the p/1/2 race or the 2/3 race I was able to just simply ask every cat 2 in the state. All 5 of them (yes, women's field). That's ridiculous.

So ye, the category system is broken but the answer will never be the blending of all ages and genders into fields of comparable talent. While perfect in a world where we can simply allow performance to decide - we are too bigoted to accept that as a whole.

Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Sports/cycling was always a means to another goal for my kid/s. That is a big issue for USA kids. Our best cyclist attend college. Our best 2015 junior batch was better than the Euros. It is not about being good enough, just they just chose to move off the path to being a road racing pro, and most - go to school. Many are USA "pros", some UCI world podium in different disciplines while living at home or school, but they basically moved off the path of cycling as a European career. For this forum, for USAC, that may be bad. For the kids, not so much. I think the unintended consequences of USAC policy contributed.
I go back to talking with Samantha Schneider and her dad Dave. At a time when Sam was (and still is) winning a ton of domestic races and arguably the best crit racer in the US - Dave basically says, "She's graduating college. she'll probably quit then. There is no real career in racing bikes - especially in the women's field. Tibco paid for her college and for that we are grateful."

Then I remembered all of those times I talked to women pro racers who all had the same story - I was an athlete in college but then I started my career focused on that and/or family then found myself in my 30's and wanting to come back to compete.

This behavior has nothing to do with USA Cycling or anyone's policies. Hell I even took a break from riding during my college years (best damn decade of my life). When, as a whole, the best in our sport would easily qualify as living in poverty and rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors just to survive it's not hard to understand that at that critical point in a youth's life it's not hard to walk away from cycling. They almost always come back though and that's why our numbers are so high in masters age groups.

What I am happy about is that Sam didn't quit. She has remained a top level racer. She has developed under smaller team and less pressure. She got married and is enjoying her life. She has actively helped lay the groundwork for Skylar to meet and exceed her achievements and now Skylar is signed on for her second season racing in Europe for boels dolmans.
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Old 11-28-18, 07:46 AM
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I thought the Beginner Racer Program USAC introduced a few years ago was a great idea. Unfortunately, they never really followed through with it. It was basically a three-month effort then done.
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Old 11-28-18, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Somebody tell me what is wrong with the race all groups together by ability with no rules based on group (men, women, juniors race those of equal ability, with same equipment) idea.
Fondos are doing just fine doing just that.
I though it was really cool I raced with Connie Carpenter and Rebecca Twigg and some of my favorite rides were with older celebs that dumped me like a rock.
Fondos do fine with that model because most people aren't going there to win, they're going for "PRs", fun, ride with pros, etc.

Actual races are about having one winner - everyone else is a "loser". Having all cats raced together, the lower cats would get pulled and never see the finish of a race, much less have any fun. You'd have an even bigger problem with turnout applying that model to real racing.

Not to mention, last thing I need is to race with a bunch of Cat 5s. Racing with sketchy 1's is bad enough!
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Old 11-28-18, 05:57 PM
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hear, hear. A couple of cat 4s from a different field sent me to surgery.
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Old 11-28-18, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Fondos do fine with that model because most people aren't going there to win, they're going for "PRs", fun, ride with pros, etc.

Actual races are about having one winner - everyone else is a "loser". Having all cats raced together, the lower cats would get pulled and never see the finish of a race, much less have any fun. You'd have an even bigger problem with turnout applying that model to real racing.

Not to mention, last thing I need is to race with a bunch of Cat 5s. Racing with sketchy 1's is bad enough!
You wouldn't race with a bunch of Cat 5s. You'd race with a bunch near your ability any age, any gender.

Group 1 @mattm and some other 99 or so at the similar level top women, top juniors, top old people - open class, all the same rules.
Group 2 Cat 3 men's field, some junior 15-18, some women's (those are close), some masters - 75 or so riders
Group 3 Cat 4 men's, junior 15-18, Some women, some masters...
Group 6 or 7 beginners - fields of 25, limit gears.
Group U14 small/young - pint size like kids do need their own group.

OP pretty much said it wouldn't work, so I will drop it for a bit. My perspective is/was more on the junior side, and previously on the women's side. I have little male elite or masters perspective. I can see where this won't work if the egos keep everyone wanting their own trophy.
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Old 11-28-18, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Fondos do fine with that model because most people aren't going there to win, they're going for "PRs", fun, ride with pros, etc.

...
You saw Rogers Cup video right? Actually @mattm , you should come down and do it. Dec 2 or Dec 9th. I'll take video.
Geoffrey won USA U23RR, USA U23TT, did U23 worlds and made winning Rogers Cup his final goal after a few tries. That was his last thing before hanging it up.
The hill does make for a selection that business park circle races don't have. It's the only race/memorial ride I know where masters WC, World tour riders, junior champs and several USA present and past champs all race together - with some very elite women starting too.
Pretty cool hardware too with a bunch of nat champs, Olympians on it. Goes back to 1976.
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Old 11-29-18, 08:30 AM
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hey, I applaud doge for thinking outside the box at least.
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