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Race Promoters, why do you do it?

Old 02-16-12, 05:24 PM
  #1  
sdgrannygear
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Race Promoters, why do you do it?

A crit that I've been looking forward to because of an interesting layout was cancelled today, apparently due to protests from the residents that live near the course.

http://www.socalreg.com/schedule.asp?race=UCLA+Crit

What struck me as strange is that they had the permits in hand apparently, but the matter was reexamined and overruled. Does this happen on a regular basis? I don't know the whole story, but if I were the promoter, I'd be a combination of furious and deflated. I think everyone thinks they know of an interesting place to put on a bike race, but pretty much no one actually follows through. So for anyone who has ever put on a race, what made you follow through, you obviously love the sport more than most, but was it worth it? I think it's safe to say you aren't in it for the money. How do you motivate yourself to put on a race not to mention multiple races when you have to deal with all this junk from not only the cities and their residents, but also ungrateful bike racers?
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Old 02-16-12, 05:52 PM
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Yeah, I saw that. Kinda sucks. Gives you a chance to go to the CBR instead.

Why? I'm guessing for the love of the sport, the challenge of putting on an event, sense of contribution to businesses and riders, make some contacts and maybe, just maybe a small profit. Cheers.
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Old 02-16-12, 05:59 PM
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If you are interested, there is more detailed info about why it was cancelled in this message.
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Old 02-16-12, 06:19 PM
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Although I wasn't going to attend the race I was disappointed that it was canceled. It did look like an interesting course and I think all of us in SoCal appreciate something new & different after racing here a few years. Unfortunately I was not shocked upon reading why it was canceled. It's very difficult to get community/government buy in when it comes to blocking off streets here.

It takes a large scale effort to involve the local community if you want to inconvenience residents and race somewhere other than an industrial park. Dana Point & Brentwood Grand Prix are examples of how it can work. Both races require way more effort & resources than the typical cycling club has. Big sponsors, big budgets and key people with close ties to city government is how they get it done.

Our race, Tour de Murrieta, does it with a key group of dedicated volunteers. We all participate because we love bike racing and enjoy the satisfaction of putting on a successful race. Because I joined the sport late in life, I personally like meeting more & more of the bike racing community and the "elder" statesmen/women of the sport. Being part of the race helps me do that. I also get satisfaction in watching the event grow in prominence every year. I am self employed so the salesman/entrepreneur part of my personality gets a kick out of finding ways to make the event thrive.

<shameless plug>2012 Tour de Murrieta</shameless plug>

Last edited by agoodale; 02-16-12 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 02-16-12, 08:43 PM
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Sense of duty.

It's also a sense of protecting the racers, but that's related to sense of duty.

The club I belonged to started promoting the Bethel Series because another promoter was really gouging the racers. I think at the time the entries had climbed to $18 for a race, no prizes, and this for a training series in 1992. Our race started in 1993 at $8 per race, $45 for 7 races. We gave prize money. The two promoters both quit after that first year. One just wanted out, the other moved to Maine. The Maine one was the guy that really drove the race and the club - I ended up basically inheriting both. He shoved a small stack of papers in my hand and made the process into a little ritual. "You now hold the Bethel Training Series in your hands" or something like that. The next year I charged a little more, like $11, but we gave out something like $10,000 in merchandise (msrp) and $2000 in cash. We had good fields. The club really pitched in. The race never looked back.

When personal life got really tough, for about 5-7 years, I really, really, really didn't want to hold the race. I hated it. My back went out all the time from the stress. I ground my teeth at night (according to my then girlfriend). I was an absolute bear to deal with. But the folks looking to hold it in my place, the ones salivating on the sidelines, those were the guys that would jack up the prices and cut the prizes. I couldn't let that happen.

Why?

Our club started the race as "A race for racers by racers". I couldn't let the race fall into the hands of a promoter type. So I held the races through those really tough years. It was no fun at all, I totally hated it.

To top it off the promoting group (me and usually one other person) was set up as a not-for-profit so I couldn't take any money out. I raced for free, yes, but so did all the other helpers. I got food money (take $20 or $40 and tell a volunteer to buy everyone food), but again, so did every other volunteer. Sometimes I got gas money, and it made me feel bad. The only cash I ever made for many, many years was the prize money I won. Sometimes people would say stuff like "hey, no one would miss it if you took a few hundred dollars" but I wouldn't be able to live with myself. It's a duty.

I think the years where I really didn't want to hold the race, those were the years that actually cemented the race in place. That's when folks really appreciated what I was doing. I'm not a good poker player, I'm too easy to read. And it was painfully obvious that the race was an absolute pain to me, and I think that people really appreciated it. I find there's a lot of support for the Series now.

Some years it cost me a lot of money to promote the race; other years the race made a lot of money. Note, IT made a lot of money, not I made a lot of money. Earlier on it was easier to make money because one of the helpers, his wife donated $9k in prizes every year through her watch industry connection. We also didn't pay a cop, we manually swept everything (no leaf blowers etc), we had no computers, no tents, no radios, etc. As the race grew so did the cost of holding it. We bought a tent, then a second. Finish line camera, then another, and another. Folding banquet tables (always only on sale), then plastic ones. All sorts of chairs that eventually failed. Heaters. Propane tanks. A slew of printers (and for many years we used two of our own work laptops). One guy used his work to set up a corporation in Delaware or something (he was a high level financial executive with various teams under him that did stuff like that). I caused about $2k of damage to my mom's Subaru running the laptop off of inverters plugged into the cigarette lighter, and we did about $6k of damage to my friend's Land Cruiser. We lost about 5 tents to the wind, most of them lent to us by reps. We're on our third set of cones, third set of radios (after years of renting them).

The first year I did it all on my own (meaning the other guy finally stopped helping out), 2009, I sank $4k into the race, and we already had everything. The following year I sank another $1.5k. In 2011 I made money - for the first time ever I took on a cash sponsor. Without that sponsor I'd have made perhaps $500 for 6 weeks. Good thing too because I didn't make any prize money at all. I hope to make money in 2012, and the sponsor renewed their cash/merchandise commitment to the Series.

I do it because I can. I do it because I know I'm not screwing over the racers. I do it because I love racing the bike.
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Old 02-16-12, 09:08 PM
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Aki, I wish it wasn't so damn far away.

I can relate to a lot of what you put out there...sense of duty, seeing something good grow, and mostly knowing that you're contributing to the greater good.

I'll make a suggestion...succession planning. At some point you'll need/want to step back and hand it off. Make sure it's in good hands.
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Old 02-16-12, 09:20 PM
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Here in AZ you have to put on a race (or go in with another club) to be an 'official' team, or so I'm told. The teams seem to do OK with the income, but I don't think anyone's getting rich.

Is this different in each state?
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Old 02-16-12, 09:28 PM
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I thought of the succession thing. I've contemplated handing the race over to someone, but they'd have to be committed 1000%. At this point I'm not ready to do so, but I know it won't last forever. I have to admit that most of my grown life I've been running this race. The area has changed dramatically since the race's inception, going from basically vacant to two rows of buildings on some lots. Now the park is turning into a retail zone, and that's kind of troubling.

Recently I've also thought (and I never thought of it before) what if I die? Very few people know what it takes to run the current iteration of the Series. The former co-promoter Gene knows, but he lives in Virginia. Who else? Pretty much no one. He knows all of it. A lot of people know bits and pieces, but no one else knows all of it. Okay, the Missus does, almost (except the finish line camera). But no one else.

The indoor area we use for registration, Panificio Navone (now it is, it used to be just Navone Studios) is committed to 2 more years in its current lease and will probably renew for 5 more years. Frank said that he figures he'll commit to the Series for that long, 7 years total to go. Rumor has it that a bike related store will fill one of the vacated spots next door, but that's just a rumor. He's the first retail location in the park, and if it works out, they'll rezone or redo some of the other areas. I don't know if that's good for the race, but I'm sure it's good for the town.

There are two families that really help me run the race. One of them could do it, with the Missus or with Gene. I think either of them would be suitable to take over.

I have to admit that when I took the packet of papers, I wasn't thinking 2012. I was just thinking 1994. I never thought it'd be like this.

This year I just hope the volleyball folks are okay, and the new owners of the building on the first turn are nice. Beyond that... time will tell.
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Old 02-16-12, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Monkeyclaw View Post
Here in AZ you have to put on a race (or go in with another club) to be an 'official' team, or so I'm told. The teams seem to do OK with the income, but I don't think anyone's getting rich.

Is this different in each state?
USAC rule states that a sponsored club has to put on a race. Most clubs get added to a permit - this is easier than actually holding a race.

The rule is meant to propagate races. If all clubs held a race, there'd be a lot of races. Think of all the kits you see. Think of all the races you do or know of. Can you put a kit to every race? Probably not. That means that there's a kit that has no race. If they are following the spirit of the rule they'll be helping out at a race. If not then they're just riding off of someone's permit or they're changing their club's name every year to avoid being "banned" from wearing a kit.

In general, in principle, I frown on the "adding to the permit" thing. I know sometimes it's all you can do, but if you rely on it, you don't hold a race, and that's not fair to the racing community.

It's not like I benefited from that, back in the day, so I understand the teams that don't do it, or find a friendly promoter to add their name to the race. Before Bethel the old cycling team went through a few years where we had to change club names annually. We were FCVC, Fairfield County Velo Club, something I forget, BBC Racing Team (or something like that), Racing Team Silvermine, RTS, and finally Carpe Diem Racing. At points before we held a cross race, a road race (11? mile loop - chief of police was not impressed with the pack and said that we'd never hold a race in his town again, and he was right), and marshaled the Greenwich Crit for its two final years. We rode a permit for a hill climb for two years, I don't even know where it was.

In the last few years I've put two other clubs on my permit (Carpe Diem Racing is my "club"). When Bethel Cycle donated some prizes, I put their team on (now they promote the Housatonic RR, so they don't need me any more). I race for Expo Wheelmen and they commit to helping and attending, so I put them on. Thule's team offered some merchandise prizes in return for a permit addition - I know the guy from way back and he's a good guy so I put them on. Pretty much everyone else I turned down. At some point I got mad and ranted about "A permit ride is worth $1500, so if you want to be on my permit, write me a check for $1500". I didn't have any takers haha.

A Cat D race can have two clubs on a permit I think. Maybe three? I forget. Bethel's races are Cat Ds. If anyone wants to put their club on a permit, I have six open spots at $1500. Maybe twelve.
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Old 02-16-12, 10:05 PM
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Originally Posted by agoodale View Post

<shameless plug>2012 Tour de Murrieta</shameless plug>
agoodale, I was going to b!tch about the early start times for the 4s, but after reading cdr's posts about the difficulty both professionally and personally about having to put on a race, I probably should just be thankful that anyone is willing to undertake such a monumental task and wake my butt up early to get to murrieta.

CDR, I have a feeling at some point, plenty of good karma will be going your way.

Btw, socal/collegiate people, does anyone know if UC Irvine is going to happen?

Last edited by sdgrannygear; 02-16-12 at 10:20 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 02-16-12, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by sdgrannygear View Post
agoodale, I was going to b!tch about the early start times for the 4s...

CDR, I have a feeling at some point, plenty of good karma will be going your way.
haha can you imagine if you put that up in a knee jerk reaction kind of way? And then I posted my rants? haha. You should do agoodale's race. Remember, the folks running the race will be there before you, and they'll be there long after you leave. Unless you help break down.

I'll give you this - most racers drive from further away, so many have to get up earlier than the promoter. I have to get up at 5:15 for Bethel (registration opens at 7, first race at 8). I'm on the road by about 5:35, at the race at about 6:00-6:15. We usually finish packing up at 4:30-5:00 PM. That doesn't mean that some Cat 5 won't be up at 4, and that some P123 racer won't be home until 8 (for the longest time we had racers from upstate NY, VT, NH, but most of them do Johnny Cake now).

Lots of people still don't know this but I moved away from the Bethel area about 5 years ago. I now live about 1.5 hours away. I'm lucky that my dad still lives about 30 min away, so I go down the day before and stay there. It doesn't help my drive back though - I'm usually home at 7 or so.

Re: karma: I'm a really fortunate guy. I can't complain. Rant maybe, but not complain. I'm very thankful for what life's offered me so far.

As far as my rants go, if one racer decides to enter one race just to support a promoter, then it's worth it.

There are other things too. My name doesn't show up on a lot of confirmed rider lists because I know the promoter gets more money from day of race registrations. So I'll usually do that, unless I think the field will be full. Some promoters hate it when they don't get pre-reg, so if you care about the promoter, contact them and ask if it's okay to do day of race.

If you're feeling really charitable, enter a race regardless if you think you'll race it. When I ran a charity ride (to benefit a cat shelter of course), a good half dozen teammates registered for the ride even though they were doing a huge cross race the same day. They wanted to show their support, and they did in that way. I've only entered a few races where I haven't shown up, pretty much all of them the Paul Ruhlman memorial (Naugautuck Crit). Paul was a Junior who died very young and he taught me stuff in the brief time I knew him. So I try and go to the race each year, and if I'm not there, I try and register anyway if I feel okay spending the money.
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Old 02-16-12, 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by sdgrannygear View Post
agoodale, I was going to b!tch about the early start times for the 4s, but after reading cdr's posts about the difficulty both professionally and personally about having to put on a race, I probably should just be thankful that anyone is willing to undertake such a monumental task and wake my butt up early to get to murrieta.
I've done The Tour of Murrieta the last three years. It's a great race. Do it. You'll really love it if you're a sprinter.

If you're a climber, you'll complain about the course not being selective enough.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:35 AM
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CDR, I appreciate your honesty that you don't take any money out of the race for yourself. But I know you've put personal money into the race, so I hope you at least pay yourself back. That's only fair.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:36 AM
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Bad News: Anyone want to take over the Housatonic Hills Road Race before it goes away ??
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Old 02-17-12, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by efficiency View Post
I've done The Tour of Murrieta the last three years. It's a great race. Do it. You'll really love it if you're a sprinter.

If you're a climber, you'll complain about the course not being selective enough.
Thanks for the compliments.

We've wanted to take the race up into the local hills for years. The problem is that they're not part of the city. They're unincorporated county land or the city of Temecula. Permits with either of those entities is a major hassle (not to mention the guaranteed complaints from reclusive ranch property residents).

The other issue is that we like where we sit on the calendar and the current status of our race as prep. for San Dimas stage race & the NRC Redlands stage race. Our race gives teams three days of solid racing without taking too much out of their legs. Secondly, we use omnium scoring so there is no cut off every day like other stage races. This gives the "less trained" participants in each category one of the only opportunities to race an entire weekend.

On the race not being selective...Yes & no. The race is what you make of it.
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Old 02-17-12, 10:57 AM
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It's USAC rule that teams must put on an event that's why I started doing it. But it's also very rewarding too and you get to bring in people from all over to come and share the experience of your local roads. I've had all kinds of problems putting Crits on but never had to pull one so soon to the race date. The road races I've done are way out in the middle of no where and you get some complaints but mostly people are willing to work with you. It helps if you notify people and even donate money to the local fire and rescue and any churches on the course, that sort of thing. But Town/City permits can be difficult because no one likes closed roads.

Sad thing is I gave up promoting not because of the hassle in getting permits and dealing with people but because my state cycling association has made the officials and police requirements so ridiculous that I cannot afford to do it.
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Old 02-17-12, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
CDR, I appreciate your honesty that you don't take any money out of the race for yourself. But I know you've put personal money into the race, so I hope you at least pay yourself back. That's only fair.
+1. I hesitated to comment on your situation CDR. You give much of yourself and that's a rare quality.

I don't benefit financially from our race but our team does and I wouldn't do it otherwise. I think one of the best guarantees to keeping a race around is for it to be profitable. Not profitable because the racers are being gouged. But profitable because the race gives value to the participants and, in turn, profit to the promoter. The problem of succession is different for a profitable race. There will be no short supply of people willing to take over. But, in this case, the promoter gets to choose who is willing to continue their vision & goals for the race.
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Old 02-17-12, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
USAC rule states that a sponsored club has to put on a race. Most clubs get added to a permit - this is easier than actually holding a race.

The rule is meant to propagate races. If all clubs held a race, there'd be a lot of races. Think of all the kits you see. Think of all the races you do or know of. Can you put a kit to every race? Probably not. That means that there's a kit that has no race. If they are following the spirit of the rule they'll be helping out at a race. If not then they're just riding off of someone's permit or they're changing their club's name every year to avoid being "banned" from wearing a kit.

In general, in principle, I frown on the "adding to the permit" thing. I know sometimes it's all you can do, but if you rely on it, you don't hold a race, and that's not fair to the racing community.

It's not like I benefited from that, back in the day, so I understand the teams that don't do it, or find a friendly promoter to add their name to the race. Before Bethel the old cycling team went through a few years where we had to change club names annually. We were FCVC, Fairfield County Velo Club, something I forget, BBC Racing Team (or something like that), Racing Team Silvermine, RTS, and finally Carpe Diem Racing. At points before we held a cross race, a road race (11? mile loop - chief of police was not impressed with the pack and said that we'd never hold a race in his town again, and he was right), and marshaled the Greenwich Crit for its two final years. We rode a permit for a hill climb for two years, I don't even know where it was.

In the last few years I've put two other clubs on my permit (Carpe Diem Racing is my "club"). When Bethel Cycle donated some prizes, I put their team on (now they promote the Housatonic RR, so they don't need me any more). I race for Expo Wheelmen and they commit to helping and attending, so I put them on. Thule's team offered some merchandise prizes in return for a permit addition - I know the guy from way back and he's a good guy so I put them on. Pretty much everyone else I turned down. At some point I got mad and ranted about "A permit ride is worth $1500, so if you want to be on my permit, write me a check for $1500". I didn't have any takers haha.

A Cat D race can have two clubs on a permit I think. Maybe three? I forget. Bethel's races are Cat Ds. If anyone wants to put their club on a permit, I have six open spots at $1500. Maybe twelve.
Thanks for the info! I didn't know how that all worked. I know we're putting a new club in our permit this year to help them out. They just formed this year and needed to get on one. We needed the volunteers. It seems like most of the races out here are put on by the teams themselves, but I don't really know. I don't think they are getting any of the fees from the race though. I think fees go towards prizes and any leftover goes into the team coffer for race fee reimbursement, etc. Nobody on the team is getting paid though.
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Old 02-17-12, 01:40 PM
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CDR, do you prefer that people do day-of or pre-reg for Bethel? I take it day-of puts more money in your pocket.

Now that I'm a total sell-out car owner I'm planning to be there every week. And like a dumbass bringing along my sprinter friends from other teams who are going to beat me.
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Old 02-17-12, 02:25 PM
  #20  
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hb, agoodale, thanks for the thoughts/comments. Ultimately I'm not doing this to give away whatever money I have, so, yes, my goal is to make back that money. I did some very costly experiments - like the sticky back numbers, which ultimately cost me about 2x normal, and added a LOT of stress to the whole process. I've added a lot of fixed costs, the police, paying for help (getting volunteers was too stressful), and increasing actual prize money paid out. On the last bit the advertised amount has remained about the same, but in reality the race is giving out about $1.5-2k a week and $3-3.5k the last week, not $855 or whatever I advertise, and that's just in cash. If you do the math it's a good $10k in cash prize payouts for 6 weeks.

In 2012 I'm going back to normal numbers, I have the same sponsor back, and I hope that I'll be ahead of the game. I don't plan on reducing the prizes, I didn't increase the fees (except I made the clinic mandatory for the Cat 5s so in effect that's increased income), and I hope to add a different (to be announced) background benefit. Oh and a better finish line camera system.

As far as pre-reg goes, day-of is much better for me at my race. Because of the computerized registration, it actually takes less work to process day-of-race entries versus pre-reg.

There are two exceptions. Cat 5s should pre-reg because it usually fills. And for women I eliminated the day-of penalty/fee, so women can do day of and it's fine. For you GA either works. If you want a smoother beginning of the day you should pre-reg. This way you can walk up, sign the release, take your number, and get ready to race.
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Old 02-17-12, 02:30 PM
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I have not been a promoter, but last year I was on the race committee for one of my club's road races (we promote several races and sponsor a UCI CX race). There is so much work to putting a race on. This road race in particular passes through eight towns. A permit is required in every town. Some towns require a police officer, some require an EMT. One turn on the course is onto a state highway with three outlets, which requires three state policemen for the entire day. The race could not be pulled off without dozens of volunteers...marshalls, lead cars, wheel trucks for every field except P/1/2, registration, race committee, logistics, etc. etc. etc. These people need to be well taken care of, which means providing coffee, snacks, and a good hearty lunch no matter where they are on the course. The course is on narrow roads and needs to be swept, which means renting power brooms and getting 8 guys to sweep for the entire day before. The race committee has to field questions, complaints, make changes, refunds, blah blah blah for several weeks up to the start. The break-even point is about 425 riders unless we raise the entry fee. Last year we had close to $500 so we made a little money.

So when someone complains about there not being enough fields, I laugh.
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Old 02-17-12, 02:35 PM
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GA - the women's race ends up everyone following one or two strong racers. Then, eventually, it all finishes together. If you're doing some good work this winter you should save, save, save, and counter when the first flurry of attacks starts to die down (5-7 laps in). When everyone is looking at each other you have to go, and if you can draw out some other unexpectedly strong racers, you have good potential. If you draw out the favorite then you ease up, recover, and try again.

Also you have to use the wind to your advantage. Get the gap into the tailwind so the work is a bit more even between you and everyone else. Then use the headwind to your advantage, as you're already separate from the field. That first stretch, if it's a tailwind, will kill the riders who lack speed. The backstretch, if it's a headwind, is brutal for whoever is pulling.

If you can see someone working really hard into the wind, you should launch a sharp attack as soon as they pull off. Put a lot of pressure on them when they're already working hard. I'm not saying you may snap the elastic (although that'd be nice) but you may be able to really zap their reserves.

One thing about your nemesis favorite is that she lacks pure speed. She's more diesel. A quick jump puts her into the wind while she closes and forces her to work really hard. Repeat a dozen times and she's doing a lot of work while not on a wheel. That can be critical.

If you're climbing well, try and hit the hill as slow as possible. Then accelerate over the top. It really kills the wheelsuckers when you do that, I can attest to that. Accelerating uphill really hurts, and the slower you start, the worse it is. Sharp speed here can really hurt, and gaps can take a while to close down.

Also, if/when you get caught, if you're cooked, you should immediately get on wheels and rest. None of this hanging out near the front. Get on a wheel, get in some shelter.

You know the trick to finding out where the wind is from? You stick your head up and turn it side to side. When it feels like your gf is blowing in your ear, that's where the wind is coming from. Put a rider in that direction, between you and the wind. Keep a rider there. Shelter. Save. Then use everything you have to demolish the group.
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Old 02-17-12, 02:48 PM
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CDR, thanks, as always. Duly noted, and much appreciated.
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Old 02-17-12, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by GirlAnachronism View Post
CDR, do you prefer that people do day-of or pre-reg for Bethel? I take it day-of puts more money in your pocket.

Now that I'm a total sell-out car owner I'm planning to be there every week. And like a dumbass bringing along my sprinter friends from other teams who are going to beat me.
You bought a car and didn't tell your online family?
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Old 02-17-12, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rkwaki View Post
You bought a car and didn't tell your online family?


Not what I thought I wanted, but it was cheap, low mileage, and fits the bill in terms of hauling myself, my friends, and all our crap to bike races.
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