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Low turnouts for cat 5 this year? Is there a zwift effect going on?

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Low turnouts for cat 5 this year? Is there a zwift effect going on?

Old 03-18-16, 08:07 PM
  #76  
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Our LA promoter's meeting was banged out. Very few empty seats. We got some good info from BikeReg about numbers and trends across the variety of races. Road is trending down, no doubt, and gravel/fondo is on the upswing. Still, road racing is cheap compared to triathlon and other multisport racing. We cannot keep losing money. Fees are going to go up, with stated refund policies. There is also an LA surcharge this year as well. It's going to take some time to see how this shakes out.
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Old 03-19-16, 11:10 PM
  #77  
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I think our numbers are up around here, despite a few races moving to less desirable locations.
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Old 03-21-16, 08:19 AM
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Great discussion and comments. There are some really smart people here.


Trends:


Battenkill '16 will be at 2007 numbers for the Pro/Am, though the Open gran fondo will likely be up 50% or more.

We had 42 separate fields over 2 days in 2013.

Cat 5 - In 2013 we had 15 separate and full Category 5 fields registered at 50 riders each. We will have 5 @ 80% full Cat 5 races in 2016.

Cat 4 - We had 6, 90% full category 4 fields in 2013, 5 in 2015, 3 in 2016.

Cat 3 - 2 full fields in 2013, 1 in 2014, 1 in 2015, 1 in 2016 at 50% full, perhaps.

Pro/1 + 2 - From full 200k UCI 1.2 race & separate Cat 2 field, to 68 mile Pro/1/2 race where we expect 50 or so, maybe (dominated by Canadians).

Cat 4 Women - 2 full fields in 2013 to 1 full Cat 3/4 field in 2016

Pro/1/2 Women - 50 or 60 in 2013. Equal prize money in 2015 and only 24 women registered. We are not likely to have this field in 2016 (no registrants Nov. - February, so we have closed it online in anticipation of cancelling it and to avoid the hassle of refunds).


Here is an interesting analysis of Northeast race trends that we put together.




Battenkill costs for the race have doubled since 2009, so:


Just one day of racing including the Open gran fondo(s)

We are no longer USAC.

We moved the venue to the fairgrounds in 2015 to make it more convenient and less costly vs. the chaos of hosting 2500+ people on bikes + spectators in a small village (pop 1000 or so)

We eliminated prize money for all fields, though we've added free tees and sponsor product for all riders for the first time since 2005. Prize money is as equal as you can get...

We've downsized the men's elite racing to just 68 miles (and no prize money).

We had healthy sponsorship 2009-2013 to support the $150k budgets for the Elite races and $20k+ amateur prize lists, mostly, though it did not come close to approaching those respective costs.

Though we've tried hard, excluding a miracle there will be no financial sponsors in 2016. Although, we have great support from companies who are supporting us in other ways to boost participation.

This will be our last year with the 'category' format (50 motos and 50 pace and follow cars + officials to support individual fields). Open/mass-start format only in 2017+




***

Though it's still VERY popular, with Battenkill not being USAC and the elimination of prize money, we have no doubt turned more than a few people away, though it's a wash in the end for us; we've created more space in the day to accommodate the open (gran fondo) format that matches the successful 10k/half marathon format more closely. We hate losing money on events... it's a LOT of work and risk (financial, liability).


External reasons for racing being less popular? These are well-discussed by others here. They are all probably correct at some level.



Dieter

Last edited by DieterDrake; 03-21-16 at 08:25 AM. Reason: grammar
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Old 03-21-16, 08:49 AM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post
I think our numbers are up around here, despite a few races moving to less desirable locations.
The only thing I have learned over the years of looking at the data is that California is its own country. trends there don't reflect trends anywhere else in the country and the numbers there alone dominate anything done anywhere else. Wnat to ever see real change at USA Cycling - threaten to organize California into it's own racing group and take it away from USAC.

....not trying to start a riot....just sayin...
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Old 03-21-16, 09:47 AM
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Thanks for the data, Dieter. We know why TOH was down a bit last year, and we're trying to fix it this year. Quabbin is going USAC this year after several years pirate, but he's doing that in order to get the subsidized moto support from NEBRA.

Good luck.
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Old 03-21-16, 10:57 AM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001 View Post
The only thing I have learned over the years of looking at the data is that California is its own country. trends there don't reflect trends anywhere else in the country and the numbers there alone dominate anything done anywhere else. Wnat to ever see real change at USA Cycling - threaten to organize California into it's own racing group and take it away from USAC.

....not trying to start a riot....just sayin...
If NCNCA could do what OBRA is doing, I'd be all for it.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:06 AM
  #82  
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With some notable losses, New England has done well to sustain some key events, and bring back Fitchburg (ahem...yw) which have positively impacted the regional trends. Battenkill has benefited from race-days in New England without question. This isn't changing in 2016+ as we continue to receive a relatively high percentage of registrations from New England states. In contrast, our non-renewal of Catskills (as a race) and the Hunter/Windham/Greene races, among others, has had the opposite effect in New York, sadly. In both New England and New York there are some interesting road/gravel events that are popping up, however, that we are aligning with to try and keep people on the road throughout the spring and summer.

It'll be interesting to see how the NEBRA surcharges work out this year. I am not convinced that's a great long-term strategy. See the fractured ACA/BRAC in Colorado for what may lie ahead for NEBRA...

Dieter
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Old 03-21-16, 11:11 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by DieterDrake View Post
It'll be interesting to see how the NEBRA surcharges work out this year. I am not convinced that's a great long-term strategy. See the fractured ACA/BRAC in Colorado for what may lie ahead for NEBRA...
Agreed, but volunteers at the LA level won't cut it here. Too many races. Philanthropy only gets you so far. The NEBRA surcharge is a buck.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:20 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
Agreed, but volunteers at the LA level won't cut it here. Too many races. Philanthropy only gets you so far. The NEBRA surcharge is a buck.

BRAC has paid staff, if that's what you mean. Their budget got cut in half recently, though, when a large number of promoters decided to bypass the LA (and the surcharges) to work directly with USAC (who welcomed them back to the fold after they threatened to leave). I think they are rethinking the LA surcharge now...
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Old 03-21-16, 11:40 AM
  #85  
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Old 03-22-16, 02:21 PM
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I hope I used the quote function (on a phonr) correctly or this is us going to seem out of place. My son (age 12) is an average club swimmer and expressed interest in cycling. I looked up usa cycling expecting something similar to usa swimming. It wasn't even close. I think there was one club in my state that had an active youth program. There are 3 swim clubs within 5 miles of my house and probably 15 rec league teams.

Cost of entry of a bike is high but not any higher than club swimming.

Most of my son's friends race in a couple triathlons a year. None of them have ever entered a bike race nor is it on their radar

During the search we did find a guy tgat was actively trying to establish a youth cyclocross club. My son took a 6 week training course and his bike handling greatly improved and we did find out that there were a handful of youth cross races (he didn't each since they conflicted with swim meets he already signed up for). We shall see next fall what he wants to do.

But in my n=1 experience I would think developing a youth program would ensure cat 5 racers for the future
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Old 03-22-16, 05:37 PM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by Sidney Porter View Post
... But in my n=1 experience I would think developing a youth program would ensure cat 5 racers for the future
This has some very interesting parallels to my life. Started as a swimmer when I was young (7 years old) did it up until Highschool. Rode my hybrid to Highschool for 4 years and always wanted there to be a bicycling team. I do believe that is our responsibility to give the juniors a better chance at "finding" this sport if we want to have any sort of growth. Give kids an opening / lower the barrier of entry to our sport. Easier said than done of course, but I really do believe that cyclings lack of accessiblity to the young (14-18) year old crowd is one of our greatest weaknesses.
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Old 03-22-16, 06:05 PM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by dz_nuzz View Post
This has some very interesting parallels to my life. Started as a swimmer when I was young (7 years old) did it up until Highschool. Rode my hybrid to Highschool for 4 years and always wanted there to be a bicycling team. I do believe that is our responsibility to give the juniors a better chance at "finding" this sport if we want to have any sort of growth. Give kids an opening / lower the barrier of entry to our sport. Easier said than done of course, but I really do believe that cyclings lack of accessiblity to the young (14-18) year old crowd is one of our greatest weaknesses.
I was very interested in bike racing as a kid, around 8-12 or so. Didn't know a single thing about it, had no clue about pro racing, certainly had no idea that actual opportunities might have existed or where to find them. I just wanted to do bike races! The internet existed, obviously, but the idea of using the internet to find information about bike racing just never occurred to me, nor even to my parents. Not that there was much to find. If you didn't know someone who was serious about bikes, chances were you wouldn't know where to start. Not that ubiquitous internet has totally solved this, but it's so much easier to find information and resources these days, it's ridiculous.

Aside from accessibility, though, the big trick is having enough 14-18 year old kids who are riding bikes and like it enough to think about competing. When I was coming up in the 90's, bike riding was something every kid did cause there wasn't much else to do all summer except TV and video games I guess. I don't think that's as true as it used to be. Seems like kids are more likely to be shuttled around by their parents in cars everywhere, and their time is more structured and supervised than ever. And if the parents try to let the kids ride around unsupervised, they get CPS called on them! Getting past that cultural shift is tough.
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Old 03-22-16, 06:22 PM
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You want to increase participation in bike racing? Just change the paradigm.

If you want to race, you must be a member of a cycling club.

If you want to be a cycling club, you must have X percentage of members who are juniors and women. Huge swaths of humanity do no group riding because they have no one appropriate to ride with. Guess what? Those people won't race USAC races, they'll find something else to do. Like tri. Not because it's a "feel-good participation sport" but because it's the most viable opportunity for them, they don't need to develop group skills to race.

Give the clubs the mandate of teaching group riding skills and promoting safe racing.

Incentivize the clubs to have junior & women members by giving 100% of these license fees back to the clubs.

Make a rule that every club must put on one on-bike event per year- a race or a skills session.

Or something like that. Get creative. Open the sport up to juniors (who are the future of the sport) and newby masters (who have the money to spend on it). Ditch the attitude.

The general principle being: if what you're doing isn't working, maybe its smart to change what you're doing.
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Old 03-22-16, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Sidney Porter View Post
I hope I used the quote function (on a phonr) correctly or this is us going to seem out of place. My son (age 12) is an average club swimmer and expressed interest in cycling. I looked up usa cycling expecting something similar to usa swimming. It wasn't even close. I think there was one club in my state that had an active youth program. There are 3 swim clubs within 5 miles of my house and probably 15 rec league teams.

Cost of entry of a bike is high but not any higher than club swimming.

Most of my son's friends race in a couple triathlons a year. None of them have ever entered a bike race nor is it on their radar

During the search we did find a guy tgat was actively trying to establish a youth cyclocross club. My son took a 6 week training course and his bike handling greatly improved and we did find out that there were a handful of youth cross races (he didn't each since they conflicted with swim meets he already signed up for). We shall see next fall what he wants to do.

But in my n=1 experience I would think developing a youth program would ensure cat 5 racers for the future
Quote doesn't work on the mobile app, at least on my phone. I use full site if I want to quote.
I dunno about junior swimming costs or meet costs, but buying a swimsuit and goggles is a lot cheaper than buying a bike, shoes, helmet, jersey, bibs, gloves, vest, all cold weather gear (and or trainer/rollers), bottles, cages, lights for training in the dark, tools, saddle pack, tubes, pump, and new tires and chain every few months.
Sure my masters swim club cost a tiny amount. Not even as much as bike upkeep.

Last edited by aaronmcd; 03-22-16 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 03-23-16, 05:57 AM
  #91  
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I think that in addition to getting more people to try racing, as a group we need to do a better job of getting those who do come out and give it a try to keep coming back. I'm guessing more than a few of you share a similar first race experience as me. I showed up on an under-equipped bike and got laughed at because I was wearing a pro jersey (didn't know any better). The "race" lasted all of a half-lap before I was dropped off the back, only to watch the rest of the race sitting on a curb and wondering what the hell just happened. Lucky for me, a nicer experienced racer came up to offer encouragement, provide a few tips and told me to keep coming back. Granted I was going to keep coming back anyway as I really wanted to race, but I thought it was a classy thing to do. I still occasionally see the guy at races. I think most of us can do a better job of being ambassadors of our sport. It takes such little time and effort, and can only help grow the ranks. And I think we can all agree that racing is more fun when there's more people participating.
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Old 03-23-16, 10:05 AM
  #92  
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Then you got a steal, and somebody was subsidizing it. Pool time costs a fortune, although it is a moderately smaller fortune for an outdoor pool. Back when I was swimming typical club costs were in the $200/kid/month range.
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Old 03-23-16, 10:33 AM
  #93  
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The swim clubs around here cost between 1500 and 3000 per year (year round swimming amounts to 9 Mos or so for most). It is going to vary per club and age/level. Entry fees are 5-10 per event so 20 to 70 per meet. There is misc equipment (kickboards, snorkel, paddles, fins, bouy) but those last several seasons before they need a different size

I have friends who's daughter swims and the son plays hockey. They claim hockey is cheaper. I assumed hockey cost more. (I also think his hockey season is only a couple months)

This isn't saying cycling is cheap.
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Old 03-23-16, 10:40 AM
  #94  
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Originally Posted by PixelPaul View Post
I think that in addition to getting more people to try racing, as a group we need to do a better job of getting those who do come out and give it a try to keep coming back. I'm guessing more than a few of you share a similar first race experience as me. I showed up on an under-equipped bike and got laughed at because I was wearing a pro jersey (didn't know any better). The "race" lasted all of a half-lap before I was dropped off the back, only to watch the rest of the race sitting on a curb and wondering what the hell just happened. Lucky for me, a nicer experienced racer came up to offer encouragement, provide a few tips and told me to keep coming back. Granted I was going to keep coming back anyway as I really wanted to race, but I thought it was a classy thing to do. I still occasionally see the guy at races. I think most of us can do a better job of being ambassadors of our sport. It takes such little time and effort, and can only help grow the ranks. And I think we can all agree that racing is more fun when there's more people participating.
This is an excellent point. A little more encouragement and a little less elitism goes a long way. The way a lot of racers act you'd think they were hoping that bike racing dies.
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Old 03-23-16, 10:51 AM
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This is an interesting topic, and I'm purely speculating here, but I think there's something to be said about people not really wanting to put in the work. Maybe some try and realize, like many of us do, that it's a lot of work just to be mediocre at this. With all the charity rides and centuries that different clubs host, I think that feeds enough of people's desires to accomplish something that they don't really try and do more. It's the same thing with running I think, where races have some competition among the more serious folks, but more often than not you've got people just happy to complete and not necessarily compete. In cycling, we've segregated the competing vs completing crowds (as it should be) but that may be some explanation for low turnouts.
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Old 03-23-16, 10:56 AM
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I don't remember what the masters swim club cost, I think it was around 60/month. And they had tons of boards, paddles, fins, bouys. Outdoor pool but I didn't care.
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Old 03-23-16, 11:06 AM
  #97  
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Maybe a bit, but haven't fondos, organized centuries, and charity rides been a thing forever? I don't think mentality has changed that drastically across society at large.

RE: rider snootiness, where would one even begin with policing that sort of thing, and who gets to define it? My first race I wore a sweater because I only owned shorts and a jersey and it was 40 and raining and got lapped 2x within an hour on a course with a 2k lap. Nobody gave me **** for it, but i probably got some funny looks.

RE: mentorship, I think this is an essential part of the equation. I bought a bike to race because backwards reasoning, and a cat 3 (I was in awe of the dude!) took me under his wing and let me tag along on training rides for a while, and showed me the ropes. Taught me interval training, got me to buy the training bible, rocking the bike when out of the saddle, yadda yadda. From there I started doing group rides and racing, but having him help me out went a long way toward bringing me into the fold.

As discussed earlier in the thread I think group rides where you're taught paceline skills and etiquette would help a lot, with the occasional drag race to the top of a climb and townline sprint. @DieterDrake still holds those and I think it's among the best things that can be done to make the sport accessible.
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Old 03-23-16, 11:15 AM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by Sidney Porter View Post
This isn't saying cycling is cheap.
It isn't cheap, but it's not necessarily as terrible as is commonly assumed in my opinion. Club/team dues tend to be a pittance compared to other sports. Entry fees are individually not that bad. Entry fees add up because bike racers tend to do a lot of events in a year. And those fees are frequently discounted for juniors. We make a big deal about equipment, but people have really exaggerated beliefs about how much speed expensive gear will buy you. In road racing, you aren't at much of a disadvantage with older and cheaper equipment. The trick is getting people to recognize that. This is really where I think a lot of the snob/elitism accusations that get lobbed at roadies come from, the assumption that you really need a certain level of bike and accessories to be a "real" cyclist. These days I like having the fancy stuff, but I started out racing collegiate on a shoestring budget and a 20 year-old bike, and it wasn't a big deal. It's easier to get over the psychological barriers as a collegiate racer, because racing cheap - as in, REALLY cheap - is just part of the culture for the lower categories there. It would be nice if that was a bigger part of the image in USAC racing, but with so much of the influx of racers of a certain class at a particular time in their lives that they have more money to burn, that's hard to do. And no, I don't think outlawing carbon wheels or aero helmets or whatever in Cat 5 is the answer.
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Old 03-23-16, 11:21 AM
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The team I'm theoretically still on but haven't seen in over a year does a great job with the group ride part. They're well organized, well swept, good routes, and ruled with an iron fist, as it has to be. The sprints are contested safely, if you ride like an ass or cross the yellow line you don't come back. People are mentored and explained to, riders will ride as slow as necessary or stop as often as often to let slow people (like me) catch up. Drafting and group skills are emphasized.

God I hate typing on my phone.
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Old 03-23-16, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by hubcyclist View Post
This is an interesting topic, and I'm purely speculating here, but I think there's something to be said about people not really wanting to put in the work. Maybe some try and realize, like many of us do, that it's a lot of work just to be mediocre at this.
Oh man, for real. For all the joshing about how cycling is just beer league softball, so don't take it too seriously, it's just NOT. To a first approximation, nobody is fast off the couch. Most of us aren't even fast coming from recreational riding and commuting.

It's funny. There's a lot of hand-wringing on this board about this subject. Has been for years. I don't think road racing is in some kind of crisis. Not saying it isn't down, there clearly has been a slight decline in this region area. But as long as people are riding bikes, there are opportunities to pull people in, and there are still lots of people riding bikes. Speaking of that LA meeting @shovelhd mentioned, want to guess what the fastest-growing race segment in New England is? Betcha think it's gravel, don't you? NOPE - it's mountain biking! These things come in cycles. MTB crashed pretty hard in the late 90's and early 2000's, a lot harder than road is crashing now (if it is at all). But it's growing again. The people are out there. It's important to not panic. We don't need to run around like our hair is on fire.
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