(Updated with info on veteran racers)
Sunday morning, I shouted this out into the void of Twitter:
I wonder how many of the Cat 5s at Battenkill race multiple times/year or go on to upgrade to Cat 4 or 3? Or is it their only race?
— ryank (@ryantkelly) April 6, 2014
I looked at the 2013 edition of the race. I basically grabbed the rider profile URL, and then grabbed the rider’s race history by year, and dumped that into a .csv file. It looked something like this:
I wanted to see how many people were first time riders at Battenkill in 2013, and how many of them went on to race in 2013 and/or 2014.
(alternate version of the sentence above: A CYCLIST WHO LIKES EXCEL CHECKED OUT THE RACE HISTORY FOR THE TOUR OF THE BATTENKILL. WHAT HE DID NEXT WILL MAKE A FRIGGIN RAINBOW LAUNCH OUT OF YOUR SKULL)
I didn’t look at who upgraded, because that might take more time? Or something. But I guess I could. I was primarily focused with what first-time racers did in the rest of 2013 and in 2014. I looked at race results as far back as 2008 to determine who was “new” to bike racing.
2013 New Cat 5s:
- Total Cat 5s: 584
- Cat 5s whose first race was Battenkill: 212 (36% of total)
What those new 2013 Cat 5s did afterwards:
- Did a non-Battenkill race: 89 (15% of total, 42% of new riders)
- Only raced Battenkill : 123 (21% of total, 58% of new riders)
- Raced something in 2014: 107 (18% of total, 50% of new riders)
- Only did Battenkill in 2014: 69 (11% of total, 32% of new riders, 64% of those who only did Battenkill in 2013) (GIANT FRIGGIN ASTERISK – it’s early April, so I’ll check back later and see what happens with this)
What about “veteran” Cat 5s (people who had raced once before) in 2013?
Requested by “someone”
- Veteran racers: 372 (64% of total)
- Did a non-Battenkill race: 244 (42% of total, 66% of vets)
- Only raced Battenkill: 128 (22% of total, 34% of vets)
- Raced in 2014: 190 (33% of total, 51% of vets)
Veterans + Noobs in 2013:
- Did a non-Battenkill race: 333 (57% of total)
- Only raced Battenkill: 251 (43% of total)
- Raced in 2014: 297 (51% of total)
2014 Cat 5s:
- Total Cat 5s: 602
- Cat 5s whose first race was Battenkill: 223 (37% of total)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN???
For 58% of the new Cat 5s in the 2013 race, Battenkill was their only race of the year (or, at least, the only race of the year that was on road-results, which is kind enough to include most things that have results posted – training races, gran fondos, that sort of thing. So lots o’ events).
In 2013, that’s 123 Cat 5s that did one event and then hung up their license for the rest of the year. If were promoting an event and I wanted a ton of Cat 5s – or at least one race-field worth – I’d figure out how to reach out to those 123 dudes that didn’t race again. Get a booth in the expo area, have an airplane flying over the course towing a banner…something.
On the other side of the coin, maybe it’s good that 42% of first-timers went on to another race in 2013? I don’t know what the attrition rate of newcomers to cycling is, and where this falls in comparison to that.
Also, even though the 2014 cycling season is still very young in the Northeast, 50% of those people who were new to racing went on to do some race in 2014 – and it wasn’t limited to just Battenkill (64% just did Battenkill). Though it is clearly a majority.
It’s also interesting how close the percentages of new Cat 5s are between 2013 and 2014.
And over a third of the Cat 5 field was totally new to bike racing! That’s pretty cool, actually. Battenkill is an interesting event that scratches an itch that a lot of people have, and apparently it’s compelling enough to get so many new people out racing their bike.
So, to answer my question – roughly 50% of Cat 5s do other races.
I was asked to look at non-newbies who raced (which you’ll see the data on above).
More veteran riders did a non-Battenkill race in 2013 than new riders (66% vs 42%), and adding veterans into the mix certainly raised the percentage of riders who did a non-Battenkill event in 2013 (57%).
Even still, in 2013, there were 128 veteran racers who only raced Battenkill! So, yeah, spending money on that airplane towing a banner for your team isn’t that terrible of an idea.