Watching cross worlds

I was thinking to myself today, “I wonder how much Universal Sports/NBC/Comcast/Xfinity paid for the rights to UCI CX? And I wonder how much the UCI would make if they charged everyone in the US $5 per race to watch it?”

I think I actually thought this out loud, while reading Twitter. Or something.

Because if you’re a fan of cyclocross in the US, you have probably discovered the wonder of installing Hola in Chrome, pretending to be another country where Jack Donaghy didn’t win the rights to broadcast CX worlds, and going to the UCI YouTube channel, and watching the race in normal definition (WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE we had pixelated crap feeds on steephill.tv AND WE LIKED IT) on your laptop or TV.

The situation in the US is so ugly that Tim Johnson is tweeting out VPN solutions.

ANYWAY, I was thinking all of this (and, as usual, Cosmo has a great post/rant about this), and thought I had a GREAT IDEA in the “charging $5/race”, until I realized that in all of the countries I pretend to be via Hola, the race is broadcast for free on YouTube.

Except in the US, where the UCI found a network willing to give them some money to “broadcast it” to it’s “subscribers” (and yes, I tried cycling.tv, but it was terrible, and they kept billing me after I cancelled my subscription).

So anyway. Someone in the UCI Media Rights Sales Department (gotta be a thing, right?) managed to discover a way to get some cash money from Xfinity International Sports, and we’ll never be able to watch UCI CX in a non-janky fashion again.

But thank you, Hola.

Saving The Vanishing Road Race

Road races are a dying species, and more and more keep falling off the calendar.

Russ Campbell’s tweet got those of us who are sitting behind a desk talking on the Twitters. And maybe talking about things is how we can keep road races around? Or maybe not, and I’m just wasting my time typing this (NOTE: I am currently waiting for reports to run, so I am filling a void in my day with bloggage).

Despite the unhelpful commentary I’ve lobbed at Dieter Drake and his (quite expensive to race) Tour of the Battenkill, I do think that he has figured something out – entry fees have been unsustainable for too long. Or, to put it another way, bike races are really expensive to run, and the primary source of revenue has been stunted, contributing to races falling off the map when the promoter gets tired of running a money-losing event.

Dieter has also taken over the Tour of the Dragons. The entry fee in 2011 (pre-Dieter) of the two-day stage race was $90 (or something, Colin Reuter hasn’t answered my IM about how to find old races on bikereg. Shit that’s cheap!). Entry fee in 2012 was $180 (what the hell just happened?!?).

Now, that is a steep increase – but maybe he’s the only promoter who’s realized that putting on a bike race is a risky endeavor, and if you want to make sure the event is still around in five years, you gotta add some padding there. Terrible weather with no turnout, road construction canceling the race or late-to-pay sponsors and the promoter could be looking at a big-ass bill eating up all available dollars.

Please note that I’m doing Tour of the Dragons this year because I really like bike racing, and I feel that it is a worthwhile expense for the event. I don’t do Battenkill because driving out there blows, and I don’t think it’s worth the entry fee.

As far as racers helping to better foot the bill of an event, the answer probably lies somewhere in between artificially low entry fees ($35 for Sunappe!) and a doubling of entry fees in one year.

Other questions that are valid that I have no idea how to answer, and am just putting in a list because I am bad at writing and want to go eat lunch.

  • How do promoters keep entry fees down for beginner racers so they don’t get scared away?
  • How can costs be lowered across the board?
  • Does having more volunteers lower the event cost?
  • What information can promoters share to figure out best practices?
  • Maybe every race has an associated Gran Fondo to support it financially?

I may be totally missing the point for why bike races are disappearing – maybe it’s not money. Maybe it’s a lack of volunteers, promoters getting tired of all the work, cities and towns that aren’t supportive (maybe because PEOPLE KEEP LITTERING YOU FRIGGIN IDIOTS), or something else that I can’t think of in the few minutes I dedicated to type this out.

Perhaps racers should promise to volunteer at one race per season (please note that I only help out with my clubs events, so this sentence is also directed at me). Cars don’t point themselves in the correct direction.

So, really, I have no answers, just thoughts, but this is the Internet! It willed a Foam Party into existence, it can help solve some of these road race problems.

 

Tour of the Dragons Pro/1/2 GPS file

So earlier today, I asked the Internet if anyone had a GPS file for this weekend’s road race so I could load it into my Garmin and know how many miles I had until the next climb.

As usual, Alex Cox came to rescue, with a .gpx file he made at some point.  I converted it to a .crs .tcx file at GPSies.com, and now it’s on my Garmin.

FILES:

Tour of the Dragons P/1/2 Road Race (GPX)
Tour of the Dragons P/1/2 Road Race (TCX)

Cross Nationals Conclusions

Here are some things that I learned at nationals:

  1. Pitting is stressful, and I’m really glad that it wasn’t super muddy during the elite men’s and women’s races.  Or else Mr. Katie Compton and Stu Thorne would have murdered me for my spot in the pit wash line.
  2. Running around like a maniac is tiring.
  3. Free Grape Nuts is fantastic.
  4. Food in Madison is cheap as hell.
  5. So is beer.

I think that is all.

It was a fantastic (and exhausting) few days, and it was great to meet so many people from the Internet.

One of the most amazing things that happened during the weekend was when I Tweeted “I’d like a coffee,” and Hilary replied with “I am at a coffee shop, would you like one?”, to which I said “Yes please!”

And then she brought me one.  HELL YEAH INTERNET.  Please note that we did not meet one another prior to this coffee interaction.

So, um, yes.  New England cleaned up, so we’re the best, everyone can suck it.

Cross Nationals Update

Did you know that NECX is REALLY GOOD?

Because we are.  The Wilichoski CRUSHED the 35-39 race.  Dylan McNicholas CRUSHED the 30-34 race. Adam Myerson got third in the 40-44 race. Sally Annis DECMIATED the 35-39 race. Jesse Keough got 4th in the U23 race.

ALSO: Andrea Smith won the 30-34 race, with Crystal Anthony in second. Austin Vincent won the 15-16 race, Peter Goguen got second. Paul Curley won the 55-59 race.

So, yeah, good work everyone.

I’ve spent my time here hanging out and working in the pit – first for Sally on Friday, and then this morning for Curtis and later for Colin in the 30-34 race (he got 17th).  Tomorrow I’m pitting for Ben Coleman in the Collegiate D1 race, the MIT dudes in the D2 race, Sally in the Elite Women’s race and Colin in the Elite Men’s race.

The pit is going to be a NIGHTMARE in the races with big fields – it’s quite short, there’s only two pressure washers.  Stu Thorne is going to punch someone.

Other than pitting, I’ve been watching, yelling, updating the Internet via Twitter, and taking some videos with my iPhone.  Which are below.

Richard Fries had stopped announcing at the end of Colin’s race…then we told Richard that Colin was about to finish, and he turned the mic back on and got back to work.

Hell yeah, NECX.

Dear SRAM

The dude who designed this part?

Yeah.  He should be fired.

In my experience, everything else you make – chains, cassettes, etc – is great.  And your customer service is great, too!  However, I’ve had to use it four times, each time to replace a shifter*.  I’ve ridden Shimano on my road bikes since 2003, and cross bikes from 2004 – 2007 – and only had one broken shifter (a 9-speed 105 that I bought used off of a teammate – died after a year).

This is the second time the exact same thing has happened – the first time, the shifter was less than a month old, and I was riding to work.  This time, I was riding home from work, and as I started shifting into an easier gear, the lever turned into a wet noodle, and I shouted out “OH MAAAAAAAANNN”, and began to enjoy my ride home in my 12.  Not a colossal headache, but annoying.

So, please find the dude who designed the part that’s failed on me twice, and suggest that he start picking people up if they get stranded due to his poor design.  And have the drive train guys take over shifter design – they seem to know what they’re doing.

*shifter death total:
First generation Rival – plastic thing that holds the end of the cable broke.  Warrantied.
Rival – Crashed, broke body of shifter (that one’s on me).  Warrantied.
Rival – Shift lever broke off in my hand.  Warrantied.
Rival – Shift lever broke off in my hand.  

Race Announcing is HARD.

Being the selfless person that I am, I told Colin to put me down for “whatever, at any time” for Ice Weasels.

Which meant that to meet him in Somerville, I had to be out the door from Dover at 4:40 a.m., which also meant that I had to get up at 4 a.m. so I could have an appropriate amount of time to poop.

Hoooray.

At some point Colin also asked me if I could announce.

My brain heard “announce”, but my ego heard “talk into a device that amplifies your voice and projects it across a farm”.

GREG AND IAN SHUT UP I AM TALKING INTO THE VOICE AMPLIFIER.

Continue reading Race Announcing is HARD.

BIKES ARE BACK.

Sometimes, when you start bike racing in March, it is difficult to keep bike racing until December.  Then your legs stop working, you start sucking, and bike riding is not fun.

THEN THREE WEEKS LATER BIKES ARE FUN AGAIN, and you go on a 50 + mile ride mostly on a rail trail on a cross bike.

And then you eat a muffin with a ton of butter and have two cups of coffee so you can sit on Aaron‘s wheel as he tows you back to the greater Durham area.

Butter is delicious. It has the added benefit of turning into watts at some point.

Bikes are great.  I love bikes.