Road races are a dying species, and more and more keep falling off the calendar.
The list of canceled road races gets longer: Wayne Elliot, Housatonic Hills, Lake Auburn.
— rusto88 (@rusto88) April 24, 2013
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.