Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Really Great Race

What makes a great 'cross race?

A couple weeks ago I had a discussion with a sponsor who wants to put together a western states race series, like a mini SuperCup. As we both used to promote races the discussion became a debate about what makes a great event.

We observed that in Norcal historically the higher profile events (like UCI races with cash and press and pros in attendance) have had a hard time competing with the local race series. There's something about the Norcal scene which seems to value the grass roots over the "big show".

So what makes an event great? Should it be measured by participation, like Surf City which once could get upwards of 400 riders in a day? Or by cash prize lists and press coverage, like the US Grand Prix? A full scale promotion with finish line arch, PA system, expo tents, race announcer and schwag bags? The prospect of earning bragging points in the local series, like Central Coast? Or a great local race every week within 20 minutes drive, like the Sacramento series? Or is it only about the race course itself?

Bottom line, what is it that makes you turn out for a race?

Ground rules: This is not a "flame the promoter" thread. This is not a place to ask for entry fee refunds. This is not a discussion forum for callup procedures. And don't waste bandwidth saying things like "every course ever design by Keith Defiebre rocks hard!!!" - be specific!

Photo credit: J.S. Mcelvery


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fun course!

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fun course and spectators

9:58 AM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

I have found that several factors go into what makes me fired up about a race. First is the course. If a course is a really good course with all the cyclocross atributes, fast, technical, tough, but not going cause damage to bike and racer, I look forward to racing at that venue or on that course. Second is the competition. When I started showing up at Surf City or Central Coast, the fields were deep in ALL catagories making for great racing week in, week out. With so much emphasis on "series" placings it seems people stick to one or two series and skip some other possible great races that have a lot of potential to be a classic race. If there were a Nor-Cal Cup that featured one race from every series it might give everybody a chance to see some other venues. It would not have interupt the series that hosted the Cup race, just maybe bring everyone together at one venue leading to great racing. Just a thought. Lates, Rich

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Hans said...

1. The course should be designed well for:

a) Racing - Combinations of features, run-up, barrier(s), long fast sections but not too extreme.

b) Spectating - Keep the course tight so spectators can see many portions at once.

2. The venue should be close enough to allow racers *and* spectators to attend without hours or driving.

3. A full suite of categories including the kids race. The kids race alone is a great PR tool.

4. Race series with points.

5. More helmet cam footage from each race... oops, that's on my todo list.



10:06 AM  
Blogger The Sage said...

I have to say I agree with all the post. I like Rich's idea of a cup that features all race series. There are a lot of great venues out there people have never given a chance. A cup series would allow for that.

As for course design one that is a bit open, takes in all cx attributes. Natural and man made dismounts, technical, and fast.
The only aspect I'd prefer designs to stay away from a lot of single track. 1 - 2 sections is fine, but anything more or a long single track section hamper good racing. It tends to prevent movement in the field. It's hard to pass someone and move up the field in a single track section. The ability for riders to move up the field makes for awesome racing.

The other thing is spectators, I know this both from a racer standpoint and a family standpoint.
From a racer, having spectators through out the course is way cool. We don't get the concentration at road and crit races except for a few venues, as we get in 90% of CX racing.

From a family standpoint, my wife loves to go to cross races more than road races cause she can see me through out most of the race at multiple points. CX is much more fan friendly than road racing cause of this aspect.

10:29 AM  
Blogger PAA said...

I think everything that's been said so far is on the money. Being here in SoCal we're trying hard to bring the over all level of racing up.

1) Challenging but not impossible course that's well marked and room for passing --- check

2) Good spectator viewing --- check

3) Kids race to involve the family --- check

One thing that hasn't been mentioned specifically would be what I call "venue comfort." To me, there's nothing more miserable than going to a race that's in a miserable place. Nothing like dust, lack of shade, lack of seating (grass and boulders work fine for seating), and lack of "scenery" (would you rather look at grass and trees or a graffiti covered wall and broken cement) to make your race unattractive. I wouldn't want to bring my family and friends to spectate if I knew they'd be standing in a nasty place.

For all those promoters trying to put on the "complete race" I salute you!

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Graffiti, broken concrete and other debris? I say use what has been left behind by corporations and other industry.

12:32 PM  
Blogger leavelueux said...

I agree with what everyone has been saying, and I have one other comment. I realize that living in the climate we do makes the races (especially the early ones) so dry and dusty. And it's the later season races, especially in Santa Cruz where things stay damp, that stick in my mind as great courses, often because of the conditions. I wish there were a way to put the early season venues in areas that are not quite as prone to the dry, bumpy, dustiness that doesn't reflect what I think many consider a good course. Or we need a big water truck!!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

I think a "norcal prestige cup" or something like that would be good. Not the old BAR based on all races but a cherrypicking of the best venues out of each series.

Then if for example you live in Sacramento there are one or two designated events in the Monterey area that you can plan to attend, and vice versa.

It also works for the promoters since they don't have to give up one of their events to run someone else's race (for example velo bella USGP race last year) and also they get more entries on those days.

SO... just needs a sponsor to sweeten the pot? Anyone?

1:00 PM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

A major winery would make for a great sponsor being in Nor Cal, home of MANY wineries. Anyone have connections to a winery?

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Brij Lunine said...

Looks like a solid consensus has already emerged. The only thing I'd like to add is a good start. Last year's Grand Prix races both had great starts, especially SF: a long straight that let's things sort out a little before the first turns, or barriers or whatever.

It's amazing to compare the atmosphere at Golden Gate park to some of the more removed, desolate venues. Also the energy the Bellas put in to the Surf City really shows--I know that aside from Golden Gate Park, my wife will only drag the kids to the Surf City Series because they're so much fun. Now I know CCCX has limited options, as do all the promoters, but the level of excitement really goes up with the crowds, amenities, and such.

Note that the prize lists, full-scale promotion, PA, schwag--the hype in other words--is pretty secondary to the course, venue, and crowd. I do wish it was feasible to have the USGP back in the state--definitely the highlight of last season for me (I can't afford a trip to Nats).

As ever, Rich has a great idea with the Nor Cal Cup. Imagine if one race (or two of the Pilarcitos) comprised some sort of overall competition. I'd drive to Sacto for that, like I did for districts. This should make for bigger more exciting races.

Bottom line: My goal is to race every CCCX, BASP and Surf City. I try and race the whole season since I don't race the road any more. Plus I like the routine and ethic of racing every weekend.

Out, Brij

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Terry Buchanan said...

Are Dave's series intentions only a CA thing? It would be great to get some interesting going on a larger regional level. There are so many UCI events but nothing really binding them togehter or bringing top riders together consistently. Of course there is the USGP but this is only three weekends. A westcoast series with four weekends or something would be nice to create another level of racing. I know my race, Star Crossed would love to be apart of something like this.

What makes a great race? Great promoters willing to bust thier asses and push the limits, ; ).

3:40 PM  
Blogger PAA said...

If you want to talk regional I know Dorothy Wong was working hard earlier this year to try to put on some type of North meets South in the San Luis Obispo area. It didn't work out --- BUT --- if someone put together a regional series as you're talking about I'm sure So Cal could put on a great race to be part of the series. I know our racing fields aren't as deep down here but the top of the crop is strong. We've also put on some VERY quality events so far as part of our nascent SoCal Prestige Series at www.socalcross.com .I'll be putting on the 3rd annual Turkey Trot Cross this November 26th. We would welcome NorCal racers to this high quality event (see more at www.verdugocycling.com )and I would happily join it to a regional series in the future.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"every course ever designed by a rock hard Keith Defiebre rocks hard!!!"

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good course, and venue, tough competition, a modest cash prize and a LONGER season, quick finish posting on line, the officials, concessions, fans, a changing room even if it has a cold floor. Cross racing has come a long way since the late 80s, but one thing has remained the same, the seaon is so short. People stick close to there home turf and the racing is packed into a couple of months. Sacto has great venues and series, but who from the Bay is gonna drive there on Saturday if they can race here on Sunday. If the season were spread out, you could spend a weekend in Sacto or Reno. Do a set of races every month away from home. Kinda like the road season. Yeah, yeah, yeah, no one has ever been able to push the season much past nats in December. So what are all the cross racers doing? road racing, oh no! If ya love cross, you are only getting warmed up in Decmber and it is just gettin wet around here. What will keep riders showing up? Prize money, sponsorship and competition. The west coast can continue to run races in the winter cause the weather ain't that bad. Heck, they have held the world in the Czech Republic in February and two America almost won their events! Do crosser really want to start doin' early birds or even race their road bikes, when they can be cruising the trails. Put on a series of UCI races with good prize money, hey the Gloucester race paid 10 deep in the masters, from October till February and they will come.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous blackmarket racing said...

Some of the older racers from our area may remember that a NorCal series that involved one or two selected races from each series, is exactly what we had- way back in 1994. It was call the Mud Cup. It was cool for all the reasons stated previously. It brought riders together from different areas to experience some of the other venues they may not have attended before the series. There weren't even a lot of prizes for the overall winners, if I remember correctly. It just had the allure of being a great overall contest, tested across many different kinds of courses.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

Does everyone remember the Redline Cup? Well-sponsored UCI race series in OR, WA, UT and CA in 2002. Full elite cash purse, press coverage, expo, the works. Even better, the napa round was the week before natz in Yountville. But only 225 +/- riders showed up, 2/3rds of a surf city race. Why? This has bothered me ever since.

In the end the big races are cool to attend because you know there's going to be a crowd. But if that means you drop a bunch of local cats from the raceday schedule (as we had to do for the RL cup) then what's in it for the average guy? Would you show up at a race just to watch if there wasn't a race for your category?

As cool as the big uci series are, in reality only 10-20 riders from Norcal are in a position to travel to events outside the region. That's why those UCI events have to have all the local cats in their format in addition to the elites.

And that's also why a regional NorCal cup with reasonable driving times (sorry, SLO) makes the most sense here. At least that's what I am starting to think.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see a series with one race held from each of the current series going now. One Bay Area Super Prestige, one from CCCX, one Surf City, one from Sacramento, and one from Peak Season, and then a final race independent of those. I bet Tom Simpson, Keith Defiebre, Sabine Dukes, Dave Gill, and Rich Maile could make that go in 2007-08. This keeps the current races going strong as well as bringing up the level of Cross racing in NorCal. I think this would be best, lets call it NorCal Super Cup and have a nice amount of cash paid out at each race from a sponsor to make it worth while for promoters to get involved so they dont have to come up with cash themselves for pay out. I have just the sponsor in mind who I know is looking to sponsor cycling events, from the Silicon Valley, who should I contact to get this thing going?

6:10 PM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

One of the reasons I suggested a "Nor Cal" cup was in hopes to bring nor cal back to the days of All racers in the area showing up at selected races, not impeding on the respective series and their promoters,but showcasing Nor Cal as a whole. I think making them UCI cat races may be too much for the local promoters to have to deal with. Not necessarily big prize events, but a classy cup or trophy to acknowledge winners and placers in "Cup" designated races. Rich p.s. Starcrossed is still one of THEE best races in the country!!!

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NorCal Cup series should for sure not be UCI. That sets way too many restrictions for promoters and too much paperwork and so on...........

It should just be a fun group of races that highlights what great racing we have in Northern Calif.

I bet Keith Defiebre can pull this thing together! I nominate him and Tom Simpson and Sabine Dukes and Rich Maile, to make this thing happen.

We need to have large cash payouts to give it some worth for the racers. 15 deep in all A categories. Then it is worth it to fight for top placings down the line.

Then racers can travel to each series and take in a little from different regions of Nor Cal.

8:05 PM  
Blogger clubob said...

A good course will have a variety of something novel too, like bombing down the halls at last years Soquel HS race (I used to get in trouble for that!) or the downhill twisty single track bit at Fort Ord. Finally I think a brief awards ceremony would be great. Nothing big, maybe medals and a six pack for the race winner. Its just so anti-climatic to kill yourself in a race and get no strokes for it until maybe at the end of the series if you can make all of the races.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is nice to see the courses now a days favor Cross bikes. But we all must remember that the riders who do well seem to be able to ride well in all types of events. Road events and X-C events just as well as Cross events, so it is not the bike, but the racer of the bike who makes it go well. I can even think of a racer who does DH races, Slalom races, X-C races, Endurance races, Road & Crit. races and Cross races all successfully! So its not the bike, but the rider who drives that machine on the different type of courses and routes which dictates the outcome. I can remember winning a Cross race on a Mtn Bike in 1996 riding for Specialized, my last year using a Mtn Bike for Cross races, and then the racer in 4th place says it was because the course favored a Mtn Bike, instead of just saying good job on dominating the event! The same guy put it to me the next week on his Cross bike. And I didnt go up to him and say oh you only won because the course today favored your bike. I just told the guy congratulations. Now most racers are on Cross bikes and most courses favor Cross bikes so there is less crying over losing to someone on a different type of bike. It is nice to see discussion on courses, this is how the race scene evolves. I can remember leading a East Bay race at a dump, with three guys in our lead group following, and then I hear breaking noise from their pads locking up on the rims like our lead group was making a turn. I was powering as fast as I could straight down a fire road, and looked back, and the rest of the guys hooked a right onto a single track with some orange cones showing the route off in the distance on the single track. I was going full steam down the road and missed the turn as the cones were placed well onto the single track and there was no marking at all showing a turn! I forgot about the turn as I was in a deep tuck position trying to be aerodynamic and thinking of trying to pedal as fast as possible and drop the chase group, but the other guys remembered the turn! That hurt as I had to stop, turn around, and then try and chase the group which was long gone by the time I made it back to the turn. So it is nice to see courses marked better now a days, and I Thank all the promoters who put course tape out marking the turns! It did not used to be like that!

And if someone finishes ahead of you, tell them good job! Not that the course favored the type of bike they were on or the tire choice they had, or the type of frame material they had, just be a good sport and say good job!

Over the years I have witnessed the courses really improve. I think that things will continue to get better with healthy discussions like this. Thanks to Carr and Funke for their input, and great work to all the promoters and racers who make the racing go!


11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of great ideas.
Dave, I remember and showed up for that Redline Cup race at the college in Napa years ago. That Napa course had a great racer/spectator profile and was layed out to be fast (fun)!!
I'm not motivated to race on a slower course, even when it's wet.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the idea of a NorCal Cup. This could be modeled after the NCNCA Premier Series

I know many a race that would be into a Cup series.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Tom Simpson said...

Eeek! sponsors just aching to get involved with a bike race!!! Let us have their names/numbers!!!

Here's some numbers and e-mail addresses for them to contact any/all of us

CCCX - Rod (from their website)

Sacramento - Jim McDonald(from their website) velocommunity@gmail.com

Surf City (from their website)sabine@velobella.org

Bay Area Super Prestige CycloCross
(650) 302-6310

Tom S.
Pilarcitos Cyclesports

1:07 PM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

How about we enlist one point of contact (e.g. Josh at NCNCa who set up the road premier series) to field those sponsor opportunities. He is able to do a good job with all the sponsor handling that would be necessary. The last thing a sponsor needs is to hear from six different promoters each with their own view of a premier series.

Funke and I actually approached Josh on a similar subject this year, and he seemed interested.


2:30 PM  
Blogger Hooptie said...

The Primer Series (on the road) worked really well, this is a great idea for Cross. Each promoter gets to choose one course.

UCI points are all the big dogs seem to worry about, not much opportunity to travel and make $$$ racing cross....like you can on the road, so I dont think $$$ will help the draw.

Good courses, ease of location...those are the biggest factors that effect local turnout. Cash is nice, but the top 5 is generally sewn up before the race starts....so cash becomes more of an appearance fee.

Take the cash and buy kegs for the spectators...free beer will increase the draw 10X.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

cookies always help.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Grey said...

If you need 2 more cents:

After taking about 8 years off from cx racing I'll say this: The NorCal promoters have come a long way in course set up (i.e. I'm loving the courses week in/week out) and the cx community provides a very competitive but laid back attitude. Thumbs up from me.

What's a "big-show" race got over that? Higher entry fees? Less access to the course (for racing, not for spectating)? A schwag bag--90% of which goes straight to the landfill (though if it's a rainy day you're psyched to have the plastic bag to stow your muddy clothes)? Some really excited guy screaming into a microphone all day?

While it would be cool, especially for the elite racers, to have a big event or two in the neighborhood, and it's exciting to watch our locals duke it out with the best (and I did turn out just to spectate at Golden Gate Park last year, but I live in SF), that's not what will get me to a bike race.

That said I have wondered if it would be good for the NorCal elite racers to have as much hype as possible, like someone writing race reports (I think Sabine did this for the Soquel race) for cyclingnews.com. Is there value to advertising NorCal CX in that way? If so, to whom is it valuable? Also is CX popular enough to have the season extended because more people simply race CX instead of seeing it as a road race off-season distraction? I was watching those videos on velonews that Dave linked and I noted that the racer guy said he now focuses on CX and any MTB racing was more of an off season thing.

Just some thoughts there... See y'all at McClaren.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah hooptie, we need to get everyone drunk and maybe then we can have a few DUI's on the way home or maybe a accident or two! That would be great! Really a good idea! Why dont you order the kegs! I think those who drink too much should keep that to themselves! Not make Cross races beer festivals~

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What! Are you kidding? Cyclocross practically invented the concept of Beer Tents.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naw............beer isn't such a good idea....
Ale............. that would be a good idea ....and hot food

5:52 PM  
Blogger Benjaminiac said...

i think hooptie is missing the point on the entry fees, the first time i went to a supercup (at hellyer) i was amazed i could win several hundred dollars racing my bike. what a concept! and that was for losing the U23 race. i remember in elite race watching Rick Hunter getting lapped and sitting around calculating with my friends how much money he still won.

the point is: yes, top five money is pretty much locked up, but top 10, top 20 money is a real game to be played.

i'm wondering how much of a draw UCI status really is for making a race big? look at the yawning gap between the first year BASP and the USGP in the park last year. is it the time of year? is it the placement on the calendar? is it the numerous pros showing up? i think if a race can be hyped enough in all the local and regional markets you can forget the big boys, spread the prizes a little wider and thicker, and really get everone stoked.

one of my personal definitions of a race's success is turnout, so how do you increase turnout in all the categories, and as an added bonus keep those people there to spectate/hang out/cheer for other racers? is it prizes, vibe, favorite course? i know we have some cool things being said in this tread but how do you improve, pick up your game to increase traffic?

8:43 PM  
Blogger Josh and Barb said...

I just wish we could have some UCI races in CA. It sounds like the consensus is that UCI points aren't going to make a big difference for the average nor-cal competitor and may not be worth the trouble and money.

If you look at the Verge Series in the east, those races are great and they manage to have points and money at every event.

I'm bummed that if I really want to get the points for a good start at Nationals I might as well just move to the east coast for the season.

9:41 PM  
Blogger ali-la-pointe said...

uhhh - a really great local race around here needs some new blood infusion (has the average age ever been higher for bike racing? count the under 35s, let alone the under 18s)...I think we (SF in particular, where I live)need some KIDS on bikes, especially kids that might not have dads to buy them colnagos. as in a team like rad racing up north, that owns the bikes through sponsors and lets a multitude of youth try out cx without a fat investment. cx is a great bike racing option for urban kids that don't have serene sac>folsom bike paths, etc. we have big parks, some gritty, and plenty of technical riding, the races are short, etc.

I could find $1500 or something for next season to put towards something like this, and if 10 other elderly people could hold off on the dugasts and do so too, esp. 1 or 2 with real skills to transmit(John?), we could start a bangin' program for our little kids to grow into, recruit a bike sponsor and find some young, untapped local talent slouching 'round justin herman w/a 30lb bmx bike during class hours with energy to burn, or running track at a public school, and be able to take some to nationals next season to square-off against the kids Dale Knapp coaches...momentum builds momentum, Evan

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im reading lots of people talking here, and where is the action behind those words?

Seems like this is just going to be babble with a lot of people just giving their advice on what to do........ but not backing any of it up.

We seem to have people wanting to have beer festival junior development programs providing free bikes and expecting sponsors to get behind that! When most of the people who think they are racers just always complain about gas money and entry fee's for even going to the races now.

Everyone wants things their way but only a few are actually making positive contributions to the race scene besides racing themselves. Id like to see folks step up like the promoters do to make the races better with their time and effort and help!

Hooptie makes so much money racing his road bike! And wants more beer! How many road events did Hooptie win last year??? and what was his grand total of cash winnings??

UCI races?? why dont we have any now?? because the promoters got beat up from trying that last year!

Lets have some top male and female racers give up their time and energy and money and give their effort to get behind that and bring UCI events back.

It is obviuos we have to take baby steps first. I agree with benjaminiac in regards to increasing the depth of the prizes as best as possible on a local level and that would then increase participation and interest.

The NorCal Mtn Bike high school league is a good program and racers now need to get behind developing school cycling programs, instead of wanting beer filled events! Or UCI status events. We need to give back to what we have now to grow from within. Then, maybe we can actually host a few UCI events which would be nice, or host the National Championships. But this takes giving back to make our events now stronger, not expecting more from the events that are already rolling, but doing your part to volunteer time and effort to get things better. How many top racers here volunteer their time?? Or sacrafice their racing to make others have fun racing?

I have heard so many folks complain about gas money going to races and entry fee's! Think not of what races can do for you, but what you can do for the races.

How many of the top racers are actually doing something to develop racing and giving back to make races better?? We have folks wanting more prizes and more this and more that...... more beer!

I take my hat off to the promoters who are doing stuff days, and weeks in advance to make it all happen.

Lets just hope that some of the promoters can keep their dedication going, and keep their events going, and develop a NorCal Cup series taking events from each region that could also develop junior cycling in all area's of NorCal.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i likke the big show. I like the big guns showing up, a good course, and the whole scene of people

8:05 AM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

It seems there is a lot of interest in the idea of a "Nor Cal Cup" type of series. As a person who will be taking on a larger role in the Sacto series for '07 I invite all other promoters into discussions on the possibilty to see this to fruition. Also important is the input of racers themselves as this idea is directed to make the racing experience in Nor Cal bigger and better. The most important point I want to stress is that this series should NOT impede on the established series that exist now. My hopes on this is to see great races happen and that I believe is what Dave Carr was asking in the beginning. Rich

8:39 AM  
Blogger Dave Carr said...

Rich is correct; and mr. anonymous "where is the action" is missing the point.

I wrote this thread from the viewpoint of a promoter wanting to hear what will bring more folks out to the races. If beer tents and cookies will bring 'em out then so be it. Despite the apparent success displayed by a schedule full of many races, attendance is down across the board and some fine tuning is called for.

I think promoters are reading this thread and have heard the word. As for me I have contacted NCNCA about promoting a norcal prestige trophy for cross next season. That competition, in its small way, is just the kind of innovation our region needs to bring togther all the various constituencies.

As to some of the other suggestions, I applaud the high minded commenters looking for the path to "develop the sport", as it were, and the issue of junior development and the aging racer demographic has to be addressed. Still the factual reality is these races will not exist if they do not keep doing the things that will bring more existing racers out to the races.

Thanks for the input ... Now everyone go race !!

9:21 AM  
Blogger Velo Bella said...


Right on for spurring this. I have been thinking about this very idea for a couple of years now. I pitched it locally, but did not have the resources at the time to do anything more with it.

As awesome as it is to have so many races and series in our area, I think we are actually oversaturated with races. And its splitting up the racing.

Surf City used to be 6-8 races long and attract over 400 racers. We've wittled it down to 3 because there just isnt room on the calendar for all of us.

We (promotors) all compete with each other, even if our races aren't on the same day or in the same area. Not everyone can afford the time and commitment it takes to race 2 events every weekend. Or even one every weekend. So racers are split amongst the various options.

I do like that there are more local options for racers, as I think thats what helps draw newcomers to the sport. But I also long for the days, when all of the racers in the Nor Cal region, would meet at the same races to face off.

Surf City would gladly jump into the fray on this. I only ask that we keep things as simple as possible, so that all of us can participate without too much infringement on how we each like to serve our local racers.

I also think we should all agree to not hold any event on the same weekend as one of the cup events.

and we have dibs on Halloween.


9:40 AM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

single speeders do the work of the devil.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Rich Maile said...

I plan on being at Sunday's race. Anyone interseted in chatting about "Nor Cal Cup", please find me, I'll be the kook on the white Sycip SS. I look forward to ANY input from promoters and racers alike. Oh yeah, I could not see anyone but Surf City having the Halloween Race. Lates, Rich

10:54 AM  
Blogger Mark Christian said...

I'm so excited to see so much discussion about a "Norcal Cup" or "Prestige Series" or whatever. I believe what makes the road focused criterium Premier Series successful is the great events and the fact that there are events spread throughout the season. The cross season is condensed, but I envision a 6 or 8 race series that spans all the current series - Surf City, Pilarcitos, Sacramento, Central Coast, etc. It would also be nice to include one new venue such as the White Hill School race in Fairfax - it would help these new races get established.

There could potentially be a race every weekend from October through December. Sure some of the top local pros and masters will race the USGP Series, but competition may actually be better because there will be some new faces at each venue.

I applaud every promoter that has interest in seeing this comes to fruition.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually now there is a race every weekend from the end of Sept. to Jan! This is good because if me and my husband cant make a race, then there is another just around the corner. My husband was actually hurt last year too, and the season was so long, he was able to race in the later races of the year.

It is nice to pick and choose events. But I agree that a fun atmosphere is what is important.

Seems to me like some of the events are too centered around getting drunk, what happened to cycling being a healthy sport. I dont like taking my kids to events where so much alcohol is featured. I like a good course and some fun, spectator friendly racing. There does not even have to be a kids race, as long as my little guys can watch the racing and have fun, and not watch the 35+ crowd get drunk and act too foolish.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as Junior Development...

If a Nor-Cal cup was to develop how about getting the people from the Nor Cal HS MTB league involved and maybe running some of there races along with the Nor-Cal cup races. I've been to a few of these races and they seem to have a good turn-out, and it might expose some kids to cross that my not be otherwise.

Now to the topic...

Location, the course, spectators and the atmosphere are the biggest draws for me. I think more exposure might help draw more people. I'm new to cross and I kind of stumbled onto the fact that there is big cross scene in our area.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

"act too foolish."

... we're grownups, in spandex, riding around in circles on bicycles.

how much more foolish can you get?

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can remember one of the final races last year, where some guy was so drunk, and he was heckling the racers who were back in the field as they went by. Well my husband was going to punch him a few times just to teach him a lesson and make him shut up. He was so drunk and acting stupid and ruining it for the people trying their best. Yes this is what alcohol leads to, and I had to hold my husband back so he didnt fight this fool on the side of the course who was so drunk and stupid. It ruined the great race that was going on, all because this guy was so waisted.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Nome Agusta said...

I like trying different courses. The more unique they are to one another the better. A series should challenge all aspects of racing a bike with each course tossing different challenges at the racers. For some it would be hard run ups, others technical, and as much as I dislike it with my lack of gears, balls out wide open Autobons.

Cookies? Absolutely!!

Dollar bill money grab zones are cool too. Anything to keep it fun.

Prizes are good, but the quality of the event is the real draw. I have a job to make money with.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous will law said...

rain for a solid week before the race. ha!

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me if you want to attract more new riders you should cut down on the Sandbaggers. How is a guy who is a Cat 3 on the road riding the C's race? Do you expect some newbie to racing to compete with some Cat 3's fresh off of road season? If a guy laps a majority of the C's field, shouldn't he be required to upgrade to the B's the next week? Some of these guys in the C's fields have personal coaches and trainers. What kind of crap is that? There needs to be some legitimacy to the classification process.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Brent Chapman said...

Wow, I was waiting all day to see the collective response. I work with the VB's because they share my vision for cross. A fun place to be when your there and if you race your going to have a good time too.

As for being off the back and being heckled by a drunk, I've been there in all sports not just bike racing. Uh not as the drunk. Of course there are limits to how far you should take it when heckling.

On to courses etc.
Give me a perfect location and I will build you a perfect course so would the rest of the event promoters... In Santa Cruz perfect locations don't exist..at least for us to use. And as someone pointed out, our dry falls don't make for the most attractive events when you can go back east and race in soft soils..

As someone who has made more phone calls than my work would be happy to know about searching for venues and locations that look remotely like something you would see in Belgium... its just not there, so we live with what we have. So far the money hasn't been there either. Or maybe I (we) just haven't found it yet. I think people touched on this a lot already.

I regularly have people come by and tell me they would do this or that different. Of course I absorb feedback like a sponge, but sometimes things pan out the way they do for unseen reasons. Take last weekend at the fairgrounds where we had a horse event slip in on us last minute.. Yikes. That changed everything and when you commit to something sometimes you have to stick with it even when you know its not perfect. The good news was we got to race on the grass even though we weren't supposed to.
Another thing of interest is when you have one guy come up and say, "this was a total roadie course" and another guy come by and say "this was a total mtb'r course"... There are as many opinions about any one course as there are... *well you know.

As far as a cal cup or west coast cup that would be cool. Sabine is right though, there are too many events too close together. While fields sizes are enormous when there is too little races, when you get too many the fields thin out.
Compare us to Oregon who has about 3 promoters, and in the greater bay area we have 5 or 6!!

Having UCI races here in the bay area are great, no one would disagree.. but being the promoter or the staff working on those.. They are the toughest. Those events can require 2 times your normal staff for a local event. Surf Citys race last year was a blast. I would work it again in a heart beat but the local racers were losing out because we were burning out for one major event that didn't benefit our local riders much.

So I say, if you have a venue or some cash, or even half a day scroll up the page, call any of those promoters and put your money where your mouth is.

But I think Rich is on to something and if we can all get tied in together and work out an event instead of fighting over dates, things would be pretty cool.

Ok. I will shut up now and crawl under my rock.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Brent Chapman said...

Oops. coming out from under the rock again..

I forgot to mention what makes a great race for me.
A wide start, room to pass, a long enough course that if I get a bad start or there is a crash blockage I am not going to get lapped in 3 laps and a super supportive crowd which means crowds in close.

oh the best thing about this comment post is that is missing a commonly over-used word mentioned on olafs blog today.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's something else to include in the fully accessorized cross event: horn section

5:43 PM  
Blogger velogirl said...

Something that might encourage folks to race on Saturday and Sunday would be if there were weekend "destinations." By this, I mean two races in Reno one weekend, two in SF the next, two in Santa Cruz the following, etc. In many parts of the country, especially larger (geographic) districts, this seems to be the norm. Sometimes they have separate venues and sometimes they just run the course backwards. I think this might encourage more folks to travel to different areas and would probably cut down on the competition from different promoters. Right now, there's little incentive for me to drive to Sacramento since I can race somewhere "local" each Sunday. But, if there wasn't a local race on a given weekend and two Sac races, I might choose to do those instead.


6:15 PM  
Blogger ali-la-pointe said...

beer is fine at the races, as
r dank cookies etc. says this parent....I can recall a certain possibly intoxicated black-clad Irish-aesthete-fan's encouraging heckles at the cccx finals; almost fell over laughing each lap; anonymous - I can't imagine ever wanting to punch someone at a cx race, probably the only time of the week I don't wanna put foot to ass...signed, Evan (who as a parent, bleeding heart leftist and urban-dweller would really like to help some SF kids team thing come into being)

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like courses that use imagination and creativity to set up! I think some of the best courses i have raced on locally were designed by a promoter who must have been riding the stuff and seeing what works and how it all feels when your at race speeds and effort. I think sometimes the promoter must have been laying in bad, losing sleep, just thinking of how to match it all up so the course works good for the riders and the owners of the venue. I think it is good to watch Cross videos from races in europe and then try and incorporate the things you see in europe here. Fun, challenging, technical, we need it all and more!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bella says:

Last time I looked there were maybe 4 promters doing Cross races here in North Cal!

And thank GOD for each one of them!

We need to support each one of them as best as possible!

We are so lucky to have races to choose from!

It is great racing against the other B Women on different courses and different locations of Northern California. This is my 3rd year of Cross racing and I am finally making some improvement and all the races I have done have gave me this chance to get better.

Any race is a good race, no matter how big or small!

There are too many events too close together??? Come on, we are crying of too many events now......

Even though I did notice that the Bay Area Prestige series seems to dictate the schedule and there is not much room for other races.

It is nice to have options each weekend, if I can not make a race this weekend, then thankfully there is another great local promoter doing a race next weekend.

Im just glad that I can pick from certain races here, or certain races there. If there was only one series going the racing would be so predictable.

I think we are lucky to have choices and it would be nice for everyone to simply be thankful for what we have instead of trying to change things.

Race on Girls!

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so sweet what all the racers and promoters do for Cross racing in Northern calif.!!!

From Sacramento, to Surf city, to CCCX, to Bay Area Prestige! It is so awsome we have such a dedicated group of promoters and racers who always try their best to produce fun racing and good competiton.

Each series and event has its own character and this is what makes a great race to me!!!!!

Keep up the great riding and racing and races everyone! I really respect everyone who makes an effort!!!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Bjorn said...

I am a junior, I started racing when I was 11 and It's hard racing against 18 year olds when your younger. I think that in a bigger race like a cup there should be more categories for juniors (masters have 5 categories 35A, 35B, 45A, 45B and 55). The races should be spread over the west coast. Someone doing well in the series would treated it almost like a tour going up and down the coast. The categories should be devided into a under 12, under 15, and under 18, and a kids race. Because of this, we should have more kids to show up. Juniors would be willing to travel further if they could do well in their category and get prizes. When more kids show up there will be more money and things for prices. We should get juniors from MTB and Road come to and race CX.


10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bjorn is it past your bedtime???

It is really great of you to race Cross!

You know most Juniors either race for free or half price. That really can save mom and dad some cash during the year.

When me and Jim Gentes started racing cross before the new millenium, there was only junior divisions at Major races. Now most series have multiple junior divisions if you check. There are age groups and skill level seperations, and last time I looked the Surf City series and the CCCX series both even have junior female divisions. Good for those series!

And good for you Bjorn to go out and race! Now all you have to do is work on your spelling and you will be up for running for congress or maybe even vice president.


11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...












12:12 AM  
Anonymous K.P. Springfield said...

Any course where Hooptie shows up with free beer is the one I want to be at. If you're appalled by beer and bike racing, then do us a favor and stay home - the event will be more fun without you. DUIs? Get a clue, dude.

Cross bikes might have drop bars, but the last time I checked, they still have knobby tires. Knobby tires = beer = good times, great friends, tall tales and terrific memories. And that, my Fahrrad fanatics, is what bike racing is all about...because it sure as hell ain't about the money!


12:20 AM  
Blogger singlespeedguy said...

as for my two cents...I have little else after paying for entry fees, LOL.

I have to agree every race here in NorCal is great. Some more fun, some faster, some slower, some...well you get the message. Last Sunday's SurfCity was the best example of an overall package. Reg was seamless, great course (with barriers), party atmosphere, everything was on time and the results were posted quickly. As for beer, if I didn't have a long ride home, the Polkacide song lyric says it all ,"Beer, Beer, Beer..."

6:10 AM  
Blogger Linda Elgart said...

I think the Cup idea is great, but I also think the local folks want racing close to home. We should definitely move forward on the Cup idea, but at least here in Sac, the rank and file C and B riders don't want to lose their frequent and close to home races. And the clubs that put on the races often are fulfilling their usac race requirement. We'd probably have a few less, but still as many as won't conflict with other series.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that I need my beer!

I race cross for fun and beer is fun!

Lets Party!

I always thought the best race was the CCCX final when they had a keg working!

See you at the races~

and thank god for so many races.... what would it be like to be stuck inside on the weekends and not have a place to go suffer and have fun!

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I too have to agree..........
beer after the race is part of the experience. It helps the cool down stage.
And having the option to go buy a beer, some food and say hi to the other folks helps make a day of it.

Otherwise, w/o the beer and food...
I'm gone..........by one o'clock

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many good issues raised that have moved beyond the original question because we're all so passionate about the sport. In that vein and given the passion, I pose a question - why don't we run the season through the end of February or March? Seems like there's enough interest and plenty of promoters out there, plus, typically the weather is more "cross like" from Nov. through March. Appreciate any comments on this - would it interfere with the road season too much? Would it be too much of a good thing?

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah too much of a good thing,

also that is when you start getting in your road miles and start mtn biking and getting off of the short 45 minute to 1 hour races.

seems the schedule is full now and then time for a break toward the end of Jan and then road and mtn bike racing starts then.

maybe we can add a cyclocross stage to the Tour of California?

I am sure Sabine can get that going. It should probably be The Tour of California by Velo fella-bella.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plenty of promoters out there????

We have a small core of promoters!!

They are great and we need to be thankful we have such a great group of dedicated promoters.

But it is a small, tight nit group who allow us the chance to race!

They are the best and we should race as much as possible just to thank them for all of their hard work!

im racing 2 times this weekend!

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm racing 5 times next weekend !!!

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A: the orange jumpsuits.

They bring it all - spectators, racers, beer, horns, cash handouts, heckling and fun. And they're free.

A decent place to pee is also nice.

Other thoughts:

1 - The UCI is LAME, but if people want to race for points I think it would be great to have a series that supports points. Kudos to everyone who works to make it happen.

2 - Promoters ROCK. Even if something doesn't go well or meet your expectations, they still have the passion to stick their neck out and do this for us. Please make time to thank them while you're at the race.

3 - At the end of the day, this is just bike racing. We should all try to remember that. Especially the guy who has to have his wife keep him from beating a heckler...

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think a great race would be everyone holding hands and loving eachother and signing positive uplifting songs of joy! this would be the greatest race of all! No drugs, no alcohol, just love and happiness and everyone could even kiss! guys can kiss guys, girls can kiss girls, and everyone can love one another. let love rule the cyclocross races and let everyone hold hands and sing songs of joy!

these would be the several factors that fire me up about a race!

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great thread with some great posts...at least the serious ones that is.

What makes a really great race in my opinion is actually a few things:
1. A well designed true cyclocross course at an accessible and convenient venue. Fast, varied terrain with ample room for passing and battling, technical enough to challenge the riders without breaking bikes, bodies or equipment, and a course that keeps up with modern trends in that it in no way resembles a mountainbike course or in no way favors and/or overly encourages mtb's. And yes, I ride and love mtb's, but this is cyclocross as in 700c wheels and road bars...
2. Low, or fair entry fees. Keep the costs down, fer cryin' out loud.Of course the promoter needs to make money, but fair is the key word here. Fair does not mean "what the market will bear". Cyclocross is not "the new golf". It's cyclocross...good,clean blue collar fun and exercise! The promoters will make more money by having better races. For promoters: Good valued races= more racers= better racing and racers=better crowds= MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET! It's a win win for all...
3. Good prize lists...cash or otherwise. GOOD PRIZE LISTS ALWAYS MAKE FOR BETTER RACING, BIGGER AND BETTER FIELDS AND A HIGHER LEVEL OF EXCITEMENT AND FUN FOR EVERYONE! It's the same in any sport... the competitors will always go harder when there is a good "carrot" to go for. It's amazing that this is often forgotten. Forget the stupid swag bags and bogus prizes. They fool no one and they're a waste of paper and/or plastic. Al Gore would not like a typical cycling event swag bag.
4. A great vibe with fun and cool people that like to race hard. Please refer to points 1,2 and 3 to see what will ALWAYS produce a good vibe and what will ALWAYS bring the people.

12:40 PM  

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