Sunday, January 17, 2010

Putting on bicycle races...

Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race, photo: Patty Sprute

During the last few years as an amateur racer trying to gain experience and trying to get in the miles I found it funny that I put more miles on my car traveling to races than I actually rode my bicycle. So why can't we have more races in the Spokane area?

As the "Masters" among us will point out, Spokane has hosted some big bicycle events in the not so distant past: The '84 and '88 Olympic trials, various stage races including the Washington Trust Cycling Classic of the late 80's and early 90's, and the 2002 Masters National Road Championship. Races like this can happen again if there's enough local interest in making it happen.

Tour of Walla Walla Stage Race, photo: Patty Sprute

Spokane is fortunate to have a couple very dedicated race promoters who have been putting on excellent events consistently for over 20 years. Promoters mostly do it "for the love of the sport", as they say, because there is no other good reason to spend the time. My hat comes off to the people in Spokane who have been doing this for many, many years.

As part of my obsession with the hobby of cycling, I have taken on the roll of amateur bike race promoter. I've been happy to discover that promoting and officiating races is almost as fun as racing. What we do is grass roots stuff; basically some guys that like to race bikes after work and on the weekends. Don't expect to come out and watch the Tour de France folks.

water everywhere: filling up bottles for the FMPRR "neutral feed"

But one interesting thing about the sport of bicycle racing in the United States is that 90% of it done at the grass roots level. The pro's that you have maybe heard about, or maybe even have seen on TV, or in person all started racing at races with you and me. Pros like Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Wenatchee local Tyler Farrar, and even that guy from Texas, are USA cyclists who ride at the Tour de France level.

Maybe that is the appeal of having local bike races. Maybe the next star USA athlete will show up at the Twilight Series this spring. But actually, more likely, it's just watching your buddies go out and have fun racing in a good event.

SCR Crit 2009, photo: Tim Wong

What goes into putting on a races? Scheduling, permits, traffic plans, insurance, working with sponsors, working with officials from local municipalities, working with racers, finding volunteers, working with USA Cycling officials, and generally making everyone happy with the event. And did I mention finding volunteers? Stay tuned for more progress reports for the 2010 race season.

Trish at Registration,photo: Sarah Wilson

"For the love of the sport"...


Dan O said...

You got it dude - grassroots racing IS bicycle racing.

Yeah, watching the pros is cool, but 99% of the real sport is regular folk giving it a go. Head out to watch them or better yet, give it a try yourself.

After a few year absence, I've been hitting some local race series here in the Seattle area, 'cross and mountain. Check and www.mfgcyclocross for details.

Both series are reminders how fun racing is and that its all about us - regular folk that ride.

Pat S said...

The green fields and warm sun . . . I can hardly wait. The pain and suffering, well, not so much.