Monday, February 28, 2011

Next Season

On Saturday, February 26th, The ACA hosted the 2011 "Cyclocross Promoters Meeting". Much more than a gathering of promotors to arm-wrestle for calendar dates for the next season, it generally is the "public" input for what teams, promotors, and (Gasp...), maybe even the lowly bike racer wants to see for the next season. As just one more hint of the growth and popularity of cyclocross, the small conference room reserved for the function was about half the size needed for the turnout. After squeezing people in close (I refused to cuddle up TOO close the Frites & Mayo guys... self preservation is important...), the meeting got underway with a round of introductions, along with people asked to answer the question "Colorado is producing WAY more National Champions than the rest of the country, What are we doing RIGHT here in Colorado to make that happen?"
Most of the answers to that question went from the predictable, things like living at altitude, the "culture" and history of racing in Colorado, and the like. More telling was the repeated mention of LOTS of HIGH Quality race events, on many types of terrain, and DEEP, Highly competitive fields. The lots of different races comment would become key later on when discussing options to "fix" the problem of too many racers. One very interesting point was that officials who have worked races in other parts of the country noted that Colorado is unique in getting 45 minute races for all groups. Apparently many other areas of the country have "fixed" the problem of lack of daylight & a lot of categories by giving most groups only 30 minute races.

In the "good problems to have" department, the ACA notes that for Colorado Cross, we are "victims of our own success". This really is only because of the perception that large fields and combined categories on the course at the same time are a "problem". While I can see that starting in the back of one of those 125 rider Beer-drinking-dads races can be an issue, and while the 45+ & Open Women have really outgrown their shotgun marriage, there could be a lot worse problems to be solved by a governing body.

Limiting on-course warm up seemed to be the single biggest positive change in increasing safety and decreasing "incidents" related to big fields. Any time you can keep 2 groups with vastly different skill & speed levels apart, that should be nothing but good. Problem already "fixed"? Course design was talked about a lot as a way to mitigate the issues of large & combined fields. "Longer" lap times (more than 6 minutes...) to spread riders and groups out along with more RIDEABLE width and limited bottlenecks on course to allow ample passing were seen as a way to mitigate the bad parts of the big groups. These would both help a lot, but may impact or make it more difficult to use some of the shorter and more "bottlenecked" classic courses, like Interlocken.

So, while all formal decisions will be made later on by the ACA Board of Directors, what changes were discussed, and what can your average rider look forward to next year?

Photo - Lisa Robinson

- "Split" or 2 day race schedules. There was a proposal to run ALL Colorado Cross Cup races on a bastardized version of the 2 day schedule used at States last year. While spreading out groups, it would also put each cup weekend on a single venue for both days, and limit a lot of riders ability to pick which or both days to race. Promotors hated it. No one wanted 2 days of work per race. This went down in flames. Look to ONLY see the 2 day schedule at States again. The discussion about a LOT of high quality races was instrumental in killing this off.

- Less Colorado Cup Races. 4 races plus states or so seems to be the target number. Finally going to limit the number of series races to WAY less than 50+ percent of events.

- States NOT in the bubble. OMG. End of the world as we know it. Alpha Bikes & Frites & Mayo Velo Club look to have states, likely on the Arapahoe Community Park Course. A great score, and I am CERTAIN those boys will have a real treat for us come late December. Do note that States is moving back a couple of weeks, to the week before Christmas. This move provoked by the move of Nationals to January. (You all have fun up there in Madison in January.... Me thinks I'll pass.)

- Call ups will likely be based off ranking points, at least for the Non-Cup races. More consistent enforcement of the grid & removing upgraded rides were also mentioned. ACA is giving access to the member & results database to, so ACA numbers will be the index, eliminating name conflicts. I for one think this will be a better approach than the disjointed effort of last year. The ACA heard the complaints that call ups were not very consistent, and are trying to address that.

- Chip timing. easier & faster scoring of big races. Even individual lap times will be available in the results database online. Geek out.

- Race day schedule. A "sub-committee" under the ACA Technical Committee was formed, and is tasked with "tuning" the existing one day race schedule & Group splits. NOT an easy task, with MANY "special interests" to serve, and limited time in a day. DO look for a Pre and Post Daylight savings time schedule. That will be looking to leverage the longer daylight hours early in the season to spread out the schedule a bit.

Photo - Lisa Robinson

Again, all this will trickle out as actual policy is implemented. Will have to watch carefully to see how it all comes together, but there sure could be worse problems to have for the sport in Colorado. Participation numbers were available that shows average riders per event is almost exactly flat on the road racing side since 2006. Yet in the same period, cross participation has almost doubled. The ACA sees that, and seems to be reacting well to it. A good thing to see. If you are curious, the Frites Guys posted a preliminary schedule on their blog.

Long way thru the rest of the winter, a long summer to pass, but It's been fun thinking cross for a few days. Should be an even better season ahead. Now if I can only find a sliver of fitness & speed to bring out to play next year.


  1. Good summary of the meeting. And it was nice to finally meet you. Bill

  2. Good info, thanks for the update. I like the plan for call-ups