Revitalization project

November 13 would be deep into the off season, if there were an off season in SoCal, which there isn’t.

Thanks to marginal gains, old people with tons of time, global warming, Thorfinn Sassquatch, and lots of complete all-carbon that is 100% pure carbon, there are so many bikers rolling around this time of year who are race-fit that it’s scary.

Of course everyone, almost, pays lip service to the off season, but for the most part those are people who are smart enough not to have racing licenses. The only racer who told me on a particularly brutal off season seal clubbing, a 17-year-old kid, that there was no need to do a hard effort because it was the “off season,” got a serious talking to. More about Bader Aqil later.

Anyway, hats off to Jeff Prinz and his wife, who recently bought the CBR race series and got things going with three kick-butt, off-season upgrade races.

Yesterday was the second race, and over 250 racers showed up, paid entry fees, and battled for points and … cash. Yes, cash. There was $2,500.00 in cash primes on offer for off-fucking-season upgrade races, and the racers swarmed like bees to honey or pigs to, uh, mud.

Priscilla Calderon drove home with $300 in cash. Kristie Fox claimed another $200 and her first ever win. Look for her to smash the fields next year, her second year as a bike racer. Shaun Bagley and his assassin-in-crime from Ventura hauled home another $500 or so. And in what I think was a historic first in the HISTORY OF BIKE RACING, a Cat 4 got $100 in cash primes in a Cat 4 race.

I don’t know  what it was like when you were a Cat 4, but these racers, who are by definition the future of the sport, typically get the worst treatment of any category. So it was amazing to watch beginning racers get rewarded with gas money, lunch money, and most importantly, this line that they could take home to their boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands when asked “How’d the race go?”

I won.

Which brings me to my Monday point.

I can’t fix the problems with bike racing. They are complex and they go deep. I can’t fix the problems with misogyny and discrimination in bike racing. They are complex and they go deep.

But I can tell you this, after a few hundred bike races since 1984: Bike racers like money and will race for it. And I can tell you something else: If you put money into the hands of the racers–not just the same five guys and gals who win every week–you will get more people to show up. In tune with a great vibe at this past weekend’s race, there were numerous vendors including Richard Hiraga’s GQ6, Augie Ortega and JL Velo, Bike Shift mobile bike repair, and several others.

So far in 2016 I’ve donated $20,000.00 in cash to CBR, Vlees Huis, Adrenaline Promotions, and Carlsbad GP. The only condition has been that the money be given out as primes and that it be given directly to bike racers. It’s not a lot of money … but it is for me, and when doled out in $50 or $100 increments, it is significant for the racers who take the time to show up and race. Imagine what  bike racing in SoCal will be like when there is $200,000 on offer every season in cash primes.

Yeah.

Jeff Prinz has put something in place now that focuses on what has to happen if bike racing is going to survive:

  1. A safe, convenient, reasonably-priced race.
  2. A fun environment where people are happy to show up.
  3. The possibility that everyone can go home with cash.

I know that there are other problems with the sport, but I also know I can’t fix them. What is certain is that without some financial incentive to race, cycling will continue to dwindle–last year there was a 30% drop in race entries, a cratering that no normal business could withstand. Without riders showing up, promoters won’t promote. And without sanctioned racing, the sport will be a shell of grand fondues, Strava fantasy competitions, and group rides where everyone’s a winner except they’re not.

There’s one more race on the calendar for 2016, on December 11. There will be the standard $2,500.00 in cash primes on offer for those who show up. Hope you can make it, and if you can’t, feel free to bitch and complain, just make sure you show up when the “real” race season gets started in January!

Oh, and remember Bader Aqil, the kid who told me it was time to “rest his legs” and “not go hard”?

Well, he won two primes, won the field sprint, and did three entire races, including his first Cat2/3.

So maybe it’s not quite the off-season … yet.

18 thoughts on “Revitalization project”

  1. Well, I’m not a racer by anybody’s definition and even if I were, I’m on the other side of the country, but after reading this I want to thank you for putting your money where your mouth is. Both in advocacy efforts and straight-up bucks.

    Wolf.

  2. What’s interesting is the money gets people out, but I think having the people is what makes it fun. Cash is just icing.

    I’m sorry to have missed it. We also had a oddly off season race at the track. Like always, no money, but we also had a great showing. Super fun! And probably the best women’s track racing I’ve done in 5 or 10 years. I have high hopes that next year will be great.

    Hopefully, there isn’t a track race on Dec 11th and I’ll see you at CBR (although I can’t normally do morning races).

    But also!!! I discovered a GREAT ice cream store across the street from Stubhub. Ken’s ice cream. Started by Wanda (I think Ken’s mom) 36 years ago and now owned and run by Kenton, Ken’s son (Wanda’s still there too!)

    Great ice cream, solid service, and the most comfy chairs I’ve ever seen at an ice cream store. They said they’d love to be cycling sponsors. I’m approaching them for the SoCal Women’s Track Series. You should get some primes for CBR. And do stop by for delicious ice cream around the corner from the races. Yum!

    1. For the die hards money means little. For everyone else, the more there is, the more they will race. That’s my theory. I know of no successful sport that doesn’t pay athletes well.

      1. I agree for the top in any sport. The average marathoner gets bling. The top athletes get millions and the next layer can make a living. But the only reason there is so many at the bottom is because there’s the rewards at the top. Which always leads to the chicken an egg problem. In cycling, there is no money because there’s no people. There’s no people because there’s no money. There are more people in road riding because there is a top that make sure ok money. There is no one on track because the top people pay to participate.

  3. that is awesome Seth! keep it up and it will grow again. sadly in VT road racing is not doing so well, it is all about gravel riding… hopefully it will go back. I am just happy to do TT’s on week nights  after work on my road bike

  4. Love the article Seth! And thank you SO much for supporting this sport that we love. An extra big thank you from all the women, for giving us the opportunity to battle it out for some cash as well. I am bringing more of the R5Ciclismo crew with me on December 11th! And of course for the 2017 season. -Mila, R5Ciclismo racing team

  5. For Bader the “off season” also means doing a full gas 100 mile midnight century. Even after going down 30 miles in, he was able to stay with the lead group, (let him know I’m the cat who insisted that the 10 other lunatics wait for him) and complete 100 miles w/ a 20mph average.

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