The most excellent and iconic Vlees Huis road race was cancelled for 2017, but now it’s back, calendared for February 26! This is great news for everyone who likes variety in road racing, and by “variety” I mean “non-industrial park crit.”
The resuscitation didn’t happen by accident. The promoter, Sam Ames, has been one of the most consistent and dedicated supports of bike racing in the state. He has run Vlees Huis on break-even or razor thin margins, and has provided an amazingly high quality race even as numbers have declined.
Incredibly bummed that we were about to lose one of the best road races on the calendar, one of the best racers in the state, Greg Leibert, founder of Big Orange, reached out to Sam to find out what it would cost to supplement Sam’s outlay so that he’d make enough money for the event to be worth continuing.
The cost? $3,500.00.
Big Orange is a bike club, but its focus is on racing even though only a minority of riders race. Greg proposed to the board that it pony up the money, and the board unanimously agreed to do so.
Vlees Huis is back on the calendar. I hope that every club in SoCal that supports bike racing will send a few riders.
This might be a model for sustaining unprofitable but incredibly good road races. Many SoCal racing clubs have money, and the things they spend their funds on don’t always directly improve the general welfare of bike racing. Although team vans and race reimbursements are great, neither counts for much when there aren’t any races to attend.
It’s also a great model because it allows clubs to sponsor races without all of the hassle and full expense of actually promoting one. Most promoters have the deal wired, but they are typically a few thousand short when it comes to making a profit. This would be an ideal fix for clubs that want to keep the calendar robust but don’t want to make the huge commitment to putting on a race. The recent loss of the Carlsbad GP and Brentwood GP comes to mind as clubs drowned in red ink putting on a fantastic event. Rather than withdrawing from race promotion completely, clubs could help struggling promoters close the deal, which in most cases doesn’t put anywhere near the strain on a club’s resources that putting on a race does.
For now, thank you to the Big Orange board of Greg Leibert, Greg Seyranian, Joann Zwagerman, Kristie Fox, Scott Torrence, Don Wolfe, and Denis Faye for putting our race club’s money where the racing is. Thanks as well to Sam Ames for his willingness to give us one of the best and toughest races on the calendar.
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