Game on

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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18 thoughts on “Game on”

    1. That’s a tough one. If only there were a system that connected all the computers in the world so that people could share information instantaneously! Let me send the promoter a letter and update you asap.

  1. Thanks for sharing the great news and the “above and beyond” actions by Big Orange. Perhaps the world is not doomed after all- there are still some good, unselfish humanoids out there !

  2. If anyone is really crazy there are a few spaces left for The Rock Cobbler another fine event put on Sam

  3. Thinking outside the box again, Seth? Pooling multiple club’s resources together to keep racing alive. That’s a business model that would work.

    1. Yes, it would. There are numerous promoters who are set up to do the heavy lifting and who are eager to promote races.

      What they need is a guarantee to the tune of a few thousand dollars that they will make money on the deal. The investment for a small group of clubs is negligible, and it removes the massive stress on club resources, i.e. volunteers, board time, and the anxiety of putting on a race. The outcome is that races don’t fold, the promoter makes money, clubs spend their money building races, and everyone has more time to ride and race, and spends less time dealing with race promotion migraines.

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