February 21, 2017 § 12 Comments
It is pretty easy to complain about the state of road racing, which is why I enjoy doing it so much. Complaining doesn’t require any research (my forte) and can be done based exclusively on personal experience.
Although I often want to say good things about the state of road racing, the effort it requires is so monumental that I just go over to Cyclingnews.com and scan the latest podcast of Lance & Co. explaining how “he wouldn’t go back and change things,” which is really nice of him not to do that.
Problem is, when good news appears it always requires work to verify facts, get names spelled correctly, and make sure that I didn’t give Willy Walleye a shout-out for getting 27th in the 55+ men’s race when it should have been for Timmy Tosser instead. So when a buddy pointed out that the Beginning Racer Program that started this year at our local CBR crit series was overflowing with riders, I shrugged because, well, work, and also because there were some things I wanted to complain about, such as how Lance ruined my childhood dreams.
Then this afternoon I was talking with Jeff Prinz, the CBR race promoter, about the racing this past weekend, and he spewed forth an incredible number of facts about the B(u)RP program and how it has really taken off. Sensing an opportunity for someone else to do the work, I hurriedly took notes, okay, I didn’t take any notes, but am pretty sure he said this:
- B(u)RP participation sessions both maxed out at 50 riders each, and the first one began at 6:00 AM. Riders were queuing up at 5:30 to register.
- After B(u)RP-ing, every single B(u)RPee raced, except for those who couldn’t because the Cat 5 races sold out. Sold out. Does that mean anything to you race promoters out there? Did I mention the races sold out?
- Feedback was incredibly positive. Good coaching, an explanation of the fundamentals, and a welcoming atmosphere made the program a success.
- The program will be continued for the remaining four CBR races on the calendar, and will be greatly expanded for the April race.
Participants said mainly that they wanted to race but were intimidated by the “throw ’em to the dogs” approach for which cycling is famous. I still remember asking Fields if there were anything I should know before my first race. “Don’t fall down,” he advised.
Of course that’s still good advice, but the execution can be tricky, and trickier still when it’s your first race and it’s everyone else’s first race too, and there just happens to be that one person in the race who upsets the apple cart, a/k/a Mr. Physics. It turns out that the B(u)RP has been around in SoCal since 2015, and in NorCal for THE LAST THIRTY YEARS, but it is a long way from here to Fresno and you have to get past all those hog farms and etcetera so that’s why it’s taken so long. I mean the Donner Party died that time coming down Hog Farm Pass from Fresno to SoCal.
What’s more interesting is the fact that every single crit in SoCal doesn’t put one of these clinics on. It’s weird because you’ll see a scraggly field of masters racers–sorry, make that four different master’s category races in a single event–and not one single B(u)RP for new racers to learn about and get enthused about the sport. It’s weird because it seems like if you were a promoter you’d be really stoked to have new young racers filling up their fields and advancing through the lower categories and paying entry fees much more than you’d be stoked about having to spend half an hour arguing with some 57-year-old stockbroker who harangued your wife about why she overcharged him five dollars at the registration table.
But I progress.
The things you’ll learn as a B(u)RP participant are:
- Basic Pack Skills – Protecting Your Front Wheel. This is the single most important aspect of racing, and BRP coaches will teach you how to headbutt, hook bars, and discuss the anatomy of someone’s mother as you viciously fight to the death for the best starting place ten rows back in the field of 100.
- Cornering – Choosing and Holding Your Line. Cornering is misunderstood by almost everyone except the spectators who pile up in the corners in bloodthirsty anticipation of watching a whole bunch of sausage get shoved into the casing on a fast, downhill, off-camber, slightly wet hairpin that narrows into a cattle chute.
- Pack Awareness & Skills — This also known as “effective cursing” and “screaming at max heart rate.”
- Sprinting Basics — Where you learn the cardinal rule of sprinting: Don’t.
- Bringing it All Together — This part of the session is most important for the longevity of your career, as it involves techniques for explaining to your family that you really did “win” even though you got 89th place because you were on the front a bunch and I know I spent $400 to go race for fifty minutes but it’s cheaper than a crack habit (actually, it isn’t).
Anyway, hats off to CBR and the the Beginning Racer Program. We need more of it. And next time I promise I’ll include some facts.
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I only wish I was there to cheer on Gary !! Very awesome program !! You are a BIG reason for selling out the races motivating people , traingish them, and dishing out the big bucks$$(wanky bucks ) I missed 50$ by 2 feet on Sunday a 19 year old won probably needs it more than me😀
So awesome that you showed up and raced. Thank YOU!
NEBC runs something that sounds similar, just outside of Boston: http://nebc.us/racing-clinic/
I attended a few years ago and can’t recommend it (or similar) highly enough. I think my favorite part was the “incidental contact” exercises. Bicycle pseudo-demolition derby in a soccer field. Nothing teaches you to protect your front wheel like deliberately crossing wheels, and finding a new appreciation for physics and gravity. Soft grass means you can do it again. And again.
Lots of other good stuff in the classroom and outside sessions.
If they had this in junior high school it would be bike racing, not football that kids were crazy to play …
Funny you should mention that. New England has a new and growing high school MTB racing scene. 25 teams, 350 riders, and growing. http://nehsca.com/
Here’s hoping they keep growing and become a fixture of school sports. Definitely safer, and I’m betting cheaper, than football.
And the pep rallies would be way more awesome.
In case SoCal doesn’t have any of these “thought leaders”, I know some folks who could “lead” the following sessions:
1. How to Throw a Temper Tantrum After a Bike Race. No lessons needed on the Why as there really are no reasons. Yes, you too can be That Guy having a meltdown in the parking lot after a bike race.
2. How to Take Bike Racing More Seriously Than Anything You Have Done Before Ever. To really grok this one you’ll need to complete #3.
3. How to Maintain Your Self-Delusion in the Face of Overwhelming Evidence to the Contrary. Our “thought leader” will also analyze and discuss the Rand Miller Rule.
If you beat Rider A in a race and Rider A once beat a pro in a race, then you are good enough to be a pro and are probably better than that pro.
Best if 1/2/3 are done after recovering from a doping suspension.
Please don’t drive to NorCal unless you want to do the February triathlon: driving, driving in water up to your floorboards, and racing in water up to your quick releases.
Bearing bath time!
Reading your blog is gonna get me fired! It’s impossible to, simultaneously, try to hold in a laugh AND pretend to be seriously at work.
Work is overrated but sleeping on the sidewalk isn’t!