We held the final stage in our club’s first ever Galactic Championship bicycle racing series on Saturday. The results were impressive: 52 out of 267 club members signed up to race. There were also a fair number of members racing cyclocross who couldn’t attend, so the total number of Big Orange Cycling members who pinned on a number was probably around 62 riders, a record in absolute numbers and in percentages (23%).
Below are the stage results and the overall:
Careful analysis indicates that I got my butt kicked. Hmmmm.
But there were some other things that, if you have any involvement with a bike racing club, might be useful lessons. Here were the main ones:
- The best way to get people to race is to provide your club members with intra-club races where they can experience racing in a safe, supportive, fun, educational, social atmosphere.
- Creating these racing opportunities is the only way to combat the divisiveness of “racer” and “non-racer” factions within a club.
- When the board supports and participates in this kind of event, most especially by board members themselves racing, members who have never raced will show up and try out racing. Nothing speaks to credibility in bike racing like racing your fuggin’ bike.
- Everyone loves it. First-time riders gain massive confidence, experienced riders have a blast and mentor others, and your club can have a series of social events organized around your club’s mission: bike racing.
- Many members in Big Orange don’t understand that we are a racing club; they think we are a social club that has racers rather than a racing club whose social events are organized around racing. This doesn’t mean everyone races or has to race. But it means that clubs continually reinforce their racing mission by giving people the opportunity to race. Whether they take the opportunity is their choice.
- Many members can be encouraged to race by having club races and by giving members the opportunity to first volunteer and “check it out.” I spoke with one member who was unaware that in a time trial riders went off one by one. I spoke with another new member, whose wife DID NOT KNOW that we are a racing club, and he wasn’t entirely sure about what that meant, either, other than he “didn’t want to do crits.”
- Shoot for at least one series a year, two if you can swing it.
- Have a format that lets people showcase very different skills. We did: 1k TT, hillclimb, 10-mile TT.
- Use formats that exceptionally safe, like TTs and hillclimbs.
- Don’t allow aero equipment! It will let everyone feel like they had a level playing and not that they were the losers in an arms race.
- Tell your new members explicitly that you are a racing club and that you will be encouraging them to race. Not hassling or pressuring, but encouraging through role modeling, education, and annual intra-club series opportunities.
- Most racing clubs have no problem recruiting non-racers. But your mission should be to give them the opportunity to race.
- I met so many people!!!!!
- Sponsors should be urged to show up and help out at club races. They will get to meet their customers, learn about bike racing, take pictures, and understand the value of their sponsorship.
- Set a number or percentage for members in 2018 to pin on a number. You’ll never hit a target you don’t aim for.
- Don’t be surprised if your event turns out to be the best bike racing you’ve ever done in your life.
Our event went off because board members Greg Leibert, Grey Seyranian, Don Wolfe, Michael Barraclough, and Geoff Loui signed off on it and raced. Patrick Noll did the timing and all of the organization. Kristie Fox brought food, put up tents and chairs, arranged catering, and helped with all aspects of organization. My wife Yasuko, and Jay Yoshizumi, took tons of great photos. Chris Gregory made killer winner necklace awards. Delia Park, Jodi, Jason, Lauri Barraclough, Stephanie Nowak, Mark Maxson, Kevin Salk, Andrew Nuckles, Tom Duong, One Stop Windows and Doors who donated their parking lot for the race, Greg Leibert, Connie Perez, and many people who controlled traffic at the chicane. And of course the wonderful party that Geoff Loui again hosted at his beautiful home put an amazing cap on a great race series.
Check out these these 200+ photos courtesy of Yasuko Davidson!
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