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OK, for all those of you who moan and groan about crits...(21 posts)

OK, for all those of you who moan and groan about crits...lonefrontranger
Aug 20, 2002 11:16 AM
THIS (and tragic car vs. bike encounters like Red Stick Racing in LA encountered this summer) is why there are not more good old-fashioned road races held in this country:

The logistics and liablity issues for holding road races in the good old U.S. of A have become so overwhelming and costly that very few promoters even bother to try anymore.

Why go through this when you can choose the simple, risk-free and affordable option of yet another generic Tour de Office Park?
do you know why?DougSloan
Aug 20, 2002 12:12 PM
It doesn't say why. Any idea?

Heck, with all the liability issues, it's a wonder any racing at all takes place.

To me, crits suck. I suppose if you think of them as an interval session, they are not a bad workout. I'd much prefer to be on the open road, though.

If I hit a $50 million lottery I promise I'll build a huge bike racing park with dedicated nicely surfaced wide bike paths. Then we can all go there and race. Just don't sue me.

no there's no indication of whylonefrontranger
Aug 20, 2002 12:47 PM
But as a longtime promoter, I can imagine a few scenarios:

There probably was never a legitimate reason given for refusal. Grand Junction (where the CDOT party who refused the permit resides) is a LONG way away from the proposed course. I'd bet that the individual in question is simply a bike hater who happens to be in a position of power.

I'd also hypothesize that the refusal at this late date may be a direct result of said individual getting stuck behind some happy-assed group idiot ride (i.e. the Grand Junction racing club) out on some rural two-laner, and said individual then decided they weren't gonna let "them damn bikers" have a permit to engender further reckless abandon on Colorado motorists.

FWIW, I would surmise that the promoters aren't going to point fingers or blame at any individuals because they are keeping the hope alive of doing this event next year, hence they don't want to alienate the "sensitive party"

It gets better. I happen to be particularly sensitive to these issues right now because for the past two weeks I've been searching for a venue for my team to host a 4-hour cycling clinic. Despite carrying a liability certificate from our association which absolves the tenant / landowner of any risk, my team has now been turned down from no less than 3 vacant parking lots. The reasoning given in all cases was that they "couldn't accept such a risky event on their property". For cripes sake.
road closure?DougSloan
Aug 20, 2002 1:18 PM
Is road closure the real issue? It's pretty easy to close off a couple of blocks, but 50 miles of open road is darn near impossible; that being the case, there is potential liability for promoters if a car hits a racer. Also, some areas around here require payment for several cops to patrol semi-closed or rolling closure races, which can get really expensive. Could be that the promoter here was not actually turned down, but may have been refused the right to do the race without payment for cops, and the promoter chose not to incur that expense. Just a possibility.

I can understand the road closure issues. If cyclists are going to be riding 10 abreast, the road needs to be closed for safety of everyone, including the auto drivers. I've seen cars attempt to pass racing groups where they shouldn't and almost have accidents. Plus, the law, here at least, requires cyclists to ride as far to the right as practical, only in bike lanes if practical, and single file except where passing, and further to obey all traffic laws and signage. Obviously a road race violates dozens of laws, without a special permit to do it.

The politics of these things is difficult, and you may never know what is *really* going on. You're right, could just be some guy who dislikes cycling; or, could be some safety zealot; who knows?

Problem with releases for property owners is that everyone knows darn well that even with an iron clad release, people may still sue; you're drawn into some expensive litigation, your insurance renewal at rates are at risk if there's a suit, and it's a real pain in the butt in any event. If someone is hurt really bad or killed, then the victim, the family, and the lawyer smell blood and sue everyone, regardless of the law or releases. I can understand the reluctance. Lots of risk with very little upside for them.

Oh, my bike park would have miles of simulated "real" roads, but with no cars, pedestrians, bladers, etc. :-)

oh yeah, and...lonefrontranger
Aug 20, 2002 12:52 PM
>>bike racing park with dedicated nicely surfaced wide bike paths<

We got one of those already, it's in Co. Springs and they call it a "velodrome". In fact, we also happen to have a weeknight crit that's run on the local speedway.

Unfortunately, both these venues lack something of the epic feel of open road racing...
I plan on building my own...brider
Aug 20, 2002 1:55 PM
Two actually. A full 400m track similar to Marymoor, but covered, and another figure-8 (over/under) on the infield. Of course, I'll have it on at least 100 acres, and do a perimeter road for simulated road races. Not sure where this is going to happen -- I have my eyes on a significant peice of land near my home (it's watershed land now, but everything is for sale given the right price...), but it may end up in Montana.

Anyway, when I do, you're all welcome to come ride at my place.
Son of a bi&%$!!!!RockyMountainRacer
Aug 20, 2002 12:29 PM
Man, I was really really looking forward to those races. I've been focusing on the mountain bike all season since those early crits in April, and I was really excited to do a road race. . Guess I'll have to wait till Carter Lake next year. Sure is nice to have one road race a year in what is suppossed to be the "hot bed" of road biking in the country. Any idea why they would revoke the permit? Whey the hell would they approve it if they're just going to revoke the damn thing??!!
Epic road races require drivingBipedZed
Aug 20, 2002 1:07 PM
IMO the only really epic open road races near Denver require serious driving, but they are worth it compared to the circles, circles, and more circles of local races.

Next year try to make it to one or all of the following (I know I am)

Tour of the Gila beginning of May, Silver City, NM (none more epic)

Platte Bridge Station Stage Race, Memorial Day weekend, Casper, WY

Tour of Los Alamos, Los Alamos, NM, July 4th weekend

Any of these make Carter Lake seem trivial.
What about Estes ParkPack Meat
Aug 20, 2002 2:03 PM
Those races border on Epic even if they are big circuit races.
Aug 20, 2002 2:11 PM
Estes races are hard due to the climbing but the circuits are too short and you end up just going in circles again and again. The Gila stages are 70+ mile loops where you never repeat the same thing. You gotta go down to the Gila next year...road racing will never be the same afterwards. Trust me.
And their common link?kaiser
Aug 21, 2002 11:45 AM
Their common link? These races have been sold to the community, or rather, the community has been sold on the value of having these events in their towns.

Sommerville NJ. This event MAKES the town. But if someone just goes to a nieghboring town and proposes doing the same thing just by dropping off an application at the police dept....Right, the app will be rejected in 1 minute. Perhaps less.

But take a town councilman and perhaps the local chief of police to one of these events, and show them exactly how it can be managed well, and how the community will enjoy it...And you just might pull it off.
Ok, I've counted to 10 and can now write a reasonable reply.Pack Meat
Aug 20, 2002 2:14 PM
This is a bunch of crap! How can we have the Saturn classic and not be able to do these races. I'm pretty sure that the problem wasn't that they didn't want to pay the police as all racers here know that the pigs are the main expense in a road race in Colorado. I don't know why that is, anytime you close a road here a cop has to sit there and eat donuts and collect a money. In a lot of other states you can throw a volunteer on the corner with a flag and it's not a problem. It's a scam I tells ya. This "official" that said no needs to get his priorities realigned. This race could have brought racers and visitors to an area that has seen a decrease in the normal tourist traffic because of the drought. Screw it, I'm racing cross.
Pack Meat, you are brilliantlonefrontranger
Aug 21, 2002 9:18 AM
That's just what the SO said.

Instead of sitting around whining about race closures, everyone who planned on attending should send off a short note to the city council of the affected community(ies) saying something like: "gee it's too bad XYZ event was canceled because me and my buddy Bubba and our ten teammates with wives and families planned to stay in your hotels and eat our meals at your restaurants, etc..."

I recall back when the Ohio State Patrol tried to decline a permit for the Ohio State RR championships because they felt they lacked resources to man it. Well, that bike race is darn near the only thing that ever happens in the town of Wilkesville. The entire area plans their festival and fire department fundraiser around the bike race. Anyway, the community got so up in arms about the revenue they'd lose from the race cancellation that the state patrol did an about-face and figured out how to staff it.
Ok, I've counted to 10 and can now write a reasonable reply.kaiser
Aug 21, 2002 11:39 AM
I think bike race promoters lose sight of the fact that in order to get anything done that involves gaining the approval of elected officials, a certain amount of lobbying must be undertaken first. You don't just call up the cops out of the blue and seek a race permit, and then try and get a road blocked off. You first must go and grease the wheels a bit. You gotta go take a councilman out to lunch. Perhaps the police chief too.

That's what lobbying is. Taking people aside, in a friendly setting, extending them courtesy, and politely persuading them towards your point of view.

This is why marathons are always able to get 26 miles of streets blocked off, and bike races can barely get approval to use an industrial park.

Let me tell you, the people who organized the GP of NYC, they didn't just submit an application to the police to block off downtown NY. They lobbied Giulianni and his minions. Then when Bloomberg was elected, they did it all over again.

Gain friends in government, and you'll have an easier time promoting bike races.
yup...that's too bad...looked like a great race (nm)ColnagoFE
Aug 21, 2002 9:26 AM
I drive Willow Creek Pass all the time...PT
Aug 21, 2002 2:10 PM
I drive Willow Creek Pass (the route for the Continental Divide Road Race) several times a year -- and there is minimal traffic on that road at anytime . There isn't a better road for such a race in my experience. There would be virtually no impact on traffic flow -- it's a low speed road anyway -- lots of visibility. There's just no excuse.

Whoever it was below got it right -- the promoters and those of us interested in doing these races need to tell the folks in Granby and Kremmling just how disappointed we are and how much money their communities are missing out on...

One last point -- for all of you front range types who are griping about the lack of road racing, there were only about 40 out of town racers (total for all categories) at the Dead Dog Classic in Laramie, held the weekend after the 4th of July. An easy to reach, inexpensive 3-strage race with a pretty nice out-and-back road course included -- yet hardly anyone came...
I drive Willow Creek Pass all the time...kaiser
Aug 22, 2002 5:39 AM
I wouldn't start blaming the people in Granby and Kremmling. They probably have no idea what you're talking about. No idea this race was cancelled. You need to go around and build relationships with peopler to make sure the race is even wanted.

Again, I must point out the Tour of Somerville...One of the smartest things that has been done over the years, is the inclusion of local service clubs such like the Jaycees and the Kiwanis Club. They get to cut in on the fund raising action, and as a result, influential people in town make sure the event still has favor with those who matter (or could revole a permit). I know somerville is a "unique" event, but in all honesty, without the proper 'greasing', even this event could dwindle into another "tolerated"annoyance in town, and eventually a bygone event, if people did not maintain the proper grooming of the race's relationship with the community
I must not have been clear...PT
Aug 22, 2002 6:33 AM
My point was to make sure the folks in Ganby and Kremmling know that hosting this race would mean money for them. I live in a similar sized community, and have helped promote a race in the past and we were able to get money from the city council by detailing just how much money this would bring into the community. We got people to tell us how many nights they planned to stay, if they were going to use a hotel, etc. It was important for building the infrastructure that supported the race. If a civic group in Granby or Kremmling starts howling to CDOT about canceling the race and lost hotel and restaurant business, there is more likely to be a positive outcome (IMHO).
Re: I must not have been clear...kaiser
Aug 22, 2002 8:16 AM
This is certainly one approach. I just think it's better for a town to love having a race. It sounds like, right now, the only people who will miss it are the motel and restaurant owners. They are probably used to seeing periodic blips in their revenue sheets.

Go out on a limb. Invite the mayors (and their kids) to ride in an officials car. See how things improve.
I must not have been clear...kaiser
Aug 22, 2002 8:22 AM
Another example. The VIP area at the NYC Cycling Championships a few weeks ago. The VIP area isn't for people like Jerry Seinfeld (who was there). The VIP area is for the people who will approve the race NEXT year. The VIP area is designed to kiss the arse of those who might pose a future problem. You invite them, their family and friends, feed them a great lunch, pamper them, and give them a few shouts over the PA system, and they just might become fans of the event and let you keep having it. These are the perks of public office. Cops and beurocrats hate to annoy the elected officials that keep them employed. Elected officials learn this their first week on the job. And they make use of their influence. Even local-yocals
That's all very well and good...PT
Aug 22, 2002 1:39 PM
... if you have a race! These communities (like mine) are dirt poor and business owners are always looking to expand the tourist season, customer base, what not. To get a race off the ground, in my experience, it _really_ helps if you can convince the local business association/chamber of commerce/town council that it will be good for business. Likewise, if you try and organize a crit on downtown streets that block access to businesses, you''ll get nowhere. Assuring the continued health of a race like Sommerville or NYC Cylcing Championships is an entirely different matter...