My name is Ryan LaBar. I interned with Dirt Rag last summer and am now a contributor and racer for them. This summer Iâ€™m living, racing, and riding bikes in Colorado before I go back to Michigan to race the collegiate mountain bike series and finish up my last year of college.
Now on to the meat-and-potatoes of the post.
In my time out here in Colorado Iâ€™ve noticed a few things that have me concerned with the state of mountain bike racing. It has been said that â€œracing is deadâ€ and, as of recently, I canâ€™t say that itâ€™s far off (though, I will say, my perspective is mainly from a XC racers point of view; downhill racing seems to be doing alright).
I raced at Telluride ski resort last weekend. Before my race started there was a fistfight between two sport class racers who were approaching the finish. Apparently one rider wouldnâ€™t let the other rider pass and the other rider rammed into him. They then started throwing bikes and punches. Seriously? Sport class? These were grown men! Not such a great example to set for people thinking about starting to race bikes.
Another thing: There were only 5 starters and 4 finishers in my field (Expert 19-24). I ended up in third place. While the podium always feels good, there isnâ€™t much satisfaction in finishing 3rd of four. There has been poor attendance at every race Iâ€™ve gone to out here, and the competition is quite spread out. The thing Iâ€™m attributing to this lack of attendance is the $50 entry fee. I understand that the promoters need to pay the venue, but $50 is still a hefty fee just to race bikes. If they lowered the price to $25 or $30 they might be able to make up for the loss of profit with the extra people the less expensive entry fees would attract. Another solution to the small fields is to merge age groups, which would be a more realistic first step towards a solution.
Thankfully there is a somewhat silver lining in the bike racing cloud. The newest event: Super D. This event could help save racing if the promoters did it right. The event brings out every crowd, from downhillers to cross country weenies, because itâ€™s just plain fun. I think if you enter any of the main events (XC, DH, or 4X) you should gain free or maybe $5 entry into this event. Doing this would encourage more people to compete in the Super D and give people more incentive to race in the main events.
Another, brighter, silver lining is the state of collegiate racing. With entry fees usually no more than $12 just about any broke college kid can afford to race (the only problem is cost of gas to travel to the races) so the field size is usually good. The races almost always have a fun atmosphere, and let’s not forget the after-parties.
Thatâ€™s my rant for now.
My Telluride results:
XC–3rd 19-24 expert
HC–3rd 19-29 expert
Teammate Lianna’s Results:
XC–5th women 19-29 expert
SD–1st women 19+