Tuesday, June 7, 2011

State Championships Aren't Decided on Wednesdays

Some might say that the Nebraksa State Championship road and criterium championships were soured by a low turnout among the Cat 1-2-3 field. Yes, that was disappointing. I can imagine even more so for the organizers of the event, Elkhorn Valley Cycling club.

But make no doubt about it. The low turnout was not a reflection of the quality of the races that were put on this past weekend. The Norfolk crew and local race officials deserve accolades for the race they put on. Thank you!

But I still wondered, was the low turnout at a State Championship weekend due to it being hosted (remotely) in Norfolk? At more than two hours by car, Norfolk is just far enough to make one choose between the lesser of two inconveniences: a five hour round trip each day, or in staying overnight. But as a State Championship venue, Norfolk also makes for an ideal location because of its neutrality as its nearly equidistant from Nebraska's most populated areas of Omaha & Lincoln.

Perhaps it was due to a lack of motivated racers in Nebraska? But this is obviously not the case. Last Wednesday night, there were 39 riders on the local Trek Store Omaha ride. No, there's a healthy appetite for racing around here.

Perhaps it's because of us. You and me. Perhaps we roadies simply need to do a better job of recruiting.

Recruiting is simply a matter of asking a non-racer, "When are you going to start racing?"

That's all it took for me. Four years ago, I didn't even own a bike. At the time, running filled that competitive void for me. Sometime later, my brother gave me a very well-used road bike and suggested doing triathlons. Soon, I was joining in on small group rides. Then came the Wednesday Night Worlds (WNW). My bike handling improved tremendously. So did my triathlon bike splits. I soon found myself looking forward to cycling more than running.

But I was still on the fence about racing.

If not for cyclists asking me when I was going to start racing, I may never have moved beyond the WNWs and inked my name on a single-day cat 5 license at the Norfolk Road Race two years ago. I've been all-in ever since.

Like me, did you wonder where the cyclists were this past weekend? It wasn't because of the the race, nor because of the location.

I say it's because of us. Recruiting grows our sport and makes for larger fields in all categories. It may take some time to get the younger riders into more competitive ones, but it's worth the effort. The benefits will be seen in more balanced teams and better competition. And as much as I enjoyed racing with the cat 1-2 field, as a cat 3 racer, I don't belong there. Wouldn't it have been great to see a field of 30, 40, 50! pro-1-2s duke it out for all the glory?

So next time you see that dude in the Pink Floyd jersey who shows up week upon week at your WNW ride, ask him when he's going to start racing for real.

Soon enough, you'll see him frantically pinning his number to his jersey in the parking lot on race day. And when you see this, make sure you go up to them and congratulate them for being there. Chris Spence did that to me. I'll never forget that.

So who's in with me?


  1. Thanks for making me feel guilty for not racing on the road. Looks like I need to cut my teeth sometime!

  2. Ahem...So when are you going to start racing for real?

    I'll look for you pinning your number on your jersey at the Omaha cycling weekend, July 16-17

    Don't think. Just do. Have fun!

  3. perfect!

    I'll never forget when Lucas Atkinson, in the back of class at UNO, wrote directions to swanson on the back of a napkin-- which led to my first mtb ride.

    Later that semester, he dragged me to my first mtb race. I dry heaved on the course, but didn't get last.

    People race for people!

    Thanks Brady, great reminder, great post.

  4. i only show up cause Leah brings food.... :D
    great post buddy totally agree

  5. About a year ago when I started riding on Wednesday nights from the midtown Trek Store. I heard that group ride was faster than most. I never would have thought of racing road, but those MWCC guys are good salesmen.

    Now, several thousand dollars later.....look at me now.

    Great write-up, as usual.

  6. Brady great post and so true. Its a positive reminder for all of us to spread the word!