It is really cool when you develop such a good relationship with the police dept that is going to keep the riders safe that they call you to let you know what is going on. Sheriff Bell has alerted me to road hazards, the need for an additional deputy (we have 4 on an out and back course), and that it may rain on Sunday. My big goal is always a safe race. Having an additional deputy is what I need, if I need it. So paying for it is no biggie. Rain happens. We ride in rain.
There is a lot of guff going on about races, cancellations and late fees. Putting on races is hard. No municipality wants us. As someone who used to work for the Virginia Municipal League I can tell you a bunch of reasons why. Buy me a nice Merlot someday and I'll talk your ear off. It doesn't help, either, that our events tend to last all day. Running stuff, except marathons, are over and done with pretty quick. The complaint calls are minimal. And since running races tend to concretely raise money for a charity that makes things go down a bit easier.
So there's one down. Its hard to get permits/permission to hold a race.
So where can you have races? That's becoming obvious... car race tracks. The added benefits are the courses have bathrooms, are contained, and don't require police. Trust me, it costs a whole lot less to put on a race on a race track than on an open road. I pay for the rescue squad, 4 port a potties (that makes 6 bathrooms, as I hate no bathrooms/smelly bathrooms), 4 deputies, plus officials, fees, etc... Its expensive.
I love racing at Langley and Southside Speedway. I don't want to only race at Langley and Southside Speedway. I bet you don't, either.
Wouldn't you like some nice road races in the Virginia district? Yeah? Well they cost a ton of money. Want to loose your shirt? Put on a road race. It's not just the police, moto- refs are hard to come by and the insurance is pretty dear. I can tell you of at least one club that has lost thousands of dollars on a road race.
So what do we do about it. I don't know. But I can tell you as a promoter that it really helps if people enter earlier. As we get later in the season, entries always drop off. It's a really scary thing to be looking the week before a race and see 50 entries, when your expenses will be in the multi-thousand dollar range. Some nights I sweat buckets. As with the NP team time trial last year, you have to have a point in time where you decide if the race will be a go or not. If your entries are that low, and your costs will be that high... you do the math. I realize that everyone has families, etc... try entering an Ironman the day of. Hah! They close a year in advance!
So this year I have no prize money. I have, for the last year, scoured the earth for prizes. And I like to think that I have some really nice, useful ones. The value for prizes in every category will be well above the stated amount. I couldn't risk loosing my shirt on money though. Not because I'm greedy, but because I cant bankrupt the club. Times are tough, sponsors come and go, and if you are going to be a going concern, you had better remember that.
Entry fees for bike races are actually pretty low. Don't think so? Go look at tri prices, or go to the Richmond Sportsbackers and take a gander at home much the running races are. Or how about your local mountain bike race... is it about $40 now? Its probably on a public park, with no police, and minimal costs.
What can we as bike racers do? Support races. Support promoters, and help them out. Sharon from my club is going to try to help Andy Winch get a course at Ft Eustis. She is already got a race in the works for us on Ft Lee. If we dont support each other, and support the races that cost so darn much to put on, those very races will go away. And I bet we look for someone else to blame. If you want races at the end of the year, support them as much as you do the ones in March.
just my two cents...