What Do You Think Makes a Successful Bike Race?
I'm organizing a mountain bike and road bike race and I would love to hear your suggestions and thoughts on what makes a successful bike race everyone will enjoy. All feedback given will be responded to respectfully and positively! Thanks!
Beer at the finish (I'm Canadian). Sets the tone for the event. Helps to even out the ubercompetitiveness of the type-A's. The roadies can just do Guu shots. I know this is simple, but every event I've enjoyed, had a social aspect to it. Sharing "battle stories" with a good beer in hand is part of the fun. Might be able to get a micro-brewery on board.
+1 for beer, also water stations at the start and throughout the course. It's nice when you can get a shop to "sponsor" the event and could provide free/cheap tech support. Proper medical support on hand. Start times spaced so that less advanced riders are fully completed with their race before more advanced riders get out there. Good luck with your planning!
Swag giveaways at the end- shop towels, water bottles, tire irons, guus, shot blocks, co2 cartridges, small Stan's, hats, etc. always fun to score something free.
I suppose there might also be a question on what kind of race you want to put on. The reason I post that up is it can determine what kind or how many sponsors you can seek. For example, if you were to make sure there's a kids race or events, then you can attract families and then make it a wholesome, family day which means you can attract lots of other kinds of sponsors and donations.
Therefore, once again, think about what kind of crowds you want to attract and that might give you an idea of what people might be looking for.
No matter what kind of race, if you can make it such that there's a lot of really great viewing areas, it'll help immensely. Good luck with that, don't forget to comment back on what you plan and what happens. I'm sure it could be helpful to others. Oh, sorry, one more thing. I used to put on golf tournaments. When I asked for donations, it's always nice to have the big $$ prizes but I often would say to shops and such, instead of say giving me one $25 certificate, give me 5 5$ certificates. That means 5 people walking through the door and usually spending 10, 20, 40, 50 dollars each. Win win.
Don't charge $50 for a race and a t-shirt.
Don't run short of anything. Have enough food resources available to feed hungry riders. Assume that some will be vegetarians.
Create a complete racer handout explaining everything a rider might need to know.
Mark the course clearly, and leave a monitor at any confusing intersections.
Send the races off at the announced times.
Provide immediate results as soon as the rider finishes. Nothing bugs racers like waiting an hour to get the results sorted out.
Give good prizes that go deep into every category. Having more prizes is better than having a few expensive ones. Equal prizes for women, even if there are fewer of them.
Know what your people are supposed to be doing. If you have a crew assisting you, rehearse their activities the night before, and make sure they show up on race day.
Keep the race "live" at the staging area even when it is out of sight. Have a radio communication system (or cellphones) and a P.A. system. Use people at course checkpoints to relay leader information, and announce at the start/finish area who is doing what. This keeps all the friends and significant others engaged.
BEER! nuff said..
Originally Posted by ghglenn
Last edited by Max24; 03-10-2015 at 12:07 AM.
I can only address mountain bike races. Our club is putting on our sixth annual race next weekend. We anticipate between 400 and 600 racers. The only kind of race to run is one that is very, very well organized, making it much more enjoyable for racers. Frankly, don't think about putting on a race if you don't have some experience participating in numerous races first.
Because our race has a sanctioning body, we have some guidelines to start with, particularly concerning length and lap times. Other than that, here are a bunch of suggestions in no particular order:
I'll put this at the top: your event must be insured!!!!!
1. Contract/agreement with land owner. Are dogs allowed? On leash only? If dogs are not allowed, make sure this is widely publicized in your race literature.
2. traffic management and enough parking space, with volunteers to direct traffic and parking
3. If possible, try to keep the race route from crossing roads. If not, you have to have volunteers at each crossing to stop traffic when racers come through.
4. If multiple laps, designate a neutral feed zone. Who will be doing water hand ups, where will the bottles come from, who fills them, where is the water to fill them located? Do you have enough bottles/water if it is a hot day?
5. How will registration be handled? How is the race fee paid? Do you need to set up a PayPal account? How will you get number plates printed? Do you have pop up tents, tables and chairs to handle your registration crew and race headquarters?
6. Is you race rain or shine? Is your course race-able in case of a rainy day? Will the route need to be modified in case of rain? Who will do that?
7. How will you mark your course? Are there numerous intersections that need to be closed off? Nothing is more distressing for racers than to get off course due to a poorly marked race course. Can your course marking survive some stormy weather the night before the race? Don't use surveyors spray chalk to mark the course. It will never come off!
8. What is the source of your volunteer base?
9. Port a Potties are expensive, but you have to have them and have enough. Where will they be located?
10. You MUST have a competent timing system in place with experienced and proven people operating it.
11. Someone needs to sweep the race course after each race or definitely at the end. How many course marshals will you have and where will your course marshals be posted? How will you feed them if they are out all day?
You do need race radios for your course marshals so they can report problems, medical emergencies, and DNF racers. A designated person needs to be stationed at race headquarters to monitor radio traffic. Will you be using different channels for different things? Who will check out the radios and be responsible for getting them back at the end of the race? Will you rely on cell phones instead? Is there excellent cell phone coverage at your race venue?
12. Will you have EMS on site? How will you get EMS to injured riders? Do you have access to a 4-wheeler? What is the closest medical center in case of severe injury and is there aerial med-evac available in case of severe injury?
13. Who will be on the clean up crew to pack and load everything up and (this is IMPORTANT) to clean up all the signage and course markings. When you leave, every speck of trash, flagging tape, GU wrappers, whatever, should be picked up; it should look as though no race ever took place, both in the staging area and on the trail and it should look better than when you arrived. This is a hard one. Everyone will be tired, but it has to be done, and will generate tremendous goodwill with the land manager.
Good luck! A well run race will get you lots of compliments and make racers want to participate in your event the following year.
I am embarrassed to reply in a selfish way after reading such great posts, but...
I would enjoy a race with riders who are slower than me.
"Head injuries are pretty high-consequence" - AndrwSwitch
Wow! Thanks for all the good feedback!
I want to organize a race that people of all skill levels can participate in and really enjoy their time doing so. I think it is better is people can just register for the race on the site. The most important thing is that the registration process should be very fluid and fast. Everyone hates waiting in line.
Second, I want my race to be cheap. By cheap, I mean like $10 for beginners and $20 for everyone else. Some of the bikers I know definitely won't race if the price is higher than $20.
Of course I want some good sponsors, but I'm also realistic and I know I won't be sponsored by big name brands. I love the certificates idea! If I can get the numerous bike shops around here to donate some certificates that would be great!
Volunteers for the race are vital and I'm sure I can get some help from people. It will really help for us all to have perhaps a walkie talkie to communicate.
There will be feed zones as well as neutral mechanical support for the riders. I just want this race to be a fun for all race, not a race with a governing body and professionals in lycra.
There will be different race classes so people race against people with equal skills. It always sucks to be smoked by someone better than you.
I will do what all you guys have said as they are all great ideas! I'm thinking of holding a raffle for like a frame or something so we can generate money to actually pay for it all. Do you think is a good idea?
Tsetse, Our club also puts on a Cranksgiving 6-hour fundraiser on the Saturday following Turkey Day. Participants pay a $25 entry fee and ride as many laps as they like at what ever speed they like. At the completion of each lap, the rider receives one raffle ticket for the post-ride raffle. Some people hammer lap after lap, others do one, two or three fun laps with friends. There is an official start time, but if you want to show up whenever, register and ride, that is OK as well.
This keeps it fun and everyone has a great time. There is a substantial amount of stuff at the raffle, and also several thousand dollars donated to a good cause.
Plus, the raffle ticket gets you a great BBQ dinner and a keg.
No course marshals but we do have our Mountain Bike Patrol out doing laps to support riders with everything from bumps and scrapes to mechanicals and flat tires.
Great fun for riders and our club. Big smiles all the way around and all skill levels are accommodated from racers to families.
I can only add that if there is a good place for spectators on the course, direct them to that area with signs so that they are not out wandering around in the woods (AND missing the race).
This sorta goes for photographers too (so you can promote for next year).
Also, if you have all skill levels racing, make sure the course is suitable. Not too easy for the experts. Not too hard for the novices. You'll likely have to break it up with well-marked expert sections and easy sections.
Course clean-up is an issue as well. Like you were never there.
It's never easier - you just go faster.
I like the idea of a fundraiser! We did the same thing on a no-car day and there was close to a 1,000 bikers riding around the city in one massive group. Do you think it will attract the more advanced riders though?
I was thinking about diverting the advanced riders into more technical climbs and rock gardens, etc while the beginner riders ride smooth fire roads descends and easy climbs. The biggest problem is finding land that has all the terrain features we need.
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