How do we improve the domestic XC scene? 

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Hannah Collingridge has been enjoying some XC racing, but thinks there is room for improvement, and plenty of room for more riders. How can we make it a more attractive experience for all? She’s got some ideas… Images by Joolze Dymond unless credited. Internationally it’s a great time for British XC. The successes of Evie...

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 103 total)
  • How do we improve the domestic XC scene? 
  • Premier Icon benjim
    Full Member

    Encourage more volunteers. This is key and is where some events can fall down. One of the big struggles can be getting people to help. If it’s a series, one way is to ask that entrants volunteer for an event or they don’t qualify for points for the series. Ask the likes of Forestry Comission to drop/reduce the event charges for using forestry areas, even if only a small section of the course passes through the land. Small events can really struggle with the levy.

    Help with securing either permeanent venues or venues that will welcome events back year after year. Just a couple of ideas and thoughts I’ve had over the years with MTBO / MBO events .

    Premier Icon argee
    Full Member

    Rename it Downcountry racing and it’ll bring a whole new lease of life to it ;o)

    Premier Icon salad_dodger
    Full Member

    I’d love to have a go at XC racing but have been put off by the lack of information available. When I’ve looked at websites advertising the races, there’s never sufficient detail to let me make an informed decision as to whether the event is suitable for me or are they aimed at skinny teenage race whippets. What are the courses like – technical or miles of fire road; how long does the race last – rarely a mention of distance or time; so how do I decide whether it’s worth a 4 hour round trip to give it a go?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Ask BC and club coaches to stop persuading everyone into road riding…

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Age cats are completely stupid, if a beginner is in the same categoryas aformer national level racer the system is goosed

    venues: it’s like searching for Goldilocks, not too tame not too technical, not too flat not too hilly, not too many other users not in the middle of nowhere, etc that’s before you talk to the landowner. What do you do when travellers setup in your carpark? What about the MX riders, dog walkers, other MTB riders who don’t want their fun ruined by your event

    No racing on, along, or crossing bridleways (you can’t even do it if you close them)

    Core team to do the leg work, massive team of volunteers needed to marshal, timekeep, course setup and pack down is a massive effort, do you trust them to put all the signs out in the risk assessment? Can you get the results out before everyone goes home?

    Getting entries, nightmare unless you sell out, XC riders are the biggest set of curtain twitchers ever

    Can you get proper first aid cover who can get all around the course?

    Sponsors don’t grow on trees and seem happier to throw money at riders than grass roots events

    BC, not at lot of help, their organiser guidebook throws you under a bus if it goes wrong, commissaries don’t walk/ ride the course if you get one

    The calendar, narrow window due to everyone riding CX, early spring at risk of bad weather, summer everyone is on holiday, September CX starts again

    It’s XC, the number of people who actually prefer it to enduro etc is small, the cool kids tend to do other stuff

    Premier Icon baronvonp7
    Free Member

    Deciding how many laps the race will be on the start line is not conducive to having a full compliment “very much doing it for fun” category. Especially as the number of laps is increased from the advertised number.
    And not oiking out and banning the nutter, fighty hard man, too.
    The above was at a BC sanctioned/registered/accredited/something race.

    Asking the riders that only turn up once would be wise.

    The Run and Ride events at Cannock are enjoyable. We’ve done a couple of these as the route is not too technically hard and the laps aren’t strenuous killers. They apparently get grief cos it’s not hard enough, though.

    Edit:
    What big_n_daft said about age categories, too.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Deciding how many laps the race will be on the start line is not conducive to having a full compliment “very much doing it for fun” category. Especially as the number of laps is increased from the advertised number.

    Getting the number of laps right is always a nuanced thing if the course is new that day, easy to get wrong

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    Well, many years ago MTB in the UK decided to reject BC and organised clubs and left it mainly to event companies – expensive events and dwindling entries – reap what you sow. The reason that CX is popular is that it is successfully appeals to all ages and genders in a relatively safe environment without some smart-arse commentator on the PA dishing out disparaging remarks. XC needs to get back to grass roots, through clubs etc to appeal to families, bring in coaching etc to develop riders. All those that snipe about BC aren’t the ones that turn out at events as volunteers – they expect someone else to do it for them. BC ain’t perfect by any means, but they are the governing body for cycle sport in the UK and that isn’t going to change.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    The reason that CX is popular is that it is successfully appeals to all ages and genders in a relatively safe environment

    Thinking about it, taking a few leaves out of CX’s book probably wouldn’t be a bad thing, given that it’s a) popular, so something’s obviously working and b) kinda sorta nearly very similar kinda racing.

    Premier Icon bettyswollocks
    Full Member

    I certainly don’t think that riders (or lack thereof) are the issue. From what little experience I have of this matter the problem seems to be seated within the organising of events. Finding someone who wants the responsibility of running a race or series of races with all the pitfalls of coordination, health and safety, insurance, finding volunteers to help out etc is always hard. Combine this with lack of willing landowners or suitable venues then events are always going to be difficult to get off the ground.
    That said, with the lack of races in the last 18 months anyone who enjoys a bit of racing have been prepared to travel the length and breadth of the country to get between the tapes so the demand is there. I think it’s now a case of ‘build it and they will come’.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Well, many years ago MTB in the UK decided to reject BC and organised clubs and left it mainly to event companies – expensive events and dwindling entries – reap what you sow.

    No it didn’t, most of the organisers on the forum use BC, most as grass roots

    XC needs to get back to grass roots, through clubs etc to appeal to families, bring in coaching etc to develop riders.

    People who ride XC need to join or found clubs. If they don’t do that nothing will change

    All those that snipe about BC aren’t the ones that turn out at events as volunteers – they expect someone else to do it for them. BC ain’t perfect by any means, but they are the governing body for cycle sport in the UK and that isn’t going to change.

    BC don’t get mtb, the lack of MTB focused clubs means that the AGM is dominated by other matters and BC see the lack of income from MTB as a reason for continuing to do limited work on it. I don’t snipe at BC I’ll happily give them my view, I organized 20+ XC races and have helped at others. I didn’t expect someone else to do it for me nor did the volunteers who turned up race after race.

    Premier Icon crossed
    Full Member

    It probably doesn’t help that one of the largest parts of MTB media in the UK, namely Singletrack, haven’t really shown any interest in MTB until the time that we as a nation had Olympic Gold Medallists and World Champions.
    Singletrack coverage of XC has been almost non-existent up until this year, in fact the annual XC thread in the forum that Captain Flashheart seems to start every season always seemed to mention the lack of XC coverage by Singletrack and praise the coverage by Pinkbike.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Double edged sword that, innit? not many folk perceived to be interested, so a business (ie this magazine) doesn’t buy in. But if magazines don’t promote, then so it goes.

    Grass roots races like what parkrun has acheived would be good, not just for XC racing, for offroad cycling in general. Every running club round here puts on a race, I don’t see the cycling clubs doing that?.

    Premier Icon st colin
    Free Member

    I raced quite a few of the Midweek Madness XC series up here in the North West. Most venues where greater Manchester. I liked the variation of courses, from Lee Quarry to Haigh Hall, both very different. Categories were easy to put yourself into and they seemed well attended. I think the pandemic heavily disrupted the flow of events and their FB page seems very quiet. I know they recently had an event cancelled.

    I’d be happy to volunteer.

    As a discipline, it really is at the bottom of the pecking order, especially for the weekend warriors. XC takes some level of basic fitness and mental strength and the fun factor isn’t there like it is with Enduro racing.

    Premier Icon johnjn2000
    Full Member

    Firstly there is the issue of where to go to ride XC. DH/Enduro/DJ you have bike parks dedicated to these because you can do it in a relatively small area if you have elevation. but, with the rules in the UK on where you can ride a bike, riding XC courses/routes outside of a race is limited.

    Then we have the lack of media interest. Let us use Emma Raducanu’s recent success as an example. Emma had a fantastic event, nobody can take that away from her, absolutely brilliant. If I type ‘Emma’ into Google I get a hit on her in the sporting media without expanding on her full name. Boris(The Knob), The Queen, all jumped up to applaud ‘Britain’s’ success. Evie Richards comes along and absolutely nails the XC for multiple events, and nothing is mentioned outside of our MTB bubble. Evie’s achievements are as fantastic as Emma’s IMHO but the gulf in recognition is why XC and MTB in general will always struggle

    Sponsorship – RedBull are the only recognisable sponsor to the wider population and RedBull does not appeal to everyone. Let’s use Tennis again and Evian are, or used to be, a big sponsor. Clean, healthy, E number free, water, versus Redbull. Dirty, harsh, extreme, additive loaded, smelly, requires vodka. |Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for RedBull we would be in an even worse state but it isn’t a brand for the masses.

    Finally, it has already been said but BC are a bit sh!t when it comes to MTB. Even when you go to an event entry page on the BC site you have Jason Kenny telling you that cycling is great. I want Evie, or Tom, or The Athertons telling me this when I am looking to enter an event.

    There is so much wrong with it all at a basic level it leaves me with a nasty taste and a desire to start a campaign for all the forgotten British success stories in the sport!

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    Singletrack coverage of XC has been almost non-existent

    TBF Singletrack has never covered any sort of racing in depth. That’s not what it’s for and it’s never made a secret of that, and at Singletrack’s inception Dirt was doing all that anyway. If I want Race results on line. I head for for Roots and Rain.

    Premier Icon Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    @crossed @nickc We’ve struggled to get race reports to do coverage – we can’t go to them all and it needs someone who is going anyway (or producing a selection of content for various outlets) to make it financially viable to buy our own coverage. From time to time we get event reports from BC – usually when there’s a big UK result or build up to Olympics – but it hasn’t been consistent over the years. What we have had submitted has often been too time consuming to turn around from press release to story, and is up against an inbox full of potential stories. That said, we’ve had more resources this summer in the shape of Lauren and been able to get a few more race reports posted up by hunting them down, and we’ve noted that you seem to like them. As a result, we’ve got Vedangi covering all the World Cup races for us next year, and we’re talking to Hannah and Joolze here about some UK level coverage. Hope that helps and that you enjoy the coverage.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Singletrack coverage of XC has been almost non-existent

    They do more than you think and they were a considerable if understated assistance, their tolerance of guerilla marketing and the support of many of the forum members turning up as volunteers race after race made it happen.

    Their roving reporter falling off and breaking a bone on her warm-up lap at the first race (only five riders hospitalised) was a sharp introduction into the risks of being an organiser. She did a nice write up of the next race though https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb/article/mtb20090515-Report:-Brownbacks-MTB-R2-0

    Premier Icon harry_the_spider
    Full Member

    They do more than you think and they were a considerable if understated assistance, their tolerance of guerilla marketing and the support of many of the forum members turning up as volunteers race after race made it happen.

    Yep. Without this the forum community here and the tolerance and support of the STW staff HTN wouldn’t have happened.

    2 Hours Of Power: Hit The North 5

    https://www.planetx.co.uk/news/teams-and-riders/q/date/2013/02/20/the-field-of-dispair

    My 2p worth (and it has been a few years since I was involved). Pre-entries are what makes a race sink or swim. With money in the bank the organisers can get on with it. Waiting for an entry on the day really doesn’t help.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    We’ve struggled to get race reports to do coverage

    I produced something and sent it out to every website I could think off before and after after every race. My creative writing skills were never the best but STW did use some. If a race organiser isn’t marketing their event they aren’t doing part of their job, you need to make it simple for the websites as they have limits on what effort they are going to put in to publish what you send.

    Premier Icon willt
    Free Member

    It needs more exposure.

    How about an events page on this website dealing the various events (not just races), locations an type of race. Like a calendar tab.

    How about more xc race coverage in the magazine. The world cup races these days are great and there is some really good battles, but it still gets very little coverage in any of UK MTB mags or press.

    The magazine used to cover loads of the domestic races as well, even downhill and enduro doesn’t make it in (from what I can see apart from Pink Bike).

    Premier Icon rob howells
    Free Member

    for me i wood like to see xc raceing back where it was back i my time on the nps was from 95 t0 2017 i had seen some good riders i my time and i wood like to see the nps back in south wales like margam do any one argee with on that.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Found an old press release

    Hope XC Race 1 Report and Race 2 Preview

    for me i wood like to see xc raceing back where it was back i my time on the nps was from 95 t0 2017 i had seen some good riders i my time and i wood like to see the nps back in south wales like margam do any one argee with on that.

    Don’t think anyone would disagree, making it happen is something else

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    All those that snipe about BC aren’t the ones that turn out at events as volunteers – they expect someone else to do it for them.

    4 years voluntary coaching at BC club and I volunteer at minimum 2 events a year, and have done for 8 years now.

    I have good reason to grump at them.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    How about more xc race coverage in the magazine. The world cup races these days are great and there is some really good battles, but it still gets very little coverage in any of UK MTB mags or press.

    I think there is plenty out there that does this, more insights into the scene would be good though as the Olympics are less than three years away and we have a current world champ.

    However most mag readers are more interested in the latest widgets and whether to get an ebike or not

    One idea could be to do a “X” does downhill, “y” does enduro, “z” does xc from the staff and follow the trials and tribulations of them as they start in the grassroots of the sport. It would be a lot of effort for the mag and would it gain readers?

    They could do “xyz” organise a race but with the mags industry connection it would be too easy

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    for me i wood like to see xc raceing back where it was back i my time on the nps was from 95 t0 2017 i had seen some good riders i my time and i wood like to see the nps back in south wales like margam do any one argee with on that.

    Which brings you straight back to the points of
    a) does Margam want MTB racing back and how much are they going to charge the organiser to host an event there?
    b) who is around to host an event there?

    Standalone races rarely work that well unless it’s something different / noteworthy like a 12hr or 24hr (which isn’t XC, it’s endurance) or an event like Hit the North or the Singletrack Weekender (which also wasn’t technically “XC” it just happen to have some XC within it).

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    I have good reason to grump at them.

    Scottish Cycling is a special subset

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    Damn right.

    Premier Icon crossed
    Full Member

    Thanks for letting us know the plans Hannah, I look forward to reading the reports etc.

    I think @willt is on to something.
    Is it beyond the realms of possibility to have a racing forum here somewhere?
    Maybe something like the old XCRacer forum was a few years back but covering all branches of MTB racing, not just XC?
    Surely something that gives more coverage to grassroots events can only be a good thing?

    Premier Icon steve_b77
    Free Member

    It just isn’t cool and the UK off road bike market isn’t aimed at it, for years and years the comments on XC bikes have all been Euro style this, euro style that, it isn’t going to help.

    There’s been a massive media push towards enduro type racing over the last few years, there’s plenty of XC events about and the grass-roots, especially kids racing is all over the place. There’s an excellent Go-Race series in North / Mid wales that my lads race in and even on Saturday just gone with frankly abysmal weather there were 10-15 kids in each of the age groups (U6, U8, U10, U12 & U14) which is amazing – so the interest is there in the youngsters.

    I think that CX gets the bigger turnouts as it’s more family friendly with easier to get to locations (typically town parks with good road access), MTB requires far more technicality and as a result tends to be in more remote areas (other than Brown Backs of old and a few of the races each year). The Cannock, Run & Ride events are very well attended and always offer great courses.

    The age group thing I don’t really get, that only seems to happen for more local races, but it’s also the way CX is ran, so just crack on, there’s always some one out there who will kick your arse – no matter how good you are.

    To improve we need to secure venues, promote races, get sponsors and fill the start lines – otherwise organisers will just not bother.

    Premier Icon Andrew Lewis
    Free Member

    Special mention I think for Gorrick in the south – superb race organisers, have been for 25 years. They certainly know how to do it, but I think even they have found it harder in recent years, but turn out is good and the courses are always excellent fun. Autumn classic races coming up in 3 weeks time. I’ve racing for most of that 25 years, and always enjoy it.

    Southern xc are another good organiser in the south, not done so many of those though as they are a bit further afield. Not sure we are attracting younger riders as successfully as we should – the old gits categories seem to have larger numbers than the younger categories – don’t know how we change that though!

    Premier Icon Branes
    Full Member

    Well, my theory on the demise of domestic XC is that it’s historically been organised semi-commercially, i.e. by local shops etc. Certainly in its 90s heyday it was. The rise of the internet has made shops much more risk averse, which combined with the inevitable cooling of enthusiasm after the 90s boom has reduced the pool of organisers hugely. As mentioned above clubs have rarely been that involved, and in general MTBers seem to be very club (or at least BC) averse.

    Anyway, I don’t really have answers for the way forward, but it does seem to me that Cross has been really successful in recent years, and we might be able to learn from that – small venues, relatively fixed courses year after year, numerous local leagues, 100s of riders per event and generally club organised with BC commissaires etc. Seems to me that short-course style would be most adaptable to this model – and could perhaps kickstart a full on resurgence. Main issue for that plan (as mentioned above too really) is a lack of clubs with a critical mass of MTBers, and I guess the underlying BC infrastructure which seems limited to supporting the national series. Yes, venues and courses have to be found/built, not trivial either but hopefully shorter courses mean less bridleway issues etc.

    The irony is I would class myself as an XC MTBer primarily, but I either organise or help out at RRs, TTs, hill climbs and the cross race that my club organises. Scratch the surface and you find that most, if not almost all, of the 40s-50s in the club started out riding MTBs in the 80s/90s, and the younger ones seem to be getting interested in XC, so I do think there might be a hidden critical mass in clubs that could make this happen.

    Premier Icon wcolt
    Full Member

    Good if singletrack are ‘getting behind the idea’ of more xc coverage. The Skinny dipping series didn’t really work out too well the other year – the approach to coverage just seemed a bit prosaic (with apologies to Rachel, I get the impression sourcing / capturing creative content wasn’t the easiest) – but it would be good to see some more long term coverage of non-gravity disciplines on here.

    From my own experience of (regional) xc racing I’d echo some points. This has got a bit long, sorry.

    One underlying ‘Problem’ with xc i found is that you actually have to be pretty keen and fit to get anywhere in the more serious categories (sport, expert , vets etc). There were also always a few in Open who I am sure could readily have been in Sport – and seemed to take Open way too seriously – but preferred the reassurance of knowing they would place well in the lower category race. (I know there are some rules over getting bumped up a category but anyway , this is just how it appeared to me).

    So you have to consider what are the reasons for turning up – personal challenge, personal improvement, doing max effort as I never would on a trail ride, riding some trails different to the ordinary. Those are mine. Would I call it a fun experience / vibe? Not so much. Even in marathon events (the uk ones, that aren’t competitive but are timed) I’m never going to be quick but it’s a nice day out, with other riders who you can chat to en-route, on new trails and for longer than 1.5h.

    So putting a bit more emphasis on making it fun is a good thing to think about. When Dirt Rag was still going one of the writers used to talk about the ‘Party Wave’. Ie. The group who would congregate near the back of the grid and who were there to have fun, take part, ride some different terrain to normal, banter and hustle with each other etc and generally have a blast (and maybe a beer).

    Maybe there could be a ‘class within a class’ for this sort of rider. and liven it up by introducing some CX-esque fun things to do . How about throw in a few simple rollable-at-pace trialsy obstacles maybe (didn’t the old singletrack weekender have some basic trials stuff- sure you could do something that would be fun , add interest, and wouldn’t get vetoed by BC? The Pallets of doom etc). Something just to make it a bit different than battle of the fitties .

    Or some bonus points for taking a certain line / style points on a feature / segment or two. Longest wheelie, most sketchy landing , flowiest rider etc. bottle of JD to the winner. Heck, I’d sponsor that one myself. Prize for best beginner ? Prize for best mechanical of the day? It’s not hard to think up some stuff that might up the engagement factor amongst entrants and create some more interesting talking points / memorable moments.

    Timing of races. Organisers tend (I think) to get the less competitive races out the way in the morning. A 10am start time (for me) means leaving the house at 6/6.30am [Sunday] morning. Typically a 1.5-2hr drive to a venue, sign on, practice lap, take a break then line up 9.45. 1.5hr (ish) race. Done by 11.30. On the one hand it means I can be home for a late lunch and a ‘free’ afternoon. On the other hand I have kids and Sunday is the one day of the week I might have a chance of staying in bed beyond 7am. Maybe if they put the keen-bean races in the morning and let the fun categories have a more leisurely arrival experience that might help entice entrants to come along. And maybe even bring their families to see mummy or daddy race.

    Facilities and audience interest. Once my race is done what is there for me to hang around for? Open question. Cheering on the expert riders? Not me. Not enough celebs for that. Bring back the old killer hill climb events?! Or something else to participate in. Also, it has been a long time since I saw a demo day also rock up at an xc event. Does that happen anymore (obv. not right now- no one has any bikes I figure)?

    Maybe after my race is done i should volunteer as a marshal, that would be helpful wouldn’t it. Maybe that could become a condition of entry (it is in some grass root sports) . Or if that’s too prescriptive how about when entering, you are invited to volunteer for something on the day and there are a few options you can choose. Maybe that’d help with fostering some community spirit too. I’ll sponsor that with JD too myself.

    The racing season. It’s too short/ races spaced too close together. My local series starts typically in late March/early April but is done by July. Maybe it is 4-5 rounds. One a month, say (Facebook not working so I cannot check). Cx season an issue. Given it is hard enough to sort venues, insurance etc for organisers the number of races is probably realistic but space them out more. I found they were too frequent for me to justify getting to more than a couple (given all the various competing demands I find I have to balance at weekends), and then for two rounds it felt a bit pointless/tenuous and why don’t I just go for a trail ride instead.

    Media coverage. From time to time I get Trial Magazine from the newsagent. It for a large part consists of coverage of various trials events that have gone on. The interviews are of trials riders from local and national series (not the red bull ones ) . It’s a bit niche to make a whole mag out of that (not even gone-but-sadly-missed Shred did that I think) but shows some ideas of how you could go about it. Dirt used to do good race write ups too. Also on the trials front, go listen to The Shin Dig podcast – that has been good at knitting together the uk trials community.

    I used to like Making Up The Numbers when it was a written thing , the personal take on competing and balancing that with the daily-life and work challenges many of us face was refreshingly different (award winning no less! Take note). Cameraderie with both the riders and the reader was the name of the game there and the secret to its success I’d say. Could there be someone up for doing an xc version – I’m no creative writer that’s for sure. I’d love to hear what Charlie H or the other staffers would write following competing in various xc events. I’ll cover your petrol if that’s an issue.

    Media coverage (again). Gives sponsors a reason to invest in supporting races. Sponsors give organisers support and boy do organisers need it. (Bit circular as you also need numbers of punters to turn up for sponsors to see the point, but positive sustained media coverage / internet will help with that ).

    Gives the media some new content to diversify the number of press and video releases that echo around everyone’s websites, and diversifies away from yet another ‘international adventure’ article or classic ride article that happens, likely as not, to be located in the northern half of the uk.

    Also long termers like Chipps will be sentimental over xc and surely will feel like they are supporting a grass roots side of the sport. (Maybe even Tym Manley would be sentimental, but maybe not). Win win all around?

    Premier Icon cp
    Full Member

    big_n_daft – those were superb events you put on. Well done – I really enjoyed them and was gutted when they were no more.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    those were superb events you put on.

    It wasn’t me, it was a core team of around eight, family, volunteers from here marshalling (more importantly turning up when they said they would), local mountain rescue team, Lancs CC, Rossendale BC, the sponsors, the forums, and the people who turned up to race. Without them it wouldn’t have happened.

    We had thirty volunteers on the hill for most races

    Numbers of entrants ebbed and flowed but we’re down towards the end, we were talking about some form of downhill lite before enduro was a thing, short course XCEliminator was another idea. Unfortunately life got in the way add in an issue with the access track then you have lost the habit and life revolves around other stuff. People underestimate the physical, mental, and time toll on an organiser and the core team.

    Premier Icon DickBarton
    Full Member

    We need more races, but we don’t has there are a large number of issues that need managed – land owner permission (and liability) – insurance costs are high and race numbers are low, so costs are high; event costs are high – first aid, timing things, marshalls, etc. – it all adds up.

    We need more people doing the races, higher entrant numbers would mean things are more manageable from a costs point of view, however, there needs to be something to encourage more people to try it.

    Location is important.

    More integration with clubs to help target youngsters so get them in and get them keen to do more.

    More PR/awareness for people not in clubs but might be interested in trying this kind of racing…

    A lot of things need to be done, but doing a wee bit of them can help, but it needs people willing to put the time and effort in.

    Premier Icon mrlebowski
    Free Member

    My 2c & obviously it’ll be biased by my location.

    In the SE I think we are pretty spoilt actually. We’ve 2 great organisers in Gorrick http://www.gorrick.com & Eventrexuk https://eventrexuk.com/mountain-biking/ with the 2 of them nicely covering most of the season. So, in my opinion, we don’t need more events down here. However, I think what’s needed is better coverage. An event calendar or a shout (from STW) out in the weeks before there’s a race coming up would be a great place to start. Events like Dyfi et al always get a mention as do a lot of other grassroots enduro/dh but there’s precious little for XC……..

    There’s a difference, also, in the way Gorrick & Eventrexuk interact with their target audience. Eventrexuk are much more active on social media with course updates, info & the such like. So, to those of you who are concerned about the lack of info I’d say you’d find out a lot from them & their races are very accessible. Gorrick are more old school & do less on social media (an area I think they need to address) but their website is stocked with good info on what to expect. They put on a lot of events, they are well attended all year round & they work bloody hard at it too. Gorrick have also been rogered royally by DIO over events in recent years, which is not their fault at all, but has led to a lot of frustration. I think they have a better handle on the situation going forward recently though & things are looking up IMHO. The courses used by both are pretty good & certainly techie & physical enough for XC but not so much a newbie would die of fright. There’s also usually A & B lines available.

    On-site facilities at both are ok, though I wouldn’t mind something healthier than a greasy bacon sarnie after a race…..

    XC faces other problems too. It’s image isn’t great – which always confuses me as some of the most amazing riding I’ve ever done has been XC. From being chased down a mountainside by a thunderstorm in an alpine marathon to blatting round Newham at Exposure. The combination of breathing out of everywhere to then pinning it down a techie XC decent with my HR on the redline is exhilarating. I love it! It’s most definitely not all fire roads & skinny XC whippets. Honestly, there’ll be times you’ll be grateful for a bit of fire road so your brain can have a rest..

    Fundamentally, I think XC’s biggest issue (from my perspective) is its image. It’s doing so much right on the actual day but it suffers from the perspective it aint a lot of fun. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I raced in a vets team made of old elites at Exposure this summer & we all agreed it was the best fun we’d had in years..

    Lastly, I’d just like to say to all the XC races I’ve attended over the years to all the organisers & all involved wherever you are. What you do is a labour of love & YOUR EFFORTS are deeply, deeply appreciated by this old racer…
    (Ps I’d love to give something be to the sport in anyway I could…)

    Premier Icon Chipps
    Full Member

    We did organise the Singletrack Weekender, back in the day – not a conventional XC race by any means, but XC was a third of the event. Using the mighty power of this website to promote it, we didn’t even have ‘not losing money, even with Shimano sponsoring it’ numbers until about ten days before because everyone still looks at the weather and decides the week before. Unless an event sells out, then it’s entirely weather-dependant, it seems.

    I ran a cyclocross race in town here for ten years, and the increasing amount of paperwork, from both the local council (who own the park) and BC made it a major undertaking – especially as I was doing it on my own, with help of a very small number of volunteer friends. BC’s system is set up almost entirely with cycling clubs in mind, and mountain biking’s individual outlook doesn’t really require riders to join a club. It’s not like we need twenty friends to head out on a ride – and so there just isn’t the club structure there in MTB that is behind a lot of the event-organising might of the road scene.

    The event never made a profit, which was fine. I didn’t mind giving up a weekend and several days before clearing and setting out the course, but when the last one actually cost me £200 to put on, I gave up…

    And, as some folks have said on here, we have a terrible lack of venues, certainly in England. An XC race, ideally needs a 3-5 mile lap, where a CX lap can be half that. The terrain also needs to be fairly challenging, which also rules out the school playing fields and town parks that CX courses mostly use. With our bizarre ‘no racing on bridleways’ rules in England/Wales, your venues start becoming limited to bigger parks (with their issues with ‘I always walk here’ dog walkers and runners pulling tape down) or country estates, which aren’t often keen to have muddy cyclists making a dent on their grounds or Forestry (and there’s precious little of it around here). It can be very hard to find a venue the ticks all the boxes of accessibility, reasonable all-weatherness, fun trails (that aren’t PROW) and a place to park a hundred cars.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    The event never made a profit, which was fine. I didn’t mind giving up a weekend and several days before clearing and setting out the course, but when the last one actually cost me £200 to put on, I gave up…

    We avoided this by not giving cash prizes and getting the sponsors to provide the vouchers/widgets you would win. Meant hard work finding them as we had prize parity for the women’s categories but enough stepped up and helped make someone’s day

    Also we paid for very little and everyone was a volunteer, it’s far easier that way as everyone is equal. Mountain Rescue donation and the toilets were the biggest expenses on the day, levies were around a quid a rider so dependent on entries so not too bad

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Venues are a problem. CX runs around a local park or school field – there are many of these, so you don’t have to go far. Also the course is short so you don’t need that many marshals. This means it’s much easier to put an event on, so there are more events and you can pop over to a local spin on a Sunday morning or whatever instead of neededing a 2hr drive or even a weekend away.

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