Viewing 40 posts - 41 through 80 (of 105 total)
  • How do we improve the domestic XC scene? 
  • 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.

    chipps
    Full Member

    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

    The last ‘cross I did (three years ago now?) my BC levies were something like £3.50 a rider, plus an extra quid for the Yorkshire League… That was hard to justify for a bit of insurance and a commissaire…

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    £3 a rider plus £10 or £20 CX or MTB currently

    We might have dodged some of that as “go-mtb” for some categories

    Insurance is the big cost plus the manual entry of points etc, commissaire expenses paid by the organisers, they do get a Gucci BC kit out if far enough up the ladder

    BC currently compromising people out and spending £300k on consultants so that has to be paid for somehow

    You never know it may get picked up by some of the cycling press……..

    kilo
    Full Member

    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.

    I’ve seen more marshals at the cx events I’ve helped out at than at any of the mtb xc events I’ve raced in the uk (gorrick , brass monkeys), racing in parks and areas where the public amble creates much more need for marshals. I’m not sure they’re necessarily easier to run judging by the work that goes into our club cx races.

    I used to race maybe three of four events a year and done a few xc races in Canada and RSA, ultimately I now find the UK xc events I did just a bit boring. Firstly I was crap.Twisty overly nadgery courses that have to fit on a small parcel of land aren’t my idea of fun and I don’t recall it being either cheap or near home. I’d far rather do a cx race these days just seems a bit more enjoyable.

    With regards to a wider public image, I’ll watch pretty much any bike racing on tv but,to me, xc racing is pretty dull to watch and usually sends me to sleep for a bit.

    mick_r
    Full Member

    Unfortunately I think our new-found XC success has come at a bad time – the first signs of this are already visible in the new CX season:

    Local league racer numbers seem to be a bit depleted. Even the kids races are quieter than normal. Not sure why this is – People ill or post-viral issues? Family problems / bigger concerns? Not wanting to socialise? Got unfit or out of the habit during lockdown? Financial problems?

    The local CX league is also struggling for venues more than normal. C19 has left councils even more risk averse, and the massive increase in walkers and dog owners has made venues much more sensitive and appreciated / protected by the locals. Parking chaos and bikes “trashing” the grass doesn’t help matters (I know the grass recovers quickly but people get pretty vocal about it in the immediate aftermath).

    I can’t see any of that helping the 2022 XC season 🙁

    chipps
    Full Member

    Yes, I found that it was mostly the ‘Friends of the Park’ and the council’s park people that killed my event. There were a lot of locals objecting to ‘their’ park being used once a year by hundreds of people wanting to enjoy it. Yet, I had the same council’s PR and leisure department call me up to ask if they could mention my event as part of their ‘Hey, we’re doing lots to help people enjoy our parks on foot and on bikes’ campaign…

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    A simple observation is that people need to move from “this or that needs to happen” and change the narrative to “I’m going to do…”

    Until then change isn’t going to happen in any meaningful way

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Also the course is short so you don’t need that many marshals.

    As @kilo says, I’ve found that urban parkland requires far more resources than more remote forestry venues – I’ve marshalled several of the races that Chipps has organised plus loads of other CX and a couple of the Midweek MTB Madness that were held in Philips Park by Manchester Velodrome and it was just a string of dealing with irate dog walkers who “always” walk along here at this time and couldn’t possibly conceive of using the other 90% of the park.

    Occasionally, Philips Park would have a few of the less desirable elements of human nature in evidence too, we often had to double or even triple marshal some points. Every marshal in sight of at least one other, radios… Very resource-heavy.

    That makes it difficult running a series at a venue because marshals are understandably not keen on returning week after week for 2hrs of arguing with dog walkers.

    LS
    Free Member

    The last ‘cross I did (three years ago now?) my BC levies were something like £3.50 a rider, plus an extra quid for the Yorkshire League… That was hard to justify for a bit of insurance and a commissaire…

    I’m BC’s biggest critic when they deserve it but their insurance costs have multiplied hugely in the last few years. Even at local league CX you need a minimum of two and preferably 4-5 commissaires so that’s mileage expenses at the very least.

    steve_b77
    Free Member

    Local league racer numbers seem to be a bit depleted. Even the kids races are quieter than normal. Not sure why this is – People ill or post-viral issues? Family problems / bigger concerns? Not wanting to socialise? Got unfit or out of the habit during lockdown? Financial problems?

    Current NWCCA CX Pre-Entry online only has killed off the numbers in the kids races IMHO, it’s now just those who want to commit early and at this time of year it’s a struggle due to the weather. The course is set, the marshals are there etc. so a quid on the day for a kid ain’t a big issue.

    Harry_the_Spider
    Full Member

    Yes, I found that it was mostly the ‘Friends of the Park’ and the council’s park people that killed my event. There were a lot of locals objecting to ‘their’ park being used once a year by hundreds of people wanting to enjoy it. Yet, I had the same council’s PR and leisure department call me up to ask if they could mention my event as part of their ‘Hey, we’re doing lots to help people enjoy our parks on foot and on bikes’ campaign…

    Ha! HTN lost it’s original venue because of objections / obstruction by a local cycle training business and some spinelessness at the council. Then a photo from HTN appeared on the front of the council “What’s On” guide.

    It was at this point that I took the “**** This” approach and left.

    csb
    Full Member

    What’s the problem that’s being fixed here? Trail centres are really busy, people are rediscovering the real countryside and we have XC world champions from the UK. Clearly things are quite healthy for xc mtb in the UK?

    ferrals
    Free Member

    What’s the problem that’s being fixed here?

    Grass roots xc racing number are (or were pre-covid, not raced since) low. Even national level events didnt have huge fields, 25-50 in sport cat last time I raced.

    The number of events is very geographically varied but often pretty low.

    I tried to organise a race a few years ago but even getting a venue was a nightmare, tried to use a range of local places but they were blocked by things including…insufficinet parking, concerns about increases of traffic on minor roads, NIMBY, risk of vandals requiring security firms, legitimate enivronmental concerns.. finally found a venue set a provisional date and then heard from NRW they were chopping down the forest!! I gave up at them point! So hats off to those that do organise

    csb
    Full Member

    Grass roots xc racing number are (or were pre-covid, not raced since) low. Even national level events didnt have huge fields, 25-50 in sport cat last time I raced.

    I get that. But why is that a problem? Or rather, why do we want bigger/more xc events if the venues are still well used and we are managing to produce results at the highest level?

    Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    That is the nub of it ferrals – are numbers low because the huge difficulties in race organisation mean there’s no scene? Or is there no scene because fundamentally very few people want to do it?

    Like anything the answer lies somewhere in between these two limits, but these articles do seem to imply an intrinsic appetite for XC racing that I’m not sure exists anymore. Like Big Daz the ebiker would love to turn out for a XC race, if only there was a local series he could sign up for. Reality is that XC racing is hard as balls, race / venue organisation is a nightmare, and cross is better anyhow.

    ferrals
    Free Member

    edited as missed GL’s post


    @csb
    – Personal persepective – its offputting to race when you are travelling 2hrs to possibly race against 10-15 others who you won’t see after the first couple of laps as the gaps get pretty big. I loved racing XC but I was really starting to loose interest compared to cyclocross.

    I guess that if fields dwindle further the sport becomes unsustainable for organisors (both financially and motivationally), which means we loose the potential for younger gnerations to try and enjoy xc racing.

    However, it seems like people have been moaning about the death of XC since I started riding/racing again in 2014, and many of those moaning (myself included) fondly remember xc racing in the mid-late 90s with large fields… but the sport has changed so much that maybe a return to something like that will never happen

    Also as GL says XC is **** hard. I’m relitively fit but I was having beast myself training-wise to ensure a fun race even in sports category, but that is a lot of commitment and probably puts a lot of people off. Whereas I know,evne though I’ve recenlt been cycling an hour a week max, that I can turn up at a cx race and still have some close competition.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    However, it seems like people have been moaning about the death of XC since I started riding/racing again in 2014, and many of those moaning (myself included) fondly remember xc racing in the mid-late 90s with large fields… but the sport has changed so much that maybe a return to something like that will never happen

    I wonder how much of that is down to the market itself? How many bikes being sold in shops now (or rather pre-Covid…) are XC race bikes? You rarely see them unless you go to specific brand stores that stock the full range. General bike shops don’t stock them because they don’t sell therefore creating its own Catch-22.

    The market has determined that trail bikes look like this and XC race bikes look like that, bikes have become so specific and niche.

    That said, I do wonder how CX has managed to promote itself as beginner-friendly, open to all etc when you turn up to a CX race and everyone has a helper, a vast armoury of washing kit, a spare bike, some spare wheels… Sure, the scene itself is friendly, there’s very little ego on display even at National Series level but it’s still a huge commitment – the travel to a venue, the preparation, the race itself and then the cleaning afterwards! At least with XC you get 2 – 2.5hrs of racing, not 45 mins!

    willt
    Free Member

    I love xc racing and it has been a big part of my life. I have raced since the early 90s and only stopped a few years ago due to lack of time with having kids. As I said before the world cups are great and I really look forward to watching these now on Red Bull, I never really watched these before. The tracks are shorter these days the courses look scary and the riders are getting much more publicity than I think they have for years. Something good is happening at the top end in my opinion.

    I live in Brighton and friends run the Big Dog event which is great and often gets full. It always gets loads of entries and the event arena is busy, they seem to have the right formula, but then this is a largely a team endurance event, rather than xc, as it was.

    I think it will be hard to bring more people in, but more kids could be easily attracted. I have also been taking my son to a local mountain bike club. There are loads of kids there which I was pleased to see. There just isn’t enough going on locally to keep them involved long term in my opinion.

    The trouble is traditional XC is boring to watch as a spectator on site. Riders start off they go out on the course and then they come back 30/45 minutes later. CX can largely be seen from the start finish arena, but its f***ing hard compared to XC in my opinion.

    As someone who has raced both, its easier to bring family to CX than XC. Is short track the answer? More people have mountain bikes than CX bikes. More people create an atmosphere, which inspires other to join in.

    I have also been fortunate to go the states and they have a really good college and school racing scene there with loads of young riders get to race. MTB in some areas surprised me as to how its a life style too, but that’s another subject.

    I don’t have the answer, but genuinely think British Cycling could really do more to promote it and lose their fascination with road and track. It could be so much more promoted in schools and there could be inter school short track racing. From British Cycling’s point of view this would also feed more kids into other forms of cycling as its much safer.

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    I don’t have the answer, but genuinely think British Cycling could really do more to promote it and lose their fascination with road and track.

    It’s arguably based on member interests, how many MTB focused clubs are sending a rep to the regional AGM, how many go to the national AGM. If you aren’t there you don’t influence.

    If those interested don’t make the effort they aren’t going do anything. Again the narrative needs to change from “something needs to be done” to “I’m going to do”

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    I don’t have the answer, but genuinely think British Cycling could really do more to promote it and lose their fascination with road and track. It could be so much more promoted in schools and there could be inter school short track racing. From British Cycling’s point of view this would also feed more kids into other forms of cycling as its much safer.

    Like this you mean…?

    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/go-ride-for-schools

    They run Go-Ride MTB holiday camps too – day or half-day stuff at parks, woodland trail centres etc.
    https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/holidaycamps

    Lankysprinter
    Free Member

    Could you not do xc racing at most trail centres using the easier trails and some fire roads? Eg Leeds bike park I rode for 2 hours in summer for xc trg without any jumps etc. That could accommodate a really fun race but maybe at the expense of other users?

    molgrips
    Full Member

    Could you not do xc racing at most trail centres using the easier trails and some fire roads?

    Don’t get the idea that XC racing is easy trails. It’s not.

    The problem with using trail centres for races is that they have to close the TC which really pisses off the people who’ve driven a long way to get there and ride.

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    Could you not do xc racing at most trail centres using the easier trails and some fire roads?

    Yes and no. I’ve done plenty of lower-level races at trail centres; Coed y Brenin has hosted a few events, Aston Hill used to be a regular on the Southern XC scene, Sherwood Pines hosts National Series events, Swinley is a regular in the Gorrick series…

    Proper XC races, especially at the higher level though, have fairly strict requirements about the amount of “open” space (for overtaking/resting/feeding), the number and design of technical features and considerations such as first aid access, marshal points, event infrastructure etc.

    Plus as mentioned, if you drove all the way to [trail centre] for a day out you’d be pretty upset if half the route was closed and the car parking reserved for competitors only (and no matter how much publicity you put on on social media, there will always be someone who just decides to randomly drive across half the country for a day out).

    Leeds UBP might work for an evening series thing aimed at Youth/Junior but trying to do a full day of racing there on a Sunday wouldn’t be popular at all!

    big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Could you not do xc racing at most trail centres using the easier trails and some fire roads? Eg Leeds bike park I rode for 2 hours in summer for xc trg without any jumps etc. That could accommodate a really fun race but maybe at the expense of other users?

    As above, XC isn’t about easy trails other than for have a go type events, the other users are a big issue. You always get one who decides they will try and do what they want regardless. If you are there for the day it’s an even bigger issue.

    jonba
    Free Member

    Could you not do xc racing at most trail centres using the easier trails and some fire roads?

    Don’t get the idea that XC racing is easy trails. It’s not.

    Aren’t most trail centres XC anyway? My experience of Hamsterley, Glentress, Innerliethen, Kielder Dalby and Whinlatter would be that they are fine in terms of difficulty for an XC race. I appreciate the practicalities/regs etc. would make that impossible.

    Outside of dedicated bike facilities we’ve had some big problems in CX. I lost one venue because we got a complaint – local dog walkers refused to stay outside the tape as they “always walk that way”. Nearly got hit by a vocal racer and told to FO quite loudly. The racer was right, but we lost the venue.

    Another one wanted the organiser to sign an unlimited liability contract in case of damage. They had previously tried to recover 5 figure sums for damaging the grass after a large event. They claimed it needed re-turfing. It never happened and the grass was fine by spring. In any case, no one was prepared to sign so we lost the venue. It was a council run “cycling centre”.

    A few others they’ve now build houses on.

    It needs leadership from BC. They aren’t massively interested or capable though. Their focus is elsewhere. We have seen the same in road racing. We are loosing road circuits and slowly being confined to a small number of crit locations. Meanwhile TT is booming because you can race an entire season pinning a number on a couple of times a week, not just a few events.

    Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    Go on the timetrialling forum and let everyone know TT is booming jonba – should be good for a laugh. More angst in that discipline over the sport’s decline than any other IME.

    Some of it entirely justified (e.g. losing fast courses, general rider v car despondency, antediluvian governing body) but a lot is just over-focussing on the challenges of the sport and losing sight of the advantages in the bigger picture. Organising any cycling event is a big deal but TT is definitely in a good place there relative to off road racing like you say.

    mick_r
    Full Member

    Pretty much the only 100% trail centre course is Dalby, where the world cup race route is a stand alone loop that sort-of allows most of the main trails to remain in use. There is enough other riding to avoid too many complaints about closures. And there is a huge car park / event field for the race quite distant from the VC, so racers and other users are mostly separate. But hasn’t been used for years, probably because it was thankless hard work for the Nutcracker folks who used to put it on.

    Similarly Cannock is distant from the VC and can operate without ruining a day out for others.

    Whinlatter makes a very tough course (wrong way on some familiar trails, up some very tough footpaths etc) but it pisses everyone else off and probably loses FC money compared to a regular weekend day. The poor guy turning people away at the car gate got a lot of abuse.

    molgrips
    Full Member

    It’s a shame that TTing is the easiest racing to organise and enter cos it’s by far the shittest.

    Lankysprinter
    Free Member

    Maybe BC should put effort into supporting a regular organiser at Dalby and Cannock. Ride the World Cup/ commonwealths course has some appeal to me and they’re both venues near some large populations.

    We tried finding a venue or venues in our local area and drew a massive blank- it’s hard to find an accessible venue with some existing trails where you don’t need to cross major paths or roads, no bridleways issues and not likely to get your car robbed

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Local league racer numbers seem to be a bit depleted. Even the kids races are quieter than normal. Not sure why this is – People ill or post-viral issues? Family problems / bigger concerns? Not wanting to socialise? Got unfit or out of the habit during lockdown? Financial problems?

    I’m guessing folk have got into other things, that don’t rely on being organised for them. Trail running, wild swimming, watersports etc. Also means you’re not giving up your whole Saturday for a 1hr race I know that’s what put me off cx.

    Big n daft is spot on, the only way it’ll happen is if folk do something instead of expecting.

    Although you can’t make something popular.

    squirrelking
    Free Member

    The problem with using trail centres for races is that they have to close the TC which really pisses off the people who’ve driven a long way to get there and rid

    SXC did that at Glentress a couple of months ago without issue, same for the Tweedlove/EWS enduros and SDA DH along the road at Inners.

    brennanpeyton
    Full Member

    I attend lots of races supporting my son so I would suggest the following: Different coloured boards for each category so you can tell which race the person you are cheering for is in (rather than the current completely random method of trying to recognise people).. put Southern XC in charge of more races their series are really well organised and well run races. I appreciate its a national series so great to visit different places but a 12:00 practice on a Sunday and a 3pm race means a very long / late drive home .. could there be a better way to utilise the track? Finally agree with comments about commentators falling out with Marshalls at races (what were you thinking) and I never want to hear the phrase “hard day at the office” again 🙂

    brennanpeyton
    Full Member

    Gorrick can’t use Swinley any more (Crown Estate) and I know that access to land is a real challenge for all event organisers – perhaps BC could help with DIO / MOD land access ?

    Lankysprinter
    Free Member

    https://www.mayeractive.co.uk/dirty-nocka-2022
    These guys have a couple of events on at Cannock in winter/ spring that might be fun. A winter xc with lots of different categories and not all racing together so less being lapped by elites, and a 3/6 hour multi lap event in march

    tankgirlfan
    Full Member

    The accessibility issue is a good point, well made. BC have had a ‘Go MTB’ type scheme for beginner level racing for years, and I’m as guilty as everyone else for not running some.
    Go to a cross race, anywhere in the UK, and you’re pretty guaranteed that you won’t be looking at a gap jump of any kind. It makes the racing much more predictable and less anxiety provoking. All you’re worried about is what point in the race is your bike going to gather enough mud to make it unrideable?
    Regional XC can be a really fantastically mixed bag, and the reason we used to travel all across the UK racing was to see the different interpretations of XC racing in different regions – from Gorrick single-track to Welsh slatey climbs, big rocky features at Hadleigh to racing in a quarry in Cornwall, you either love the pre-event uncertainty or you don’t.
    So how do we improve it? I think we’ll start by putting on some Go-MTB style racing for real beginners. The numbers will be really low, but it’ll be fun. Then back to volunteering at our local club, which has lost its XC group. XC is a community, and is in danger of becoming Morris Dancing if the community don’t actively start recruiting.
    What can Singletrack do? Remember Chipps’ glorious assault on the 12 Hours of Exposure event, when Matt from Torq wrote the training programme, we all discussed kit, nutrition, how many times we were allowed to wee. It de-mystified something really daunting, just like getting body, bike and kit box ready for a long season of XC racing. Do that again with some unsuspecting intern, it might encourage some of the faithful to give the racing a stab but more importantly they might take their kids along to race. It’s all about the kids.

    mrlebowski
    Free Member

    Gorrick race on this w/e for any interested:

    http://www.gorrick.com/racing/news_item.php?id=795

    mrmo
    Free Member

    An observation, might be worth defining XC for a starter. Are we talking UCI XCO/XCM, just racing round fields?

    Next as has been alluded to, for most people racing doesn’t pay the bills, so there comes a point when the course design has to reflect the ability of the riders and their willingness to injure themselves. It is all well and good designing course that test a Pro, but then asking newbies to try is asking for trouble.

    Fundamentally there is a lack of races in many parts of the country which leads to having to travel, which isn’t really conducive to “life”. taking off for a whole weekend isn’t going to go down well with many peoples families.

    jacobyte
    Free Member

    Gorrick race on this w/e for any interested:

    http://www.gorrick.com/racing/news_item.php?id=795

    Signed up and ready to go, it’ll be my first XC race.

    It was hard to choose which of my 7 eligible categories I should enter (Beginner, Fun, Open, Sport, Expert, Vet, Vet+); that nearly put me off signing up, but I decided it doesn’t matter as I expect to get dropped anyway.

    Could this be simplified to encourage more takeup? Or am I unusual being a 48 year old male?

    rak
    Free Member

    I’ve raced 8 times this year across a variety of styles

    TT – rode to the start, raced, rode home. Didn’t talk to anyone, hated it. Cost me £5

    CX – 20min drive, excellent night time series of 5 (crashed in rd 3, missed rd4). Free chips and mayo after rd 5, great social event. Cost me £75 for 5 races.

    MTB Endurance – team of 4 racing the 12hr 24/12. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Good course, great social, racing with friends. Cost about £120 for team of 4

    MTB XC – soggy bottom XC in Plymouth. Technical XC course, great organising, good social atmosphere where I spoke to lots of people. Cost about £30 for 1h30 race

    I’m never going to win, or even get close to the podium, but I’m still happy to put in training effort and travel to races.

    What am I looking for as a racer? Easy to find races – some aren’t on BC, they are only advertised on Facebook (which I don’t want to be on). Good value – £30 for a 1 hour race makes me question it, but give me 1h30 racing at that price and I’m in (pre entered, usually for a whole series). Connected to the value is location, appreciate this is hard for organisers, but I’d rather race regionally – I have no interest in a national series. I don’t want to drive 2 hrs for a 1hr race (again, give me a longer race and I’m willing to drive further). Longer races seem to be the key for me, maybe because when I started racing they were 2 – 2.5hrs (BMBF)

    I really like what Jay is doing with the soggy bottom series, short course race on Saturday, loads of kids races early on Sunday, technical racing later in the day – I wish I could support them more.

    mrlebowski
    Free Member

    Signed up and ready to go, it’ll be my first XC race.

    It was hard to choose which of my 7 eligible categories I should enter (Beginner, Fun, Open, Sport, Expert, Vet, Vet+); that nearly put me off signing up, but I decided it doesn’t matter as I expect to get dropped anyway.

    Could this be simplified to encourage more takeup? Or am I unusual being a 48 year old male?

    Brilliant – well done mate!

    You’ll probably be surprised how quick some of the old boys are (I know, I’m 50 & there’s some proper racing snakes in amongst the mix…). Nonetheless, ride your own race & don’t fuss about getting passed. Folks at Gorrick are mostly very polite & will dance past you (or us!). The course may surprise you how techie it can be but I know the venue & think it’s very suitable (not too much elevation & not too techie) for this kind of race (XCO). I guess you’re in the vets cat which is the right place to be for you. Just give it your best & enjoy the ride!

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