Sunday, September 10, 2006

Improve MCF!?!

[image caption] MCF Racing: On the road to nowhere? (image courtesy of MichaelGrundmann.Com)

So, I just happened to find the content for the last post on the "Forum" page at WiSport.Org. But, because it presented Timmer making the case that WiSport's organization was doing some things better than their counterparts on the Minnesota side of the river, I had some ideas of my own.

"Tuffy's Ideas to Improve MCF"*
*These ideas are just that: ideas. I'm just throwing them out there.

1) Make pre-registration a possibility. This relieves the registration area and time at the race itself. If a race refuses to offer pre-reg, at least streamline registration on-site (the situation at the State RR was a disaster).

2) Invest in chip timing. MCF looks really bad when it's a UCI program but the citizen-racer organization in Wisconsin is the one with chip timing at all their races. MCF doesn't have to own the chip system necessarily, but just make sure there's one at the races. There are providers out there.

3) Make better investments. If you look at the most recent MCF minutes, they talk about spending $4,000 on public relations. Why not make sure your organzation is completely sound before you begin "selling it" to outsiders? And let's shit-can the banquet and the thousands of dollars spend on that, too. Banquets don't interest anyone under the age of 30.

4) Get your crap together with "funding youth cycling". The concept of supporting "youth cycling" seems like something of a sacred cow at MCF. And who's willing to speak out against the way "youth cycling" has been handled at MCF when people would then accuse you of speaking out against the kids themselves? Well, I am. Either 1) make youth cycling initiatives the sole responsibility of MCF teams and hammer the teams about doing a good job with it (and stop funding it with MCF monies), or 2) make a "MCF Youth Team" and just get it over with. The Alan Team is the de facto youth team right now; why not just fund Alan from MCF funds and point all youngsters towards that team?

5) Communicate to teams that the motivation behind throwing races shouldn't be to make money for the team. Putting races on should be to promote the health of the sport and to increase racing opportunities. When teams start looking at races as a money-maker, well, nothing good can come from that, as teams will start to cut costs (read: "effort") in order to make a couple more bucks for the team. The "timing chip" argument could be brought up here again. Bottomline: the motivation to put on a race should be...to put on a race. Break even financially, call it a day, and thank every race promoter who does the work to put on a quality race.

6) Communicate to riders that the motivation behind riding races shouldn't be to make money. Don't think this happens? Well, I don't have enough fingers to count how many times I've heard from Cat 1/2 riders this year about how this-or-that race does-or-doesn't pay well enough to merit riding that particular race. And that notion is crap. Let's trim the purses for the elite riders a bit, bulk the purses for everyone else (masters/women/lower categories) and spread the love a bit more. As its set up right now, a Cat 4/5 rider is simply paying the purse for the Cat 1/2s. The response will be, "Well, if we don't put the money in the 1/2 purses, those riders won't show up." They won't? Where the hell else are they going to race? Are they going to go to Illinois or Nebraska chasing an extra $50 bucks? Get real.

That's all I gots for now.


Blogger SickBoy said...

Thumbs up on the ideas. Most are somewhat worthwhile...

#1 - this is really up to race promoters on an individual basis. The "legacy" has been that you just show up and race, day of. Not saying that's a *good* thing, but it made the most sense in the days before the internet. Technology has changed and cycling has changed, but you'll have a hard time convincing the mcf crusties that requiring that clubs/promoters offer prereg is something that should be done. I agree with you, but the most effective thing to do is to influence the individual promoters to take this up on their own.

2.) Long multiple discussions on this, it's $44k to own a system and beyond the reach of most promoters (at current entry fee rates) to rent. Plus, the best company to do it for you has a distaste for USCF races. $44k is about four times the MCF's gross income has ever been (at its most). I'd love to have chip timing but cash is the issue.

3.) Wholeheartedly agree. wrt the Banquet specifically, it's being cut back (expensewise), like you know. With specific regard to the "under 30" comment, see MikeL's breakdown of what ages the MCF community actually is - under 30's are the minority. Just something to think about.

4.) Yeah that situation is a mess and dealing with it involves dealing with aforementioned "difficult people".

5.) Profitability of races is really up to the teams themselves. Some teams run races to raise money for their teams. Problem is, racing is at the mercy of a lot of factors beyond their control (foremost being the weather) and a promoter may not have any idea of whether a race will make money until the morning of the race, at the earliest. I'd say very few clubs are making money, and the ones who are (read: LSC) aren't cutting corners or doing a shoddy job. I don't believe this to be as much a problem as you might think it is.

6.) Don't want to get too much into this one, but realize this: Traveling is a defacto MO for a lot of big regional teams who are capable of lighting up local races and making them interesting, quality events for spectators. If Joe Race Promoter cuts the money, there's Jack Race Promoter in the next state who -is- running a race with a big purse. Once again, it's up to the individual promoters, but simple fact is that riders at the top levels go with the money is, and the MCF won't (I would go so far as to say, "doesn't have the authority to legislate") cut out the prize lists to the higher cats and raise them for the lower cats. And it's often more than a $50 difference. Look at the Wheels on Willy Crit, held in Madison. 70 riders started the Pro/1/2 race, which is a higher number of starters than any race in MN this year. Very interesting race (at least from my perspective) with speeds very high and constant attacks. $1,500 total prize list for cat 1/2 riders, which no race in MN has even approached this year (other than NVGP). And that's not even a real, true "big money" race. Not to mention an almost-equal prize list for a very fast Master's 30+ race.

Then there's the ensuing problem that, when you raise prize lists for lower categories, you encourage sandbagging. I'm all for prizes/merchandise at all levels, but there should be incentives to upgrade and to race at higher levels.

Sun Sep 10, 03:23:00 PM 2006

Blogger Smithers said...

I generally agree with points of your points Tuffy expect #2.

Sun Sep 10, 05:35:00 PM 2006

Blogger AdamB said...

How the hell does WiSport pay for chip timing?

My theory: They don't really care if Pro/1/2's show up.

I think that's all it boils down to. Pro/1/2s apparently cost more money than they pay, and the sooner the 3/4/5s can ditch them the better their races will be.

That said, I really enjoy the scene the way it is, with an awful lot of quality events. I'm not saying it couldn't be better, but I'd favor minor tweaks over a massive overhaul.

Sun Sep 10, 07:17:00 PM 2006

Blogger Wiki said...

Coming from a mtb background, I'm used to only the experts getting payouts, and they're one of the smaller fields. I'm ok with that, and I haven't heard anyone else complain about it either.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should only pay the 1/2's. But I do believe in the higher the level the higher the pay.

Otherwise, I'd want to be a cat 5 for the rest of my life. :)

Nobody likes sandbaggers?... :P

Sun Sep 10, 08:13:00 PM 2006

Blogger SickBoy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sun Sep 10, 11:48:00 PM 2006

Blogger SickBoy said...

How the hell does WiSport pay for chip timing?

Their races are a lot less expensive to run - one category, 30-50 miles, no road closures, no USCF officials to pay. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it gives WiSport its flavor, but it makes a bit of sense when you think about it. Simplifying the race, from the promoter's perspective, reduces costs. There's no reason that MCF races can't follow the same formula, but a lot of people view MCF races as an entitlement. If you cut their category, (e.g. cutting Masters or Juniors categories to "simplify") people start screaming bloody murder.

Sun Sep 10, 11:52:00 PM 2006

Blogger StevenCX said...

I still don't get why cost is such an issue for chip timing. It must simply be that there aren't enough racers and/or enough sponsors. $15 was the entry fee in Oregon, and that included everything, chip timing, online pre-registration, etc. Clearly it can be done. Sounds like the MCF needs to get out and encourage more new riders (a beginner category would go a long toward that), get the word out (I think the publicity investment was the right direction) and work on getting more/bigger sponsors (I was shocked that Burnsville Subaru had to come to MCF wanting to spend money, not the other way around). Easier said than done, but again, clearly it can.

Mon Sep 11, 06:45:00 AM 2006

Blogger Tuffy said...

I totally forgot to talk about beginner's categories, Steven. Thanks for the reminder.

7) Seperate Cat 4s from Cat 5s. At a recent MCF meeting, a comment was made that MCF races should offer a citizen's race so that locals who are interested could sign-up and race on that day. The irony is that USA Cycling does have a "citizen's" category -- it's called Category 5, and a rider can get a one-day license to race that category only. MCF races should utilize Cat 5 races much better by splitting them from Cat 4 races. This will encourage new and inexperienced riders to race (and keep racing!).

Mon Sep 11, 07:39:00 AM 2006

Blogger Skibby said...

If you use a chip timing company like WISPORT uses, it costs $750-1000 per race. For a road race in the MCF that's how much I spend on officials. The reason I have to spend that much is because I have an official with each field, pay for mileage, then I have 2-3 at the start finish. If I keep the same categories, (note: I have had a separate cat 5 field for all my races this year)I'm still going to spend that much money on officials. Hence, I am doubling my expenses if I add chip timing. Any adds in participants due to chip timing will be fairly insignificant, at least not enough to offset the increased expense. If I have a crappy weather day, I take it in the shorts... I would like to see the MCF invest in chip timing, but there are reasons why I doubt that will ever happen...

Something that hasn't been mentioned at all is the greatest risk to races. It is Public Opinion. The average citizen doesnt want us on the roads getting in their way. It is getting next to impossible to hold a crit series within the metro area, and putting on a road race close to the metro area is also difficult. Notice that WISPORT races are in the boonies and put on by the local communities. We have been putting our races in the St. Cloud area because Jim Bell from Grandstay lives in the community and has contacts. Without that it's difficult for metro based teams to put on road races...

Mon Sep 11, 10:05:00 AM 2006

Blogger d said...

wow, fun issue. are you going to bring this up at the next mcf meeting?

Mon Sep 11, 01:06:00 PM 2006

Blogger Tuffy said...


If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you'll know that the one thing I despise most about cycling culture is the elitism.

Smug comments like the one you offer don't further the conversation. Additionally, comments like that only serve as a means of condescension from MCF insiders towards outsiders like myself.

The funny part is that I was at the last MCF meeting. I put some ideas out there. I vocally supported Dag's idea for citizen races at MCF events, but I proposed calling them "Category 5 races" instead. I vocally supported the idea of making race promoters make a down-payment on their calendar date.

But I detest political exercises, and that meeting was a political exercise. I was bored to tears at times because of the meandering discussions. I was disgusted at times by how transparently some people were only in attendance to further their own pet projects or agendas. I was frustrated as hell at times by the inability of some of the MCF "usuals" to think outside of the box. And I was appalled at how important and pressing issues were tabled until the meeting.

Needless to say, I won't be back. At least not until the MCF board consists of people who want to do something about the pig instead of talking about what color of bow tie to put around its neck.

Mon Sep 11, 05:00:00 PM 2006

Blogger d said...

The only way to change it is continue to go, get invovled at election time, and implement change.
If you knew me, it was not stated as smug comment. Get involved.
I would hardly be seen as an insider, other than maybe to my team.

Tue Sep 12, 09:08:00 AM 2006


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