Thursday, April 27, 2017

Let’s Take It Statewide

All of Wisconsin deserves a cyclocross series, not just the I-94 corridor.
Yesterday’s release of the 2017 WCA cyclocross calendar once again confirmed the big city bias of which I have written before. And I don’t mean that as an indictment of the people behind the series. It makes sense to hold races where a lot of people will attend and where the promoters can at least cover their costs. Where do you find a lot of people? In the I-94 corridor that connects Milwaukee and Madison.

Races in cities like Oshkosh and Wausau prove that even great promoters with great courses cannot count on the support of racers from the I-94 corridor. As I have said before, the big city racers are spoiled to the point where a lot of Milwaukee folks skip the Madison races and a lot of Madison folks skip the Milwaukee races! The SuperCup—the 12 races that actually count toward the series championship—is split evenly between Milwaukee and Madison. And only your best 6 results count in the SuperCup standings, so in theory you could win the championship without ever leaving your home territory.

Maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe Wisconsin is just too big for one series. It’s 430 miles from the Superior in the northwest to Kenosha in the southeast. This isn’t a small state and our population is not evenly distributed across it. So, what if instead of marginalizing races in cities like Oshkosh and Wausau, we made them important to their own series? Take the 18 races on the 2017 WCA schedule, pull out the state championship because it belongs to everybody, and split the others by region:

For now, drop the “best 6” provision and count all race results within each regional series. The “best 6” concept can be revisited if the regional series grow. And let them grow! Allow each region to establish its own schedule even if the dates conflict. Some will argue that to do so would be to split a finite pool of racers into too many small pieces, making it harder for promoters to attract enough racers to cover their costs. I don’t agree. We’re already split. Just look at the results of past races to see how reluctant racers are to leave home turf. The greatest challenge to multiple races on the same date may be the availability of USA Cycling officials. While I’m not sure we have enough at present, we can do more to attract, train, and then retain them.

What if you could add Green Bay and Appleton to SuperCup-North? What if SuperCup-North split into Northeast and Northwest someday after welcoming places like Superior, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and exurban Minneapolis-St. Paul into the fold? The current WCA model discourages racing in those parts of the state. There is and shall remain just one state championship, and it’s a big enough prize to pull in people from all over. But clearly the SuperCup is not. The “best 6” rule is itself a concession to the reluctance of racers to travel to every race in pursuit of every point. By splitting the series into regions, every race would matter again, if only within their own regions, and markets the WCA has either ignored or underserved would have a chance to develop.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the idea Dave! We in the north are excited to see this idea floating out there. Working on trying to get traction on it!