is all about cultivating grassroots racing and giving back to the community. An interview with James of Quickdirt.com...
The full interview and Jame's website can be found here... Quickdirt
Picking up mid-stream...
In the meantime, check out my entire interview with Rody. It’s packed
full of tons of great information about the history and motivation of
the 331 Racing guys. 331 isn’t just about racing. It’s also about
building communities and helping Ohio’s youth to discover healthy
lifestyles through cycling. The more you learn about 331, the more you
want them to succeed.
James Knott: Can you give me a little background on 331 and your previous race experience?
331 Racing is comprised of five primary
members, all steeped in a background of bicycle racing. Sharing a
combined 75 years of racing experience, ranging from Leadville to RAAM,
we now focus our efforts in growing family oriented cycling events and
enriching grassroots racing in our region.
James: When you started 331 racing there were already several race
series in Ohio, what inspired you to start another race series?
Rody: 331 was born of necessity. A number of years ago, the property
known as Vulture’s Knob, one of the few privately owned but publicly
accessed mountain bike venues in our country, was in danger of being
lost to our cycling community. Up for sale and slated for development,
our small group of advocates came together to save this resource and
begin to provide a plan for protecting the property for open
recreational access for our lifetime. Noble gestures, however, still
take money. In devising a plan to achieve success, we were determined
to focus our efforts in a direction that would benefit others and grow
the sport of mountain biking. An opportunity existed to improve the
quality of the race experience for participants, focus on developing
more family oriented events, and return 100% of all proceeds back to the
sport we love. We have been successful beyond our expectations; final
paperwork is being completed as I type that will secure Vulture’s Knob’s
future access for all outdoor recreation, a summer youth cycling skills
development clinic series is in it’s fourth year, the Ohio
Interscholastic Racing League, a state wide high school mountain bike
series, just completed it’s first season, over 100 mountain bikes have
been given away to impoverished children through our donations to Bikes
for Kids, over $20,000 in monetary donations have returned to local
trail crews at each venue we visited to support their trail development
efforts, and our lobbying efforts have assisted IMBA grants and the
opening of a new trail system at Hardy Road in Akron, transitioning an
old landfill into a municipally supported mountain bike park. None of
this would have been possible if our local racing community had not
embraced our vision and supported us with their dollars…our success
belongs to you.
Do you see the other races as competition?
Certainly with multiple promoters vying for participant dollars,
competition inherently exists, even if promoter motivation and goals
differ. The benefit to the cycling community, however, has been
extremely positive; it is without refute that the promoters in Ohio have
stepped up their game, increasing the professionalism of events,
resulting in a higher level of customer service and experience.
How many people are involved in organizing these races and how much work goes into each one?
Folks have no idea how much effort goes into developing a quality
race series before the first tires even roll to the start line. The
amount of time and effort invested is staggering. Without a passion for
the sport, a desire to see it grow, and a need to give back to the
community, the personal effort could not be summoned. Kevin Daum has
been the primary administrator, shouldering the burden since inception,
while the rest of us contribute where we can to the organizational
model. The magic, however, happens on race day. We have been blessed
with like-minded folks who want to contribute to our vision, sacrificing
their time willingly to see it come to fruition. From family and
friends who help with registration and setup to safety crews willing to
attain the necessary medical training just to insure the protection of
their fellow riders, we have been blessed.
Is this your day job? Is running a race series a profitable activity?
Financial Officer, Engineer, Firefighter, and Small Business owner
are just some of the titles we share alongside the separate
responsibilities of operating 331 Racing, a venture that has no wage
earning employees. The monetary proceeds gained have allowed financial
support for multiple charitable projects to be successful, so yes, there
is money in being a promoter. Last season, 331 Racing put on a total
of 19 races, turning down an additional 26 requests from regional clubs
and venues wanting us to bring a race to them. Like any product, you
must create a market, meet customer needs, and personalize your product
to find success.
What is your favorite 331 race? Which is the most challenging? Which had the best attendance?
It would be fair to say that each of us has his own favorite race or
venue. My favorite would be the Vulture’s Knob Octoberfest race
weekend. Gathering our racing family together for a weekend of xc,
youth races, community dinner, and live music with a bon fire that can
be seen for miles is something special to experience. Sitting around
the tents sharing stories in the crisp autumn air before crawling into a
warm sleeping bag is the perfect way to end the season. In no other
cycling event have I experienced the friendship and camaraderie present
each year at this event, it’s not to be missed.
From a promoter’s perspective, the most challenging event is Manatoc
weekend. Organizing and executing a weekend of manufacturers demos,
youth racing, the opening OIRL race [Ohio Interscholastic Racing
League], and a huge XC event is quite stressful and labor intensive.
Hosting 2000 cyclists over two days can tire even the most passionate
On October 8th, you posted this to Facebook:
“All year we’ve been chasing the magical
number of 200 racers and have come within a hair of reaching that goal.
So we put this challenge out to you. 331’s involvement next season
depends on your participation. If we have 200 racers for our final XC
race on Sunday you can count on us to continue this same level of effort
for 2014…if we fall short, we’ll be satisfied with our achievements
thus far and will be scaling back to focus the extra time on the new
high school league and other opportunities.“
Did you hit your goal of 200 racers? Was the 331 Race Series
dangerously close to coming to an end or was this just a publicity stunt
to get racers to promote the event?
Given that the boys at 331 Racing are involved in so many charitable
projects, priorities must be determined so areas to invest our time can
be identified and focused upon. We’ve had great success in achieving
our goals thus far, however, it’s nice to have positive affirmation from
your customer base that the personal time sacrificed is valued…thus the
challenge. We did not meet the participation goal set for the final
cross country race, disappointing, but a clear statement from the
What changes can we expect to see in 2014 from 331?
In 2014 you will see a reorganization of priorities. A preliminary
race schedule of 6 races has been structured, allowing us to focus on
creating unique top tier events that are “must do” races for
participants. Additional resources are being added to the youth
development and OIRL series to continue to grow the future of our
sport. Time and monetary support will increase in collaborative efforts
with IMBA for the creation and development of new venues and
separately, the designation of “IMBA EPIC” status for some existing
systems, to encourage economic support from visiting cyclists. 331
Racing will continue to be a leader in our state and region,
passionately advocating for mountain biking, sharing our enthusiasm and
love of the sport…I hope you’ll join us in 2014.