Friday, September 25, 2015

What does it mean to race?

“So are you riding in Dr. Knob’s Malevolent Team Challenge on October 10th?”

It’s a question I’ve asked a lot of folks as the date draws near.  Some respond with an enthusiastic “YES, can’t wait!”, but many give me an automatic response… “No, I’m not a racer, I just enjoy riding for fun.”

That’s disappointing, let me share why.

Whether the trails you enjoy riding are privately held or on public land, the monetary burden of maintaining these trails often falls to local volunteer groups who have embraced the effort of maintaining and improving the trail systems to the benefit of all.  Though their time is given freely, tools, materials, insurance, and requisite permits/fees are not.  That money has to come from somewhere.  With government budgets under the scrutiny of the public eye, that money must often be generated by private groups who care enough to see the trails thrive. 

Here in Ohio, revenue is commonly the result of participation in our local races.  331 Racing and the OMBC both host races on private/public trail systems with proceeds from the race fees returning to the venues to be used by the local advocates.  Your race dollars are going back into the trails you are gliding across, administered by the folks who care the most about them. 

In the case of Vulture’s Knob, we toe a very tight financial line.  Unlike public lands that have the ability to include rider liability into their overall insurance policies, funded by a large tax base, this property must stand alone and pay for its participants each season.  We generate income through two primary revenue streams; donations and race participation.  Donations yield about $1500.00 a year, leaving a gap of approximately $8500.00 annually to cover insurance, utilities, maintenance, and any improvements we wish to make to the trail system.  That’s no small potatoes.

I implore you, re-define your perspective on what it means to participate in your local races. 

Some race to set performance goals, push physical limits, and compete; it’s about going fast and we welcome that.

There is, however, another relevant perspective; racing is an element of community participation and support.  It’s part of a movement to support your trail systems, creating a sense of advocacy, ownership, and contribution to a larger goal.  Race participants are the financial backbone of many of our trails, creating recreational opportunities for all to enjoy, from cradle to grave.  Regardless of whether you stand upon the podium or just finish with a smile, race participants are stewards of our trails. 

For us, it’s about giving back to something you believe in.  Vulture’s Knob allows us to share our love of mountain biking with others in a way that is unique, special, and is held tightly in our hearts.
“So are you riding in Dr. Knob’s Malevolent Team Challenge on October 10th?”
I hope you will join us?