A new strategy for SoCal race teams: be more than a consumer

SoCal racing is declining in participation and events. At the same time, La Grange strives to promote the sport of bicycle racing by providing the best race day experience for our racers. This makes La Grange deeply invested in the SoCal racing scene. When SoCal racing is healthy, the racer experience and promotion opportunities are easy and sustainable. It is in our best interest to ensure SoCal bicycle racing is in good health.

For 2018, La Grange aims to help improve the health of SoCal racing through its Target Race Program. La Grange wants to be more than consumers in our small race community. We want to be stakeholders in the success of the races we attend, and we would invite other clubs to consider joining us by investing in the success of our sport.

We have selected 11 races to be on the 2018 La Grange Target Race Calendar. These races were designed to showcase the breadth of SoCal racing opportunities, from criteriums to road races to stage races, and were chosen by our Race Team Captains after spirited discussion, careful consideration and in strict alignment with our Race Team Mission Statement. For years, La Grange has reimbursed racers for race registration fees at a fixed rate per race. This year, we have opted to provide discounted entry to our racers for our Target Races by pre-paying those promoters for pre-registration voucher codes. We reach out to the promoters for our Target Races weeks to months before their events, to make this offer, and get money into the promoters’ hands early in their promotion timelines. Our racers still see the same benefit, but by getting the money into promoters’ hands early, we help reduce their financial uncertainty. 

At this point, we have secured arrangements with 7 of the 11 races on our Target Race Calendar. Race promoters have been enthusiastic about our program. They have shared with us their challenges in promoting a race, their financial risk, and the uncertainty of registration numbers; by pre-paying for our voucher codes, we help these promoters reduce that uncertainty and limit their risk.

We would invite other SoCal clubs that give race reimbursements to consider adopting this model. Your racers will receive the same financial support, and you can help improve the health and sustainability of SoCal racing. The USAC and BikeReg registration systems make it easy to set up pre-paid race entry vouchers, and the La Grange's experience, administering payments to a single promoter is measurably easier to deal with than reimbursing individual racers.

Another critical aspect of La Grange's 2018 Race Program is support for women's racing.  La Grange fields the largest active women's race team in SoCal. On any given weekend, you will typically see 15 or more women racing for La Grange, and the women's team often comprises half of the total La Grange contingent at a race.

Many race promoters see small women's fields and have opted to cut their opportunities to race. We find this unacceptable. La Grange is supporting women's cycling through, among other things, our Target Race Program, having made inclusion of races for women of all categories a prerequisite for selection to our Target Race Calendar and our corresponding financial commitment to the promoter. We are in active dialogues with promoters who support women's racing to get the word out, and our women's team is showing up in big numbers to support the promoters and races that have agreed to give women the opportunity to race. We invite other SoCal clubs and race teams, whether you field a women's team or not, to also make this a priority when you choose what races to target and how to support them.

That's our La Grange road race program for 2018 in a nutshell. We share this with the hope that it prompts new ideas from the rest of the racing community. We are exceptionally fortunate to have such great club members and sponsors that give us the means to pursue these initiatives as we seek to be a positive force in the SoCal racing community. Without them, we'd never be able to move the needle. They provide us with the means to execute on our convictions, and we for that we thank them greatly.

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