Mid-Atlantic MTB Racers,
Potomac Velo Club is not planning to put on the Greenbrier Challenge AMBC race in 2016. This will be a surprise to many, and certainly bad news for most of you, at least initially. Please see below for our rationale and for some options we are considering.
Potomac Velo Club has run Greenbrier as an AMBC, State and Regional Championship race for the last 12 years in order to give opportunities to local racers to achieve results that will have national and world significance. However, after discussing the pros and cons for doing the Greenbrier Challenge race in 2016, the PVC Board of Directors was unanimously convinced that we should take a one year break from running the race in 2016. We currently plan to consider doing a 2017 AMBC race depending on developments in national mountain bike racing.
Some of the many negative factors for 2016 include:
- Rising costs at the same time that MTB racer numbers have steadily declined, so that in 2015 we were on the razor’s edge of breaking even. While we are not in this for the money, in 2015 PVC was just $240 in the black on this race despite $3000 in contributions from two county Visitors Bureaus. A 2016 race was predicted to be unaffordably in the red for our not-for-profit club.
- Absence of national level race opportunities on the east coast to justify racers to buy Annual USAC Licenses and to be involved in USAC races. We have communicated to USAC about this.
- Severely increased restrictions on which lower-category racers (basically only Beginners with no previous licenses) may buy a one-time, one-day license. This is probably the biggest factor, wiping out many Beginners and most of the Sport class of riders which account for over 1/2 of Greenbrier racers previously.
- The decision by the MASS series to drop Greenbrier from its series as it pulls itself back into a Philadelphia-centric series, thereby taking away an additional significant number of 2016 racers.
- Recent shifts of racer interest to longer, multi-hour races and other events such as Gran Fondos and Dirt Festivals.
We plan to observe USAC moves in 2016 and racer interests before constructing our plan for 2017. USA Cycling is the one internationally recognized US sanctioning body for bicycle racing and it continues to get our support, along with our advice. It is the path to international and World Championship level racing, as well as the official body to qualify athletes to the Olympics. If you really want to go anywhere higher than a local level, i.e. to the regional, national or world level of racing, USA Cycling affiliation is where you want to go. PVC has always been one of the foremost supporters of USA Cycling racing in the Mid-Atlantic and want to provide connections for Mid-Atlantic racers to gain national, regional and state achievements through the USA Cycling (USAC) structure, creating stepping-stones to even higher levels. One PVC racer has progressed through the structure to become a UCI Pro road racer, and several PVC racers have been on the US Team to the MTB Masters World Championships. We’d like every racer to have a path to get the excitement and satisfaction from racing that we have gotten.
PVC will continue to put on the 4-race Wednesdays-at-Wakefield MTB training series. As an interim substitute for Greenbrier in 2016, PVC is considering a couple of options, including the potential of a traditional 2-3 hour daytime MTB race as an addition to our Wednesdays-at-Wakefield schedule. We’re just getting plans together for our Board to discuss those opportunities. We do want to give local riders some good races to go to.
PVC has greatly enjoyed putting on AMBC and state/regional races in the past, and have appreciated your support in those. We think USA Cycling is the path for higher level achievements for racers. We hope to see positive developments in USAC support of mountain bike racing in the future.
Thanks for your support,
Potomac Velo Club