Thursday, August 14, 2008


last night at the wednesday night race moni announced that there were only 7 pre-registrations for the MB cup #5 this weekend at grand beach - ouch. cost of the race is not a factor, this one costs $10 if you pre-register. there has been all sorts of speculation as to why mtn bike racing has been hurting this year, whatever the reason things will have change for next year. having an organized race series is important to all cyclists, without it mtn biking would suffer (no trail development, kids-of-mud, rider development, etc.); somehow the racing community needs to figure this out; some ideas might be:
  • do not organize races during the holiday season (july and august)
  • have only 4 cup races and a provinical's
  • encourage citizen participation at these cup races - morden was a good example
  • have a kids of mud race at each cup race - it brings in the numbers, kids get see that adults do race, a parent might be encouraged to race
  • have a strong citizen friendly fun mid-week race series in several communities throughout manitoba - if people like it, they might be encouraged to try a weekend race (this has to be cheap, following the tuesday night toonie model used in other communities
  • encourage and promote the development of team racing, i.e. 8 hour races, 24 hour races, reach the beach, etc.

one thing has bugged me enormously this year has been the poor maintenance of the mca website, it has sucked this year; race updates take too long, not enough race promotion, and the page remains static and looks dead. the fix for this can be quite simple; take it out of the hands of one individual and put it into the hands of the community. web 2 technology allows for much easier information sharing than having the antiquated system of having a web master (we become their slaves) manage the content. a simple system can be easily be set up cheaply; take the calendar and race results for example, race organizers could use google calendar and documents to post the schedule and results - its not rocket science, nor does it need to be pricey. hell, this site does more to promote racing and cycling than the mca site.


The Dark Lord said...

The last race for which results have been posted was July 23. That's over three weeks ago. Since then there have been three races and two more that were cancelled. Draw your own conclusions.

PaddyH said...

wow...that's piss-poor...
personally, I think it's high time some clubs started using dif't venues, instead of jumping on the coat-tails of other clubs and using the same course 2 or 3 times a year.

Grand Beach is a fun place(and reliable in April) but where's La riviere, Seven Sister's, Brandon, Minaki???

wtf is with the MCA and it's commitee? racing in MB has been dying for at least 3 yrs now, wtf are they waiting for?

Anonymous said...

I have e-mailed The MCA quite a few times about the brutal updating of the site. I'm way outta touch with what's going on, being in Brandon, and need to know... especially when trying to get more people from out here racing. Your page and DaveD's is my only contact.

I'm pre-registered... so please let me know if it gets cancelled... thats 3hrs and 10mins each way of lost gas if it does!

I think BDN needs a race again too, but I'm still just looking for other racers out here, (and learning to race myself). Also seeing that many people not going to events close to WPG.. would they drive this far anyways?

I like your ideas about getting people interested in the sport... I have been trying all year to start a team, and it's only 10 mins from town to the hills here for sweet singletrack!!- hard to beat...

Hope to see some of you at the races... and maybe xc8 if I find some balls!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post regarding the race this weekend as I'm the one setting the course and it's nice to hear that someone still cares as the numbers weren't looking encouraging. I know it's only Grand Beach but I have a little something up my sleeve so look forward to a very different course. Unfortunately there isn't any new trails but you can definitely count on a new course layout.

Again thanks for the post and I look forward to hearing your post race comments.


Anonymous said...

Just a quick note on other venues. There was talk of holding our race at Eriksdale instead of Grand Beach this year in order to incorporate a new venue however this location is not an option at this time. We did head out to Eriksdale a few weeks back to meet up with the local Recreation Director and check things out. Unfortunately there isn’t much available for a mountain bike race as the only trail currently available is a lime stone packed trail through a marsh area and some gravel roads. On the up side the Rec Director is very interested on getting something going in the area so we provided him with some suggestions on how to get started and hopefully we can look at this venue again in a year or two.


halloewen said...

my conclusion is that organized cycling in not dead yet (it may be close though), it is just in need of some critical fixing. as i stated in my original post some of the traditional ways of thinking about organized cycling need to change and we should not give up on them without seriously trying to fix what is wrong - namely getting more people to come out to participate in these events. even with all of its problems the mca, organized events and clubs are too important to the cycling in this province. i don't mind the odd unorganized race amongst friends, but that has its limits. a bunch of people just riding does little in terms of young rider development (what are you going to do if your kid likes to cycle and they want to try racing and there is no way for them to pursue it), little in terms of proper trail development, and does not give people who want to learn how to race a safe venue in which to race. yes, we need to find a way to be less anal about certain aspects of racing, i just don't want be without some of those things that organized cycling brings to the community. the mca and organized clubs and events have some serious challenges ahead of them, losing what they bring to cycling would not be good.

Anonymous said...

I also am a bit confused as to the dwindling numbers. The race fees are down , the calender looks great and on the way to a comeback and the weather this summer was great.
What might be wrong is the piss poor job of who ever is at the helm of the mca (i really don't know) and the lack of innovative thinking. The web site is a joke, the advertising for events is literally as bad as it gets ( challenge me on that I dare you) and the seems to be no long term plan for where we are going.
I would like to say that this is the worst year ever but that wouldn't be true. The worst year ever was a few years back when a freakin Manitoba cup race was at burr oak. Can you imagine if someone from say Saskatchewan came to race and saw that venue for a cup race, they'd freakin laugh there asses off and never come back.

On the plus side is doesn't get any worse than this so things will definitely be on the up swing sometime.

as for why I won't be racing this weekend, well I have burned up my weekends off by going to 9 mile and need a weekend for the 100 miler in a few weeks. that and the fact that anyone who has ever met me knows I don't appreciate peddlers courses ( different riders like different things). I can also say that in my 13 years of racing in Manitoba (1995) I have actually only raced ant GB 6-8 times. so at least I'm consistent.

Dallas " the cross scene is saving this province." Sigurdur

Anonymous said...

The 2008 season has seen the introduction of Pinawa as a race venue, as well as the excellent Morden race. As Allan said, the Eriksdale venue was investigated but deemed not appropriate. So as far as venues go the clubs are definitely trying to expand the variety we have. That being said the past venues we have are available for next year such as Falcon Ridge and Brandon. We just need clubs to step up and decide to run their races there. The MCA had offered "learn to race" courses with qualified coaches but had a dismal response. The Kids of Mud association has been kickstarted this year and is still being ironed out. We had tried contacting "Brandon First" to organize some races there (road/mtb) but having a Wpg club organize it is not very practical-4 hrs driving to set up a course? We need Brandon riders to organize and associate with a club to ensure it goes well. Cycling seems to exhibit an up and down trend with road experiencing a huge downswing and mountain a smaller decling, but cyclocross is thriving. We need the Kids of Mud to promote the regular racing season and get kids to progress into the adult scene as our ranks are thinning, many are finished their racing careers but there are not enough younger riders moving into the regular season.
The website...yeah that's a problem. It is being worked on, we hope to have a user operated site-when I don't know. With the MCA operating for more than a year without an Exec Dir and then getting our new ED-he has had to play catch up-the board has had some huge challenges in the last 2 years. The cycling community needs to realize change comes from the individual committees/clubs and not the coordinators. One person cannot do all the work to make a program such as mountain biking run smoothly. This year has been an improvement as mountain bike has had some very active committee members and clubs that have stepped up to rescue this season. I hope to see the momentum continue and have some new blood join the committe to bring some new ideas and enthusiasm.
Rob Nagy
MTB/BMX Coordinator

halloewen said...

thanks for your input rob, it is good to get mca's side of the story. mtn and road cycling are both hurting and this is not the fault of the those who set the schedule and have done the organization, however, some new ways of attracting cyclists needs to explored; hopefully some sort of town-hall meeting can be set up to discuss these issues. the web-site, however, is a complete mess and it gives the impression that mca is in its death throes. the solution to this does not have to be overly complicated and can be done quite cheaply with free applications available on the web; one weekend's worth of work would see a series of blogs regarding racing, a calendar, and online document repository for race results that would be run by the community. i believe fixing this is crucial and should be a top priority regarding organized racing

Anonymous said...

hey novel idea....all MCA members are welcome to attend board meeetings - at least in the past, but if we do not know when board meetings are scheduled how can we attend?? There is also the AGM, and last year a DISAPPOINTING number of MCA members showed up, MAYBE just over 20 people cared to attend. Attending the AGM does not mean you will be voted into a board position it just means you care about the cycling commuminty and your cycling association. Sure having an opinion is nice, but unless you are willing to do something about it.......(fill in the blank)

Anonymous said...

this is GREAT to actually get some conversation going here.

good stuff, we need to get this stuff out in the open.

WEBSITE - this is the obvious one. it needs to be addresses ASAP. it has hurt us this season though. hopefully that gets cleared up soon.

COMMUNICATION - i think this the next major issue. we don't communicate well. with potential racers (advertising), with the community (organizers often just put up the date, a reg form and waiver). that is not enough. how about creating a little hype for your event?, maybe a web page and a trail map or explain that the race registration is $35 to raise funds. at the very least a course description and map.

we used to have a few newsletters a year on the web site. as well, we need a message/bulletin board on the MCA site. to help create a sense of community and where we can ask our questions about coming races and set up rides etc. where we can do this. the GForce site a few years back (by Neil Grover) was good for that. pity we need to do this in the comments of a blog!

when i started racing a few years back we used to get a small booklet from the MCA with our registration. it outlined the rules, had the schedule etc. great idea.

CLUBS - i have said it before (here), clubs need to get organized. the FGBC is a community of friends. they ride together for fun and enjoy each being together & BEER. Junk Yard Dogs also have that going on but more with a race orientation in Portage. that is what more clubs need to be, something more than just a bike shop jersey. people love being part of a community of riders, Gord also does this well. it takes a little bit of organization & a few key people (not just beer).

GET INVOLVED and SHOW UP. it is always the same few people doing ALL the work putting on all the races etc. i think most of us have NO idea of what all goes on at the MCA, the countless volunteer hours, meeting after meeting and then we thank them with our complaints. we all need to lend a hand, not just lob out complaints.

anyway, good to have some conversation going on. i think there have been some good things go on this season. and there have been attempts to do new things. new categories & points system. stage races in Swan River & Falcon Lake. new courses, Morden and Pinawa.

people WILL come to events if they are well run & advertised. i don't even think money is the issue or a summer issue. people want value and a sense of a quality run event. just posting a registration form and waiver and expecting people to show up does not cut it. clubs only have themselves to blame for that one. you get out what you put in. minimal effort gets minimal results.

BTW - how many people know that the Provincial will using the OLD category system? Sport, Expert and age categories. unless you open the registration form, there is NO mention of that.

i think we are at a CRITICAL time, we all care about the sport and need to pull together.

Kevin B

penner said...

Interesting that this BLOG has been the forum of an important discussion.

My input into this dialog is from the perspective of parent, coach and novice MTN racer. When I have been able to race, I have truly enjoyed the experience. I also have been coaching KOM for several years; have gone through the MTN bike coaching programs provided by the MCA. I am excited when ever any of the KOM kids participate in the "MCA" events and I can vouch that the experience has overall been positive. With KOM numbers growing the KOM race series became too cumbersome to run on Thursday evenings. The turnouts were great, and the kids had some good introductions to the race program. There were certainly some glitches with start times etc but overall, not bad for the first year of transition.
I however was disappointed with some comments heard while at these races. There were negative comments voiced, overheard by myself and some other parents in my club (two of these parents were racing in the day when many of us were still using training wheels). The gist of the comments were , that the KOM participation was inconvenient , delayed start times, created disorganization, ant not necessarily a welcome addition.
It is hard to respond to that as a coach, two different events, similar comments, a minority I would hope. The KOM has close to 300 participants� this future we need to embrace, and accept it, and develop it.
From the perspective of a parent/ coach and participant; if MTC racing is to survive, long with the previously stated points; web development, advertising, increased club involvement, new venues I would like to add that we need should not overlook our future and embrace what KOM has to offer.

Brian Penner
�The figurehead� president of the FGBC.

The FGBC existed without any bikes or biking for some time.
Read the archives

halloewen said...

AGM's are the official venue for discussion; the trouble with them is they're AGM's and that forum alone is enough to scare off most people because too often it is a state of the union address (having attended more than my share of the AGMs). i for one will attend this year's AGM because anonymous is right in that it is a forum for the type of problem solving that needs to be accomplished. however, other forums, such as this blog, are also an excellent way of sharing ideas and opinions. the benefit of this format is its currency and the that they allow for ongoing discussion; conversation that needs to occur throughout the year, not just once a year.

Anonymous said...

You are right Rob,

We do need Brandon riders, and since I'm the only one involved in racing,(there is some tri guys here). I still need to figure how to get more people involved... even just to help with 1 race a year. The MTB guys here have either tried races long ago, and didn't enjoy it , or just don't want to bother, and most of my buds are golf/hockey/baseball players. I'm loving racing, and the people I've met, but that doesn't seem to coincide with getting more BDN riders.(we have no club!)

The hills here are even hard to keep from being overgrown, with the few that do anything. That's why most of us just ride them spring and fall.

Maybe I need to get a Beer sponsor, like these guys... I know it would attract me!

Anonymous said...

i just went to the link for the toonie race series. i suggest you all check out that site. it is great, well organized, communicates well, easy to find stuff.

interesting that is seems the organization puts on the races and bike shops are "sponsors" for the events, not the organizer (as far as I could tell).

the new KOM site is also very good.

The Dark Lord said...

Good discussion. At least this shows that there's a critical mass that cares about the apparent mess we're in. I suppose that's good news.

Sadly I will miss the AGM and any other forum that takes place over the winter. But I look forward to seeing how they do things in North Carolina. My advance scouting suggests that they are much less bound to a centralized body like the MCA. There is one that represents both North and South Carolina, but there is all kinds of other stuff going on that isn't sanctioned by it or otherwise routed throught it. At the same time, there is a handful of independent promoters putting on series of various types. I suppose these are what we would call "events." They are usually well advertised, which really doesn't happen here, as has been pointed out. But they also seem to be far more prominent and well attended than something that would compare to our mtb cup races.

Also, if the MCA website continues to suck, feel free to send race results to They will be posted right away. I promise.

Anonymous said...

Another thing I don't understand is how the MCA office can be closed for two to three weeks in the summer. WTF? This is a summer based sport primarily and vacation time should be worked in this important factor. Not having an open office tells me the position required now isn't as required as one would think.
The KOM is a great thing but as I told Alan R if the kids keep leaving around university age then all that is being accomplished is a facade. We need people to realize that cycling in all it's aspects is a sport for life like running, skiing, rowing etc. Right now it is pretty much only hardcores over 21 and sport babysitting for the younglings.
It's a change in the mind set we need, just like getting people to realize that commuting to work on a bike is a legit option. Not just for the poor and DUI crowd.

Another thing need is someone to find out if we can vote by proxy for the elected positions like everything else in life. There is no need for 500 loud opinionated fools like myself to be in the room when I can have a like minded individual voice our collective opinion. (I'm looking for a hard core dictator who legitimately loves cycling as a whole)

I also would like to state again that race fees are a concern when there is a great chance you might be racing next to nobody or just your friends. Thats what throw downs are for.

Now that I think of it another bullshit rule is this pre registration thing. If the person has registered then there is no need to make them get to the venue 1.5 hours early for no reason. People have other things to do in life other than stand around a parking lot waiting for the two seconds it takes to sign there name. Call the names out at the start if they answer then it's a go if not it's a charitable donation.

What's so hard about that?

Maybe if we had riders in the Seniors races then I could see it but there is nobody racing and we pretty much know each other anyway. In fact right now I say mens racing has become what the poor women have dealt with the last few years, sparse competitors and a guarantied placing. In my mind there is no glory in finishing something and by default placing because you showed up.

Provincials should be interesting with these recent changes in the field numbers. $15 for a medal:)

My last rant is that maybe one key thing is being forgotten and that racing is a user pays recreation and at anytime if the consumer thinks it's not worth it the whole thing goes down the shitter. The bike shops will keep on selling to the suburban garage crowd but the sport will dissolve. we are the ones who loose not the stores or parks.

Dallas " Deep down inside you know when something was earned or given." Sigurdur

Anonymous said...

I rarely speak out, but due to the love of this sport, allow me a few sentences.
MCA has functioned without an ED for an unfortunate amount of time. Our new ED is a breathe of fresh air, attends races, and competed in his first mountain bike race this summer.
I believe this is only the start, and given time I expect a strong guiding force coming from MCA. (long range planning, marketing, sponsorship, new venues, youth advanced training etc.) But he needs us!

Those of you at the committee level know the amount of effort Rob and the cmte leaders put in to bringing you the current full racing schedule. We are burning these folks out. They need us!

Mountain bike racing is a "suffer fest", where we hang on as long as we can without blowing up or crashing. That is why there is only the "hard core racers" left. There is nothing fun about this,so why would a video game inclined teenager, or a pudgy 40+ guy who wants to get healthy start racing? Unless we make it fun, we won't see new racers.
After many years of working with Kids of Mud, there is a very small number of them that will attend a Wednesday night BHP or Cup race, even though, we as coaches encourage them, and offer to drive them.
I raced 18 races last year, from Icebike to the 'cross finale. There can't be many places with our population base that host that kind of a schedule? Perhaps, it is too ambitious, and fewer races, held outside of July and August would be better attended?
In the last two years, Pinawa, Morden, and Altona have been added to our race locations. That is fantastic! Another coup for our thankless volunteers and clubs.

I may be looking at this with my normally optimistic view, but I don't see a crisis with MCA, the ED or the Cmte's. I see a solid base from which the energy and ideas of this blog can be channeled.
Thank you for your time,
Bill Algeo

Luc said...

after not reading nay of this i'll just add, i'm just tired of racing grand beach and bur oak.

in the three-ish years ive been racing, ive only ever been to grand beach, sandilands bur oak and birch.

it seems every other race is either on some dumb day or cancelled....

halloewen said...

last word for me.

bill is right, the committees put it a lot of work and never receive enough credit for the work they do. this is not a criticism of their effort and work, it is just a voicing of concern about organized racing and how we have failed to make it attractive to draw in new people.
the race does not have to be a suffer fest (it will be for those who want it to be) however, it will always be challenging. if you like the challenge and you want to try and push your limits then you can turn it into a suffer fest because that is what is going to turn your crank. our goal is to have people come out and enjoy the recreation of mountain bike racing and the people who make up the racing community.

most of what has been expressed here is the opinion of harder core racers who make up just one part of the race experience. if we want to attract more racers it is incumbent on us to make sure that we encourage all those who show up on the line. the riders in elite, expert and comp have to be ambassadors of the sport - otherwise we will not have anyone new coming into the game. for that matter, to me the most important award in recreational sports has always been best sportsmanship award - that person means more to the sport than the one who wins all the race points.

Anonymous said...

The results from WNR this past week and Grand Beach this Sunday will be posted on: as I maintain that site (thanks to CJ from Alter Ego who set it up for us).

Our intention was to never cancel the race - our point was that in order for organizers to organize we depend on pre-registration. How else can we plan our event? Races do come at a cost for organizers - medical, equipment, food, toilets, official - we would like to at least break even.

OK....I will not comment anymore as enough has been said.


Anonymous said...

Just to let you all know, I had a phone conversation with Ron Brown at the MCA this AM, and the concerns everyone is expressing are not being ignored.

Ron is on the same page. He inherited a less than ideal situation and he has not been able to update the site himself (as already pointed out). He is working on getting the website issues worked out and a new site is under development. Like any organization, things don't move as quickly as we would all like.

As well, he has also recognized many of the other issues we face locally. He has some GREAT ideas, seriously.

I just wanted to let you guys know, the situation is not being ignored and I believe more positive progress is going to be made.

Kevin B

asdkjfhkj said...

Hi all,

I just found this link today while reading Dave's blog. Just a quick background, I used to race KOM in the late 90's, I had tonnes of fun but for w/e reason stopped racing after I was too old for KOM. This is my first season back in racing after mannny years. I couldn't believe how much the numbers had dropped since I used to race. This doesn't deter me from racing it was just a surprise (I remember MB cup at Falcon with so many riders it was crazy).

I think as some of you stated venue is important. I remember racing at Birch right before Pan Am Games, it was a blast.

I would say another important area for me would be a local cycling club that I could join with a focus on racing. I am not aware of any locally(probably exist I just didn't find any). I think if groups like this existed (or were better advertised) more people would join up. I have quite a few cycling buddies but the idea of racing is intimidating to them, which I think is sort of dumb.

Anyway hope you guys/girls keep up the great work, I have had a blast this year and look forward to placing a little better next season :)

Anonymous said...

"My last rant is that maybe one key thing is being forgotten and that racing is a user pays recreation and at anytime if the consumer thinks it's not worth it the whole thing goes down the shitter. The bike shops will keep on selling to the suburban garage crowd but the sport will dissolve. we are the ones who loose not the stores or parks."

Thank you Dallas for this quote....finally. This entire discussion could actually be boiled down to this one paragraph. Bottom line is the MCA is you, me and everyone else who gives a fiddler's fart about these 3 things: Cycling, Manitoba & Association (read: Community). Find a club, join it and do something to make it better. 9 out of 10 people posting to this blog should consider being on the MCA board. Put your money where your mouths are (read: put your time/effort where your complaints are) people and make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Just read my comment again and it sounds harsher than I meant it to be.....what I mean is that 90% of the comments here are coming from people who clearly have something that all volunteer driven amateur sports need - people with passion, vision and good ideas. I just meant to convey my sincere hope that these constructive criticisms will not just live and die here on this blog...

Anonymous said...

This IS awesome!

I am not sure how cycling in Manitoba can be dead with all the passion in this blog.

A couple of years ago cyclists in Portage had some major concerns with the MCA Board as well. So I stepped up to be VP on the board...pretty steep learning curve, but I love it! Even the critism...assuming you are with me to fix it!

Way to go Karin (co-owner of the MCA - with every other member).

If you don't like how a club runs a race (join the club and help out), if you don't like the board (run for a position), if you don't like your bike (give it to someone who could use it and get yourself another one), if you don't like to help (than you may have to get used to all this).

Can you use your passion to move the sport forward?

Mike Caslor, VP MCA