by Tim Westmore
Only two hours or less from most locations in the Bay Area, Sacramento is a reachable destination that too often remains far away culturally from its coastal neighbor. But it is does have in common the focal point for a terrific off-road cycling and cyclocross scene. The 2011-12 Cyclocross season will be the second with Brian Joder of BicyclingEvents.com as the promoter for the Sacramento Cyclocross Series. The events were well organized last season, after Joder took over a series that had been successfully built up for three years by Rich Maile. Now approaching his second season, Joder will look toward continuing its growth. This interview explores Joder’s expectations and thoughts for the upcoming ‘cross season.
Westmore: At the last event for the 2010-11 season, you said the Sacramento Cyclocross series went extremely well. With hindsight, do you still feel that the series was successful?
Joder: I do still think we did pretty well and that for a first year we did a lot of things right. Attendance was up over [the previous season] and we were able to add three more races so yes, I am pleased. Many racers were probably “holding their breath” as to what a new promoter would do with this series, especially one that promotes mostly mountain biking. I think my crew and I have put most if not all of those fears to rest. No race or Race Director is perfect, but I feel we satisfied a very large percentage of racers that attended our events.
TW: What were some of the highlights from last season?
BJ: Well, let me see: nice full classes, great racing conditions, horrible racing conditions, the fun and competitive camaraderie, some great new venues, [and] a lot of smiling dirty faces.
TW: What changes are you implementing for the 2011-12 season?
BJ: One small schedule change, in keeping with tradition, we are moving the A’s to the last race of the day. Other than that, we will have a couple venue changes and for the most part keep our current way of running races.
TW: This summer, you mentioned your intention to take one event and “move westward” this season. What is the venue for this event?
BJ: Well, we did not get as far west as we liked, but we managed to secure the College Cyclery Compound in West Sacramento.
TW: How does the Sacramento Cyclocross Series fit into the sports well being in Northern California, the State, and the Nation?
BJ: The popularity of cyclocross is definitely on the rise. It is a new and fresh event for many racers [and] we get a lot of first timers checking out cyclocross. We have a lot of great venues in Northern California. I could easily see a national event being put on here. The City of Folsom has even suggested/encouraged such an event.
TW: The Sacramento Cyclocross series has some notable competitors … including Cody Kaiser, Bjorn Fox, and Masters National Champions, John and Linda Elgart … these racers often travel to a face the competition at other NCNCA events. How will the Sacramento ‘Cross community benefit from including more Bay Area competitors?
BJ: I think the variety of racers will also increase the quality of racers. The racers you mention always bring something special to any race, it is great to see that level of competition, and also to know they started their careers in our area.
TW: Do you have an advantage over other cyclocross promoters from Northern California/Northern Nevada given your operations outside of the NCNCA and USA Cycling?
BJ: Well, if you look at the Bay area races they are not USAC and they get a great draw so I do not really think we have an advantage over one series or another (in that respect). I think for certain events USAC is needed, but more importantly I feel running our races in our own format allows us to accommodate a larger range of racer, specifically the new racer who does not want to get a license just to get a taste of cyclocross racing. It generally makes it more affordable and allows me, the race director a lot of latitude when running a race. That said, we do look at the governing bodies when it comes to rules and regulations to try to keep some consistency for racers who do race USAC events.
TW: What are the attractions for the Bay Area ‘Cross community to compete in the Sacramento Cyclocross series?
BJ: As I mentioned, the cyclocross scene is growing and this also means the number and quality of racers is growing. As you pointed out, we have some fast local racers. The competition between the bay area and foothill racers will make for some great racing; this also adds to more spectators who attend the events.
TW: What other reasons would attract Bay Area competitors to the Sacramento Cyclocross series?
BJ: I would say that we have some great venues, run a well organized event and [have reasonable] fees. On top of that we have a very high end chip timing system developed by us: instant scoring, EZ registration etc. We do everything we can to make it a great racing experience.
TW: You have some great support for your events from TimeYourRace.com and Ace Course Design Company. Can you say something about this and other sponsors?
BJ: TimeYouRace was started a couple years ago by Gene Redmon and [me] specifically to tackle the issues of complex scoring situations in every type of race or race series imaginable. We then integrated our own “chip” timing into Gene’s software as well as online registration. We have been very successful with the complete package. It has allowed us seamless instant results even when we’ve had 500+ racers and 30+ classes racing at the same time – it’s one of our best tools and a favorite of the racers as well.
Ace Course Design Company (ACDC) is Asa Salas, an integral part of our crew. She is the whiz behind most of the courses. She has a “PhD” in trail building and competes in all cycling disciplines. This allows her to build some great courses and understand them from the “inside out.” She even races some of her own courses when she can, she’s a great competitor.
The sponsors last year were great, especially since we took over the series a bit at the last minute. Most of the main shop teams in town stepped up to the plate and contributed everything from prizes to people power. It is this type of support that allows a series like this to be successful and also keeps the community as a whole involved.
TW: Do you have any other comments or thoughts about last years or this year’s cyclocross season?
BJ: Only that if you have even the slightest interest in cyclocross racing, I would encourage you to come out and give it a try. We still manage to keep a pretty easy going atmosphere and fun is always a priority. I would also like to say thank you to all those that helped out last year and we look forward to another great season.
The upcoming season’s event calendar for the Sacramento Cyclocross Series is available on-line at http://www.bicyclingevents.com/SacCx/ as well as the NCNCA CX Calendar.