Sunday, February 2, 2014

Changes to God's Country and Bone Bender

I sit here on this Sunday morning working.  Little bit of everything.  I usually have my year all planned out by now, but this year I have really been contemplating several changes and I am behind. Most of these changes are in what I do for fun which is usually outside riding - bicycles, gravel, motorcycles, single track, snow, etc. It doesn't matter what form, I enjoy it all.  As you know one of my biggest passions has always been racing.  You need people to put on these races and this is why I have been promoting races for over 12 years now.  There are only a few that will actually step up and make an event happen.   I mostly do it to give back to the sports I love.

The first change would be to one of the first events I ever helped promote - God's Country.   Gerard and I put on the first God's Country Off-Road Duathlon in 2001.  The turnout was very low.  This was most likely due to the torrential storms the night before and that the course was very technical since it was at Clinton Lake.
 Back then I knew a change in location was required for this event to succeed.  We moved the event to its current home of the Lawrence River Trails.  Long and Short course options were also added.  These changes proved to be very successful with nearly 225 participants in 2002. To this day Anita will still not help with race day registration due to all the people we had signup on race morning.

A couple of years ago we changed the name of our event to God's Country Fat Tire Festival.  The plan was a weekend of fun with several events.  Last years duathlon was again a success, but the cross country race was not very well attended as in previous years.   Was it due to lack of demand for those type of events?  Is March too early for a traditional cross country race?  One very important thing that must be present for an event to succeed is passion for that type of racing.  Luckily there were riders with passion that did come out last year and this is the only reason I am continuing on with this event with a little change this year.  The festival will be reduced to one day.  Our two main events will be the off-road duathlon in the morning and a mountain bike time trial in the afternoon. We also have plans for a short track mountain bike race to be added in the future if demand for early season mountain bike racing increases.  There are a lot of people in this region that enjoy off-road running and cycling.  We just need more of them to come out and try racing.  Hopefully these format changes will encourage more participation.
The second change will be the format of the Bone Bender mountain bike race.  Traditionally this event has been a 3/6 hour mountain bike race with solo and relay teams. The demand years ago for these timed events was high, but over the last couple of years timed distance events have fallen in favor of distance events.   This was actually my original idea when this event was created anyway.
The 6th Annual Bone Bender Mountain Bike Challenge will be a 50 to 60 Kilometer race (depending on final course).  Heather and I decided on this distance based on past demand and how long it would take the typical mountain bike athlete to complete this distance on the North Shore Trails of Clinton Lake State Park.  We will have a shorter course option available for beginners.  I believe this change will be positive and allow participants to set a personal challenge to meet. Complete details with be coming out later this month. 

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