I think it is a given that we need to attract more people to the sport of Adventure Racing.   The question is who and how?  The two most common barriers to entry that I hear are 1) It’s too expensive; 2) It sounds very hard, I couldn’t possibly do something like that.  Yet every year we see 24 hour mountain bike relay events sold out.  Somehow we need to tap into that market.  A market of predominantly weekend warriors with an increasing number of hard(er) core athletes.  If we can tap into that market and still manage its price points I think we can get more people into adventure races between 6 and 12 hours long.

From years of personal experience I know that anybody who can compete in a 5 person relay team can complete an 8 hour AR (barring mechanicals, injuries, etc).  With a personal portfolio of almost a dozen 24 hour relay events I was craving something that was less about going in circles and more about a journey.  A journey that could be shared with others.  Don’t forget that while a 24 hour relay is considered a team event, each rider is on the course by him/her self relative to his/her team.  AR is great in that you travel the entire course with all of your teammates.  You all get to share in the highlights as well as the lowlights. 

The now defunct Hardwood Raid was a great transition event for 24 Hour mountain bikers looking for something a little more adventurous without committing to the unknown of their first AR.  Since it is no longer held I have often wondered what would happen if a company such as Chico racing (Ontario, Canada) applied their considerable expertise to a similar event.  It could be done late in the season well past their highly profitable 24 hour relay series to ensure they don’t affect those sales.  They could easily promote a mountain bike raid within their summer races, even offering free entrance as part of the overall prizing.  Furthermore, if they partnered with a great AR organizer such as Frontier the two would be able to create a formidable event. 

The Sea Otter Classic in California has been an annual occurrence in the mountain bike race calendar for many years is introducing an adventure race this year.  It doesn’t sound like it would be too challenging for veteran A Racers but it might go a long way to introducing mountain bikers to our favourite sport.  I will be following the Sea Otter Classic a little more closely this year.  For more information check out the Adventure Racing News on checkpointzero.com.

Link to Adventure Racing News