Cross Nationals Technical Guide – Ouch

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I just happened upon the USAC Cyclocross Nationals Technical Guide yesterday.  Here is a link to it.  I can say that I am not that thrilled.  I like the fact that the race is being held on the Biltmore Estates.  I’ve had good experiences there over my lifetime.  But, the way the technical guide makes it appear, it might turn into a mess.  Here’s my favorite section –

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I know that everyone involved in the sport understands how equipment heavy the sport of cyclocross is.  The underlined sentence is very worrisome.  Limited parking and shuttling bikes and equipment to the venue is really just about the worst possible scenario for cyclocross.  A high priority at cross races needs to be easy access to the venue by all riders and support. There is nothing like a bunch of adrenaline jacked bike racers getting directed away from the course when they are trying to get to their race.

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The guide can’t say how much the wristbands are, even though it is just 2 weeks from the event when it was revised.  I called the number and couldn’t get ahold of a person to ask.  Whatever the number, it is too much.  This sport isn’t about milking the competitors out of every penny they can.  This is a National Championship and that is all.Entrance fees to competitors or for your family/support to enter is total BS.

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And finally, the prize list.  I don’t remember there ever being a prize list, but I could be wrong. So, is this a good thing?   Not really.  Giving this amount of money out is an insult to the Elite riders.  So, if you get 5th, you get your entry back?  So, there are really only 4 places, because 5th is a push.  I won more than this for winning a Master’s cross race in Oklahoma this year.  I’m thinking I won $1000 for the first MTB Nationals back in 1983.  I’ll leave it at that.

I’m hoping the best for the race.  I’m sure the promoters know their responsibilities and a up to speed with most of the issues.  But when there are these disclaimers in the technical guide, it worries me. I think that the USAC should have maybe checked out the venue more if the limited parking and shuttling warnings turn out to be true.   This could turn the event into a cluster.

Just received the following email tonight  —

Parking and biking at The Biltmore Estate 

With Biltmore Estate being very large, please allow at least 45 minutes to get through the gate, into parking lots and shuttle to the event. Upon arrival, you will pass through the first Lodge Gate, then up to the second admissions gate to show your access wristband.

Vehicles with equipment to drop off near the course, will be directed to the Antler Hill Village (AHV) drop off location. You will then be directed to shuttle lots and receive shuttle service to get back to the race venue. The shuttle lots are not within walking distance. There is limited first come first serve parking at the race venue in AHV lot. Once AHV is full, vehicles will be directed to shuttles lots and transported to the course. Drop off and pick up locations will have the shuttle times, please take note of shuttle end times each day. Shuttles will not be equipped to carry bikes or other large items.

Hotel parking lots are reserved for hotel guests only.

Parking along the shoulder of roads or other non-parking areas are subject to towing and fines.

If you have a trailer/RV or other large vehicle you will be directed to a trailer overflow lot. Please note there is no overnight RV parking permitted. Trucks, trailers, vendors and expo attendees with pre-authorized AHV parking passes, will be director to AHV for designated parking.

If you wish to ride your bike to the race venue, the Biltmore is allowing bicycles on the roads specifically for our event. Road rules will apply to all bicycle traffic. There are three options for you to bike to the race venue. The Farm Trail is a weather dependent biking trail and we will send updates if this trail closes during the event to direct you to the other biking options. There will be bike valet at AHV near the expo. Please be aware there is no biking on any trails marked, private, do not enter, wrong direction, equestrian or hiking trails. Please take caution in heavy pedestrian traffic areas.

Please plan to take your time upon arrival and enjoy the beauty that Biltmore has to offer.

If you have questions please contact the Biltmore at 866-851-4661 Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Best Regards,

18 thoughts on “Cross Nationals Technical Guide – Ouch

  1. wheelman61

    I wonder what will happen when the staff at Biltmore Estates sees the kind of damage a cross event creates? Will they shut things down to save the facility?

  2. Thom

    ‘Cross is working class cycling. Biltmore Estate? Not so working class. I don’t see this as a match made in heaven. Sincerely hope it works out. I’m not far away in Athens, GA; might try to drive up to spectate.

  3. Dixon Miands

    Well wait till Hartford – parking in a rough area. The entire area has potential to flood. Past event there have been cancelled because it was under water. The races there also are pretty bland. It’s would be hard to believe they chose the site until you realize it’s USA Cycling.

  4. Christopher N

    As an Austin resident who attended last year, I wish I submitted somewhere a photo of the fully, naturally, repaired fields only a month after the event. I just laughed at how it’s occurrence was barely perceptible all said and done. Grass grew back and paths were gone. Before parks and rec come at me, their precise problem hinged on paths coming too close to certain trees and their exposed roots. Maybe so. It was a wonderfully sloppy mess out there.

  5. Todd

    Knowing the promoter, Tim Hopkin, I give him the benefit of the doubt. But for those looking to “trust but verify”, here’s a bit more about him: founder and promoter of the NCCX series since 1997 (annual 15 race series including a two day UCI C2 event in Hendersonville which Steve has raced), has competed in every National CX Championship that I can recall at least back to 2007 in KC, was in Austin last year and has given videotaped interviews (CXMagazine, I think) about contingency planning, specific arrangements with Biltmore, and other steps to prevent the breakdowns that occurred in Zilker Park last year, has run 4 NCCX series races at Biltmore Estate the past two years, and is the Director of a County Parks and Recreation Department. He knows a tremendous amount about public relations, dealing with USAC, repairing turf, and other key logistics. His background is ideal for this. Lastly, Tim’s just a genuine, humble person and well-grounded leader.

    FYI – The Estate is privately-owned and run for profit. They are vigorous about protecting their brand and their grounds (hence the stern warning about parking on the grass at roadside), but know exactly what they are getting into based on the past few year’s races there. They charged a small fee for the races the past 2 years — maybe $6 pp for both days. It’s for admission to the Estate since you can drive around and experience it all. It’s not an admission fee from USAC.

    Regarding the shuttles, yes, that will be less than ideal, but my prediction is that the strength of the venue will outweigh this downside. Plan ahead with a buddy to help at the drop-off, and the ride to the course shouldn’t be a hardship. I recall a pretty long ride/walk to my car in KC in 2008 (“up hill both ways”).

    I agree about the pay-out. If accurate, then why bother?

    Fortunately, the weather looks solid next week. We’ve had very warm temps (60-75°F) and lots of rain here in central NC the past 3 weeks. The recent heavy rains clear out tomorrow and the forecast in Asheville is for mostly sunny and no more precip all the way through the Elite races. Best all, low 50°’s are forecast all the way through Nat’s, so a warm-up/down ride to the car won’t induce hypothermia.

    Nearly perfect cross weather, I would say, with the potential for memorable course conditions and excellent spectating. Come one, come all.

  6. Steve Tilford Post author

    Todd-Thanks for the insight. Obviously, you are much more knowledgeable about the specifics than the USAC technical guide. I’m sure I’ve met Tim. I’ve raced in Hendersonville and the race was spot-on perfect. Hopefully, these issues will just turn out to be precautions. Like I said, I love the Biltmore Estates and am hoping for the best.

  7. Maggie

    We went for a “test race” at The Biltmore in last season’s NCCX series. We LOVED it. I think we may have had to pay $8 for my spectator’s weekend wristband and my guy’s was less as he was racing. The event was well run and we had a really great experience. Clearly they have had a race here more than once. I felt like they did a good job of letting the race happen with beer, cow bells, & megaphones all right next to a petting zoo and winery (and the visitors those attractions bring).

    If the winery is packed as it was last year, parking will be a problem.

    The only other thing I would note is the food for sale by The Biltmore is ridiculously expensive. I thought I saw something about food trucks, so that might be better than our $10 tiny dry BBQ and $4 6oz drip coffee. We packed extra snacks for day two.

  8. Cody

    Other things that have changed since 1983 – now you can take a screen shot of a part of your screen sho you don’t have to do it with your phone.

  9. Bad memories of Austin's screw up

    The wristbands are $15.00 per person for the week, and speaking of weak, from the Asheville Cyclocross Nationals site:

    “… we have been asked to not broadcast that publicly. And we know that sounds bad, but a condition we must follow. It’s not expensive and a quick phone call and you can tell all your friends. Sorry we can’t say more.”

    The heck!?! They are prohibited from disclosing how much it costs?
    Just possibly the worst marketing ploy ever.

    Seriously, on top of entry fees, hotel, gas, etc. I’m getting socked for fifteen bucks by the Biltmore?

  10. Touriste-Routier

    I understand paying an undisclosed facility fee on top of a race entry fee is less than desirable for race entrants. However for family and spectators, and perhaps for support staff, it isn’t unreasonable. Many people complain about the financial sustainability of the sport. Having a gate fee could help bolster race budgets, as the sport develops.

    While it appears that this fee is going straight to the Biltmore, we don’t know what the Biltmore is charging the race organization. Perhaps it is off-setting some costs. Of course clearly communicating the details of the fee would help.

  11. Krakatoa East of Java

    It sounds like the Biltmore folks don’t really “want” the event, but are willing to tolerate it as a way of generating income during a historically slower period of the year. It’s easier from an event-organization perspective, because all of the technical event necessities (parking, course, food and restrooms… even lodging) are all conveniently contained within the gates. USAC is going to b satisfied with an event that actually happens, and is not at-risk because of public outcry, etc. At least this event has a contract.

    But yeah, it totally sucks from a racer’s perspective.

  12. Jason

    It was $11 for the weekend, regardless of one day or two last year. The year before you had to buy the ticket at the gate which included taxes and was a little more. Additionally there are several hotels that are less than a mile from the gate to Biltmore and although rideable, not walkable…unless you feel like walking for about four miles total.

  13. Coaching Juniors

    I try to stay positive. I will appreciate all the effort that went into CX Nationals 16, and thank those who worked long hours to make it happen. But I am concerned.
    There should be 2 non-negotiable requirements when considering venues for Cyclocross Nationals: 1. A good technically challenging course, and 2. Ample CLOSE PARKING.
    Lets Review:
    Expo space is sold out.
    VERY Limited parking near the course.
    NO tents ANYWHERE (unless you were lucky/rich enough for expo space)
    NO Trailers/RVs anywhere near the course (unless you were lucky/rich enough for expo space)
    Your vehicle will likely be an hour round trip from the race start.
    Emotions run high; people forget things (especially Juniors)
    It is WINTER. Long term (worthless?) forecast is for 30-50% chance of rain Fri/Sat/Sun.
    I assume Lord Biltmore won’t want our muddy blissfully spent bodies in the buildings (who would?)
    Potential Issues:
    NO ACCESS to your vehicle an hour before or half hour after your race.
    Where do we change into dry race kits after warm-up laps?
    Where do we leave valuables (cameras, wallets, phones, keys) during races? In a bag in the rain?
    What if we want to watch the race following ours? Leave everything (bikes, wheels, tools, clothes, food and water) outside in a pile somewhere? Or make the HOUR round-trip to our vehicle?
    With our vehicles so far away, Neutral Support better be REALLY well stocked. You won’t make it there and back before the race if you break something in a warm-up lap.

    I pity any Junior team that wasn’t able to get a team space. Its WINTER CYCLOCROSS RACING with no reasonable access to our vehicles and no tents/shelters allowed. What could go wrong?


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