Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why no Willamette?

Thursday, 23 April

Take a minute to mourn with me. The bad news came down on Tuesday: this year's (and probably any subsequent year's) Willamette Stage Race was cancelled due to apparent lack of interest on the part of the cycling community. How can this be?

Earlier incarnations of this race had bigger fields than the promoters were able to handle, or so it seemed. Those promoters' versions of Willamette failed because of problems on their end (sponsorship "issues", mainly). This time, the race failed because not enough people wanted to race their bikes.

Where are all those Northwest racers who love a good, epic challenge and know the roads around Eugene are some of the best we've got for riding and racing? The other races on the local calendar this weekend are hardly overpowering draws: a time trial stage race in Maupin (don't get me wrong--DRVTT is an awesome weekend of racing with fantastic promoters) and a road race in Washington on a somewhat unselective course (except for selection due to crashes because of fowl in the road and silt from winter floods on the road).

We keep losing more of the best races on the calendar. I am so sad to see Willamette go the way of Columbia Plateau and HP. You can't blame these Willamette promoters: Mike and Sal worked so hard to think through and provide for all the minutiae in race organization. You can't blame the weather: it can be 80 degrees and sunny this time of year in Eugene. You can't blame local agencies: it is tough (expensive) to get permits out of Lane County, and still Willamette was going to take in some exciting, beautiful road courses.

We can only blame ourselves for letting this one get away.


Brian said...

It all comes down to the cash factor. Gas, race fees, places to stay, animal boarding, food...

Old as dirt said...

That didn't seem to be a problem for Cherry Blossom or Walla Walla
Their numbers were as god as any other year.

Ted said...

I'm a little late here...but I think that Cherry Blossom helped kill Willamette. Having Willamette right after Walla Walla takes out a lot of those riders. My gut feeling is that Willamette lost a lot of its OBRA riders to CB.

We have entered a promoter's nightmare and a racer's dream...too many races on the calendar and a lot to choose from. I also predict that Mt Hood will be a lot smaller this year than in past years (not just the high end categories either).

There are a lot more stage races to choose from now than in the past. All of this being said...Walla Walla is very impressive. Over 500+ people did it. Huge and very competetive fields all around.