2018 Recap –
2018 was a harder year for our events, and this is a trend that we saw throughout the state/region and a problem that we discussed with other event promoters and timing companies. Part of the problem was over saturation of events in our region and a sport that wasn’t growing as fast as all of these new event promoters thought it was. Additionally, we had some weather issues in 2017 that affected 2018 early event registration, and weather issues in the months leading up to the races that caused some last minute changes and affected our late event registrations.
Hub-a-palooza 2018 – this event had weaker attendance with a decline of about 18% in pre-race registration and the weather leading up to the event caused a decline in at-event registration as well, with approximately a 30% decline in participants from the year before.. Additionally this race was stacked with competing/similar events in 2018, with 2 other events immediately following Hub-a-palooza that made participants pick and choose which they would be doing. Additionally, 2017 saw a small timing issue that probably affected attendance slightly for 2018 – but this was remedied and everything went off without a hitch in 2018!
Mt Spokane 2018 – In the month leading up to this event we had to make the super hard decision to move this race to later in the year – a lot later. We know that moving an event can be detrimental, but the decision was made knowing that having snowed in trails would be even more detrimental, and that snow on the trails was definitely a talking point between racers that joined us in 2017 for the event. By the time everything was said and done our event actually did end up growing, with few of the riders dropping out, and many of them excited for an Autumn mountain bike race in the state park. We did have quite the increase in costs for this event, due to the hiring of AMR, rental of the Selkirk and higher than anticipated shuttle costs. All in all, the event was better than the year before and we did see growth and more media coverage.
For 2018 we were able to find a some financial support through Shimano, Offroad Power Products, and a bit of cash from the Spokane Sports Commission, which helped keep things afloat and growing in a year that participation wained.
The Upside –
The over saturation of events seems to have taken it’s toll on some promoters in the area, which is unfortunate for them but great for those of us who have been in this sport for long enough top have seen this happen before. A few events / race series have decided not to continue for 2019, and that has already benefited our events coming into the 2019 season. We will see more traveling racers, and larger overall attendance.
We coordinated with event promoters throughout the region to stagger our events in a way that would not put such a load on participants. And early season registration is ahead of where it was for the 2016 events – which was our biggest year ever! With great amounts of social media response, rider excitement, and more event advertising than we have ever done – through some tactics that we tested and found successful with the Mt Spokane 2018 event – we expect turnout to be back on the up side this year with even greater rider experience.
2018 was a year that our relationship with the Washington State Parks seemed to take a step in the right direction. With easier event permitting, more leniency on trail usage, and amount of time that we were allowed to use the trails during the event weekend. I feel this relationship is growing stronger, and will be long lasting – they are starting to see mountain biker visitation as an important asset to the park. For 2019 we were able to schedule our race for the fall, earlier in the season and we will be able to offer shuttles to the racers! The addition of shuttles should be huge for this event, riders will happily pay more for this event, and we are looking forward to an increase in attendance thanks to the ease that shuttles add to the weekend.