Changing of the Guard at SacCX
29 May 2014
The Northern California/Northern Nevada region will see significant changes in cyclocross this coming season. Folsom Cyclebration announced it is canceling for 2014, and so with it their cyclocross race. BASP will hold weekend events for Candlestick and Sierra Point, on top of hosting a race on the USAC Cyclo-cross National Calendar. And, the Sacramento Cyclocross Series goes under the new management of Jen and Clint Claassen.
Originally begun many seasons ago by NorCalNevada cycling stalwarts Linda and John Elgart, Brian Joder, of BicyclingEvents.com, held the reins for four seasons after taking over from Rich Maile. The upcoming season still sees Joder as part of the SacCX scene but events now go under the direction of the Claassen duo. Clint races on mountain bikes and has the winter as an off-season. Jen is now part-owner of TimeYourRace.com, a significant presence at SacCX events. Both of these provide opportunity for the pair to ensure the series continues whilst Joder takes a step back.
Joder cited fiscal realities as one of the reasons for reducing his role so he may stretch out elsewhere. “Everybody thinks you throw a few cones and tape and you make a bunch of money. I’ve promoted bicycle races for 18 years but it’s really hard to make a living. Running events is more profitable but my passion is with cycling. I have taken a hard look economically at who is showing up and what it is costing us. Making two or three hundred dollars at Rodeo Cross doesn’t pay the rent. A couple of years ago it was like a bidding war for bike shops clamoring to help out a venue but more community support is needed. I do realize there’re a lot of events out there and some teams have acknowledged we’re always pulling from the same pool.”
“It’s easy to understand how these series are passed along,” continued Joder, “because it’s a very difficult thing. A lot of energy goes on behind the scenes. Race promotion is a tough business especially with cycling.”
For the upcoming season, Joder said, “I’m going to be behind the scenes. I have some new blood in Jen and Clint Claassen. They’re going to spearhead this and I’ll be behind the scenes and supporting…but they’re going to have the final say. Jen has run events for 5 years and has helped out at SacCX. This will their first time [out front and leading].
“We had tried to reach into the Bay Area but there are too many events on the calendar so we’re pulling back. We’re trying to get back to the “Sacramento” cyclocross series. Everybody that comes out from the Bay Area says we have a great program but it’s too far for them to drive when they have something in their own backyard. Last year, all the other promotors really tried to cooperate but it didn’t really seem to matter.
“We’ve taken a viewpoint that we can’t please everybody and we have to do the best we can. We’ve done zip code investigation and 90% come from the Sacramento region, though we do get excited when someone popular comes out from the Bay Area.
“It was a lot of work. The part I enjoyed the absolute most about race promotion was when that start goes off. That means all your planning had come together and worked. Once that first start goes I really enjoy myself out there.”
Joder has served the Sacramento cyclocross community well these past few years and has been a good and faithful servant to the sport.
The Claassens are reaching out to Maile, the Elgarts, and local bicycle shops to learn about SacCX’s former embodiments and develop a revamped ‘cross series. Expect to see more events closer to the Sacramento home base as they cater to its core patronage. The distant Grass Valley race loses its status on the SacCX calendar as will Laguna Del Sol because of its smaller turnouts. A flagship, of sorts, should still see the Lange Twins venue as a part of the series but more announcements are to come.
Community support from the bike shops, and their racers and family members, is cited as a central focus for the series going forward. In addition, along with staying more traditional, avoiding gimicky course features, Clint Claassen hopes to encourage more support by rewarding spectators themselves. Look out for “best heckle” awards and perhaps even “preems” for spectators.
Clint Claassen was also certain to point out, however, that serious racing at the top levels was also of import. There is an intention to combine grass roots cyclocross and elite racing for the series both now and in the future.
Further updates will appear soon as the Claassens firm up their calendar, produce a new web site, and develop plans for the much-appreciated series. Good luck to them and the Sacramento ‘cross community; with everybody’s support the SacCX will continue for many more seasons and remain an esteemed part of the regions cyclocross racing.