Covid-19 update: racing redefined

Picture this XC scenario: the race has started, you have put yourself in a good position and are in a very nice flow. The riders around you are the ones you generally like to see which means everything is going to plan at this part of the race. In your head you start thinking of the right moment to attack, when to do a tactical feed stop and what to eat next and then BAM… you clip a tree and hit the ground…hard.

At first you think you’re fine and the bike is probably too. You get up as quickly as you can, spin the wheels to make sure they are still turning and try to hop back on. But then you notice that you crashed a lot harder than you thought and it will be a while before you can put the power down again. You limp away on the bike and start making new calculations. Which position am I in? Is it worthwhile to continue the race or do I call it? How long until I have fully recovered, what is even wrong with me and more importantly is the bike OK?

I have been in this situation many times on my bike and find myself in the same situation now in business life. We crashed…hard..but then so did (almost) everyone else. In the initial phase there was little point in trying to predict the future of racing and our business as the goalposts shifted way too much.

Now, however, we have reached the next phase and it’s time to look at how we can achieve what we always aim for: bring you races that are safe, fair, exciting and fun.

Getting back up and racing…

We have decided that we will focus on our Fox Superflow sealed by Stan’s as well as the Shimano MTB GP series first. Those are the ones where we can be most flexible in terms of venues and dates and they are of course very popular. We also expect a very high demand for them once the first start gun gets fired.

As a business we now need to come up with ways of mitigating the risk of infection. The good news is that mitigating and managing risk is what we do well so for us it’s just another layer of complexity thrown on top of it. We will have a lot more detailed plans for you soon, but here is an indicator of what Rocky Trail events will look like during Stage 3 of the COVID-19 Road Map, which is were gatherings of up to 100 people are going to be allowed:

The Rocky Trail event centre:

  • While there will be music, food, first aid and tech support, the overall activity in the event centre will be a lot calmer.
  • Spectators and supporter numbers will be limited and every non-racer will need to register beforehand and sign in on the day as well.
  • Speaking of signing in: the rider briefing and signing of the waiver will be done online before the race.
  • There will be a limit on how many people can be in the event centre at any time with the aim to have a steady flow onto the race track and back rather than a big gathering at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Podium ceremonies will be virtual at the end of the weekend.
  • Similar to last year we will have podium plates again and if you finish in the top 3 of your category you will get a sticker for them to show off your achievements to the other racers.

Fox Superflow sealed by Stan’s

  • At our Superflow events the changes we will have to implement will be less noticeable as already with the original event format all competitors have been moving between different start and finish areas, climbing sections and race trails. Competitors have already been naturally spread out during the entire day.
  • The schedule is probably going to change and you can select if you are racing either on Saturday or Sunday. This will enable us to have lower numbers of riders out on trails on each day.
  • If you want a full day of practice you will need to check out the trails before the racing weekend.

Shimano MTB GP

We had to rethink how to run the Shimano MTB GP so that we can get it up and running as soon as possible. This will mean that it will be quite different in the beginning, but the alternative will be to wait and see and that is not something we are good at ­čÖé

We have not made firm decisions yet and are waiting on more guidance from the government as to what will be allowed:

  • Our first focus will be on the GP4 (4 hour) solo as well as a new GP2 (2 hour) solo category. We are not sure yet if we can have relay teams as they would greatly add to the number of people in the event centre (ie, people standing/waiting in transition areas or floating in event centre).
  • Both GP4 and GP2 will have start waves spread throughout the day and every wave has a certain rider limit. We plan to have a ‘gun start’ for some of the waves but are not sure yet.
  • Depending on rider numbers we have the option to add Sunday to the racing schedule but Saturday will still be the main day of racing.
  • There will be substantially less passing out on track with our new format but it will still happen. We will rely on riders giving each other maximum courtesy out there so that passing can be done as swiftly as possible. This will play a role when we select the tracks we will use.

The next question you have of course is when will we run events again. Certainty is not something that is readily available right now and starting points could differ for our events in QLD and NSW. Stage 3 is what we are looking for. We can say for sure that we won’t be racing before that. QLD is planning to have stage 3 by early July and NSW hasn’t announced a timeline yet, but we don’t expect them to be too far behind QLD. So to answer your question: hopefully July, maybe later.

Until then – keep listening to Rocky Trail Radio and enjoy your rides.

Martin

Martin Wisata
Martin Wisata

This is an update from Rocky Trail’s Founder and Race Director. Find out more about the team: