Launch: Rocky Trail Async Racing

Our life is on ‘rocky trails’. Has been since 2008 and will continue to be, because we refuse to give in to the challenging event environment we have been facing these last few months.

Earlier this week we announced our new racing style and brand, which will be launched with the Fox Superflow, sealed by Stan’s in Canberra at the end of the month. Introducing:

Here is how it was developed and what it stands for:

The pivotal moment

As entrepreneurs Martin and I have accepted that our business is part of our every day life. All. Day. Every. Day. We don’t mind that our personal lives have been inevitably dominated by bikes and racing and events, in fact, we have embraced it. However, during these last two to three weeks the pressure had reached a level of intensity that we realised wasn’t sustainable – not so much on a business level, but on a very personal level. It came to a point were we both were on the verge of a burn-out – planning events felt like being told to swim with a ton of concrete shackled to your legs. Living down range started to get to us.

The pivotal moment came on a Friday morning before Father’s Day. Whilst still pushing the QLD events hard, we had so many scenarios for NSW and ACT on the table. We knew we had the support of our racers, sponsors and supporters. We decided to break up the load into junks. The plan was to figure out things for the ACT first, then worry about NSW.

The game-changer

That Friday night I received an email that was the game-changer in this whole process. It was from of our riders who had just read my recent story “On recalibrating life and business“.

“[…] Here is another one [thing] to have in your file for the days when it just seems a bit too tough”, he said. I read that he had worked out that he had done 10 SuperFlow events, 7 Shimano GPs and 1 RockyTrail run Willo together with his teenage son over the past two years with Rocky Trail. His calculations said that it added up to a total of 18 road trips that he and his son had done together.

“[That’s] 18 times we have either chased each other down the trails in SuperFlows, swapped laps in Shimano GPs or stayed together for as long as we could at the Canberra Willo. I’m like any other Dad, to get that sort of quality time with your teenage son is priceless, and will end up being one of the highlights of my life. […]

“All this because of what you and Martin do.

I admit that I teared up and instantly felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. All the uncertainty and frustration disappeared.

The light bulb moment

The goal was so crystal clear and the planning process became more than operations and logistics – it became all about delivering a race for our Rocky Trail racers. Our mojo was back, we were going to find a way to run the events in ACT. A cup of hot chocolate and a good night’s sleep later, we got to work. Martin hopped on the trainer, I went for a trail run. We were back, motivated, driven to get to that result.

We defined the crux of it: we must not just minimise, but we were to eliminate the gatherings. Plus we were not looking for a “quick fix”, but a sustainable approach.

The final piece of the puzzle

The final piece of the puzzle came after a chat with one of our closest friends and #rockytrailracers. We laid all cards on the table – it wasn’t a “virtual” way of racing, but it wasn’t our “regular” way of racing either. We had developed not a new event, but a new way of racing.

Surely, there must be a term in the world’s of Star Trek or Star Wars or some techy term for it. Quite nonchalantly our IT professional mate said,

“What you describe, really, is asynchronous.”

… and there it was:

Rocky Trail ASYNC Racing(TM)

Est. 2020

The term that describes and the new brand for Rocky Trail events that represents
a set of specific elements that form a particular event’s asynchronous racing format.

In it’s essence it means that our athletes will still compete in the one event, but not at the same time. Therefore the model has three core elements, but will adopted across the event portfolio and adopted and amended as required. The rules and regulations will be communicated directly via the Rider Briefing ahead of each event and our website and social media channels.

The three core elements of Rocky Trail Async Racing(TM)

Eliminate event gathering

The process started with investigating if and how we could give you a format of racing that complied with all the sometimes very loosely defined Covid-19 rules and regulations, which vary greatly from state to state.
Result: no event centre and revised operations

Run a sustainable event model

We stripped the different event concepts down to the bare essentials. We put event more measures in place to eliminate touch points and ran scenarios considering venue-specific specifications.
Result: new style of racing and racing brand

Keep our racing spirit strong

We wanted to keep the #rockytrailracer spirit alive, still have the riders feel connected, excited and motivated. We must deliver the challenge, the gnar, the shred, the toughness and the fun of it all.
Result: communications strategy

The first event to be run under the new model will be the Fox Superflow, sealed by Stan’s at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra (ACT) from 26-28 September 2020. Here is an overview of the event elements in the context of Rocky Trail Async Racing(TM) to provide a first insight.

Case Study: Fox Superflow, Canberra | 26-28 September 2020

Original Concept

Planned event format for 2020 events

Revised Concept
from July 2020

*Applied in NSW + QLD from July 2020

Rocky Trail Async Racing Concept

Example Fox Superflow ACT Sept 2020

  • practice Saturday, race Sunday
  • 3 race track/stages
  • do at least 1 run each
  • max 5 runs per track
  • all runs on the same day
  • first aid, marshalls in place
  • photos included in entry
  • LIVE timing
  • rider briefing on-site
  • podium ceremony on-site
  • prizes on-site
  • *pick race day Saturday OR Sunday
  • 3 race track/stages
  • do at least 1 run each
  • max 5 runs per track
  • all runs on the same day
  • first aid, marshalls in place
  • photos included in entry
  • LIVE timing
  • *Covid-19 Safety Plan
  • *rider briefing virtual
  • *podium ceremony virtual
  • *prizes/podium plates via mail
  • *NEW: pick ONE of THREE race days
  • 3 race track/stages
  • do at least 1 run each
  • max 5 runs per track
  • all runs on the same day
  • first aid, marshalls in place
  • photos included in entry
  • LIVE timing
  • Covid-19 Safety Plan
  • rider briefing virtual
  • podium ceremony virtual
  • prizes/podium plates via mail
  • *no formal event centre
  • *no spectator access
  • *no registration tent
  • *event operations base at START to monitor operational, risk and safety aspects
  • *number plate issued at the START gate
  • *athletes get race-ready in public car park, social distancing is required
  • *START area secured and separated from public tracks
  • *START area monitored by staff to ensure social distancing
  • *skeleton staff on-site for operations and risk/safety only

Additionally, at the Stromlo Forest Park race, we dropped the popular “Skyline-Luge” race stage. Here’s why:

How we chose the 3 tracks at Stromlo:

  1. Track Variety: The 3 tracks we have on offer will offer a wide variety of flow, fast, technical and outright awesome tracks.
  2. Logistics & Timing: Having the same start for all 3 tracks is also very important from a logistical and technical timing point of view. For this, we specifically upgraded our timing system, which for the first time enables us to run a 3 day format.
  3. Athlete & Public Rider Safety: During Covid the trails at Stromlo have become incredibly busy and with this 3 day format we don’t want to shut down important connecting tracks within the park. This is the main reason why we took out the popular Skyline-Luge tracks. We believe and know from locals that they have been and will be very busy with public riders, especially on the long weekend. We want to avoid mixing public with our athletes, because this will diminish the fun for both riders and #rockytrailracers.

We still want our racers to be able to ride and race with their friends or family, but the entire field will be racing asynchronous and additionally spread across three days. This will result in essentially eliminating all large gatherings.

I can’t wait to see the new model in action at Stromlo Forest Park, because as always our goal stays the same, to:

Juliane Wisata
Juliane Wisata

Rocky Trail co-founder