Tour of Anchorage 2015- Aftermath I

Since I completely trashed this year's edition of the Tour of Fairbanks and pooped on all of the hard work of people I really admire, it's only fair I spread some feces around.
 
Let me start with the various fields that competed:
 
Open Men was stacked this year with a lot of very strong riders. A few years ago, 4 or 5 of the same old faces were all that lined up in Open/Expert for the biggest event of the season. The rest sandbagged in lower classes/Masters or just didn't show up. This year, partially due to an infusion of new blood and a strong Fairbanks contingent, the racing was spirited and a lot of fun to watch. My hope is that this trend continues, because it broadened the perception of the type of racer that competes in that class. Not everyone can win the overall. Not everyone can take a stage or even stand on the podium. However, with a larger field the chances for team dynamics affecting the race are increased, so everyone has a chance to take a role in how it was shaped. The teamwork that brought Joey back to the pack after his mechanical on Saturday or Riley back from his crash on Sunday is what I'm talking about. This is what makes racing interesting, and how even someone 10 minutes down on GC can contribute. Teamwork was the big story of this year's Open Class, and watching guys like Chris Knott explode after burying themselves to help a teammate was inspiring to see.
 
Racing.
 
Intermediate Men was tiny in comparison to previous years. It's been that way all season, and the only way I can explain it is that people miss me now that I'm not racing in that class anymore. I wish I could pin it down to the weather, injuries, or scheduling concerns, but it's a troubling pattern. Sometimes the rise or fall of a class is a result of millions of different reasons. It's a shame, because this class feeds Open. Smaller fields mean that tactics play less of a role than pure strength, and that isn't the best preparation for racing with the fast kids.
 
Beginner Men also experienced a significant drop in participation. This is where the long-term viability of the Road Division is secured. Without new bodies willing to progress through the ranks to the limits of their capabilities, we're just left with the same old faces aging out of contention. Aggressive recruitment, mentoring, and a defined roadmap for progression would be a start to turning this around.
 
Juniors. I'm grouping all of them together because there were only a handful. That may sound negative, but it's actually an increase as far as I can remember. It was great to see young kids out there racing and talking about future goals in the sport. When racers talk about the future, you know you have them hooked. Then you just have to reel them in and gut them like a Chinook in proper road racing fashion.

Women's Classes. I love watching women race, and not just because I'm a leering pervert. OK, mostly because of that, but also because I like watching anyone race. More women racing makes it more appealing to more women. Posies is a prime example, although we haven't translated that success over to the regular road division races. If someone could crack that riddle and figure out a solution, let me know.
 
Bigger classes across the board. A rising tide lifts all boats. In my ego-centric world, a robust racing community secures more opportunities for me to display my mad skills at suckitude. Again, the common theme running through this blog is that it's all about me. I can't race my bike if there aren't any races, and chasing down Freds on the Coastal Trail just isn't quite the same. Not that there's anything wrong with being a Fred, because they're out there riding, buying bikes/parts/accessories, and therefore subsidizing my hobby.
 
Me. Me. Me.
 
On that note, I'll end this entry and continue it in another because my fingers are starting to get tired. As always, I have opinions on everything, and you're entitled to all of them. Please be patient while I shove them down your throat, as I have to package them in a manner that makes them painful and therefore memorable.

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