Alongside the now classic Catamount races, this weekend debuted yet another new venue to the conference. In fact, as far as we can tell, the races on Burke Mountain in the Kingdom Trails were the first races ever allowed in the trail system. Speaking to one of the KTA people afterward, they said they approved the event in order to get more exposure among our racers. I think that’s awesome and hopefully it worked out. Certainly Sully and I talked up the Kingdom an awful lot. The weather wasn’t really compelling to keep riding, it was kind of dreary and wet all day Sunday, but I think a number of people did partake of the opportunity to go ride the other trails.
Not too surprisingly, the weekend had a good bit more riders than the generally small season has had. At about 140 riders on Saturday despite the weather—periodic rain and even thunderstorms—attendance was really solid. Even better, about 110 made the long transfer from Burlington to East Burke, surprisingly good retention. I had been guessing more like ~80, so that was pretty exciting.
Even beyond that, I had a great weekend. Catamount is basically like a home race at this point. Even though we transferred over to Burke Saturday night, we still managed to drop by and see the Sullivans for a bit. Keeping up with an unplanned, implicit tradition, I also got a call Sunday from an old friend I’d been trying to get a hold of for a while. We only talk basically a couple times a year, and MTB Easterns Sunday has just happened to be one of those days the past couple years.
There was a lot of talk at the banquet about what to do for next year. Lots of people seem pretty intrigued by Eliminator format racing and some of the other potential changes and additions we’ve introduced. Other people are real hesitant to break from pattern. Either way, I don’t think it’ll really change much unless we manage to really change the promoters and teams. Short track isn’t unpopular because it’s intrinsically bad. It’s unpopular in large part because most of the courses are pretty unpleasant. We’re going to face the exact same problems with Eliminator unless promoters get more serious about making good courses, rather than just showing up at a mountain and being handed some fire road to race on.
Generally next year I think we need to get more serious about a bunch of things. License control has gotten a bit too lax, there were a number of riders needed things fixed for nationals. We’ll probably also have a more formal promoter process with the race deposits and so on to prevent issues we had this year. What the scoring crew will look like I have no idea. Sam’s talking about moving out west, which would be really unfortunate in many ways. I would miss him a lot, and it would be a big loss of knowledge and experience. Scoring went extremely well this year. For example, we were ready for and whipped through the Easterns awards ceremonies in no time. Hopefully Stu and/or Tim would still be available so we would not be training an entirely new set of people.
In any event, that’s the end of yet another ECCC MTB season.