GREG COMBS: Tour de Moore: Places New Emphasis on Masters' Cyclists
The 33rd Annual Tour de Moore Road Race takes place Saturday with a slightly different tack than in previous years.
Although it is one of the longest running cycling events in North Carolina and is considered to be a "classic," the format for the race is targeting an older and more mature racer this year.
In recent years, the Tour de Moore elite Pro/1/2 field has become smaller due to the younger "up-and-coming" racers traveling to Virginia to compete in the Tour of Shenandoah in hopes of being recognized as the next prodigy of cycling.
At the same time, the top professionals are competing in the Tour de Georgia, as well as the Athens Twilight Criterium, and other races in the USA Crits Speed Week to meet their sponsorship obligations in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
When I talked a few months ago with Bruce Cunningham, who is a longtime supporter of the Tour de Moore, about the future of the event, we discussed the advantages of having a more narrow focus and creating a viable niche for the race and our community.
The first advantage we identified was a reduced cost in running the event. Typically, the master's category events are shorter than the elite professional category.
Therefore, the cost to pay law enforcement officials for road security would be much less.
Another cost reduction is the offering of total prize money to the competitors. In the past, the total amount in prize offerings was $8,000 and the elite men's categories (Pro/1/2/3/and 4) totaled $5,000 alone. The remaining $3,000 went to two masters' categories and to a very small group of women's racers.
The second advantage for marketing to the more mature cyclist was a greater economic impact to the Southern Pines community. The median age of the 64,000 bike racers in the United States is 40 years of age. They are married and often travel long distances for rides and races with their families.
The 40-plus aged cyclists are more affluent with disposable income that averages $94,000, and they typically stay in hotels and dine in local restaurants.
On the other hand, the younger cyclists take a different approach to attending races by car pooling with their buddies early in the morning or trying to find host housing and sleeping on the floor the night prior.
In a "nutshell," the younger racers were taking the "Race and Dash" approach, while the older racers have been visiting our community and enjoying the town's atmosphere before, during and after the race.
Although skeptics may not agree with the new vision for the Tour de Moore, by not offering races to the masses, I feel we will continue to have a grand event that meets the needs of our valued more mature clients.
The masters-aged racers will come to Southern Pines, support our community, enjoy the race and the Springfest activities with their families. I recently talked with a veteran cyclist of the Tour de Moore, Bobby Phillips of Baltimore, Md. Bobby has been competing in the Tour de Moore since the beginning.
He has missed only 5 years of the event, and that was because of a medical condition.
Bobby said, "I am looking forward to coming to Southern Pines with my wife, Pat, to enjoy the atmosphere of your great town and competing in the Tour de Moore."
At 10 a.m. the 30+ category will begin its event and will race for 77 miles. At 10:05 a.m. the 40+ category will depart and will race for 55 miles. The 50+ and 60+ categories will compete on a 41-mile course and will start their race at 10:10 a.m.
The 30+ and 40+ racers will be competing for $1,500 (15 places) in each category. The 50+ will be offering a $1,000 prize list (15 places). The 60+ category will be competing for three places in prize money.
The Tour de Moore race route will travel out on Youngs Road and Lake Bay Road through beautiful horse country toward Woodlake Country Club.
Once the race is in the vicinity of Woodlake, there is a 13-mile circuit that is ridden in multiple laps, based on the determined distances.
The racers then come back on Lake Bay Road and Youngs Road, speeding their way around Southern Pines where the last 3 miles are punctuated by a series of turns through neighborhood streets and a longish uphill climb to a final flat 500-meter sprint.
The last 3 miles is chaotic, and the racers will have to count on having to make big efforts to have the position required to win at the traditional finish line near the Amtrak station in downtown Southern Pines.
The finish is always timed to conclude during the height of the Springfest celebration.
Every year the recreation department promotes kids' tricycle races that take place just before the Tour de Moore finishes.
For more information about the Tour de Moore, go to www.sandhillscyclingclub.org, or see John or Elizabeth at Rainbow Cycles on Broad St. in Southern Pines.
Greg Combs is a cyclist and coach for more than 30 years and is considered an expert in bicycling fit and rider positioning. He is also the director of the Sport Management Program at Methodist University in Fayetteville. For more information browse www.velosmart.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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