Cow Pasture Tails

The Letter & the Truth part 3

The unfounded complaints continue….

At one point he went off on announcer Bruce Dickman, yelling belligerently saying he didn’t know anything about mountain biking and to leave.  I think most of us here on the East like Bruce and think he does a decent job to build the excitement and keep things fun.

→ Not only did Rick Pyle describe this situation totally incorrectly, he cannot begin to speak for the thousands of east coast racers.  In fact, I have spoken to several east coast promoters who have stated that they will no longer work with Bruce Dickman, so while some racers may enjoy his style, promoters in general do not. Bruce Dickman was only there to announce the Pro race–not the other races. However, beginning on Saturday, Dickman insistently and repeatedly told me, in front of witnesses, how I should be running my race. He has been to a lot of races to announce, but has never organized or directed a mountain bike race, from the start to the finish.

This situation occurred during the timeframe when racers in non-pro categories were being lined up in the right order. He kept making mistakes and time was getting away, so I stepped in the get the right order of the race classes started. I never asked him to leave nor did I yell at him belligerently. I just asked him the step away for a few minutes so the timing company and I could get the races started. Once the race started he came back to announcing. Unfortunately, for about 30 minutes after this occurred, Bruce was the one that was in many people’s faces, bending the ears of the sponsors, the other organizers, the timing company, and the racers that would listen to him. Bruce was under the influence of alcohol, and during the time he was going around to others, cornered Connie, and told her that he expected to be paid at the end of the day. I told him in writing and on the phone long before the race that we could not pay him; but that we would make sure he had hotel accommodations.

Three days after the Cowbell race, Dickman, started calling the Town Of Davidson and others racers and then called me using a very passive aggressive manner. He kept on badgering, harassing and pestering me about how to run the Cowbell race.  So I told in a very stern and very meaningful way that I did not ever want anything to do with him announcing any race I am involved in.

 What do I recommend as a race participant and what is my opinion about the series?

  • Thus far I have had an excellent experience at all the east coast events with my favorite being the Bump and Grind. (except cowbell). This opinion is shared by all members of the team as well.  Personally, I think Massanutten had some extreme technical section that they could “knock the edge off ”of to make a little more rideable. However, these sections were presented in such a way as to make them possible to negotiate.
  • In my opinion the Cowbell would be a much better event if held at the USNWC. I ride there myself because it is the destination of choice for this area and is much like the Bump and Grind trail having all elements of classical cross country racing. It is a well built trail that offers challenges for the veteran racer yet “not over the top” technically. In my opinion this trail could have the potential to be one of the most popular in the east series and would accommodate itself  nicely to a UCI event as well. It has good strong extended single track and fireroad climbs and fast down hill single track and fire road descents with technical sections mixed in. The trail has an equal amount of up and down hill with hard pack fast single track rolling sections. It is a climber trail for sure but requires good cardio because it does not twist and turn allot.

Might want to read the UCI rule and regulations, before attempting to propose ideas for how courses should be designed, since they are specific and different from USAC requirements. The only sections where USNWC trails might fit UCI reqauirements is the lower bottom area, and that area has been closed off for years to parking and set up. Jeff Wise has stated repeatedly that he  wants riders and racers located in the Upper or main area where the buildings are located. 

  1. The trails are of national caliber.

Yes, the trail system is a good caliber for races. Unfortunately the caliber of the trail system is overshadowed by the actual conditions–over-used trails with hikers, walkers, runners, recreational riders and dog walkers.  In the last year Cowbell was at USNWC, Executive Director Jeff Wise refused to close the trail for this USAC Ultra Endurance National Race. I had to ride the trail most of the day to warn people about a race going on and ask people to put their dogs back on the leash. I was only allowed to put up a limited number of signs , because  of Wise’s unwritten rules–rules that changed daily while with dealing with him. 

  • Why do I think the USCUP would be better suited for the USNWC? 
  • 2. The center offers: White water rafting, rock climbing, a cool zip line and a nice ropes course all located within view of one another. It also has a Bar/restaurant with outdoor seating to watch the activities (very popular with folks). Large and clean men’s/women’s locker rooms with showers. There is also a promenade right in front of the bar/restaurant that hosts bands as well and would make a great location for the awards ceremony. This place has a really cool athletic atmosphere.

    →Yes, Good facilities…

    3. Training facility for the Olympic US national white water team. .

    You might want to read about or ask some of the “boaters” involved with this Training Facility. At least one athlete  attempting to train at the facility told us he was treated as badly treated as the mountain bikers.

    4. Vendor sales: On any given Saturday or Sunday in the spring/ summer there may be 1000-2000 people visiting the center (Athletes but mainly non athletes) potentially meaning increased sales for vendors such as Kenda or Mona-vie. I’m not sure of the total attendance for the Fisher Farm cowbell this year but I do know it was less than previous years and the only folks there were Athletes and their families. The Mona-vie vendor noted that sales could have been better. Basically Fisher Farm is in an old Cow pasture in the middle of nowhere. That’s fine for racers but stinks for vendors.

    Unless Rick Pyle actually counted every person there, and asked each one why they were there, he could not possibly know.  Since he never attended a race before the XC,  he also has no way of knowing whether attendance was up or down. In fact, there’s no way to even track or compare sales–Cowbell did not have vendors out selling anything for the first 6 years, primarily because of the restrictions placed on us at the white water center.  Here are two questions that he should have considered before sending this off to US Cup:

    •  Where did you receive your number for the visitors and sterotypes of visitors that come to the center on a weekend?
    • If the USNWC has that many visitors, why has the center been operating in the red since it opened, and why does the center have to ask for millions of tax payer money from local government to stay in operation?

    Yes, Fisher Farm was an old cowbell pasture at one time, but it’s kind of fitting to have the Cowbell Race there.  I suggest looking at a map–Fisher Farm is NOT in the middle of nowhere—it’s located 10 minutes from Davidson, 20 minutes from Race City for NASCAR, Mooresville, 15 to 20 minutes from Cornelius and Huntersville, 35 minutes from Charlotte city and 45 minutes from the International Airport of Charlotte. There are five cycling stores within 20 minutes of Fisher Farm.  The statement made about “out in the middle of nowhere” is very insulting to the Town of Davidson.

    The Ducktown race, SERC #5, is located in a town with one stop light. Ducktown has a great historic value of a true whitewater center—it’s where the first kayak Olympic games were held in 1996 and has a really good trail system there.

    Massanutten is very similar to the Cowbell venue, including a drive that takes you through farmland.  The bottom part of the course had new trail cut in the week of the race. The bottom part of the course is used to cut hay for the local farmers. The differences? The Massanutten course is only open for that one weekend mainly, or to guests at the resort. Most of the hotels are a good 20 to 30 minutes away.

    5.  Having a top notch national event such as the USCUP at a top notch facility such as the USNWC would only add prestige to the series in general and that race in particular.

    I don’t want to sound like a sales person for the white water center but many of us do like their trails and I suspect the racers would have a much better experience there than they did at Fisher Farm.

    The USNWC has had to ask for million dollars a year of tax payer money from the local governments so that it would not go into default on its loans.

    Many pro racers and amateur racers have commented on how much they enjoy Fisher Farm, that the race course is more challenging than it appears, and that the venue is great for spectators and athletes alike.

    I would like to thank ShoAir for allowing a format that encourages participant feed back and for extending good will among racers. Again many believe Taylor man not be the best choice for this type of format and believe there are better promoters to chose from. One cannot detract from ones willingness to work hard at something but you must do it in respectable manner for the hard work to truly have meaning or those efforts may be for not. I have been racing for many years and involved with events for many more and have come to know promoters up and down the east coast, primarily in the southeast. Personally, I would recommend the following promoters to head up the east coast series for 2010.

    Neal Boyd of Charlotte Sports Cycling:

    Neal has been promoting both MTB and Road cycling events for many years and always had extremely well organized and supported events and has never had any issues with scoring or timing that I’m aware of. He organizes a summer XC and winter STXC race series here in Charlotte that has upwards of 150 participants per week. (and that’s just for a training series)  He also promotes and organizes Pro Road and Crit racing events as well.

    Best of all he is well respected and works in a very professional manner.

    Before recommending/selecting a qualified promoter for a US Cup race, here are a few question for you:

    • Why hasn’t Neal Boyd put on a USAC MTB National Calendar Event Race?
    • Why hasn’t Neal Boyd put on a MTB AMBC race?
    • Why doesn’t Neal Boyd offer ANY payout at ANY of his MTB races?
    • What pro racers have shown up to his MTB races?
    • Why has the organizer of another mountain bike event in the area come to us because of his disappointment in Neal’s performance?
    • What is the total number of individual athletes that participate in his weekly MTB series? 150 athletes per week sounds great, but if it’s the same 150 athletes, there’s not much value to potential sponsors or vendors.

     Neal has gotten better due to the fact that I put on one good race and he has learned to copy what I do—recognizing volunteers, partnering with (although I don’t know whether he’s made any donations) local community groups, etc.


    6 Comments so far
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    *Moderator’s note: The author orginally included a very unpleasant curse word, we’ve edited the word only, the remaining comment is unaltered.
    “* Why hasn’t Neal Boyd put on a USAC MTB National Calendar Event Race?”
    – They don’t let C@#?!s put them on.
    “* Why hasn’t Neal Boyd put on a MTB AMBC race?”
    – They don’t let C@#?!s put them on.
    “* Why doesn’t Neal Boyd offer ANY payout at ANY of his MTB races?”
    – Because he’s not only a C@#?!, he’s a greedy C@#?!.
    “* What pro racers have shown up to his MTB races?”
    – The ones who like C@#?!s as promoters.
    “* Why has the organizer of another mountain bike event in the area come to us because of his disappointment in Neal’s performance?”
    – Because he’s a disappointing C@#?!.
    “* What is the total number of individual athletes that participate in his weekly MTB series? 150 athletes per week sounds great, but if it’s the same 150 athletes, there’s not much value to potential sponsors or vendors.”
    – Of course it’s the same 150 racers – DUH!!
    150? Really? Never knew there were that many suckers on mountain bikes.

    Comment by In the know

    Neal Boyd should be commended for putting on around 25 mountain bike events alone (not to mention his road events) each year–some of the results being that people get into in a healthier state of mind, they get outside to enjoy the weather, and a bunch of shops get involved to donate prizes. I can remember when Neal and I were on speaking terms, he would complain about all the work he does, how no one ever helped him, how he did more trail maintenance than anyone, and how he never made any money putting on mountain bike races, not to mention dealing with all the complaints of racers. I listened and told him I understood how hard it is, and tried to encourage him by telling him he was doing a good job. Now that he has put lawyers, threats, and a fine, outstanding local police officer (supposedly as a witness and protection, although he was never present for interactions), the only thing that seems to make sense is that he started to believe that the one Cowbell race became competition for him and started hurting his pocket book.

    Comment by cowbellchallenge

    “the only thing that seems to make sense is that he started to believe that the one Cowbell race became competition for him and started hurting his pocket book.”

    Exactly. He’s a greedy, conniving little weasel who’s only interested in putting himself first. He’s sees this huge mound of money that he’s missing out on and wants it for himself. I’m not saying he’ll keep all of it but I’m willing to bet my house that he’ll keep a bigger percentage of it than you ever did.

    Comment by In the know

    And if Neal gets the Cowbell, let’s all take some time to guess who will become the ONE supporting bike store……TIME’S UP!

    I shouldn’t complain too much though…. Bart probably uses the extra 10% above MSRP that he charges his naive customers as a means of supporting races.

    Neal and Bart are such giving guys.

    Comment by In the know

    And now that we’ve nailed what Neal and Bart get out of it, let’s take some time to figure out where Neal’s Cowbell Challenge (proudly sponsored by SouthPork Cycles) will be held….. Time’s up!

    I bet it won’t be Fisher Farm…..

    Comment by In the know

    For the record, Cowbell Challenge is owned by Cowbell Challenge, Inc – a recognized 501 C3 until these unfortunately incidents used to raise money for charity.

    I do believe Cowbel Chalenge is available however.

    Comment by Al Martine

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