Barry-Roubaix registration field expands, but still filling quickly
This year's Barry-Roubaix bike race was capped at 3,500 participants. Next year, demand is driving organizers to increase the number of participants. (File photo)
The Barry-Roubaix bicycle race is more than four months away, but even with an expanded cap, spaces are filling quickly for what's billed as the world's largest gravel road race – less than a week after registration opened.
Race organizers say they hit their limit of 350 entries for the longest course, the 100-mile “Psycho” event, only a few hours after registration opened Sunday. A wait list has already been set up for those still wishing to enter. It's the fastest sellout for the Psycho in the race's history, co-director Matt Acker said.
As of noon Wednesday, the race had received 2,952 entries, including more than 2,500 for the 18- to 62-mile courses that make up the brunt of Barry-Roubaix, according to bikereg.com.
On the heels of last year's race that drew a record field of more than 3,500 cyclists from throughout the United States and as far away as Iceland, organizers boosted the cap on entries for the April 18, 2020, race to 3,850, including the 350-entry cap for the Psycho 100. The decision to open the field to more cyclists was prompted by last year's early sellout, Acker said.
“While we never want to turn people away, we are also very conscious about sustainable growth and maintaining a high-quality event,” Acker wrote in an email message to the Banner. “Each year we've reviewed the event, assessed what issues, if any, there were and gone from there. We feel that moving the cap from 3,500 to 3,850 along with several other changes will help us maintain all of the quality and meet the demand of riders.”
Additional changes have been made to the 2020 race, which will be the 12th annual event. Changes include reducing the “Chiller” course from 22 miles to 18, which organizers hope will attract more first-time riders.
“This will be a big step forward in rider safety. We often hear from first-timers that the 22-mile course is a bit much and harder than they bargained for,” organizers announced in a Nov. 20 release posted on the race website, barry-roubaix.com. “The new 18-mile route removes ‘The Wall’ and ‘Cemetery Climb,’ effectively cutting out 200 feet of elevation gain. Our hope is that while still a worthy challenge, this will be a more beginner-friendly route as it was intended to be from the get-go.”
Other changes for next year include the creation of open categories for the 36-mile race, which allows entrants to compete for top-10 cash awards. There is a caveat, however: Cyclists who enter in the open category will not be eligible for age-group awards. Conversely, riders who register in age group categories won't be eligible for overall podium honors and cash prizes, organizers said.
In addition, organizers have eliminated minimum racer requirements and cash payouts for the 62-mile race. In past years, organizers had required a minimum of 10 riders for the single-speed and masters categories and 30 riders for a payout.
In an effort to attract younger riders, organizers said they will keep race registration open for riders age 18 year and younger, even if the event sells out. Also, a new youth team competition has been added for the 18-mile course, where teams can compete for a $1,000 prize for their organization, organizers said.
How much does Barry-Roubaix contribute to the local and regional economy? Acker said the event brings in a considerable amount of activity, with participants eating, drinking and lodging in Hastings and surrounding areas.
“We did conduct a high-level study a few years back and estimated the impact to be at $750,000 for the event weekend,” Acker wrote. “That estimate is very conservative, so odds are the impact during the course of the year exceeds $1 million An event in Kansas of similar size did a formal study, and the economic impact was measured to be in excess of $5 million.”
Registration for the 2020 race is slated to close March 25 at 5 p.m. Registration for most categories is $60, but will increase in $5 increments Jan. 1, Feb. 1 and March 1. Tandem entries are $75 while youth entries are $25. Cyclists may register on bikereg.com. If the race sells out, cyclists can register to be on the waiting list. Once someone who registered decides to withdraw an entry, the first person from the waitlist for their particular category will be moved into the race field, according to the event website.