There will still be B.C. Cup races on the provincial race calendar next year, but fewer than before. The B.C. Cup marathon series, held the past two years, will no longer exist, although most of the events will still be held.
And the provincial mountain bike rankings, formerly based on B.C. Cup results, will be opened up to include results from local, regional, independent, provincial and national events.
The changes will be formally announced next week by Cycling B.C., which decided to change the ranking system as a result of declining participation in B.C. Cup events.
"The main reason for the changes is that most off the organizers who have hosted events in the past don’t want to host B.C. Cup races anymore. If we kept up with that system there would only be two or three races where riders can collect points," said Kevin MacCuish, the mountain bike manager for Cycling B.C.
"Attendance at races has shrunk over the last five or six years… and downhill has been flat. We’re at the point where the costs of the purse and having a timing company come in is estimated at $9,000 or $10,000 to host events. Some organizers are taking a loss, for what is essentially a volunteer activity."
Under the new ranking system, events that want to be part of the race points series will fit under one of five classifications. Events like the B.C. provincial championships and Canada Cup races would be at the top of the classification list, with more points to give out and more requirements for organizers. B.C. Cup events would also rank near the top.
In the middle would be races like the Test of Metal and Gearjammer in Squamish, the Cheakamus Challenge, and other events like the high school racing series.
At the bottom of the classification list are local events, like the Island Cup racing series, and potentially races like the Loonie Races hosted in Squamish and Whistler by SORCA and WORCA if organizers decide to register the races with Cycling B.C. These local races would only have a few points to give out, but would only have to meet a few basic requirements. The goal, says MacCuish, is to make it easy for local clubs to host events.
The specific details will be released next week, but there will be both downhill and cross-country provincial ranking systems.
According to MacCuish, the changes to the provincial ranking system will help to rebuild mountain bike racing at the local, grass roots level by encouraging riders to join clubs, and then by encouraging club members to enter races and host races of their own.
There are still going to be B.C. Cup events, MacCuish adds, but he expects the number of big events will decrease next year while the number of small events grows.
"It’s time to rebuild and start growing things again and the way to do that is to involve more people in recreational racing, which will be our focus from now on," he said.
Details of the new ranking system will be posted at www.cycling.bc.ca.