Race Director Diaries: The Bear Mountain Classic needs your help
Bear Mountain is hard.
There is no way around it. As a participant it’s a demanding course with stiff competition. As a race director, it’s nearly impossible due to the logistical and financial challenges that continue to grow year after year.
How is it that Bear is able continue in the face of mounting adversity? It’s the people involved.
Participants, volunteers, CRCA Board Members, volunteers and paid staff all play crucial roles in making Bear a reality. They spend countless hours, late nights and early mornings working to make this race a reality.
Throughout the process I have often wondered why they do it. Why do some people invest so much time into an impossible uphill battle? What is there to be gained?
They don’t do it for money, or for their own personal gain. Based what I’ve seen, a lot would be better off if they just walked away. They do it for the community, they do it because cycling is a part of their life, their world.
Looking through the race photos reaffirms why we do it: events like Bear are the opportunity for our community to come together; a reason to make the trek out of the city into the trees to spend a day with our friends; to push ourselves past our limits.
But Bear Mountain is at its limit, and without significant help there is a very real chance that Bear may not survive.
Having seen it from the inside, I can tell you this: if NYC and the surrounding communities want to continue to have experiences like Bear we need to step up.
This year was my first Bear experience and it was my first experience as a Race Director. Prior to this I had had no Directing experience—I felt unprepared and anxious that I might ruin a race loved by so many, but I did it anyway. As best I can tell, it was a good day. We had some hiccups, but I am able to walk away proud of the work our team did to make Bear happen this year.
We need more people to take this leap.
Without a significant increase in volunteers to take on high-responsibility roles, Bear will have to fold. Sure, events like Bear can be held with a skeleton crew and many are, but it’s cuts like these that will lead to an even more permanent end to Bear: where the magic is gone and the race fades from memory.
I guess the point here is that if you loved racing Bear – consider reaching out to CRCA next year to lend a hand. They can use every bit of help on offer.
Like I said, directing the Bear Mountain Classic is not an easy task. But when complete you can walk away proud, knowing that you made a real, tangible, difference for the sport in New York City. And chances are you’ll have some new friends in the form of 500 racers who were able to participate in part due to your efforts.