Frist City Cycling's James Scott provides us with an in-depth analysis of the current state of cyclocross, by the numbers.
Article provided by James Scott: http://jls.cx/cyclocross-participation-in-the-us-2013-2016/
Colin (Colin Reuter of crossresults.com) tweeted the other day about a plateau in the number of cyclocross racers in the US:
This got me thinking: are the numbers stagnant across all US regions? Are some places shrinking, and others growing? Here in Colorado there’s a general perception that numbers are down this year, are we seeing something real? Colin was nice enough to extract a data set that contained state info and send it to me so I could pursue some answers to these questions. State data became reliable in 2013 – apparently before that, the scene in NULL was super hot – so that’s what we have here.
Note that I did some cleanup of the data, and my totals are a little bit shy of the American Racer Days in Crossresults Database graph that Colin posted in the Twitter thread linked above. However, the shape of the total results trend agrees to a first approximation with the American Racer Days graph. And yes, I have a lot of data series in a line graph, but I think this presentation makes it easiest to pick out the trends and see the relative participation in the bigger states. You can download the Tableau workbook with the data and remix to your heart’s content, and if you do, I want to see it.
For starters, it looks like Colorado is really on a downward trend. After a peak of 16,075 results in 2014, we logged only 12,367 in 2016, which is down about 25%. Washington declined about 29% from 2013 to 2015, then rebounded slightly to just about 11,000 results in 2016. Oregon, which boasts the most results of any state, stayed flat from 2013-2015 but declined by about 15% in 2016. Texas showed robust growth from 2013-2015, then dropped by 37% in 2016. Perhaps there’s some kind of Heritage Tree Disease at work there.
Fortunately, there’s some good news elsewhere. North Carolina’s results have nearly doubled from 2013-2016. New York is also on the upswing, as is Utah. New England in general has stayed stable. But it’s pretty clear that the overall decline is attributable to a drop in participation in a handful of states where CX is popular.
There are a few other things worth noting. Unsurprisingly, there’s a Nationals Bump:
World Cups don’t seem to have much of a halo, though.
Jingle Cross in Iowa went WC this year, and Cross Vegas has been that way since 2015. But that doesn’t seem to have moved the needle in overall participation in those states.
Can you tell that KMC crossed state lines to find a new venue?
Participation across those two states looks pretty flat, except for that.
Of course we can’t discern causes from these numbers, and it’s possible that we have data quality issues that obfuscate the true trends. But it appears that some strongholds of CX are a bit less strong than they were a few years ago, and growing areas aren’t quite making up for the decline. We can’t discern any causes for this trend from the attendance numbers themselves, but race promoters should consider what impact this apparent decline will have as we roll into race calendar coordination season.