Workin’ the mouth

April 7, 2017 § 14 Comments

I’ve always maintained that industrial park crit racing is really boring for spectators. A huge mass of people go round and round, they’re harder to distinguish than fall warblers, then someone shoots out at the end, throws her hands up, and the race is over.

Who’d want to watch that for fifty minutes, or even fifteen?

But then I thought about America’s most popular sport, throwball. The players are indistinguishable if you’re a neophyte. What they are doing is incomprehensible. Some umpire dude is constantly blowing a whistle and throwing a flag. Everyone suddenly decides to give the throwball to the other team. Someone runs across the finish line. Another dude kicks the throwball through the fork tines. Weird point combinations of six, three, one, sometimes two, appear at random. WTF?

And for all that, people go ape-fuggin-shit and hundreds of millions of dollars change hands online.

What do they got that we don’t got?

Then it hit me. Announcers. They got announcers. Some of them are great. Some of them are awful. All of them have mountains of crap to say. One dude talks about how four seasons ago one throwball dude dragged down another throwball dude. Another talks about somebody’s fifth knee operation. Some other dude compares one throwball team to the Pittsburgh Flintstones’ Stone Curtain from the 70s. It may be drivel, but it’s informative drivel.

But bike races? Crits have four types of announcers:

  1. This is my playlist. Hope you like the 70s.
  2. Nathan Newbie. “Hey everbody!! (Is this mic live)?”
  3. Jaded Fuddy Duddy. (“Looks like you all missed the break. Hahahaha.”)
  4. Awesome Announcer (“You’re not paying me? See ya.”)

Numbers one and two are self-explanatory and common. And guess what? Spectators don’t have to come to your industrial park crit to listen to K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

Number three is some dude who’s been around forever, is sarcastic and cynical, and when he pays attention, if at all, it’s for the pro race. Men’s.

This year the CBR Crit took a different approach. It got Rahsaan Bahati, David Worthington, and David Wells to create an actual commentating crew.

AND IT PAID THEM.

These three guys are all smart, glib, and experienced announcers, but most importantly they know the racers and they know how to race. Whether it’s the Cat 5 Crit or the Masters 55+, they call out names, real names. None of that “Here comes number 69 leading the pack!”

It makes all the difference to a mom, dad, brother, girlfriend, sister, or boyfriend to hear a name called out. And it makes all the difference to all the spectators to hear experienced racers break down what’s going on, lap by lap. Analyzing riders’ strengths, speculating about weaknesses, commenting on strategy, filling the time with anecdotes and explanations makes these races become for the spectator what they are for the racer: Fun.

It’s easy to get great bike race announcers, but after a day or two spent in the hot sun shouting yourself hoarse for eight hours it transitions from “fun” and “helping the community” to “work.” Professionalizing it by paying the announcers for what they bring to the event is one of the best investments a promoter can make.

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§ 14 Responses to Workin’ the mouth

  • Michelle landes says:

    It’s the reason I came out the first time and the second ! The music was so good I had to dance!! And hearing landes on the mic was rad even if I was last!! Kristie fox egging us girls on with compliments is a good addition too can’t wait till #5😀

  • the old diesel says:

    Great idea.

  • dangerstu says:

    Simple ideas are typically the best.

  • dpcowboy54 says:

    what’s wrong with 70’s music (or 60’s?)….just sayin’…

  • shano92107 says:

    ok that changes things. Your first paragraph sums it up pretty well. But if you have knowledgeable folks explaining the action all day – that almost makes it worth the drive just to go spectate (and learn!) for the entire day.
    Kudos to CBR for doing this, maybe I’ll have to give the crits another go (currently in that MTB phase of life, probably a hormonal thing)

  • Waldo says:

    Really disappointed to hear that Rahsaan and two Davids don’t dig KC (I’d lost hope for Wanky’s musical tastes long ago).

  • worthy10 says:

    Our goal is to inform entertain and CONNECT with racers and audience . Next time we plan on having a comments box where everyone may feel free to add bio/profile info for both racers and non-racers present. We will provide Fill-in-the-blank Index Cards (Questionnaires). E.g: Greatest cycling achievements, or, “These Cats on the Mic may be surprised to know this about Self/So-and-so”. Any suggestions here feel free to share as we are still crafting the Profile Cards. Let’s have some Fun with it! Thanks and See Ya’ll on The Flippy! 🏁

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