One of my new year’s resolutions for 2019 was to find ways to be more frugal. I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to anyone reading this, but racing can take up a big portion of anyone’s “fun” budget. Especially if you race a lot. The good thing is that with a bit of craftiness and creativity, you can keep racing and keep your money too. Here are some of my tried and true methods for cutting race costs:
Trade Your Time
I’ve done this two different ways — by being a member of the MN Mountain Bike Series executive committee, and by doing one-off race day volunteering.
I became a member of the MN Mtb Series after writing an email to the group to complain about the lack of a women’s comp field. They said that I could join them if I wanted to learn about how the series works and make a difference — so I did. This is my first full year on the committee and so far I’ve helped find sponsors, streamlined our sponsorship process, created a race day playlist, audited and re-wrote copy on the website, coordinated partnerships with local mtb organizations, advocated for an ebike adaptive class, and created a template for financial gift proposals.
For race day volunteering, I typically just email the race promoter a few weeks before the race offering to help out in exchange for free or discounted race reg. So far I’ve helped out with running registration, course tear down, and corner marshalling. Fun and easy work for free racing!
Leverage Your Friendships
Last year Cory and I stayed in Madison, WI for Trek Cup for free. I’m fortunate to work for a bike-centric company so I just sent an email out to our race/ride group to see if anyone had any connections to the Madison area. It turned out that a coworker went to college there and some friends were willing to host us. Our hosts were super friendly, gave us all the insider info on where to eat/drink, and even came out to watch the races with us on the final day. When in doubt, reach out! You never know who might have a friend who’s willing to carpool, let you crash on their couch, lend you some gear, or share a campsite in exchange for a six pack of beer and some pizza.
Give the Gift of Racing
My husband also likes going on bike trips and competing in the occasional race so each year we buy each other event registrations or event lodging in lieu of physical gifts for birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas, etc. That way we get to experience cool trips and race venues together instead of just accumulating more clutter.
For the past 5 years I’ve been on a bike team that covered at least a portion of my race fees. If you’re willing to put in the work to contact sponsors, draft contracts, and negotiate funding, team sponsorships can be a really effective way to defray race registration costs. In my experience, team sponsors are willing to give a lot more if your team hires a professional photographer to create assets that sponsors may use for commercial purposes.