New Formats of Racing

Having seen the massive success of the multi-day team based stage racing at Ride the Lobster, I wonder if there are other cool formats for racing that need to be organised.

I’ve been thinking a bit about other ways to get a racing fix. I’ve got a few ideas for race formats, mostly looking at the low budget / easy to organise end of things, given that’s inevitably where I organise events-

First the obvious - a multi-day solo stage race. 50 miles or so a day. Done with a luggage van to carry overnight gear but no support crews.

A format I really want to organise is a time trial, where you are given some object (say a toy animal) and a set of locations, and you have to take pictures of that object in each location, and get back to the start with your pictures. I think this could work fantastically well as a muni racing format - especially in the UK where our countryside areas are very well mapped, and have large numbers of potential trails. This could be done in a fixed order for more of a plain race, or in any order for a trailquest type event. Potentially this could be organised as an explicitly unsupported event, with no first aid cover, although possibly in the UK at least that would mean not having any official timing (a lot of not quite races are run over here as ‘reliability trials’, which means you are not officially timed, and prizes are typically given out randomly not for placing - this means you can do them on open roads and without big organising teams.)

Does anyone else have any good ideas for race formats that would work well for long distance road, or muni racing?


Yes, but I can’t take the credit for it. I can’t remember who said that someone else here was thinking about doing something like this, so if I’m stealing your thunder, or have missed any important bits, I’m sorry.

Anyway, it’s basically a 24 hour race where everyone starts at the same point. The goal is to get as far away (with photographic or gps evidence) and back again within that time. Obviously riding speed is a key factor here, but you’re also gambling on how much time it’ll take to get back (big penalties if you take more than 24 hours), the terrain and route you take, and how much sleep you can do without.


that sound some what slightly mad. Getting as far as possible in 24 hrs is one thing, but back again… that’s mad!

Well, it’s more like getting as far as possible in 12 hours, but because you’ll want some sleep, it might be as far as you can go in 10 hours. Plus you’ll probably be slower on the second day, so you might opt to just go as far as you can in 9 hours. All about tactics, you see :slight_smile:


There’s a race in NC that has people race to different checkpoints in any order and checkpoints are not disclosed till raceday. There are 7 checkpoints and you only need to reach 4 and return to the Start/Finish area. However, if you do more than 4 check points, each extra checkpoint is a certain amount of time off your total time.

Ahh I see, tactics and stratagy, your smarter than your avatar makes you look :stuck_out_tongue:

Have done, trail quest or Polaris style - score orienteering with BIG time penalties if your late back.

Alleycat racing, dash from checkpoint to checkpoint in an urban environment, is a format that I’ve compeeted in on both bike and uni in Oxford. It originated amongst bike courier communitites in NYC. Much of your speed in an alleycat comes from being as reckless in traffic as possible, youtube it if you don’t believe me. This does make it pretty dangerous as a format, i’ve had some near misses on the bike that I wouldn’t have been able to save on the uni. Still it’s an awful lot fo fun, and a real test of your skills.

The race I linked to is a mountain race, and that’s what I thought would work well since Joe Marshall said there are a lot of country roads and trails for a MUni race in the UK.

A trials or Muni race

Set up a trials course in a large circular loop. An alarm clock is started, and the riders line up, and go onto the start of the course at 20 sec intervals. You ride the course as far as you can, and place your marker at the side of the course, where you upd. Then go back to the end of the line, and start the course over from the beginning. Assuming you get further the second try, your marker is advanced to that spot.

The better riders are at a slight disadvantage, in that they must ride more of the course over again to get to the part where they upd. The weaker riders will have many chances to see the better riders clear the spots that are giving them trouble. Of course, the obstacles near the end should be harder then those near the start.

If a rider clears the whole loop, they put a check next to their name on the lap board. After the alarm sounds, who ever went furthest, or had more laps, would be the winner.

A muni version would be faster with more muni type obstacles.

What I like about this format, is there is a lot of action for the riders waiting
their turn to watch. And unless it was a very long course, with a whole lot of riders, you would wait in line hardly long enough to catch your breath, before it would be your turn to go again.

Because I was inspired in the dirt loop format by motocross and supercross, I would suggest the name’s trials cross, and super muni !:slight_smile:

I was just ruminating on other kinds of uni races, too.

A race that would be fun is two runner/uniers. Both members of the two-person team start at the same time. Dude A rides the uni some distance, drops the cycle, and starts running. Dudette B, running, reaches the uni & rides past A, who’s now running. B drops uni and starts running and so on.

Or how about one bicycle, one uni? That could be really cool since fast gunis are breaking into bike speeds.

This leapfrogging would make for a lot of contact with other riders, a great thing about RTL.

On a long solo ride, you might likely be riding big chunks of the ride alone.

Yeah, I think I told you about that it’s Steve Colligan’s idea originally. The great thing about it is that you can do it to pretty much any time, like 3 hours or 1 hour or whatever your choice is.

The key to it is that if you take more than the cutoff time, you lose. That way you have to really be careful about time and route planning. Not having checkpoints means that everyone would have to choose their own route completely - it’d be interesting to see if everyone chose the same route, or if people went in totally different directions. Potentially for muni, you could have constraints on using the road, although that might limit people to only a few choices if you weren’t careful about the area.

As for your suggestion of sleeping during a 24 hour event, you are officially a wuss, you’d have plenty of time to sleep once you got back.


That’s quite common on bikes. When I’ve done them they tend to be called “touring competitions” or something. They give you a list of locations (usually as map references, sometimes as cryptic clues if they’re feeling evil) and some are worth more points than others (usually ones on top/bottom of hills or further from the start point are worth more). You have to score as many points as possible by going to those locations and proving you’ve been there somehow (picture/answer question/get stamp/whatever) and get back within the time limit. Points are deducted for being late, although in ones I’ve done it was sometimes worth being “tactically late” by a few minutes to bag a high-point location. I’ve only ever done it on the road, but it would be cool off-road in a suitable place.


Liam and I entered as a pair for a TrailTrax competition a couple of years back on 29er’s.

We were made welcome by the organisers and keep meaning to attend another event.

Ah, at last, a format where I can compete with Joe… and WIN! :smiley:

Yeah, now you mention Steve, that rings a bell.

STM - an official wuss

Here I sit in the middle of N.A. In order to consider spending a couple to several thousand on travel & lost-wages on another race in some far-away locale, it would have to be a damn good one.

We’ve just had an excellent TDF-style stage race - how about a RAAM-style, point-to-point race. A geographic or political body could frame it up. Five to 10 days.

Teams of two, one bike & one uni, with both needing to travel always (safety & sociality in #'s). Changing rides an drafting legal. Maybe panniers on the bike could make this a self sustained race and fossil fueled support vehicle eliminated. This would have the added effect or making cheating difficult.

Complex and super organized races like RTL are a terrific luxury but the costs are terrific too. This format could be organization-lite + staff-lite = $$-lite for org. & riders.

Perhaps two to three official ‘bed and hot meal’ stops - otherwise - each team would be on its own. With the big wheels involved, the race could still have a wowzer factor.

A couple ideas off the top of my head;

Circumnavigation of Lake Superior, N.A. @ appx. 1600 km
Iceland -

The Trailtrax we did was pretty well-suited to unis, competitors choose their own route so you don’t have congested trails and bikers needing to overtake all the time.

I’ve just had a look at the organisers’ website, they’re running them again this year, the first one is this Saturday! The Tilford one that we did is going to be on the 26th of October. If there was enough interest (probably about 6 or more riders) they’d probably let us have a uni category:)

Has it crossed anyones mind to be the first to ride RAAM (Race Across America) on gunis? They have lots of team categories - seems pretty flexible organizationally though the time average cut-offs could be problematic. We’d have a year to qualify and train.

Ck. these guys on fixies;

Dan - see a new thread I’ve started on this.

If you have to race in the standard race, it’s 3000 miles in 9 days which is a constant 13.8mph average - which is very similar to the average of the German Speeders at RTL.

If you could get allowed to run an 8 man team, but start with the solos, it’s 3000 miles in 12 days = 250 miles a day which is harsh, but definitely doable.

You’d need 8 people, who could happily ride 32 miles a day at 11mph average. There are probably loads of people at RTL who could do that - the top teams were riding at over 13.5mph average, so it’d just be a matter of training up to be fit enough to do it for 2 weeks solid, and getting used to sleeping at funny times of day. It’d only involve riding 3 hours a day per person, loads of us have done 6 hour days of riding for a week, which is surely almost as hard?