21st annual Montezuma’s Revenge called off
MONTEZUMA – This year’s Montezuma’s Revenge, widely considered the toughest 24-hour mountain bike race in the world, was canceled Friday by event director Byron Swezy.Swezy, who has taken a financial loss at Montezuma’s Revenge each of the 11 years he’s directed it, said there were several factors that led to his decision.”I’m bummed,” Swezy said by phone on Friday. “All the things that are supposed to line up are not lining up.”For starters, the 21st annual event’s primary sponsor, Lifestyle Network, which was slated to film a television show at the Revenge, recently reneged on its deal after it was bought out by a parent company. Swezy said billing Lifestyle’s presence at the Revenge enabled him to land a variety of additional sponsors.”The same thing actually happened with a different company last year,” the race director said. “We had to scramble at the last minute to find someone else to film it.”
Another growing concern for Swezy is a complex permit system put forth by the U.S. Forest Service. Although the Revenge received a five-year permit in 2005, there are sections of the course that riders are technically not supposed to ride on.”The Forest Service has been more flexible in the past, but it’s always been an issue.” Swezy said. “But last year they dropped a bomb when they asked us to get access permission from mineral rights owners along the course. There could be hundreds of people that own mineral rights. I’ve made dozens of phone calls and sent dozens of letters and I’ve gotten about a 10 percent response.”In addition to the high cost of orchestrating the Revenge – which has never featured more than 42 racers – it also takes considerable amounts of time – time that Swezy needs to devote to other projects.”My company (Colorado Bike & Ski Tours) specializes in corporate events,” said the husband and father. “Last year we put on 74 outdoor and recreational events around the state and country. We’re too busy to run (Montezuma’s).”Compounding Swezy’s collection of stumbling blocks is the fact that only one rider had registered for the Revenge (originally scheduled to begin Aug. 24) as of Friday.”We’re normally 50 percent registered at this point in the game,” he said. “That was another critical component in the decision.”
Looking aheadMontezuma’s Revenge may be down, but it’s not out,” Swezy said. The race is slated to return next summer with a new director.”I signed on 24-hour guru Nat Ross to be my successor,” said Swezy, whose company will still be involved with the race’s production. “We’re going to reformat the race and attempt to continue running it under the auspices of the toughest 24-hour mountain bike race in the world.”The outgoing race director recently sat down with Ross, who started a company called Pro Bike Center last year, to go over the details and numbers that pertained to running the storied race. When the meeting was over, Ross agreed to take the reins.”I’m really into it,” said Ross, who finished second at last year’s NORBA 24-hour National Championship. “Montezuma’s is a great community event and I think it has the potential to go beyond that. It’s a competition I want to put on the world map.”
Ross directed a global 24-hour series in 2004 and ’05.”He knows a hell of a lot more about race production and promotion than I do,” Swezy said. “The only bike race I’m involved with is my own.”As for potential financial pitfalls, the Golden pro doesn’t seem overly concerned.”Any time you take on an event, you run the risk of losing money,” Ross said. “But I have a lot of backers in the industry – people who support my movements and visions – so I think we’re OK.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at email@example.com.
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