So, that happened. Nine weekends, twenty seven events, seven thousand two hundred and two individual starts (not including TTTs or USAC Road categories). All in all, the season went well.
Perhaps most importantly, I don't think there were too many serious injuries. That's not to say there weren't tragedies, there certainly were, but I'm not aware of any outrageously bad incidents in competition. A number of collar bones, an elbow, some wrists, a pinkie, a few concussions. I could be wrong, but I don't think there was much more serious than that, which, sad to say, is a positive result in this sport. Collecting incident data and improving course review procedures is definitely on the agenda for next year, however.
Beyond that, participation in 2009 was awesome. The chart here plots growth over the last seven years, the only years for which we really have solid data, as charted by rider starts (i.e., as opposed to unique riders). Note that 2007 featured several weekends canceled due to "weather," hence the sudden dip in participation. That dip probably had large effects on 2008, especially when combined with a general slowing in cycling growth (a dulling of the national Lance Effect). It will be interested to see what kind of growth we see next year. One very reasonable theory is that conference growth has substantial lag effects. For example, dropping five days of racing in 2007 meant that 2008 took a substantial hit right off the bat, and had minimal growth from 2006. On the positive side though, given that so many people raced so much this year, what will next year look like? There was a bumper crop of Women's B, Men's D, and Intro racers this year, which could have positive, long term effects for the next few years.
On that note, women's participation by raw numbers was stellar this year. I don't think any race has been close to the ~110 women that raced at Rutgers/Princeton this year. That said, percentages followed a trend of the last two years and were slightly down compared to a few years ago, averaging 20.47% women each weekend in 2009 with a maximum of 24.92%, as opposed to 25% average in 2006 and a 33% maximum. Given that there was not a decline in women's participation, that means we're not growing women's cycling as quickly as men's cycling, and that's something we need to get back on track.
Overall though, growth seemed solid, and we should all be happy. Our biggest races were not quite as big as the 2007 record-setters, but they were close, and all races this year shifted up a scale. Even our smallest weekends are getting close to what was solidly mid-tier not too long ago.
For those interested, statistics from the past few years have been uploaded to the ECCC website, here.