Peddler Dirt Derby holds bike races on Tuesdays


Thomas Allison

Nicole Marcoe (right), a mountain bike enthusiast visiting Texas from the San Francisco Bay Area, rides through a straight-away in the Peddler Dirt Derby Tuesday night.

Bobby Blanchard

With the hope of getting more beginners riding on Texas trails with their bikes, Central Texas Grassroots Cycling will be hosting four more bicycle races this spring.

The Peddler Dirt Derby, CTXGC’s 2012 spring bike series, takes place Tuesday nights at the Del Valle Motorcross Park. The nonprofit organization CTXGC names the Dirt Derby series each year after its title sponsor. The Peddler, a bike shop in Austin, is this year’s sponsor. The second in their series of six races was hosted Tuesday night, with about 40
racers participating.

CTXGC’s president Ryan Albert said the organization’s mission is to promote fitness through cycling while making it more accessible for those with a casual interest.

“We want it to be like backyard football,” Albert said. “Most other sports you can just pick it up; go play with your buddies in the backyard or the park. We want to make more opportunities like that for people with cycling.”

Albert said there are typically two different kinds of bicycling races: noncompetitive charity events, which can be expensive to get into and USA cycling events which are also costly and can intimidate a beginner. Albert said USA cycling events also require a license, which adds to the cost.

“Out here, you can come and try it for $5 with no license, no barrier to entry really — just show up with a bike,” Albert said. “This is a good beginner level event for people who want to come out here and sample.”

Albert said the reason their prices were comparatively low was because of the sponsorships they get.

“We typically sponsor with partners we believe in, and we try to find sponsors that have a little bit of a coolness factor or a local favor,” Albert said.

Tom Mahnke, a local real-estate agent, is one of the current sponsors. He joined in the races Tuesday evening and said the event had a friendly atmosphere.

“Everybody is very friendly and it is just a great way to hang out with friends on Tuesday night,” Mahnke said.

Jacob Dodson, 2010 UT alumnus and CTXGC board member, said he joined the program during its fall series of 2008 when he was still a student. He said children can always race for free and the group hosts events like ‘Ladies’ Night,’ when women can race for free.

“We are a nonprofit, so we are not out there for making gobs of cash,” Dodson said. “We are just out there to provide a good night of racing and promote fitness through cycling.”

The Dirt Derby started in 2006 as a for-profit business that hosted races. Albert changed the races into nonprofit events in 2008, which he said helped in several ways.

“I shifted the flavor to what it really is and that made it easier to get sponsorships and volunteers,” Albert said.

Albert said they have gotten a lot of UT students as participants in the past, mostly in the fall.

“We’ve had a lot that have just come spectate,” Albert said. “They don’t know if they want to do it, they just come out here and hang out and drink a beer with us, and that’s cool. We don’t charge for spectators.”

However, Albert said they could always use more students in attendance.

“I think we’re missing the boat on UT students,” Albert said. “I think we could get a lot more.”

Printed on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 as: Dirt Derby draws excitement