Yes, my continual obsession with understanding the economic benefits of mountain bike tourism continues (See here and here for previous expositions on this topic), but in this case I felt justified because as anyone who has done Wildside MTB knows – it’s not a cheap event to enter with the entry fee + one support person alone costing $730.
For the record, it’s an even more expensive event if you decide to buy yourself a new bike just before the event and then have to spend all that extra money on tubeless conversions, extra bike racks for the car (I blame cmc for putting that idea in my head) and all the other miscellaneous rubbish (tubes, tyres, brake pads etc.) that new bikes with different wheel sizes and braking systems require.
In my case this added well over $3000 to the event cost, but I’ll only include a small fraction of that cost – specifically that which was directly related to the event (tubes, tyres, brake pads etc.) in the analysis below.
Back on topic, there are a lot of people who descend on the West Coast for this event, and ipso facto it should provide a big boost to the local economy, right?
Well, I think so.
So, in the interests of my obsession, and deciding to pretend to be scientific for this event I doubled, yes that’s right, I D-O-U-B-L-E-D, my sampling pool …
This analysis is based on not one, but two people.
I hope you were sitting down when you read that bombshell, and yes there is no length that I won’t go to in order to generate data to justify my opinions on things.
Oh … and a big thank you to cmc and family for agreeing to be in my sample set (I will now return all of your kidnapped garden gnomes).
Unfortunately, I hadn’t really thought through my sample set very well, because if I had I might have realised that as we were both travelling in family packs (2 adults, 2 children) and that we’d ask them for suggestions on where to stay and what to do over there … well, we both ended up with pretty similar expenditure profiles.
In fact all I really got from including their data (I’ll call them the cmc’s) was the realisation that they got better prices at most of the places we stayed at (darn it) and that not only was there something like 300+ riders between Jon and I in the race standings … they pretty much trounced me on every financial metric as well …
The event cost us just shy of $3,000 and the more frugal cmc’s managed to come in at $2,500 despite spending two extra nights travelling which showed up in their higher accommodation expenditure (show offs).
(Not wanting to spread rumours, but I have heard that the cmc’s were so hardcore in their desire to win our financial contest that they slept under picnic blankets on the first night just to save money and beat us … true story … you can read back through cmc’s blog if you don’t believe me.)
What I’m really interested in though is local expenditure, ie. what portion of our expenditure actually got spent over on the West Coast (or at least in the local economy on the way there and back rather than back in Hobart).
Here’s that answer …
We spent about $1,200 and the cmc’s about $1,500.
So the cmc’s come out in front on the “who’s helping out the locals the most” metric (of course) spending more in both absolute and relative terms in the local economy (they really aren’t leaving me anything to claim victory on) with 56% of their money spent locally, and only 40% of ours spent locally (though I’d argue this is biased by their spending six nights to our four, plus I included nearly $600 of pre-race bike expenditure related to the new bike).
By far the largest expenditure by both of us in the local economy was accommodation, constituting 56% of our local expenditure and 68% (yawn, it must be boring to win everythng) of the cmc’s local expenditure.
Looked at on a nightly basis, we spent $304 a night locally for our four night adventure and the cmc’s spent $239 per night for their six night adventure. I’m not going to claim that, as it feels a bit like creating a special division just so I’ll win something, and even I’m not that sad (but I did win that category).
What is scary is that these numbers are starting to look like the numbers that often appear in studies on the economic benefits of cycling to local economies, and if you multiply that by 400+ competitors you end up with something like $500,000+ being injected directly into the local economy just during the race, plus whatever portion of the race entry and support fees also flowed into the economy which could easily be another $200,000.
Which means that I’ve just done all of this work to maybe disprove my central premise which is that the economic benefits of mountain biking are usually overstated …
On that note, I’m signing off and going riding …
In breaking news, I strongly suspect that the cmc’s aren’t going to participate in further surveys once they’ve read this, so before I run away and hide from both them now that they know I stole their garden gnomes and Kim (who is still trying to find me from my previous post on her paddling skills) … anyone else want to be my next guinea pig?