Is Road Racing dead? How can we ressurect/build cycling as a niche sport?


I started racing when I was in law school and was technically living below the poverty line. I still managed to buy myself a bike. Later, when my kids were taking all my money :wink: I rode and raced the same bike for 11 years straight. Where there is will there is a way. The problem is on the will part not the $$ part.


Not here in Spain, it’s a little trendy, in Andorra for example it’s super trendy


I think you’re out of touch with normal Americans (especially people under 30 years old) if you think $1500 is an insignificant amount of money.


I’m not saying it is insignificant. Exactly the opposite. if it is significant, you’ll find a way to do it. I see people without much money enter the sport of cycling all the time. Heck, the prototypical up and coming racer is someone in their early 20’s who sleeps on friends couches and must win primes for gas money to get home. Cycling might be the poorest sport around. if you’re poor, you’ll fit right in :wink:

I am sympathetic to young people without cash. What i have no patience for is folks who have jobs, cars and houses whining that bike racing is too expensive. Our local bi weekly crit series is $20 a race. What organized activity can you do that is cheaper than that?


This is utterly ridiculous. The line of argument that people unwilling to give up essentials like transportation, food and shelter to race a freaking bike just are dedicated enough is insane.


Heck, the prototypical up and coming racer is someone in their early 20’s who sleeps on friends couches and must win primes for gas money to get home. Cycling might be the poorest sport around.

ehhhh, it’s good to keep in mind that almost every single one of these 20something guys who is sleeping on couches and winning primes for gas money either has a college education in their back pocket already, or parents who can provide a safety net when they get tired of being poor.

That’s part of the reason that the bike racing community is so dominated by middle class white people. Actual poor people can’t take the risk of being out of the real workforce at that point in their lives. These kids may be poor but in most cases it’s still just ‘playing poor’ not being actually poor.


One of the most charming things about gravel (most gravel) is that they’re mullet races. It’s all business at the front but it’s a party at the back. You can’t do that at a road race.

Also, by gravel roads by their very nature enforce safety in the peloton. There are two tracks on the flats & three on the the hills. The group forms up single file in those tracks. If you get into the loose stuff you gotta push +50 watts to hang in. So you don’t often get a bunch of super tired but aggressive dudes bumping bars at 25+ mph.

Gravel is just safer. I’m not sure I can quantify why but it is. It’s not just due to lack of traffic…it’s also down to the way riders race gravel. Even though in many cases it’s the same riders. First stage race I ever did I saw a broken hip, broken neck, broken arm, concussion, dislocated finger. In all my gravel days I’ve seen one guy rip part of his face off & kymnonstop’s leg bone. Gravel just seems to be more safe.

That’s a big part of road cycling’s problem: safety. Tommy K…Chad Young…Scarponi…Mike Hall…Mathieu Riebel…Antione Demoiti…the list goes on. If you’ve been cycling for more than a few years I bet you can name somebody in your extended cycling group that has been killed.


Nothing about the current road racing scene is even remotely fun, cool, or inspirational to a young person. If you fix this problem, road racing will come back.

Look at NICA and Red Hook if you want to know what I mean.

A young person who rides a bike right now would much rather be Kate Courtney or Justin Williams rather than Chris Froome. Who could blame them?


This seems a bit unfair, anyone who is a serious gravel or cx or xc racer is going to be doing a lot of training on the roads so is exposed to the exact same dangers that killed people like Scarponi.


I disagree. Training can take place in many places (inside and out) and can be reduced or eliminated from the more active paved roads if desired.


Negative! I once rode 134 miles of gravel and saw exactly three cars the whole time. There just not much interaction with motorists on a gravel ride.


“This is utterly ridiculous. The line of argument that people unwilling to give up essentials like transportation, food and shelter to race a freaking bike just are dedicated enough is insane.”

Insane? Maybe. But you have obviously never met any serious athletes. No sane 35 or 40 year old guy is going to sell his car to buy a bike but that level of dedication and sacrifices such sacrifices are pretty normal at the developmental levels of all sports. Not everyone has to sacrifice at that level but many do. And, when you are 22 and pursuing the dream, its fun, not really a sacrifice.


Let’s take a breath and check our tone.

Please, post on the issue and drop the implications of state of mind, etc.


I’m not disputing that that isn’t the reality for many. However, my point is that (1) it shouldn’t have to be this way and (2) if you want to grow the sport, it can’t be this way.

The cycling community needs to come together to find a way to get more young people involved.


If you’re referring to me, I’m not sure where I was out of line. I attacked the idea, not the person.


I’m not pointing fingers, just trying to stay ahead of what seemed to be some increase in tension along the way.

I may well be off base (not the first or last time), but I’d rather step in early than late, just to be safe.

Back to our regular positing


Justin Williams is primarily a (non fixed) crit racer… so if he’s cool to young people, then maybe that’s an avenue worth investigating.


These two articles offer a glimpse into what a new world of road/crit racing might look like:


Soooo many agreeables in this thread!

Like most things in life, I doubt there is one single cause of RR decline…it’s just a bunch of factors – some recent, some long time coming – which have created kind of a perfect storm.

Look at the huge boom RR had when L@nce was “winning”…what’s different between now and then?

And, maybe we just have to accept the fact that perhaps RR’s time has come and gone…like arena football.

Totally this! But I’ll add my two cents: BETTER race organizers!
Complete third rate BS organizers were the main reason I quit racing in the first place. In the 25 years I’ve been around bikes and races, I’ve heard exactly ONE organizer say the same thing – R.O. have to step up their game big time. It’s kind of like a ‘build it and they will come’ deal. Organize an awesome race, and pull it off awesomely, and you’ll get the riders to support it. However, and I’ll readily admit, organizing a race is a LOT of work that not many people have the time or inclination to take on. So…???

Just as a reference, scroll through this thread, So tell us about your A Race for 2019. Out of ~170 posts, you’ll find less than a dozen traditional road race events, and I think most of those are regional/national (i.e. they have to be run).

Even personally, after 2020 I can see myself not doing any hyper-competitive RR and just doing uber-fun epic events.


I know how much a bike costs. I was referring to our culture of celebrating an eating disorder with a shopping addiction. It’s not the bike that’s expensive. It’s the culture that celebrates spending another $2000 on wheels, recommends skin suits for $300, says training is essentially useless without a power meter or smart trainer (TR is a great democratizer here). You don’t need those things to race, but you’ll be an awkward third to 80% of conversations at races.

And I think it’s weird that pointing that out would elicit a response that belittles people who would feel priced out of the sport because of that culture.