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

#105

Here’s the same link without all that tracking link spyware BS. https://www.velonews.com/2019/01/news/cadel-evans-great-ocean-road-race-finds-its-groove_483088

#106

Let me put in my plug here for track cycling. There’s an inclusive community. The gear is cheaper and easier to maintain. In NYC we’ve got a great youth development program (http://www.startrackcycling.org/). The racing is safer. Races are short enough that getting dropped only means a few extra laps of soloing.

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#107

Well this stinks: https://www.velonews.com/2019/02/news/red-hook-criterium-cancels-2019-races_483491

#108

I wish there were more track facilities in the States. Something I’d love to get into.

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#109

I love my road bike, but I’m more than satisfied chasing Strava KOMs. It’s fun to watch the weather and trail conditions like a hawk and then plan out rides to smash segments based on the current conditions. Definitely a fair bit of strategy in it.

If I’m going to race, I prefer to do cyclocross over criteriums/road races.

That being said, I love watching the Intelligentsia Cup & Tour of Americas Dairyland races each year.

#110

Thanks for sharing. I raced the Oak Ridge Omnium last weekend and was impressed by how well organized the event was. It was a great weekend of racing and worth the drive from Cincinnati. Planning on the Johnson City Omnium in June so maybe I’ll see you there!

#111

Alpine ski racing is certainly not going down in popularity, and when you get serious you need 4 pairs of racing skis which makes the $1500 bike sound pretty darn cheap. The main difference: people start ski racing when they’re 5. There’s a large pyramid of young talent sustaining the elite.

#113

700+ pre-registered for Boulder Roubaix.

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#114

That’s an awesome figure! And probably on par with the Colorado cycling scene.

The question is… How do we replicate that in other regions? :grinning:

#115

Sadly, it is anomalous in CO. Boulder Roubaix a legendary race that’s offered only every other year, so the FOMO is strong. Road races later in the year are lucky to get 25 starters in the most popular categories. But that’s better than nothing, and some ambitious race promoters are working to bring new races to the local scene, so there is hope. Now if people would just show up to those races.

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#116

Sad to hear this is still the case.

I moved from Atlanta to FTC many years ago and was surprised by the lack of racing on the front range. Just a few crits and some road races out east. Even a stage race in Lamar… weird.

I know it’s a logistics/promoter expense issue but still a bummer.

#117

But, that’s because we decide to start CX in the middle of August with the back to basics hah. I do wish we had some later road races in the season instead of crits or a hill climb every weekend. And yeah, Boulder Roubaix is legendary. I am curious about the Golden RR and the new one in Fort Collins area later in the year.
And honestly, the CO road racing scene in the 1/2 can be strange. A lot of people do travel races. We have a solid crew at Joe Martin.

#118

In my area sanctioned road events are failing bad. Nearly everyone (it seems) would rather do “events” where it’s a race up front and a party in the back followed by an opportunity for everyone to socialize after. So, gravel events, tours, and fondos are what people are focusing on. Can’t blame them as there is something for everyone whereas in a criterium for example, it’s pretty much kill or be killed. Nothing like blocking off half a day paying $40USD and getting dropped and pulled after 15 minutes. The only peeps who like to do that are the ones who are usually more fit. Not saying more fit than the other events just that you can do a tour, fondo, gravel event (to some degree) and ride it more on a social level. Not so much for the traditional road events.

We have multiple group rides every day here so I don’t think there is a lack of desire to ride on the road. Maybe less than the late 90’s but, I see a huge amount of riders out there. They just have no desire to put in the time to be competitive and/or put up with the logistics of USAC style racing.

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#119

Watch this spot. The Golden Road Race is a new race on real Colorado roads around Golden Gate Canyon and Peak to Peak. Of course, most people won’t do it because there are too many hills. Hopefully the Ft. Collins race comes together. If it’s the same course as before, they couldn’t get the permit last year.

As for the schedule, start with CX Nationals, then back up however many weeks to accommodate all the racing that people want to do, and actually show up to do, and suddenly it’s the end of August and there you have it. I don’t know why there isn’t domestic US cross racing after Nationals. Road Nationals are mid-season and that seems to work OK.

1 Like
#120

You bring up a great point. We have a fondo or two in the front range of CO that attract huge numbers. Things like Mt. Evans fondo, Triple Bypass, Copper Triangle, all these events where you don’t need to purchase a license are huge. Plus, all of the popular xc racing events in CO are also non sanctioned. Huge numbers. But, the local series where you need a license I feel is on the verge of dying. When I lived in the mountains, we had a local xc series that was a party. Racing was hard - the pro/expert cat was as tough as anything I’ve raced before, but the post race party/awards was always fun.
It takes a lot of work just to be average in road racing.

@jlittle: I love riding around Golden Gate and peak to peak is another story. I think that’s why the Boulder Stage Race is not widely attended. We did it because we wanted the team points for Road Cup and no one else sent two racers for the entire thing. I think it would be more popular if say there was a crit instead of the uphill TT to Eldora. The road race to Nederland from Lyons, ugh. Brutal. Gorgeous, but brutal.
Agreed about a domestic cx post nationals.

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#121

The main issue with “traditional” road racing is that it’s an all-or-nothing sport. You either can keep up with the pack, or you can’t. And if you can’t, well, might as well ride by yourself. That makes it a hard sport to get people excited about joining.

Hence the popularity of Grand Fondo events, triathlons, gravel events, and even CX - you can do the same as in a running race, you can do “your race”, perform to your level, and still be “in” the event. Maybe even win in your age category, a few minutes back from the leaders.

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#122

Interesting, sure seems like one big reason. Went thru a similar thought process myself in January before pulling the trigger on a license - because I can (and do) get dropped for free every Wed night by Cat 1/2/3 guys.

Fondos and group rides are more fun to casually participate in, as people of similar abilities end up self-organizing into smaller groups.

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#124

Add to those the Iron Horse, Leadville events, SBT GRVL this year. Lots of interest in what many riders view as destination or epic events.

Like @Landis said, for smaller races, if you’re not on the pointy end, it can get a bit demoralizing. While the prospect of just finishing an “epic” event is enough to give you motivation.

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#125

Welp… and here I am doing my first cycling race in a few weeks. What a time to jump in? lol.

I did want to chime in a bit with my experience to see if it might bring up new ideas or conversation.

I started out as a runner into triathlete. After dealing with achilles and knee issues, I’ve been maintaining and building fitness through cycling. Pretty much all of my training is indoors save for any organized rides.

For training, I’ve run the gamut of apps and such. Currently I use TrainerRoad, Zwift, and Peloton. I remember during one of the Peloton classes I took, the instructor was talking about being into track cycling. She talks about the variety of events she participates in. Eventually I look up these track events. From what I saw, it looked entertaining. Then I started getting interested in crit racing (thanks Team ClifBar) and at some point, I’m thinking of taking up a seminar on track cycling since we have a velodrome nearby.

The point of exploring my cycling behavior is that it seems like when it comes to racing, I might be interested in pursuing races like criteriums or track events (to be determined as the year goes on). For me, I don’t mind the small course if it means convenience. I probably would be open to a road race on something like a 5-10mi circuit. However, if I’m going to participate in a longer ride (metric century or longer), I’d gravitate towards ones that offer timed segments and that would satiate my competitiveness otherwise I’d probably opt for a 30-40mi option if I’m by myself. Of course, then there’s the epic events. Over here in the region I’m in, that’d be ones like the Assault on Mt. Mitchell and Six Gap Century. I wouldn’t take them on until I feel fit enough to take them on.

Outdoor aside, I do participate in Zwift races every now and then. FWIW, it’s the primary reason why I still have Zwift. As long as there’s a decent pool of people within my ability, then I definitely get a heck of a workout from them.

#126

Maybe the downhill trend of competetive ameteur racing is more a commentry on society?

Cycling is a sport where there is only one winner in any race. If you start a race with 100 people, 99 of those people aren’t going to win. You’ve got to be ok with killing yourself training all year, racing for hours on end and then, ultimately, have very little chance of winning. Realistically, this is a tough ask for the psyche of most people.

In a world of ‘participation’ awards and ‘medals for all finishers’, the fondo style events of getting to race people if you want to, but in the event you don’t win you can just say ‘it wasn’t a race…!’, are much more aligned with the non-commital and reward seeking mentality of the general public these days…

Throw in entry costs, extensive travel requirements and time commitments and you may be putting the nails in the coffin for many people who may have any inkling they should try racing?

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