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Old 05-30-14, 05:21 PM   #1
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Is amateur bike racing taken more seriously by it's participants than other sports?

I've wondered about this for a while. Idk if it's just me because I'm new to it, but do guys who race bikes take this **** far more seriously than guys in an amateur [other sport] league?

It just seems like racing bikes is a level or two above "hobby". Wondering what other guys think.
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Old 05-30-14, 05:28 PM   #2
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"Takes racing too seriously" is how bike racers call each other dicks.
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Old 05-30-14, 05:36 PM   #3
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I'd agree with this, it's a tough racket. I still love it. Everything is earned.

For me, the reason it is so damn competitive is its very hard to get any sort of recognition in this sport. So many people do it and there is so much time invested its really hard to stand out. In running you do a marathon or a sub 20 5k and you're an allstar. Triathlon its the same thing, finish an Ironman and your a god even its if its a bad time. Swimming its a 1 in 10 chance to win, so they will eventually happen. Bike racing, its win or nothing. Beat 40-125 guys and maybe you'll get a nod. People don't even care about podium these days.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:06 PM   #4
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I don't know. I've not done the others.

For sure you can play other sports with less time, but you can also race competitively on much less time than many of us do.

Does cycling attract obsessive people more than more other more "casual" sports? I would bet "yes", but I doubt there is data out there to support that.
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Old 05-30-14, 06:47 PM   #5
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I think one reason for this is we can achieve pro level races by upgrading to a cat 1/2 level and then going to a big race and have the top pros line up in the same race. I remember some of the thrills of my youth were getting the upgrades so that I could race against the pros when they came to town. Pretty much all the top teams and riders have come to Oregon via the old Mayors cup races, tour of willamette or Cascade classic, those that didn't stop by for that hit the bay area, seattle or idaho. I am sure most people have been within a few hundred miles of a pro 1/2 race that included the top pros of their time.

What other sport has the chance to line up and race head to head against the top tier athletes? Lance Armstrong was joking with his teammates in the Cascade classic one year about how hard it would be to carry that fat ass up the climbs. He was talking about one of my teammates, but my ass is about the same. Had Frankie Andreu stop by my car and tune up his bike the Portland mayors cup one year. And I remember be left in the dust by numerous pros during the tour of willamette and other races.

I can't think of another sport that allows it top athletes to mingle so freely both by being able to touch them going up a climb to racing head to head with them at the lower lever events (for them).
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Old 05-30-14, 07:08 PM   #6
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I've done three sports at a national level. At that level the answer is "no". Everybody is OCD at that level.

Below that it's case by case. I'm sure there are people roiding up for soft ball sitting on the bench next to people who are having a brewski.

There are a fair number of sports where if you earn your stripes (or have enough money or connections) you can be pack fodder with the heroes.
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Old 05-30-14, 07:23 PM   #7
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People take all kinds of endeavors super serious. check out a photography forum sometime. I used to be a very well published haiku poet. The folks I knew spent ponderous amounts of time reading, writing, and workshopping poems. Meditation is no different. Get to a certain level and there are folks doing the meditative equivalent of 90 mile daily training rides.
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Old 05-30-14, 09:52 PM   #8
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Get to a certain level and there are folks doing the meditative equivalent of 90 mile daily training rides.
I think I might have found a new activity. I'm retiring from this bicycle business for meditation
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Old 05-31-14, 01:03 AM   #9
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People take all kinds of endeavors super serious. check out a photography forum sometime. I used to be a very well published haiku poet. The folks I knew spent ponderous amounts of time reading, writing, and workshopping poems. Meditation is no different. Get to a certain level and there are folks doing the meditative equivalent of 90 mile daily training rides.
just imagine if they doped...
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Old 05-31-14, 04:12 AM   #10
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do guys who race bikes take this **** far more seriously than guys in an amateur [other sport] league?

\.
not at all
go to any b-ball court in da USA and you'll find fights breaking out over every wrong look
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Old 05-31-14, 06:36 AM   #11
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no one's forcing you to take cycling seriously. you can race cat 4 while taking a pretty casual approach to racing and riding. the difference as compared to most adult level amateur sports is that there is an established upgrade ladder from beginner to pro even for adults so people tend to take it more seriously, but you don't have to.
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Old 05-31-14, 07:46 AM   #12
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Is this discussion about serious cycling amateurs starting out as juniors or as adults ?
Two very different parameters.

I still don't really get the question.. Perhaps i'm seeing it from a euro perspective as a child of having watched, been intrigued by Paris Nice and later on riding then eventually racing.. My intro into bike racing was circuitous as i was ski racing but needed to implement a cross training program and cycling fit. Ironically as a teen I enjoyed riding 50-100 miles on weekends and I cannot remember not being on a bike early on, just not into bike racing until I was 20.

I coached Juniors for a while, have raced raced in France as an amateur and I can honestly say that the attrition rate of the sport separates the wannabe's from the serious very quickly. It is not ( at least to me ) a sport that suffers hobbyists. It's either full on or not at all. The inherent time and costs expenditures demand that one takes bike racing seriously...
That is if one is serious ( there's that word again ) about getting from Cat 5 to as high up as your capabilities allow. Cat 5 is entry, dip toe in the water and see if it warrants partial immersion. Cat 4 is where you really decide, Yep I like it or No this is too much. ( there is no shame in deciding that recreational riding is more in line ) After that Cat 3 is where you decide that Cat 2 and maybe Cat 1 is the goal...
Those latter Cats require full on focus on cycling, just to make it to Cat 2 status requires serious attention to everything.

So the answer is really " Yes " this has to be taken very seriously, there really is no other choice than either Do It well or Not At All. I actually cannot comprehend as to why anyone would want to train in order to race at Killington Stage Race, Green Mountain Stage Race or Tour of the Battenkill and not be serious about the sport.
Personally, I hate Crits, I equate them to Nascar, I don't find them to be really part of bike racing, Yes in Belgium there are Kermesses but those are really more about a town's festival and part of an event then the road races and SR's and for me a circuitous 3-5km loop will always win out over a 4 to 6 corner crit. But some love crit racing and when in a Stage Race I enjoy them, but don't pursue them as a series. I will go if my team says were going but it's not 1st choice. There are different forms of racing and some riders are really good at the various disciplines. I prefer Road Races and Stage Races. Although I will add that the Rutland and Burlington Crits and the now long gone Newport RI crit were some I actually liked. Today Ninigret is a crit I both loathe and yet once there enjoy.
This is probably the crux of it all, participating seriously in this sport encompasses many paradoxical moments.

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Old 05-31-14, 10:02 AM   #13
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Is this discussion about serious cycling amateurs starting out as juniors or as adults ?
Two very different parameters.

I still don't really get the question.. Perhaps i'm seeing it from a euro perspective as a child of having watched, been intrigued by Paris Nice and later on riding then eventually racing.. My intro into bike racing was circuitous as i was ski racing but needed to implement a cross training program and cycling fit. Ironically as a teen I enjoyed riding 50-100 miles on weekends and I cannot remember not being on a bike early on, just not into bike racing until I was 20.

I coached Juniors for a while, have raced raced in France as an amateur and I can honestly say that the attrition rate of the sport separates the wannabe's from the serious very quickly. It is not ( at least to me ) a sport that suffers hobbyists. It's either full on or not at all. The inherent time and costs expenditures demand that one takes bike racing seriously...
That is if one is serious ( there's that word again ) about getting from Cat 5 to as high up as your capabilities allow. Cat 5 is entry, dip toe in the water and see if it warrants partial immersion. Cat 4 is where you really decide, Yep I like it or No this is too much. ( there is no shame in deciding that recreational riding is more in line ) After that Cat 3 is where you decide that Cat 2 and maybe Cat 1 is the goal...
Those latter Cats require full on focus on cycling, just to make it to Cat 2 status requires serious attention to everything.

So the answer is really " Yes " this has to be taken very seriously, there really is no other choice than either Do It well or Not At All. I actually cannot comprehend as to why anyone would want to train in order to race at Killington Stage Race, Green Mountain Stage Race or Tour of the Battenkill and not be serious about the sport.
Personally, I hate Crits, I equate them to Nascar, I don't find them to be really part of bike racing, Yes in Belgium there are Kermesses but those are really more about a town's festival and part of an event then the road races and SR's and for me a circuitous 3-5km loop will always win out over a 4 to 6 corner crit. But some love crit racing and when in a Stage Race I enjoy them, but don't pursue them as a series. I will go if my team says were going but it's not 1st choice. There are different forms of racing and some riders are really good at the various disciplines. I prefer Road Races and Stage Races. Although I will add that the Rutland and Burlington Crits and the now long gone Newport RI crit were some I actually liked. Today Ninigret is a crit I both loathe and yet once there enjoy.
This is probably the crux of it all, participating seriously in this sport encompasses many paradoxical moments.
I disagree.

Take me as an example: a complacent cat 3. I got to cat3 rather quickly, by earning points, but my motivation to go much beyond that is relatively small. I would like to get to cat 2, so I know what it is like at the elite level, but I realize with my limited time and talent there will never be a 1 on my licence. I keep telling myself, "maybe next year", I'll really focus and optimize my training and racing with a coach.

So yes, I would consider myself a hobbyist at this point. I do have more time an energy that is available to me, but I have things that I am not willing to sacrifice, like playing music (piano), excelling at work, or spending time with my SO. I make it a point to only ride 1 day on (most) weekends so I can round out other aspects of my life.

This is why it is so great that I have discovered track racing. I have the opportunity to race (ATRA, not USAC) EVERY Tuesday night from Apr-Oct, in a much more casual environment that feels more like city-league sports than an NRC crit, for example. Many of the regulars there are elite USAC athletes as well, including nationals-level cat1's, former pro's, Olympians, world champs etc.

Bottom line: I love training, working out, and am competitive so there will always be an element of racing to my cycling as well. I'll be 'round the block for a long time, just wait and see.
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Old 05-31-14, 08:31 PM   #14
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Personally, I hate Crits, I equate them to Nascar
Why do you hate America?
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Old 05-31-14, 08:36 PM   #15
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I've wondered about this for a while. Idk if it's just me because I'm new to it, but do guys who race bikes take this **** far more seriously than guys in an amateur [other sport] league?

It just seems like racing bikes is a level or two above "hobby". Wondering what other guys think.
I think others might have said this already, but my take is that other sports/hobbies are taken equally seriously, it's just that bike racing requires much more time (training, traveling, racing) than a lot of other activities.

Also some activities are hobbies, some are lifestyles. Another big difference.
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Old 05-31-14, 08:43 PM   #16
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What defines a lifestyle? What is the line that has to be crossed?

Triathlon is an interesting study. You're either a pro or you're an age grouper. Anyone can be a pro. Everyone gets a medal. Cost of entry is stratospheric. Time commitment to IM is enormous. Guys pay big money to VIP guarantee Kona slots. Compared to IM triathlon, bike racing looks a lot like running.
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Old 05-31-14, 09:45 PM   #17
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Why do you hate America?
??? Where'd you get that ??? I lumped crits with the same excitement level of Nascar, never did I mention anything outside of the context of this thread.
You are welcome to disagree, but assuming that I was making a political statement is a stretch to say the least.

Irrelevant to the discussion is the fact that I spent most of my Junior High and High School with my dad racing a 67 SS Camaro. One cannot get anymore mainstream than Drag Racing. Before that I was fortunate enough to watch my uncle rally in the MC Rally and to watch the annual FI race as it raced around MC..

Sorry if I struck a nerve, but 4 corner crits are boring, a great majority of Crits are pointless due to the fact that the courses are not technical enough to draw out the best riders. I mentioned the crits that are/were challenging and I'm speaking from having been a promoter as well as a rider. The criteria should be for an exciting race course, one that is a challenge both technically and visually.
This speaks to the OP's question, the amount of effort required to race a bike should demand that a promoter also provides a challenging race course.. Which warrants for a promoter to think about the course from a visual ( spectator ) to a competition ( rider ) synthesis. The point is to entice both spectators and racers to return next year.
Thus Yeah this sport attracts a different bird.
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Old 06-01-14, 04:16 AM   #18
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moyene, it was tongue and cheek
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Old 06-01-14, 05:45 AM   #19
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What defines a lifestyle? What is the line that has to be crossed?

Triathlon is an interesting study. You're either a pro or you're an age grouper. Anyone can be a pro. Everyone gets a medal. Cost of entry is stratospheric. Time commitment to IM is enormous. Guys pay big money to VIP guarantee Kona slots. Compared to IM triathlon, bike racing looks a lot like running.
When you look at the nature of the ironman endeavor most people do 1, or 1 a year. Few at least. Whereas in RRing guys race 2-3-4 times a week. Add up the cost of entries, and I bet perspective shifts a bit.
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Old 06-01-14, 06:14 AM   #20
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moyene, it was tongue and cheek
Yeah, it's just a saying. Criteriums and stock car racing are American events. I couldn't disagree with you more about criteriums, though.
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Old 06-01-14, 06:22 AM   #21
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When you look at the nature of the ironman endeavor most people do 1, or 1 a year. Few at least. Whereas in RRing guys race 2-3-4 times a week. Add up the cost of entries, and I bet perspective shifts a bit.
Some do more than that, but let's go with it. While the cost of road race entry is lower, you have more chances to win. The value is there. But what I meant by cost of entry was at the sport level. You need a bike for both, but you'll need access to a pool and a running track, and where we live you have to pay for that. Shoes are a couple hundred bucks a pop and you'll need several pairs. Running clothes and swim gear including specialized training gear like pull buoys. It all adds up on top of everything you are spending for the bike.
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Old 06-01-14, 08:03 AM   #22
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I'd say IM training is more serious than _most_ bike racers. The beating from the running alone is a lot of fatigue you can skip from just bike and resistance training.
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Old 06-01-14, 11:25 AM   #23
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Bike racing is an expensive sport and i think once you invest your $$ you definately want to see results.
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Old 06-01-14, 01:08 PM   #24
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Some do more than that, but let's go with it. While the cost of road race entry is lower, you have more chances to win. The value is there. But what I meant by cost of entry was at the sport level. You need a bike for both, but you'll need access to a pool and a running track, and where we live you have to pay for that. Shoes are a couple hundred bucks a pop and you'll need several pairs. Running clothes and swim gear including specialized training gear like pull buoys. It all adds up on top of everything you are spending for the bike.
I agree: IM is a huge commitment, $750 or more put on your CC a year in advance (most IM sell out immediately). Travel expenses, physical therapy (because you are likely to get injured), equipment, M-dot Tattoo...it all adds up! Kona is the holy grail of triathlon and now IM has a "legacy" program to get the average racer there. Complete 12 IM sanctioned events and you get your ticket to Kona! Thus, encouraging more people to "complete" rather than compete in IM. I think it would be difficult to spend that much money on bike racing unless you were travelling to races or destroying equipment regularly. Local crits here are fairly inexpensive, there's a discount if you race multiple races in a day, possible club/team reimbursements and chance to win primes or prize money. This is the first hobby where I've actually made money or broken even in a season. It's also the first competitive hobby I've done where its hard to win. I like that much more than the "everyone gets a medal for participating" team sports, triathlon or running events! I don't know that I take it more seriously, but it does make me want to try harder :-)
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Old 06-01-14, 01:21 PM   #25
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shovelhd was disagreeing with moyene on crits, not me, because I do love those damn roundy-rounds

especially if they've got some technical nature to them, it just seems very 'Merica

gotta limit the field limits though; more than 50 ends up being kind of silly on some of our small town spectacles
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