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Old 06-30-14, 02:26 PM   #26
gsteinb
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That's mainly because no one cares. Select any of a million of semi obscure endeavors and ask yourself if you know how to get involved. Heavy promotion costs more than the potential uptick in participation.
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Old 06-30-14, 02:33 PM   #27
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despite the ease with which people in the know find races via bike reg or whatever means we use, I don't think access is significantly different today. Very few people outside of the small circle of people who race bicycles knows that bicycle racing is going on. Way off the topic of this thread, but the sport is really not promoted at all, and even once people become involved, it's confusing to people on how to participate.
Oh yes. When I was around 10 or so (mid 90's), I was VERY interested in the concept of bicycle racing, but did not know that organized racing actually existed because my parents and other adult relatives/family friends were not cyclists and did not themselves know anything about it, or who to ask. I actually drafted up a letter to the town asking them to hold bicycle races for kids. Quite humorous, in retrospect. As it happened, I didn't actually end up racing bikes until over a decade later in college, because by then I knew some people who raced and could tell me what to do. In spite of modern resources, it's still pretty hard to just stumble across bike races and decide to up and do it.
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Old 06-30-14, 02:35 PM   #28
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I'm surprised no one has blamed Strava yet.
I believe Strava may actually help more than hurt. It gets people interested in "competing" on their bike.

I know several guys in the area who started KOM hunting and are now licensed racers.

I don't know anyone who's quit racing to go hunt KOMs.
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Old 06-30-14, 02:42 PM   #29
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I believe Strava may actually help more than hurt. It gets people interested in "competing" on their bike.

I know several guys in the area who started KOM hunting and are now licensed racers.

I don't know anyone who's quit racing to go hunt KOMs.
all the masters racers with low T who quit because they're on the T-patch ;-).
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Old 06-30-14, 02:51 PM   #30
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I believe Strava may actually help more than hurt. It gets people interested in "competing" on their bike.

I know several guys in the area who started KOM hunting and are now licensed racers.

I don't know anyone who's quit racing to go hunt KOMs.
Funny you say that. I actually considered that today after pricing some TT bikes.
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Old 06-30-14, 09:07 PM   #31
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I'm sure the thousands of crash videos on youtube don't help matters.
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Old 07-01-14, 05:27 AM   #32
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Oddly enough I raced when I was like 12 and really had no desire to. Just one of my dad's friends kid had started racing as a junior so we went along. I didn't race again until I was in college at 20 y/o after I joined the collegiate team.
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Old 07-01-14, 06:36 AM   #33
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I don't know anyone who's quit racing to go hunt KOMs.
Not that I don't disagree with you (meaning I agree that you're right) but I find the following interesting.

There is a Cat 1 (3rd in the National Elite RR) that is seriously considering doing just that. He moved to CO last year, didn't race, went out and tried to get some KOMs (in CO that's hard, especially when one is 50-80 lbs heavier than that Elite RR race weight), came back here to visit, did a training race, and was appalled by the riding in the A race (so Cat 1s, 2s, some 3s, and the local pro was out there). To be fair it was extremely windy - I thought I was going to flip over the bars once, my front wheel got tugged so hard by the wind. Still, though, he had an unpleasant experience.

The Cat 1 is a good bike handler, very strong, obviously not afraid of stating his mind, and not nearly as fit as he used to be, else he'd have just ridden away from everyone. He's the one that sent me an example of a set of 5 min intervals that he did maybe 5-6 years after his Elite RR bronze, what I should aim for. In his example, meaning off his power files, I think he was doing 500w for 5 min, 5 reps. It might have been 550w, but that might be getting into urban legend territory I had no idea what that meant but when I got a power meter I was shocked. To be fair he's in disbelief about my max power. He claims he's never broken 1200w, even peak, which I find hard to believe.

To quote from something he posted on FB (fyi the lead group got lapped by 3 guys, the local pro was off the front at the time, the pro lapped the field also dragging two guys with him and then took off again and won solo):
"So made the lead group of sorts but I have a feeling this is my last pay to enter race. About 13 to 14 minutes in a guy from (blank) pushed me which could have resulted in a bad crash had I not been a good bike handler…. Anyways I don't need to go down, I've got too many good things to live for, so strava fun is all the racing I will do anymore."

The guy who pushed him is a 2.

If he "pays to race" again then of course he was just frustrated that day. I think though that his joy in cycling isn't from the pack dynamics, it's more the test of one person against another.
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Last edited by carpediemracing; 07-01-14 at 07:26 AM. Reason: added the bold, since it's not clear even to me what I meant to say
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Old 07-01-14, 06:59 AM   #34
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I believe Strava may actually help more than hurt. It gets people interested in "competing" on their bike.
This matches my observations. Plus the social-networking aspect gets riders introduced to local racers and plugs them into the group-ride and racing community.

A very strong guy just joined our team because I randomly ran into him on a ride, our strava rides matched up so we started following each other, he saw my group/team rides, started joining in, and just last weekend did his first race. Without strava he would never have gotten connected to the local racing community.


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"So made the lead group of sorts but I have a feeling this is my last pay to enter race. About 13 to 14 minutes in a guy from (blank) pushed me which could have resulted in a bad crash had I not been a good bike handler…. Anyways I don't need to go down, I've got too many good things to live for, so strava fun is all the racing I will do anymore."
Sure, but "I quit because this is dangerous, I'll just do strava instead" is different from saying "I quit because it's either racing or strava and I prefer strava."


Personally I don't think there's a lot of point in handwringing about declining participation. There are just a lot more options available to competitive amateur athletes now. For example, they get literally thousands of participants at these Spartan races, and I'm sure a lot of them are choosing to do that instead of bike races.

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Old 07-01-14, 07:10 AM   #35
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Sure, but "I quit because this is dangerous, I'll just do strava instead" is different from saying "I quit because it's either racing or strava and I prefer strava."
How's it different? Isn't choosing an inherent act of expressing preference? That is to say "I prefer that which is less dangerous."
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Old 07-01-14, 07:49 AM   #36
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How's it different? Isn't choosing an inherent act of expressing preference? That is to say "I prefer that which is less dangerous."
Maybe I didn't express it well, but what I was trying to say is that IMO those who are quitting because racing is too dangerous would quit regardless of whether strava exists or not.

But anyway, from my cone of perception of the universe, if there is declining participation in bike racing, it's purely supply and demand. There is a growing supply of fun organized amateur athletic competition other than bike racing.
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Old 07-01-14, 07:58 AM   #37
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Racing (cycling) participation in my area seems to be doing ok.... However - the Multisport stuff seems to be doing really well. I would say participation in du/triathlons seems to be doing really well. Not sure why so many like to mess with running and swimming...
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Old 07-01-14, 08:10 AM   #38
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Maybe I didn't express it well, but what I was trying to say is that IMO those who are quitting because racing is too dangerous would quit regardless of whether strava exists or not.
I agree with this.

As far as participation goes, I don't know, I figure make it easier to know how to race, easier to know what to do, and more people will try it. On the other hand everyone is doing the same thing, meaning running, triathlons, soccer, curling, weaving, chicken raising, whatever it is, people are sharing their passions because they want others to enjoy it also. At the bike shop a business consultant type person mentioned to me that my competition wasn't necessarily the shop up the road, it was also the stereo place down the street, the knick knack place, the exercise equipment place, the mattress place. People have limited funds (well most of us anyway) so they pick and choose where to spend it. WIth time it's more definitive - people definitely have a fixed amount of time. How they spend it is up to them. If someone thinks racing doesn't give a good return on time spent then they won't race.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:14 AM   #39
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Something that no one has brought up yet: I have not been around cycling much as I'm new to road cycling and racing, but it seems to me that bikes have become really expensive in the past couple of years. I don't know how it was 10 years ago, but I find it hard to believe that a lot of people were dropping 3k+ on bikes, and now there are so many people that spend upwards of 5 to 10 grand on bikes maybe they don't want to race on them. When I race I do see these expensive bikes so clearly they are being used, but maybe others that ride just for fun on weekends with friends don't want to risk ruining their bikes.

I ride with a few guys who would consider trying racing but they think it's dangerous, and a lot of them have Supersix / R3 / S5 /Dogma bikes and possibly don't want to risk being out a lot of money in case of an accident.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:32 AM   #40
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I might as well express my lengthy opinions on this. There, I have used the "O" word, so anything stated below should not be considered fact.


Reason 1: The sport is too hard*. (the asterisk* is added for whatever reason they add them now)

A long time ago, in a Galaxy called the Milky Way, there was a thing called bike racing. It was fun. You got on a team and learned how to ride together. You practiced all sorts of maneuvers and learned to corner together. You learned how to cheat the wind and even, sometimes, cheat other riders out of chances. "Training" meant riding a lot in the off season and racing a lot in the on season.

Fast forward to the "modern era" and we have zillions of coaches, powermeters, ride sharing, special diets, special supplements, special doping, altitude tents, cross training, video instruction, online and long-distance endurance coaching, etc.

And that's just for cat 4. How many riders do you personally know who are aware of what their w/kg is for a specific duration? Are they professional riders?

How many of your teammates would bail on a team ride in order to do the interval sets that their coach prescribed for that day?

And once all this is set and done, what sort of speeds are races being run at today?

It all adds up to this: Unless you train your ass off, you may be one of the large number of riders who simply do not have much of a chance to win or even place in the money in many races. Maybe you could get away with poor fitness if you stick to flat races and learn how to draft well, but you better have a kick ass sprint.

So people's focus is on personal achievement, fitness, power, and all sorts of "me" stuff. Bike racing doesn't reward this. Only a small percentage of the pack actually get rewards. (and you hear more race reports from those folks and far far fewer reports that simply say "I got dropped")

Those huge numbers of riders, once they discover other sports like GFs and triathlons and running races or other events where there is no pack to get dropped from will gladly take their money to these other venues instead of getting humiliated and riding around alone, off the back.

Reason 2, Doping:

Yes, in the amateur ranks, there is a lot of doping. Especially in the masters. We see evidence of it more and more now that there is more testing at the amateur level. I also hear people talk about it a lot, including some folks who have been in the sport for decades. The usual refrain? "Masters is the dirtiest category".

Well..

So now we know why it takes crazy numbers to compete in the Masters. Something on the order of a 5 w/kg FTP just to be in the money in selective race situations. (That's my own math, yours may differ due to your location). If this is due to a preponderance of doped up guys speeding things up it leads to certain people (myself included) making hard choices, and those go something like this:

"If I really want to be more than just pack fodder in this field, I either have to train a huge amount, or start doping. If I am not willing to dope, then I might have to focus on only a few events per season, which means less race participation even IF I choose to stay in the sport. And if real life gets in the way, who on Earth wants to pay all this money, spend a whole weekend in a car and staying in hotels, just to get one's ass kicked badly?"

Reason 3: Promoters are tired of it.

I have been involved personally in the running of races. It's a long, difficult and thankless job. You make very little for your many days of effort and mainly have to deal with unhappy impatient racers who want everything now. It costs more and more to put a race on because of permit fees, municipal costs and insurance and other stuff getting more and more expensive. Then the reg fees increase and people complain that you are greedy. Meanwhile, your not-for-profit is looking at a four figure loss.

Who would keep doing this? If you had a choice to do that or to put on a Gran Fondo where people are happier, and all you need to do is paint some arrows on the road and provide a cookout (and subsequently get like 400% the amount of participants) it seems like a no-brainer.

No promoters = no races. It's very simple. How many people here would actually choose to take on the burden of being the promoter in a new event?

I've seen five long-term annual events near here die in the past few years.

Reason 4: Economics. I won't say much about this, since it's been covered. I'm not sure I agree with it though, since attendance at Triathlons seems pretty good.

There you have it. More opinions than anyone could possibly need.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:36 AM   #41
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I think the paradigm might not be fully seen. For example I'm a competitive guy. That aspect of cycling is far and away the most important aspect to me. But it's dangerous. So let's say I find a less dangerous outlet that inspires me to train hard and push myself. I might do that instead. For someone the issue might be costs or time and the answer might be the Thursday night crit or group rides. For another it might be strava. Dunno. But I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:37 AM   #42
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I ride with a few guys who would consider trying racing but they think it's dangerous, and a lot of them have Supersix / R3 / S5 /Dogma bikes and possibly don't want to risk being out a lot of money in case of an accident.
They were out that money the second they put it down on the bike. The idea of having a bike that's "too valuable to race" is certainly nothing new, in fact in past years there was a lot more posting about this subject in the 33 then there is now. I don't think this is plausible as a reason for declining participation. Which hasn't even been established to even be a real, nationwide, long-term thing in need of explanation beyond economic fundamentals and local vs. regional racing supply.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:43 AM   #43
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I think the doping thing and masters is greatly over rated. Yes there are dopers. Masters is hard though because it's dominated by guys who are ones, ex pros, ex Olympians. If you're a three and trying to race against guys who have forgotten more than you have a prayer of knowing it's going to be a rough go. The best 45+ guy in nj is an ex national team member and former pro. He raced all over the world, and is still one of the best elite riders in the state. Masters is supposed to be hard.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:44 AM   #44
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If you're not racing because you're afraid of breaking your bike you were never a racer to begin with.
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Old 07-01-14, 08:45 AM   #45
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@Grumpy McTrumpy I agree with all those points. 1# goes back to something fudgy said where 5% of the people win 90% of the races. Only a select few even get to taste winning and I'm sure after 2-3 years of hard training quitting would come easy. I'm sure there are a lot of guys out there that go 10-15 hours a week training and never sniff the podium.

I never believed doping was a big thing. Now I believe its rampant. Big enough now people talk about it during rides, and there isn't a big mask of secrecy; at least around here.

Added: Although doping is out there I don't think that's the determining factor in most races. Like @gsteinb said there are a ton of former studs in Masters and up and coming riders in the other categories.

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Old 07-01-14, 08:54 AM   #46
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What percent of people taste winning in running, curling, golf etc? How is this different than anything people choose to spend their recreational dollars on?
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Old 07-01-14, 09:00 AM   #47
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What percent of people taste winning in running, curling, golf etc? How is this different than anything people choose to spend their recreational dollars on?
Golf = Handicap System
Running / Triathlon = Age Group, Clydesdale (fatties) System

There are typically less people to compete against in those sports if you do it by category. Usually when I ran it was against 10 people or so, and that's about the same for local tri's (the bigger events are much harder).

Adding to that in running even if you lose there are baseline goals to shoot for that aren't result oriented such as qualifying for Boston, etc.

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Old 07-01-14, 09:13 AM   #48
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Running and tris you get to PR your times, and I think most people use that as motivation. That's 'winning'
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Old 07-01-14, 09:18 AM   #49
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Running and tris you get to PR your times, and I think most people use that as motivation. That's 'winning'
There are other ways than a PR to measure progress, and a PR still isn't winning. Much has been made of this difference between bike racing and running/triathlon lately, but I'm not sure it's all that important.
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Old 07-01-14, 09:53 AM   #50
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I blame everything on Strava, Rapha, and cross.
let's not forget hipsters.
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