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  1. #1
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    High Ridership and Support of Competition

    I ran across this article in VeloNews: http://velonews.competitor.com/2013/...in-2015_310198

    The quote that caught my eye was this comment by Christian Prudhomme, race director of the Tour De France:
    This year 85 percent of French people watched at least one stage of the Tour De France. That number was surpassed by only one country; I imagine you’ve worked out that it was the Netherlands, who had almost 86 percent. In fact, 85.7 percent of Dutch people watched at least one stage of the Tour.
    The Netherlands is currently accepted by many, perhaps most, cycling advocates as the reigning bike capital of the world. If it isn't, then it is at least in the top three nations for enthusiastic use of bicycles.

    The combination of reasonably high levels of bike use and a high level of interest in competitive cycling jogged my memory. When I moved to Davis, CA in 1980, the then self-proclaimed bicycling capital of the world, we had a similar phenomena. Sure, bikes outnumbered cars on our roadways by a whopping margin. But there was also this little ride that was, and still is, put on every May called the Davis Double Century. Back then it was quasi-competitive, in that there was a mass start and the first person across the line was considered the "winner", although it was not a sanctioned race and was simply a ride on open roads. But consider this: the population of the city was 36,640. Approximately 2000 riders rode the DC, of which at least half were local. Also, there were at least another 500 local people volunteering to put the ride on. Thus at least 4% of the city population either rode this local double century or volunteered to help put the ride on, and it could have been more than 6% since these estimates were minimums.

    The DC was more than just a cycling event. A common question to be asked around town all winter was, "Are you riding the DC this year?" Many riders rode the DC without having ridden a century first. It was just part of the culture.

    Now, here's my question. Assuming there is some relationship between performance cycling and high levels of utilitarian cycling (granted, I haven't made much of a case), does one cause the other and, if so, which one comes first? Or, perhaps, both are necessary to have a vibrant cycling community that achieves high levels of bike use.

  2. #2
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    Now, here's my question. Assuming there is some relationship between performance cycling and high levels of utilitarian cycling (granted, I haven't made much of a case), does one cause the other and, if so, which one comes first? Or, perhaps, both are necessary to have a vibrant cycling community that achieves high levels of bike use.
    If a person can assume, based on the information you provided, that there is some relationship between performance cycling and high levels of utilitarian cycling, that person can assume anything else that wishful thinking might dream possible.

    How about no relationship since almost zero percent of the utilitarian cyclists in NL show any interest in riding performance bicycles (or anything that even resembles one), wearing "performance cycling clothing," or donning helmets in 100% opposite behavior of competitive cyclists or the cyclists who like to emulate them.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
    If a person can assume, based on the information you provided, that there is some relationship between performance cycling and high levels of utilitarian cycling, that person can assume anything else that wishful thinking might dream possible.

    How about no relationship since almost zero percent of the utilitarian cyclists in NL show any interest in riding performance bicycles (or anything that even resembles one), wearing "performance cycling clothing," or donning helmets in 100% opposite behavior of competitive cyclists or the cyclists who like to emulate them.
    And yet six out of every seven Dutch watched at least one stage of the Tour De France. That seems to show some interest in the performance aspect of cycling. I guess looks can be deceiving.

    As John Forrester has often noted in this forum, the old-time club cyclist, who often raced and did other competitive and semi-competitive cycling events, was also a utilitarian cyclist. When riding to work, we didn't put on our (wool) kits unless work was many miles away, and helmets were only required for some races. We would have looked just like those folks in NL that you say show no interest in riding performance bicycles. You may have seen some of these folks riding in Philadelphia when you were younger. They may have looked just like you. Pity there were never very many of them there.

  4. #4
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    And yet six out of every seven Dutch watched at least one stage of the Tour De France. That seems to show some interest in the performance aspect of cycling. I guess looks can be deceiving.[from a comment by Christian Prudhomme, race director of the Tour De France as reported in the VeloNews]

    As John Forrester has often noted in this forum,
    I would take with many grains of salt, both the accuracy of the reporting on the alleged Dutch interest in competitive cycling action as well as the relevance of Mr. Forrester's memories of his cycling comrades of the distant past.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Chicago Al's Avatar
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    I don't think there is any reason to doubt the national enthusiasm for competitive cycling in the NL, both watching and practicing. My impression (and yes take that with lots of salt) from visiting there was that there are lots of 'weekend warriors' out in the country, and plenty of small shops catering to racers and enthusiasts as well as the plain bike shops dealing with transportation bikes. Amsterdam's venerable RIH in the Jordaan closed last year, but is apparently re-opening with some young framebuilders joining Mr van der Kaaij; Ko Zeileman's shop is still there, run by his son in law, Presto no longer does custom frames but looked to be a thriving enthusiast shop. I think there are others too, but that's a pretty strong ratio for what's not a very large city.

    Of course most W European countries have an audience for cycle racing that's a multiple, maybe an order of magnitude, greater than in the US. And it may well be that in the NL it's slightly higher than elsewhere.

    But ILTB is right, it doesn't necessarily tie to transportation cycling, any more than commuting on clogged freeways is like driving Formula 1.
    I never think I have hit hard, unless it rebounds.

    - Dr Samuel Johnson

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