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Old 04-13-11, 02:49 PM   #1
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Pro Bike Racing Going Mainstream?

Watching Paris-Roubaix on Versus, it was apparent that the announcers had been instructed to convert speeds and distances from the usual Metric, to accommodate the American audience. It means a bunch of us were able to put our calculators down, or stop multiplying by .62 in our heads. They even told the audience how to do the calculation, though they said to divide by 1.6, which is, at least for me, harder.

Does this mean our sport is going mainstream? There are enough American viewers to actually warrant the consideration of putting the distances and speeds into a context we can relate to more easily? This was the first time I've heard the speeds and distances being consistently presented in both kilometers and miles.

Great win by the lanky (6' 5 1/2") Johan Vansummeren, who rode away from the lead group to win solo, holding off a rapidly gaining Fabian Cancellara. Provides motivation to us tall guys!
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Old 04-13-11, 03:29 PM   #2
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Going mainstream? It would depend upon your point of view, if your point of view is from Ghent then what you were watching was the equivilent of the Super Bowl, the World Series and the World Cup all rolled into one. If your point of view is Jacksonville, then you probably were watching golf on another channel.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:44 PM   #3
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I don't think professional cycling is anywhere near being mainstream in the US. I doubt that we'll get close in my lifetime. It doesn't really matter that much to me, because I tend to do a lot of things that aren't especially mainstream. I guess if I wanted mainstream in the US, I'd be posting on a NASCAR site somewhere.
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Old 04-13-11, 03:51 PM   #4
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I'm being tongue in cheek. Clearly not mainstream here in the US, but it was interesting to see them so obviously catering to the American audience.
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Old 04-13-11, 04:16 PM   #5
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We could start a debate on the metric system. I recall when they started the conversion in the late 70's. At that time I was concerned I would need 2 sets of tools. In 2011, I have 2 sets of tools, and we are still English. It wonder how much it would take to convert? Two big issues are the cost to replace speed limit signs, and speedometers on older vehicles. I get used to celsius pretty quickly when I spend a week or 2 on business in Canada, Mexico, South America, or Europe on business.
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Old 04-13-11, 05:29 PM   #6
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We could start a debate on the metric system.
All that stuff we buy from Asia did a lot more to promote metric than the government program did in the '70s. Well, credit the government for at least preparing us for what was to come.

And least my bikes are all metric now. My 1970 Raleigh had a bit of both.
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Old 04-13-11, 05:41 PM   #7
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http://www.bikeradar.com/news/articl...-roubaix-29867

Cyclocross frame + frankenbike parts + 39 yr. old rider == 11th place.

Pretty impressive.
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Old 04-13-11, 06:12 PM   #8
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I'm being tongue in cheek. Clearly not mainstream here in the US
I should think so. Compared to mainstream sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) cycling is closer to leaky faucet dribble than mainstream.
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Old 04-13-11, 06:35 PM   #9
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As I recall, each year Phil Liggett & Paul Sherwen provide the same conversion data. I met them last year at a party during the Tour of California. They are great guys and what is amazing is that their show is totally improvised and they see the monitors at the finish line and see what we see on TV. They do not have any better video or help of any kind. Contrast that with a stadium event where there are multiple cameras, monitors in the booth plus the commentators can see the action live.

I was thinking about changing over to km/hr so that I could feel better about myself.

I watched the Masters this weekend along with Paris Roubaix. The golf was really good and it was also great to have Tiger back in the hunt.

It was clear the Cancellara was not going to escape as he did last year. He was a marked man and was not going to ride Thor Hushovd off his wheel. I thought it was a good race with some interesting tactics. The event favors big men since they tend to glide over the stones. The lighter guys bounce around too much.

As far as mainstream goes, cycling definitely has a large following and understanding of the sport in Europe. In the US, I think it is very much regional. We have the Tour of Californian coming in May and there are usually a lot of people on the roads to watch the pros. And I think the pros want to compete in the race. If there were more races and promotion, it would increase in popularity in the US. One of the problems is the Euros have most of the season captured by races with 100 year traditions. If one can race in the TdF why would you race in the USA in a competing race? Most racers who make UCI pro status, whether US or other, want to race in the Euro grand tours. Likewise, great Euro basketball players want to play in the NBA.
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Old 04-14-11, 09:43 AM   #10
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I believe Versus Epic Cycle shows and commentary is produced specifically for the American audience. Other shows are produced for other countries/languages using the same camera feeds and voiced over by different announcers.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:26 AM   #11
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I agree that Versus, Phil and Paul, are focused on English speaking markets and it may be exclusively the US. Versus may have other commentators for other markets. On some events, Versus gets a media feed from whoever is covering the race. In the TdF and the Tour of California, Versus creates their own content. Paul and Phil told me that for the ToC, they brought the TdF personnel and equipment to California to create the HD feed.

Also, Phil and Paul are at the event for each stage which adds value but also increases cost of production. Contrast that to Universal Sports who recently covered the Tour of Basque. There are a couple of guys in a studio somewhere with a feed from the race providing commentary. It is good but, IMO, not of the caliber as Versus and not in HD.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:28 AM   #12
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I agree with Hermes. They've been giving the metric to US conversions on bike racing for years. As a result, I think bicycle racing fans have a better awareness of metric distance equivalents than most Americans. As for metric tools, I started collecting metric along with SAE tools when I started riding Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki motorcycles.

About the desire of racers to race in the US, I asked Jens Voigt about that when I met him after the 2004 Tour de Georgia. He said that if the promoters put on the races and made them worthwhile to the teams, the racers would be there. Too bad sponsors didn't support that race enough to keep it alive. Those were great spectacles.
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Old 04-14-11, 10:35 AM   #13
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I haven't been watching that long, but it seemed to me that in the last TdF, and for Flanders, they didn't do the conversion for the audience. Phil would say something like the "the peloton is raging along at over 50 kilometers per hour". In this last broadcast, he would also provide the mph. But then, maybe I'm just 'misremembering' - something I'm entirely capable of doing.
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Old 04-14-11, 11:29 AM   #14
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You know, metric isn't so hard to comprehend. The rest of the world manages somehow.

Remember 5 / 8

5miles / 8km

50miles / 80km

25mph / 40kmh

5/8mile : 0.625mile / 1km

10km / 6.25 mile

And don't forget, the UK is a metric country, but still manages to use miles, mph and pints (though admittedly not US pints ;-))

You can do it if you really want ...
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Old 04-14-11, 12:55 PM   #15
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You know, metric isn't so hard to comprehend. The rest of the world manages somehow.

Remember 5 / 8

5miles / 8km

50miles / 80km

25mph / 40kmh

5/8mile : 0.625mile / 1km

10km / 6.25 mile

And don't forget, the UK is a metric country, but still manages to use miles, mph and pints (though admittedly not US pints ;-))

You can do it if you really want ...
Depends on your age. 40 to 60 and I think you will be able to understand both and convert easily- Much older and you are stuck on the imperial measures. But ask a youngster to measure out 6Ft and they are lost.

Petrol is sold in litres but my age and I work it out to how much a gallon or economy as miles per gallon. Speed is reckonned out as MPH as it will be a long time before KPH comes in. Weight is marked up in metric but I still work out a Kg of sugar as just over 2lbs. But a pint is a pint-3 pints is about my limit and I stick to well below that nowadays.

Over here and the best channel for cycling is Eurosport and we have Sean Kelly as one of the commentators. Must be the most boring Voice on TV but his knowledge is superb---I want Phil back. Last week on the tour of Flandres they were talking speeds of the riders. 20k before the finish and a 3 mile 5% slope. The pelaton were doing 58kph at one point dropping to 45kph chasing the breakaway. Can't tell you exactly what 58kph is but all I know is that is faster than I do on the flat.

Dare say the Canadian will agree but it is easy to change to metric and be able to convert to something you can understand. After a while it Metric that is the norm and Imperial has to be converted. Just wish that the UK had gone the whole hog with all measurements being metric or that we had not bothered.
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Old 04-14-11, 01:26 PM   #16
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You know, metric isn't so hard to comprehend. The rest of the world manages somehow.
It's easy enough to comprehend, and also to convert. I do it in my head, unless I want something precise for whatever reason, and then I'll pull out my iPhone. If you mess around with bikes, or anything in science, you use metric all the time. The reason I convert as I'm watching a race, is that, for a relative newbie to the sport like me, the miles and mph have a more visceral feel. I can relate to 160 miles at 26+ mph in my gut. As in.. "wow" (explicatives withheld). 260 km at 43+ kph just doesn't relate to me in the same way. It's intellectual, as opposed to visceral. The more I ride, and the more I watch the pro races, the more I will internalize the metric measures, and I'll convert less.
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Old 04-14-11, 02:00 PM   #17
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let me know when it gets on the FSN and bumps off NASCAR.

Or the satellite dish networks picks up the feeds direct from Italy, France , Belgium and NL.
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Old 04-14-11, 03:03 PM   #18
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On the issue of cycling popularity in the US, I'm surprised the marketing geniuses don't use the same tactics as are used in every other sport in the US. All cycling here needs is a halftime show, maybe something like a few monster trucks, a hot popular singer with a wardrobe malfunction and wala, instant notoriety and big bucks. Simple and guaranteed.
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Old 04-15-11, 01:31 AM   #19
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I should think so. Compared to mainstream sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) cycling is closer to leaky faucet dribble than mainstream.
NHL mainstream? I don't think its even close to NFL/MLB/NBA. It may be a little above soccer i would guess. As far as Pro cycling goes up until 2001 i did not have an interest until Lance won his third. Started watching but no urge to ride until 2009. After watching since 2001 my interest has grown because i became aware of the different riders, stories, history. Now i know just how hard it is to ride the slow speeds i ride, and how hard in must be to ride at the pro level. I think it will rise and fall with the number of people who ride with some regularity.
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