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Old 10-24-08, 07:34 AM   #1
jfmckenna
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Is MTB racing dead or dying?

I've done two mountain bike races now and am registered for my third this Sunday, the Rowdy Dog in Virginia. I've got probably over one hundred road and mostly cyclocross races under my belt. I've seen cyclocroos grow tremendouslly since I started about 8 years ago. We'd be lucky to see 10 people show up for the 'C' class cross races then and now it's common to have 50 -80 -100 show up to race. Road races are still very well attended.

I've been riding an old Schwinn Paramount mountain bike for years mostly just to train for cyclocross but I decided to give MTB racing a shot. The first race I attended was the Middle Mountain Momma in April. IT was well attended and I was completely turned on to the sport of mountain bike racing. I attended another race and there were 5 other guys in my class. The race this weekend only has about 30 confirmed riders over like 20 categories.

I know guys that used to race in Virginia and West Virginia and all over really that said it used to be real big, what happened?

Most of the shops around here have more MTB's then road bikes and when I am out on the trail I always see all kinds of people riding some really nice equipment. Are people who are attracted to mountain mike riding just not competitive? I mean I guess you figure that you can ride trails for free so why pay to go race?

Anyway I just wonder what some of you vets think because I wish it was as big as cyclocross is because it's the most fun on two wheels I've had in a long time.
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Old 10-24-08, 04:20 PM   #2
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competition hurts peoples feelings.
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Old 10-25-08, 04:20 PM   #3
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Ha HA funny. I guess it could. That's the one thing I love about cross racing is that it's all about the fun of it. Don't get me wrong I fight to win and have won many race's up until now when I loose most But it's more fun meeting up at the bar talking about the races then winning or loosing
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Old 10-25-08, 04:58 PM   #4
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for me i just have to do my best, win or lose. if i do my best i am satisfied.
btw - i will be doing a series of mtb races in colorado this summer. its not dead yet, lol
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Old 10-25-08, 06:29 PM   #5
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If he rides it they will come.
By he, I mean Lance.

Roadies were out in force picking up Mtbs after they saw their man on the cover of Road.
it took me about 1 day when I jumped ship to realize I wanted to race these things. Something I never thought to do on my road bike, because it's a race everytime you see another roadie. With mtbing it's just fun and if you want to race you should sign up. With road bikes IT'S On at the mere sight of another roadie.
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Old 10-26-08, 12:02 PM   #6
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endurance races are very popular for xc right now. 24 hour races, 100 mile races, multiday stage races, etc....

the local weekly series 15-20 mile race is not so hot. this isn't just recent, it is a long term trend..

I can't speak for downhill or 4x

Otherwise, I just think most MTBer's don't associate racing as being the be all and end all of the sport.

Which reminds me of a scene from Caddyshack

Judge Smails: Ty, what did you shoot today?
Ty Webb: Oh, Judge, I don't keep score.
Judge Smails: Then how do you measure yourself with other golfers?
Ty Webb: By height.
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Old 10-26-08, 06:29 PM   #7
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From what I understand DH racing is sexy.

By sexy I mean popular.
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Old 10-27-08, 07:04 AM   #8
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It wasn't that bad of a turn out. The Sport class had about 30 people or so. 22 miles and brutal. Lots of climbing and rock gardens ever where. One really nice fast descent with banked berms in the corners. I can't ever imagine myself doing down hill and forget about 100 milers or 24 hours. My god 22 miles in the woods is enough for me
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Old 10-29-08, 01:09 AM   #9
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Part of it may be accessability. One of the main appeals to me of cyclocross is that the races are right in town. The same is true for criteriums I suppose, but I've never done those. I don't own a car so I have to hitch a ride to an XC race if I want to go, and whereas a local cyclocross race takes up just an afternoon or evening, driving to a race is an all-day or even all-weekend affair.
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Old 10-29-08, 02:06 PM   #10
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I can't say whether XC racing attendance around here is up or down (I have only done two races... both of which were well attended), but cross seems to be pretty hot right now. I think one reason it may increase is that it draws both the roadies and the off-road racers (it's in the off-season for both).

I'm not sure how well you can compare the attendance of road racing to off-road, though, because you need to account for population differences. I was talking to some roadies yesterday at a night road ride who probably have never ridden dirt before. In general, if you find someone who rides a bike, especially in races, they would be a road biker.
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Old 10-29-08, 06:25 PM   #11
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cyclists dont support racing like runners support races.
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Old 10-30-08, 01:07 PM   #12
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In our area, it depends on the location and the buzz on the local board for how many people will show up for a race. There are certain venues that people just like to ride and those are more popular than some of the others. I think we have a pretty good turn out of riders for every race though.

I think alot of it has to do with the local support of the bike shops and the buzz on the board. Most people who read about the racing are interested and we encourage everyone to comeout. It's not for everyone but at least they have an idea and can meet others with common interests.
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Old 10-31-08, 05:35 AM   #13
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I'm not a big racer but I support the local races. I really enjoy working and helping out on race day.
I think the DH/4X/Ds guys are far more laid back that most of the XC guys and that makes those events really fun to work.
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Old 10-31-08, 09:00 PM   #14
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XCers seem to be a lot more like roadies. A bit up tight. It seems to me that DHers are more come as you are.
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Old 11-01-08, 09:13 PM   #15
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XCers seem to be a lot more like roadies. A bit up tight. It seems to me that DHers are more come as you are.
Most of the endurance races I've done are very laid back as well..

never been a fan of XC myself
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Old 11-02-08, 07:55 AM   #16
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I dont really like XC that much either, but thats all we have in ohio.
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Old 11-03-08, 09:53 PM   #17
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I found the world of mountain bikes this year from a friend taking me to a park cause I like the outdoors. We went to go kayaking, and rented a few bikes and went through some trails. I was amazed to see people climbing up these steep hills with roots and rocks with bikes. I was like "for real!" Yeah, so we got brave and went through an intermediate trail, and I saw this thing with people doing seemingly impossible things, riding a bike through "hiking" trails purposely for bikes. So I had never even heard of it before. Once I started racing, I saw that it is pretty much an underground culture. People camping out at race sites, setting up tents, and the day of the race, hundreds of people chatting and racing and bringing their whole families, kids races, teenagers and married couples with their kids, friends, etc. So for someone like me who just "happened" upon it, seems like either you just find out about it, or you know someone who does it.

I don't think it's dead, maybe just needs more exposure media wise some kind of way, but all the riders I've met so far (XC in my area) are passionate about the mtb world, happy to share advice and give tips, and friendly people. For people like me, I think it's growing, since now it is now something I think about frequently at work (lol!)

For instance, I was just googling around on the internet and saw a race circuit going on, so I called the number of the promoter when his shop was about to close and he stayed on the phone with me for about 45 minutes, answering my questions and giving advice, telling me that people are really dedicated and are happy to help with newbies like me, and is totally true! So now racing in my first circuit and people I see from other races I stop and ask them advice and they are happy to stop and talk to me and share, very nice people and everyone pretty much hyped up anyway about just being a part of the movement, whether promoting, doing the registering, or racers themselves. I have new friends and they tell me about when they are riding in the area, etc...

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Old 11-04-08, 03:01 PM   #18
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I think it needs more exposure, but it need the right kind. Our problem here is that when one of the networksl televise a 4X or DH race, and people automaticly assume that is the way all MTBers ride. Honestly, I love riding downhills as fast as I can, but that image doesnt exactly do our world well all the time.
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Old 11-04-08, 05:32 PM   #19
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I think one of the biggest problems with mountain bike racing is sheer numbers - - or the lack of them. Every Tom, Dick, Harry and Mom-with-a-baby-jogger can relate to a (non-marathon) running road race because they can participate, even if they walk the entire course. So you can do events that draw tens of thousands of 'competitors' and as many or more spectators.

Because of the low numbers (comparatively) of mountain bikers, there really is no money in promoting races. So, you either have very small, grassroots efforts that have the horsepower to do maybe one event a year; or you have big, sponsored mega-events like Sea otter with little in between.

Mountain bike racing in the Pacific Northwest almost dried up and blew away 3 or 4 years ago when the Spokane-based promoter got out of doing MTB races to concentrate on a few big road events because the MTB races were losing too much money for them. There are finally some gravity events infilling the void some but XC races are few and far between now and very localized.


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I think it needs more exposure, but it need the right kind. Our problem here is that when one of the networksl televise a 4X or DH race, and people automaticly assume that is the way all MTBers ride. Honestly, I love riding downhills as fast as I can, but that image doesnt exactly do our world well all the time.
Although the competitor appreciates the blood, sweat and strategy of an XC race, a spectator sitting at home in their living room would find watching their new paint drying more exciting. XC racing is borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring spectator fare. Gravity events at least give something visually exciting to key in on.

Unfortunately for us, even when it's at the extreme end of the cycling spectrum, to the average public, doing something on a bicycle is doing it on a toy that you buy for your kids at the local big box store when they 'come of age.' They can't relate to it being a "grownup people" activity.
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Old 11-04-08, 07:12 PM   #20
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Although the competitor appreciates the blood, sweat and strategy of an XC race, a spectator sitting at home in their living room would find watching their new paint drying more exciting. XC racing is borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring spectator fare. Gravity events at least give something visually exciting to key in on.
.
I agree 99% with everything you said, but IMO at this point in time (at least in Ohio, where its hard to get the OK for trails) boring is good. It seems that (and honestly, I dont know all the details of the politics behind this), from what I can tell, many parks see MTBers as crazy lunatics (which is true) who like to skid around and kill small children and flowers (which is mostly untrue). I cant stress enough though, how much more I'd rather be a downhiller or Freerider, but XC will do just fine for now.
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Old 11-04-08, 11:15 PM   #21
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^^ I tend to forget sometimes that I am in the West where things are a bit more laid back and not quite as 'proper' and uptight. Heck, North Idaho (just over the border from me) is still very much in a 20-year-old mindset where motorcycle, ATV and snowmobile use is not taboo yet.
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Old 11-05-08, 02:37 PM   #22
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What I'm still trying to figure out, is why horses are "easier" on terrain than bikes. I should probably stop there, because that issue has been beat to death, and horse people have more money so they win. . . (at least thats how it seems to me).
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Old 11-05-08, 02:58 PM   #23
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I miss the days of the Wild Rockies and WIM series in the PNW. Both had some great races.
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Old 01-31-09, 12:28 PM   #24
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I think it started dying when most of the racers wanted a road course in the woods. I was out of racing for awhile and now it seems they want a sweep course. It was fun when part of the challenge was the course and not how fast you averaged, to me that is for road racing.
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Old 02-03-09, 12:54 PM   #25
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There is a brand new 12 hour race starting up here in Virginia next month. I'm not so sure it's my kind of thing but I may check it out.
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