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  1. #1
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    The future of XC Racing...

    Hi Gang,

    I was reading an interesting thread in another forum () regarding the future of XC racing in the UK, and I was wondering if there has been a noticable drop in numbers of riders attending US XC races.

    Read the thread;

    http://www.londoncyclesport.com/foru...asp?TOPIC_ID=5

    and let me know your views.

    Cheers

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  2. #2
    bac
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    Senior Member bac's Avatar
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    The fact that XC races are not as spectator friendly or as extreme as some other forms of racing, IMHO, has pushed other bike races to the front of the pack.

    In the States, where bike racing isn't very popular anyway, the crowd wants big drops and hard crashes in order to be entertained.

  3. #3
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    That's a fair comment...I think the cycling press too has gone in favour of Downhill/Trials/BMX as the more lucrative choice, partly as you say because of the more entertainment value.

    The problem in the UK is that alot of XC races charge over the odds for race fees...and for alot of people, the cost of a days racing (including travel expenses etc) can be anything upward of 100.00.

    I'm not quite sure if I know the answer to this...

    Cheers

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  4. #4
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Rich you're right, things need to change. Around here XC races cost anywhere from $40-$50 just for the entry fee! Throw in travel costs, food, etc and races are only about an hour and half.
    So the idea of travelling all day, getting nothing except maybe a free bottle- even the trophys are lame- doing an hour of racing and then travelling all the way back home. The shine of that wears off pretty quick.
    Uneven application of the rules and a general lack of professionalism when it comes to NORBA rules, it's hard to take XC seriously as a sport when the promotors are more interested in $ than sportsmanship.
    I got plenty sick of it and did alot less XC this year.
    At least with criteriums, you have chances to win about 5 primes per race, plus $ for podiums. You can also do a couple races, second race only about $8 added. entry fees typically are only $15-$20. USCF refs are strict and fair, and at least around here, they do their job well.

    I don't know how XC should change but even I, a total XC lover, am getting fed up with the XC racing scene.

  5. #5
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Wow this seems to be following me. There was a long and very verbal discussion on ridemonkey regarding this debate. I will throw in my voice just because coming from a non competitor this may help

    xc racing is boring. I hate doing it or watching it. The world cup is on a level that destroys the competition. World cup seems to know how to setup a course. I watched a few of these and they are long, technical climbs, descents with almost no flat sections.

    Other than some world cup races I generally find xc courses to be dull. Long flat with nothing interesting except racing in the middle of a pack of wolves.

    I think xc racing can be revived a bit if they start getting more technical and start removing itself from the roadies. Right now I know most good roadies can jump in the xc race and do really well. Why? There is no mountain biking skill involved with xc tracks, only endurance and cadence. If more technical stuff was thrown in, some of the roadies would be written off and more mountain bikers may participate. I think Cyclocross is a step in the right direction. It is a great in between for roadies and mountain bikers. Meaning I hope that mountain bike tracks can start getting more technical leaving the fast tracks for the bikes built for it.

    Dh, freeriding, bmx. The best of the best. I personally only want to watch speed and skill with power. Endurance sports in general suck. My thing. There are aspects of dh that suck. Mostly introduced by norba I might add. Politics and cycling don't mix. Thats why I am glad I ride in Canada .

    I think there is another issue that gets missed. Some people may not like what I have to say but here goes. Xc racers are snobs. They think they are the best thing since sliced bread. Just about every (90%) xc racer I know is snotty ESEPCIALLY when on the trail. The only time they are friendly is if you can keep up. This turns people off. Guess what, freeriders and dhillers and even bmxers are cool. They are relaxed and just want to play. They don't take every ride seriously. This creates a lot of interest with kids because of how approachable they are. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who does drops and enjoys dhilling with some technical xc. I don't do centuries (I barely do 1/4 centuries). I like my courses to be physically brutal. What does this mean. I am not super fast and my endurance is not xc level. So xc guys, once I am riding with them, don't like me.

    I also think in the end with this day and age being all aboutpower, speed and extreme (check out how winter sports are going with freeriding, snowboarding and freestyle half pipe) xc racing just doesn't cut it. There will always be a niche but it will take something else to make it truly popular.

    Well thats really it but in reality I know a lot of other people feel this way about the xc scene. Whether you xc racers see it like this or not doesn't really matter. As it is the perception of your sport that is hurting xc racing.
    Last edited by Maelstrom; 10-22-02 at 05:24 PM.

  6. #6
    Scooby Snax
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    It is a shame that XC racing isnt as viewer friendly as other types of cycle events are.

    But I think, that the grass roots racing is still going, at least thats the impression around here.

    Here in Canada, we have a couple of pretty good racers making top finishes, which should spur on the kids.

    Ski-Racing is the same, if your an avid skier, as I am. and I raced as a kid, we couldnt watch any races, there werent VCR's back then so we could only read about what happend.

    Is it any different today? Probobly not, Skiiers don't make an enormous hunk of money, not like sports that require a visual presence like Basket Ball, Base Ball Golf and Hockey do.

    But thats just my view on it.

  7. #7
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    We actually have the number one xc racer in the world. ...

  8. #8
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Interesting perspective on XC, maelstrom. I disagree about XC guys being jerks as all the mtb racers I've met at events like Nationals were pretty cool. DH, XC and DS guys cheering each other on and intermingling without any problems. No, pretty much everyone I meet on the trails are pretty cool.

    I do have a problem with DH guys abusing trail privileges by tearing down mulit-use trails with disregard for trails, hikers, horses and anyone else. But I don't lump them together because there are plenty of DH guys that know and do better.

    Cyclocross is harder than XC and more difficult for a road racer to get into than XC, imo. CX is more spectator friendly so why isn't it nearly as popular? I can only guess at the intensity and skill required are too much for most. The time of year is also inconvienent for road training.

    What you are describing is the general skill level rising. People started with XC, loved it and as they got better technically, wanted more technical challenges without the intensity. DH was too specific- on the other end of XC so Freeride was born and is growing. A little bit of both, seemingly "extreme" but actually very mainstream. Many people don't want to compete, they want to be challenged. XC is competition so there is a certain discipline involved to do that- it is extreme because it is so focused. Freeride is just that- free. You do what you want. Your bike is a great climber-but good, it isn't a great DH'ller-but good. It's middle of the road, it's extreme, it's what you want it to be. Maybe it will become a sport one day and then people will move on to something else "free".

    Kids are drawn to what is in the media or accessible. Alot of people are freeriding now so that is what kids are drawn too. When everyone was XC racing, that's what kids did too. When Lance won the TDF, alot of kids bought Treks. When Greg LeMond won the TDF, everyone was into road racing. When 101 Dalmations was in theatres, every kid wanted a Dalmation.

    Anyway, I don't hate XC but I hate the state of it right now. Don't know if promotors or Norba are to blame... but I agree that XC should change in some way.

  9. #9
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RacerX
    Interesting perspective on XC, maelstrom. I disagree about XC guys being jerks as all the mtb racers I've met at events like Nationals were pretty cool. DH, XC and DS guys cheering each other on and intermingling without any problems. No, pretty much everyone I meet on the trails are pretty cool.
    But you are a xc racer who is probably skilled and fast enough to keep up for the long distances enjoyed by xc riders. I do have some xc racer friends who are 'cool' but not being a xc racer I have noticed and felt the gap

    I do have a problem with DH guys abusing trail privileges by tearing down mulit-use trails with disregard for trails, hikers, horses and anyone else. But I don't lump them together because there are plenty of DH guys that know and do better.
    Agreed. Around here multi use trails are very rare as there are tonnes of bike dedicated. But I can understand where this is a problem

    Cyclocross is harder than XC and more difficult for a road racer to get into than XC, imo. CX is more spectator friendly so why isn't it nearly as popular? I can only guess at the intensity and skill required are too much for most. The time of year is also inconvienent for road training.
    Hmmm...ok I can see that. I totally forgot the cx is actually very technical. My back.

    As for spectator friendly. It is still new. I think it will pick up in popularity over time.

    What you are describing is the general skill level rising. People started with XC, loved it and as they got better technically, wanted more technical challenges without the intensity. DH was too specific- on the other end of XC so Freeride was born and is growing. A little bit of both, seemingly "extreme" but actually very mainstream. Many people don't want to compete, they want to be challenged. XC is competition so there is a certain discipline involved to do that- it is extreme because it is so focused. Freeride is just that- free. You do what you want. Your bike is a great climber-but good, it isn't a great DH'ller-but good. It's middle of the road, it's extreme, it's what you want it to be. Maybe it will become a sport one day and then people will move on to something else "free".
    Agreed.

    Kids are drawn to what is in the media or accessible. Alot of people are freeriding now so that is what kids are drawn too. When everyone was XC racing, that's what kids did too. When Lance won the TDF, alot of kids bought Treks. When Greg LeMond won the TDF, everyone was into road racing. When 101 Dalmations was in theatres, every kid wanted a Dalmation.
    Well I don't know. I haven't been riding that long. However I do know that I was never interested in road racing / riding. Most of my friends are only now becoming interested in mtbiking because of the excitment behind it. As you stated above xc requires a discipline that is only parelleled by other endurance sports. Since most casual athletes that I know and have played with over the years are more interested in a tough and injury prone 45 minute game of football I think 'freeriding' is more interesting. You can go out and in one hour destroy your body instead of needing to ride for 4 hours (or longer in some cases).

    I just want to state for clarification, if I come across as belittling xc and roadies I don't mean to. I am always impressed when someone can do a long ride and just focus. I am fully incapable of it. All endurance sports are my bane. Not because my body can't keep up but my brain shuts off and I essentially fall asleep (I call it the ADD of cycling). I need constant and regular objects to peak interest. I am also a power freak (weight lifting background) so I love extremely powerful and strong rides. Anyways just wanted to clarify that so I don't come across as an ass

  10. #10
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    I actually mixed that statement up. CX is very spectator friendly, you can see almost the entire race from one spot usually- very short laps. It isn't popular with racers around here because of the skill and intensity needed at this time of the season- but in general, I don't know why CX isn't more popular.
    I know CX is very popular in the east and northwest but maybe playing in the mud is a factor! CX has been around for a long time, much longer than mountain biking.

  11. #11
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Really. Wow. I really wouldn't have guessed. I do know it is played in Alberta but haven't seen much of it here. Well thank you for the info.

  12. #12
    Jubalayo Unogwaja! Bokkie's Avatar
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    I think that attitudes to sport are continuously changing. In the West Indies for example, the primary sport they were noted for was cricket. In run down suburbs amongst the stones and bricks you'd always see kids setting up impromptu wickets and they'd use any piece of wood for a bat, and a rounded stone was as good a ball as they'd ever get hold of. But cricket never had the 'cool' factor. It had its heros but cricket demands a lot of ground, a lot of time and to the West Indian kids they had the latter and that was it.

    The vacuum cricket left was rapidly filled by basketball. That had the 'cool' factor the kids could relate to, and with the arrival of the superstars on TV and simple, but effective promotion, cricket was found wanting. Of course the new generation of sports fan demands a result.

    I don't know how to adequately explain to anyone in the US how a cricket test match can last 5 days and still not have a result.

    The public demand action, they want it right at the start and they demand it right to the finish. In the US, the cut-and-thrust of seemingly endless scoring at either end of the basketball court, the seemingly endless running around in baseball, the seemingly endless movement of the puck in ice hockey (I confess to knowing absolutely nothing about all three) provide the public with a ready made meal of entertainment. Nothing wrong with that.

    If any aspect of mtb is on the retreat (XC as discussed) then the organisers need to look long and hard at what the sport offers and if they want to clwa back what's been lost elsewhere, then they have to adapt quickly or fade away into obscurity. Maybe XC is heading the same way as cross-country running. It offers periodic interest and fairly lukewarm support, but compare that to an international track event, and I know what I'd rather watch.
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  13. #13
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by RacerX
    I actually mixed that statement up. CX is very spectator friendly, you can see almost the entire race from one spot usually- very short laps.
    It's the first time I've noticed, but certainly in the south-east London region, I'd say cyclo-cross has as much attendence as the local MTB series.

    For spectators, CX is probably more enjoyable because you see the riders more often, and the general atmosphere is friendlier (aswell, being a local series, the racers/spectators tend to get to know each other better than in national series races held all over the country).

    I guess as Maelstrom suggests, the XC courses too are just plain boring....I went to an event in Newnham Park on the egde of Dartmoor Country Park, and it was awesome (so much so in fact that the World Cup paid a visit the year after!)...but courses like this in the UK are few and far between. There is too a sense of "snobbishness" with some XC racers that could put people off...but in general as Racer says, the majority are quite cool and up for a laugh.

    Maybe the sport has to go underground for a while, for it to come out again in a few years time...who knows?

    Thanks for all your views

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  14. #14
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maelstrom
    xc racing is boring. . .

    Other than some world cup races I generally find xc courses to be dull. Long flat with nothing interesting.

    . . . Right now I know most good roadies can jump in the xc race and do really well. Why? There is no mountain biking skill involved with xc tracks, only endurance and cadence.
    Dude. . . sorry to disagree.

    Where I race XC in the east coast USA the courses are technical. Have you raced XC at Plattekill yet? Mt. Snow? No pure roadie in his right mind would survive at these venues without some technical XC skills. I know. Plattekill ate me alive when I started racing XC.

    While I agree that watching XC racing is boring, there's nothing boring when you're racing. If it is, then you're not going fast enough. Train harder. Ride faster. Have more fun.

    Most people who dump on XC racing are too lazy to train, put the miles in on the road to build fitness, then judge the sport based purely on the aerobic factor. With DH you can train in the warm confines of the local gym and you only ride your bike on weekends when the chairlift is running. XC requires saddle time. On the road, in the woods. Even the esteemed Roland Green did a 40 hr training week before the Worlds a year ago.

    So. . . what's wrong with XC racing?

    DH. Yup. Downhill.

    Too many events, such as the NORBA Nationals and World Cup insist that DH and XC must be run together. So, you never see a NORBA or World Cup in Florida, or near major metro centers like Boston or Chicago. Stupid.

    Divorce XC from DH and bring the big races to the people. . . lots of people. Let DH do its own thing where there are hills. DH doesn't need XC, and visa versa.

    XC races need to be longer -- 4 hrs for the pros, 2-3 hrs for amateurs. I never ride my bike for only an hour, so why would I want to race for only an hour or 1 1/2 hrs? This is why, IMO, 24 hr racing is becoming so popular. . . you get to ride your bike, and that's what it's all about.

  15. #15
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    I've raced a couple of times, more just to try it and see if I'd like it. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a realization that I needed to do more endurance training. I was definately tired at the end, but a "Good" tired. I must admit, that I'm not a "competitive" person, so there wasn't this great draw to try competing again. My wife on the other hand, is very competitive and loved racing!

    Some of the things I see could be improved:

    The cost! As mentioned above, you need a NORBA license ($40 bucks now, I think), sure you can get a one-day for $5 but if you "might" race more than once, it makes sense to get the annual. Entry fee $40-50, and you do get a swag bag, full of stuff donated by the sponsors. (Usually the stuff no one wants anyway!) Travel, and accomodations (if you come up the night before b/c your wave starts at 8:00 and you live 2.5 hours away).

    The Frequency of Races. There are two series down here. A spring and a fall of ten races each. Every other weekend, but at a different venue every race. If you want to do the whole series, you've got to commit to traveling all over the state every other weekend. This is tough to do for a lot of people.

    The solution: More Local small scale races!

    Ever been to a BMX race guys? Same track, same time, each and every week. Don't forget practice every Tues and Thurs. Then the "State" races go from place to place.

    IOW, there are no "local" races on a regular basis for mt biking. These local races could/should only cost $5-10 for entry and be on a much smaller scale. Do you need the huge promotion / production trailer? NO! Just keep it simple, small scale and fun. Points could be awarded and then you could qualify for the "state series". Have the "local" races year round, twice a month at each trail where the "state" series races are held.

    I may not race every week, but knowing I could "for fun" might tempt me to try again!

    If the turnout is small, just group the different categories together. Everyone can be issued a plate for the year and scorekeepers just record numbers at the end of the races. How hard is that? Heck, with the availability of camcorders, record the finish line and document later.

    Provide Red, Blue, and White number plates for instance. Red is for experts and they race 3 laps, Blue - Sport they go around twice, white - beginner and once around! Once you place in the top 5, you get moved up, or once you earn so many points!

    Don't offer T-shirts for every race, just the "state races", don't offer pay-out, perhaps offer pay-back, (you get your entry fee back!) or just a simple medal or small plastic trophy!

    If every trail location had a small scale race "every Sunday or every other Sunday morning or afternoon, you could plan on going to meet your friends, do the race, then ride some more for fun. These small races could be DONE by noon, then everyone still has time to ride the course for fun!

    If my local trail (still over an hour away) had a regular race, my friends and I would compete, have lunch and then ride until the early evening (3:00 or 4:00) and go home. We might not do it every race, but I'm sure once a month. Especially if it only cost $5 per race.

    I think that if these smaller races were held, it would spark a lot more interest throughout the state, and more and more people would go to a "local" race to see if they like it. Less crowds means less competition and a better chance to win (or at least podium) then if you're serious you can compete at the "state" level and travel to a new and different track!

    I think that would revive the "racing blood" in all of us and also in our kids, the future of our sport.

    L8R
    Last edited by a2psyklnut; 10-23-02 at 08:28 AM.
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  16. #16
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by WoodyUpstate

    XC races need to be longer...This is why, IMO, 24 hr racing is becoming so popular. . . you get to ride your bike, and that's what it's all about.
    That's interesting because the same thing is happening in the UK...more enduro races are creeping into the race schedual, like the Red Bull 24 Hour.

    I could see myself going for something like that...racing at night...what a great idea!!!

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

  17. #17
    Scooby Snax
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    Rich, I just read about the red bull in a magazine, it sells out real quick, itd be a nice vacation to do item!!

    But yes night riding is a blast! Try it, youll love it!

  18. #18
    It's the fight in the man Rich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Scooby Snax
    Rich, I just read about the red bull in a magazine, it sells out real quick, itd be a nice vacation to do item!!

    But yes night riding is a blast! Try it, youll love it!
    I'm tempted Scooby...

    I used to ride our local BMX course during moonlit nights, and man that was fun....you could see the jump in front, but not the landing...a friend of mine wipped out big time...how we laughed.

    One thing with the Red Bull is that I don't know if it's a Team only event or not? Can single riders compete? Hmmm, guess not

    Cheers

    Rich
    Making New Zealand a safer place :)

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