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Low turnouts for cat 5 this year? Is there a zwift effect going on?

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Low turnouts for cat 5 this year? Is there a zwift effect going on?

Old 03-08-16, 08:06 AM
  #51  
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Originally Posted by spdntrxi View Post
I'd be against those kinds of regs ^.. I don't race much and when I do (crits) my high dollar wheels come off the bike and I race on Al clinchers...hell I even have an Allez that I am slowly building up to be race/winter only. People should know better that equipment does not mean that much, with those kinds of regs you are basically saying it does.
It's a double edged sword. I think equipment, at a certain level, does account for some difference. It's not a magnitude of difference, so it won't magically get a dropped rider back in the field, but it's certainly a difference. If equipment didn't make a difference there'd be no TT bikes for example. For me I can see a difference in speed when I use aero wheels, it's definitely there (and that's why I race on aero wheels, not on box section 32 spoke wheels). However, for a new racer, the differences are often imagined and significant, and all the marketing in the world only helps amplify those perceptions. Along with all the other new and unknowns about racing, worrying about not having enough gear is just one more step toward pushing someone away from the sport.

(It does seem like coddling a bit, but I think the reality is that there has to be some coddling done. The tough love can come later, like when the rider gets yelled at for the first time.)

On the other hand if, as a new racer, you show up and the bikes are virtually indistinguishable from one another... that wouldn't be a bad thing. Heck, with hydroforming, it's getting hard to tell if a bike is aluminum or carbon. Most bikes have Ergo/STI/SRAM shifters on the bars, most people show up with clipless pedals. Other than fit, those two equipment areas are the ones with most performance affecting potential.
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Old 03-08-16, 08:44 AM
  #52  
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It would be cool if clubs were required to hold at least one racing clinic, and clubs were required to hold at least one race. I think I've also seen a decrease in group rides where the more experienced riders mentor the newer ones, teach them how to work a paceline and get comfortable riding around people, etc. There used to be some difference between mid-week Worlds rides and regular group rides, and I think they have been a bit conflated in the 10 years that I've been kicking around this sport.

Back in my day we rode to school in the snow uphill both ways etc...
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Old 03-08-16, 10:20 AM
  #53  
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My 2 cents is, the economy + demographics makes up most of the long term decline. It's a pretty narrow band of intersecting bubbles where you have:
- an active enough roadie / racer community nearby to have enough rides / races that newbies can get involved
- which usually only happens in certain demographic strata - e.g. fatty master office workers / high income types of a certain age range

So, setting aside all the competing demands for Dad racers, the demographic reality is that we are getting older, and the kids are not yet rich enough / have enough free time to do bike racing. Add in the lingering economic malaise, which especially hits the youth more than us old guard, and I think that's enough explanation for the long term trend.

What to do about it? I like the ideas of requiring clubs to give back, lots of possible ways. Required clinics, required races organized, even how about a required minimum ratio of women and juniors? Kind of like co-ed softball; you can't field a team unless you have X women and Y juniors. Just brainstorming.
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Old 03-08-16, 10:25 AM
  #54  
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It is also early March ... I'd guess the new to racing Cat 5 fields don't swell too much until May or June when the weather is nicer and more bike racing is on the TV.

edit:

some cat 5 fields from races I've recently attended:

crit on 3/8 had 40 in the cat 5 and there was a second cat 5 field run shortly after with about 20
Chico Stage Race cat 4/5 field had 60+
circuit race on 2/14 had 40 in the cat 5
crit on 2/13 had 50 in the cat 5
circuit race on 2/7 had about 20 in the cat 5

I'd think those numbers would be decent considering the wetter winter we've had.

Last edited by hack; 03-08-16 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 03-08-16, 10:59 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by hack View Post
It is also early March ... I'd guess the new to racing Cat 5 fields don't swell too much until May or June when the weather is nicer and more bike racing is on the TV.
Weather has been so great in Central TX this year. 4 Races for me (starting back in January), all early morning starts with just basic kit (no base layer or arm warmers). It's not unusual for us to get nice weather for a race or 2 early in the year, but this year has been crazy. There is a 60% chance of rain Saturday for the Corsicana race this weekend, I'm actually hoping for a little weather. I hate starting a race in the cold/rain, but I sort of like it once the real racing starts (depending on the course).
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Old 03-08-16, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
It would be cool if clubs were required to hold at least one racing clinic, and clubs were required to hold at least one race. I think I've also seen a decrease in group rides where the more experienced riders mentor the newer ones, teach them how to work a paceline and get comfortable riding around people, etc. There used to be some difference between mid-week Worlds rides and regular group rides, and I think they have been a bit conflated in the 10 years that I've been kicking around this sport.

Back in my day we rode to school in the snow uphill both ways etc...
I think the clinics part falls on the governing body. If a club has to do it they need incentive from USAC. If a race does it, ditto.

Ditto on clubs holding races. Also I think there should be different credit given towards "promoting a race" (like max 2 clubs per race) and "helping with a race". Maybe 5 or 10 "helping with a race" would equal 1 "promoting a race".

In the old days more than a couple clubs got away with doing a "Monday Night Roller Race" in February or something. They'd have 6 racers (all club members, this before internet so no one knew about the race), they'd do a race, and that was that. There needs to be some control on that else there will be similar shenanigans going on (maybe a Zwift race).

Group rides, they've changed for sure. I think a big part of it is that the experienced riders (who get something out of passing on knowledge) aren't riding as much with groups? I don't know. I haven't ridden regularly with a group in a while, 2009-2010, and before that it was maybe 1997 when I last rode consistently with any group.
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Old 03-08-16, 11:44 AM
  #57  
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Just for kicks I brought up the registration spreadsheet for the first Bethel in 2012 (Mar 4). To me these numbers represent what I'd expect at a race. I think these field sizes are good/normal/expected.

Cat 5 - 47
Cat 4 - 81
M45 - 75
Women (open) - 37
Cat 3-4 - 94
P123 - 85

Total of 419 bibs handed out ("racers"). Of those 84 racers raced twice (no Cat 5s because they're not eligible for any other races).

Mar 11 the numbers were similar, 47 women, 106 Cat 3-4s, rest were similar or a bit lower, like 0-10 riders fewer in a given field. 405 racers, 88 doubled up.

Mar 17 numbers were similar, 42 women, 105 Cat 3-4s, rest were about the same or slightly lower. 75 Cat 4s for example, but M45 was same. 408 racers, 102 doubled up. That week someone died due to a crash at the race. The P123 race had maybe 30 starters (the crash happened in the 3-4 race). The weekly numbers dropped off after that. I know at least one racer quit racing until 2015, I saw him at his first race back. Also there were conflicting races scheduled starting at that point.

Mar 24 there were a total of 204 racers in all categories, and of those 36 raced twice or more.

Mar 31 it was 300 total, 76 racers doubling up.

April 13 it was 260 total, 60 doubled up. I think that was Battenkill day. Usually the last day was the biggest but due to Battenkill many riders ended their Series on the prior week, including a few of the overall leaders.

I lost money that year. I don't remember how much, I'm pretty sure it was in the "many thousands" but under ten thousand. That third week was super tough emotionally, and in fact I was involved in various things relating to that until October or later. Also Junior was born Mar 10 (with a major false alarm on Mar 2) so I was a bit busy at home.

In 2010 I made money. The numbers (not immediately available to me right now) were much higher. Cat 3-4s had two days of closed out 125 registrants, most of the other days it was 100-ish. P123s were consistently 90-100. I think the 4s and M45s were consistently 70-90. Women were I think in the 30s most of the time. 5s were 40-80 I think, but that's a guess (if 2 races with 50 rider field limits).
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Old 03-08-16, 11:44 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by grwoolf View Post
Weather has been so great in Central TX this year. 4 Races for me (starting back in January), all early morning starts with just basic kit (no base layer or arm warmers). It's not unusual for us to get nice weather for a race or 2 early in the year, but this year has been crazy. There is a 60% chance of rain Saturday for the Corsicana race this weekend, I'm actually hoping for a little weather. I hate starting a race in the cold/rain, but I sort of like it once the real racing starts (depending on the course).
Get outta here with that rain talk! Just picked up my TT bike (haven't ridden it yet) and don't want the first ride to be on slick roads saturday morning on a fast downhill course! all for a little rain on sunday to slow things down. Would prefer dry weather for the saturday night crit. Seeing 50% chance right and praying to the cycling gods.
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Old 03-08-16, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Group rides, they've changed for sure. I think a big part of it is that the experienced riders (who get something out of passing on knowledge) aren't riding as much with groups? I don't know. I haven't ridden regularly with a group in a while, 2009-2010, and before that it was maybe 1997 when I last rode consistently with any group.
I definitely do less group rides than I used to. Part of that is the nature of structured training, but part of it is that it has seemed that ride etiquette has decreased in quality and rides have gotten more dangerous, and riders are pissing off drivers by running lights and stop signs and not making an effort to keep to the right when they can. This isn't every group ride and there are some that I do from time to time, but the chill friendly ones seem to be more exception than rule.
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Old 03-08-16, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Group rides, they've changed for sure. I think a big part of it is that the experienced riders (who get something out of passing on knowledge) aren't riding as much with groups? I don't know. I haven't ridden regularly with a group in a while, 2009-2010, and before that it was maybe 1997 when I last rode consistently with any group.
This has changed a lot over time. Current training methods relying on maintain target times/zones mean you really have to train solo. This started to gain a lot of momentum in the mid 90's (HR based). Most good training rides that I've stumbled across these days are non or casual racers.

I can see how it would be tougher starting out now (vs late 80's for me). Go do a few group rides with the local club (nothing at all like racing), show up cold for a few Crits (with some very fit riders), come post on BF asking why you get shelled.

There is a need and a place for informal or club level races below Cat 5. When I started a couple local clubs held these weekly. One was Tuesday nights at a local auto racing track. Very informal, format varied, mixed experience, steep learning curve. Seems like most mid-week races I've seen any more are just mixed category races w/o prize money. Nothing "Training" about them except the title.
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Old 03-08-16, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
This has changed a lot over time. Current training methods relying on maintain target times/zones mean you really have to train solo. This started to gain a lot of momentum in the mid 90's (HR based). Most good training rides that I've stumbled across these days are non or casual racers.

I can see how it would be tougher starting out now (vs late 80's for me). Go do a few group rides with the local club (nothing at all like racing), show up cold for a few Crits (with some very fit riders), come post on BF asking why you get shelled.

There is a need and a place for informal or club level races below Cat 5. When I started a couple local clubs held these weekly. One was Tuesday nights at a local auto racing track. Very informal, format varied, mixed experience, steep learning curve. Seems like most mid-week races I've seen any more are just mixed category races w/o prize money. Nothing "Training" about them except the title.

The club ive been racing with for the past few years (since I started racing in 2012) has a weekly series that runs from the end of April to mid September. It was great doing this when I first started riding seriously and I still love it and look forward to these races every week, especially now that im racing with the A group again.
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Old 03-08-16, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by rankin116 View Post
You rang?
I was thinking more about Eric.

Originally Posted by aaronmcd View Post
It was mentioned that it takes lots of hours and hard training to be mediocre, or dropped, or whatever. But that doesn't make sense to me. I actually settled on cycling over running, tri, spartan race, because it's easier to do well, at least at the lower levels (well also it turned out to be super fun). Even in cat 3 I have a shot at the win. With running I know ahead of time where I stack up, and I aint gonna be top 10. Ever. It's all fitness, genetics. Cycling is at least a bit more balanced. At least there are multiple energy systems and skills involved.
You're the exception. Most people don't experience the same level of early success that you did.

Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
IMO, social media, the loss of an entire generation of pro cyclists to PEDs and sanctions and the lack of an emerging winning USA pro cyclist or group of pros are the reasons.

The drugs dried up the sponsorship money and Lance turned out to be not just a doper but a bad guy. Without a promotion machine and star power, many prospective new entrants have little to fantasize about. Most know they do not want to be like Lance and his entire gang....

If you look at British cycling and the lottery money spent in conjunction with the success of Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins, cycling is exploding in the UK. The queen knighted those guys. USADA destroyed our guys. Hell, Wiggins and Cav just won the UCI World Track Madison again in London and it was amazing to watch. I can visualize a lot of young men (and women) wanting to race at the track and be like Wiggins and Cav.
I think there is a lot of truth to this, coupled with the fact that most of the revelations came out as the economy was tanking, resulting in people with less disposable income and companies cutting back sponsorships overall.
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Old 03-08-16, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Voodoo76 View Post
I can see how it would be tougher starting out now (vs late 80's for me). Go do a few group rides with the local club (nothing at all like racing), show up cold for a few Crits (with some very fit riders), come post on BF asking why you get shelled.

There is a need and a place for informal or club level races below Cat 5. When I started a couple local clubs held these weekly. One was Tuesday nights at a local auto racing track. Very informal, format varied, mixed experience, steep learning curve. Seems like most mid-week races I've seen any more are just mixed category races w/o prize money. Nothing "Training" about them except the title.
I think the bold is significant. As far as economy goes, okay, fine, it's tougher, but the ones who really got bit by the bug keep racing. Although I was looking at a pretty small subset of racers (state of CT, spring, etc), there were those who weren't very wealthy at all. They scrimped and saved so they could go race. The big thing discouraging everyone was that most of them were getting their doors blown off and they didn't even know why. All the zone training, all the intervals, etc, and no one told them about actually racing. It was all working on the engine, not on the driver.

Although it died in its infant stages, we almost ran the spring series this year. In order to leave me out of it as much as possible it was going to be modeled after the Tuesday Night races, just A, B, C, no results, no overall. You either finished or not. It would have been much more informal, much more of a "training series" instead of a "spring series". Early on I changed the name of the Bethel series from Bethel Training Series to Bethel Spring Series on purpose. I started permitting it as a series of one day races instead of one training series, changed the prize structure, etc. There are training series and there are "racing" series. I think a race that's broken down into A, B, C etc is a training race. Something with actual categories, with results posted? That's a race.
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Old 03-08-16, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Not to mention that 99% of people that show up to a race lose.

Thats the discipline --- knowing you may get shelled out the back of the pack but showing up anyway

Cycling eats the weak alive. On the flip side, go slog through a 10k at a blistering 50 minute pace and you'll get a t-shirt, a group of people giving you polite applause, and a finisher's medal

get spit out the back 20 minutes into a crit and you just sneak through the crowd and load your rig up in slitude, vowing to train harder next week
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Old 03-08-16, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post

I think us more advanced riders smirk/smile when we see a mismatch between bike and rider, like an obviously unfit rider on a $15k bike, but for me the more poignant sight is when there's a kid that's on an absolute entry level bike who is trying his hardest and just can't help but look in wonder at all the high zoot machinery around him. .

I'm a 80's and 90's era racer who is just now coming back --- so yeah, i'm unfit and i have a big gut right now --- that said, i am now in my 40's and have worked hard for years to be able to enjoy nice equipment.

I'm not going to apologize to anyone because i can afford a nice machine ----- i'm a gearhead and a bit of a gadget guy to boot. Nice equipment is part of the fun ------- all the while, i know fully well the hungry 18 year old from your example riding his uncle's old Centurion Ironman can ride the wheels off me if i lose the draft, - on a bike 5 lbs heavier

That said -- in my racing "comeback" - i am concentrating on time trials and downhill mtb stuff - none of which involve pack riding ---



btw - what is ZWIFT ? LOL (i'll use the google box to find out - i really have been living under a rock for awhile )
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Old 03-08-16, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Thats the discipline --- knowing you may get shelled out the back of the pack but showing up anyway

Cycling eats the weak alive. On the flip side, go slog through a 10k at a blistering 50 minute pace and you'll get a t-shirt, a group of people giving you polite applause, and a finisher's medal

get spit out the back 20 minutes into a crit and you just sneak through the crowd and load your rig up in slitude, vowing to train harder next week
Exactly. How can anybody by surprised by the huge growth of cycling's manifestation of "everybody wins": Gran Fondos?

I try and tell friends that Gran Fondos aren't really racing and their eyes glaze over. And, of those very few who do understand, none prefer racing...
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Old 03-09-16, 08:04 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Thats the discipline --- knowing you may get shelled out the back of the pack but showing up anyway

Cycling eats the weak alive. On the flip side, go slog through a 10k at a blistering 50 minute pace and you'll get a t-shirt, a group of people giving you polite applause, and a finisher's medal

get spit out the back 20 minutes into a crit and you just sneak through the crowd and load your rig up in slitude, vowing to train harder next week
#this
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Old 03-09-16, 08:37 AM
  #68  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
I was thinking more about Eric.
I figured as much, he was pretty bummed. I tried to keep the mood light and self deprecating so he would lighten up some. Hope he's not too discouraged to keep at it.
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Old 03-09-16, 12:01 PM
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USAC benefited from the Lance effect, which put them on 3rd base to start the game. They thought they hit a triple, and stayed with the same model they've had since the 1960's.

Their training model is to put kinder gardeners in a room with lighters and matches and hope someone survives.

Their knowledge of their customer demographics is abysmal, and their retention rate is worse.

There are more than a few officials who seem to believe that the racers are there to serve them.

Their financial model of pushing money out to local associations, who mostly have no financial or other accountability to their members, and are often run by tiny cabals, make the Russian political process look transparent. In one case I know of they reneged on a promise to give money to the state high school league. That's smart long term thinking.

Because there's no long term thinking. There's little to no promoting the sport outside of the sport itself.

So it's a poorly run business that doesn't promote or improve it's product, that has little regard for it's customers safety, that doesn't know much about it's customers, that doesn't try to retain it's customers, that aggressive kills off competitors with a better product, and that doesn't promote its product.

How could they possibly fail?

I say this as someone who has been inside several of these organizations, who was involved in promoting and running motorcycle racing organizations, and having picked the brain of some successful promoters.

And then there's the whole drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope drugs dope thing.

Telling Cat 5's (or most amateur racers for that matter) they need to make medical decisions with the same care and awareness as an Olympic athlete? With more care than most professional athletes? For Beer League Softball?

That's nuts.

FWIW the Lance effect was much less about his winning bike races than his cancer narrative (real), and the other BS that Sally Jenkins and him trotted out. 9 out of 10 people knew Lance. Maybe 1 out of 20 could name another professional cyclist, including Lemond.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 03-09-16 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 03-09-16, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post

You're the exception. Most people don't experience the same level of early success that you did.
What I was trying to get at was that success is easier in cycling. It takes less to win a cat 4 bike race than it does to win a 10k. Winning a 10k is just fastest threshold wins. You can check previous race times and know where you stand without lining up, so why line up? Cycling gives almost everyone a shot at the win in one race or another. Sure it sucks to get dropped, but in a 10k everyone is dropped except the winner. Cycling is for competitive people and running seems to be for people who aren't there to compete.
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Old 03-09-16, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by aaronmcd View Post
What I was trying to get at was that success is easier in cycling. It takes less to win a cat 4 bike race than it does to win a 10k. Winning a 10k is just fastest threshold wins. You can check previous race times and know where you stand without lining up, so why line up? Cycling gives almost everyone a shot at the win in one race or another. Sure it sucks to get dropped, but in a 10k everyone is dropped except the winner. Cycling is for competitive people and running seems to be for people who aren't there to compete.
Not only that, but there is no cat 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 at the local 10k (sure there are elite only races, but that's like an NRC). Everyone is up against everyone making it a greater challenge to win the 10k.
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Old 03-09-16, 05:49 PM
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The difference being a 10k you have a pretty good benchmark for progress (time) and people can't sandbag their age group. Success is often measured by the time metric. TT's you have the time component, but you have Cat5's who might be absolute monsters.

And you don't have people yelling obscenities in a 10k weaving all over the road and crashing into people.
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Old 03-09-16, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post

And you don't have people yelling obscenities in a 10k weaving all over the road and crashing into people.
they never let me race again
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Old 03-09-16, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
they never let me race again
Me either. People get all bent out of shape if you put them into the barricades in the final 100m.
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Old 03-14-16, 11:37 AM
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I've in essence lost 2 venues this year. Reason - too much of a hassle to close the roads and not enough participation or draw for the community.

Our Illinois Promoter's meeting this year had a smaller number of attendees than ever and the number of attendees who were actually promoters was less than 10. This is a meeting that 4-5 years ago had anywhere from 40-70 promoters.

Most attended field last season was the M 1/2/3. 5's were non-existent. cat 5 fields used to fill up within an hour or two after registration opened. I used to have 2 cat 5 races at each race and they were always filled. Not anymore. I am cancelling the extra cat 5 race at every one of my races this year. There is no need for the field.

Yes - this sport goes in cycles. We get it. Right now it is in a major downswing. You can point to a ton of reasons and all of them will have validity to you or someone you know who provided anecdotal evidence for their specific situation. I have been a part of committees that have tried to address all of these big concerns in the past and found out that none of them are the real reason.

The real reason is simply that people don't want to race on the road right now.

It doesn't matter how dangerous something is if you really want to do it. It doesn't matter how expensive something is if you really want to do it. It doesn't matter how elitist something is if you really want to do it. We just simply lack people that really want to do it. The sport has little to offer at this point in time compared to other activities.

Barring a major change in society, or popular culture that ushers cycling into focus the only way anyone is ever going to grow this sport is if they actively get a new person involved and hooked on it.

National license numbers were down something like 1500-2000 licenses on a total of like 15,000 for men. Something like 10-15%. If you brought someone to the sport last year then not only did someone else not do that they most likely had a talk with someone who left the sport and said something like, "yeah, I get it. Totally understand." when told they were leaving the sport.
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