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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 03-23-16, 11:58 AM
  #101  
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I think 1 day licenses should be available for all categories, not just a cat 5. If I can only race a couple times a year, why would I pay $70 for a license?
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Old 03-23-16, 12:17 PM
  #102  
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Them's the breaks. That doesn't seem like a sensible policy and it definitely doesn't seem like it has any real implications for bringing new people into the sport.
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Old 03-23-16, 12:27 PM
  #103  
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I don't think an annual license is a deterrent. I may race once this year and before I do I'll get my annual license, if only to keep my number. Even if I don't race I'll get my license. I just haven't gotten it yet.
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Old 03-23-16, 12:36 PM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by Gramercy View Post
I think 1 day licenses should be available for all categories, not just a cat 5. If I can only race a couple times a year, why would I pay $70 for a license?
They are. It's new this year. Cat 5 one day licenses are now $10 (down from $15) and can be applied to an annual license. For all other categories, a one-day license is $25, but you have to purchase it online through USAC in advance of your race. You cannot purchase it at the event.
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Old 03-23-16, 12:38 PM
  #105  
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When I was a kid I really wanted to race. It wasn't "competition" per se, like needing to win. In fact I had no thoughts about winning. I thought more about the efforts I'd put into the bike training, pushing hard on hills (at least I thought I was going hard), stuff like that. I wasn't looking to accomplish a specific thing, I was looking for a place where I could put my energy and focus.

The riders I see quit are the ones who are striving for a particular achievement. I know a lot of racers who were much better than me that just stopped racing. One in particular stands out - by the time he got himself a pro license he hated cycling. He told a very good friend of mine that after he stops racing he will never ride a bike again. Others were similar. I remember eavesdropping on a conversation between a pretty good pro (former Lance teammate in the heyday) and an ex-pro race announcer. This was before a charity group ride and the announcer asked quietly (off the record) why the pro got back into cycling. The pro spewed some of the standard stuff and the announcer just looked at him. "Was it money?" The pro grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. I can't make this kind of money otherwise." He wasn't racing for anything except to pay the mortgage or whatever. I didn't read much about him that year or any year after that.

I remember watching the Junior race at a particular crit (Danbury Crit). It was in the early-mid 90s. There was one kid doggedly lapping the course, off the back, until he got pulled. He was young, like 15, so a bit less physically mature than the others. I thought to myself, "Okay, that kid, he's going to stick around a bit. He's not here just to win, he's here because he wants to be in the sport." He and I became teammates about 6 years later, and a few years after that he introduced me to the person that is now the Missus. He stopped racing at some point because combination of family and work, but he raced for a solid 15 years or so.

The kids that want to race, they want to race.
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Old 03-23-16, 12:39 PM
  #106  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
They are. It's new this year. Cat 5 one day licenses are now $10 (down from $15) and can be applied to an annual license. For all other categories, a one-day license is $25, but you have to purchase it online through USAC in advance of your race. You cannot purchase it at the event.
I thought that was the case as well, but I got this email from the USAC when I inquired about it.

----------
Eric,

Beginner one day licenses are only available for category 5 for men and category 4 for women.

Kristen Uhlemann
Event Services Coordinator
USA Cycling
210 USA Cycling Point, Suite 100
Colorado Springs, CO 80919
T: 719-434-4201
F: 719-434-4300
kuhlemann@usacycling.org
www.usacycling.org
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Old 03-23-16, 02:59 PM
  #107  
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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
Well I guess it's different for somebody. To me grim feeling of being dropped is a best part of this sport. That's why I hated running - all this cheering, everybody gets a medal etc. It feels like small league soccer where they do not keep score for everybody "be happy". Well, thats bs. Too bad everything goes in that direction in general.
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Old 03-23-16, 06:46 PM
  #108  
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All the blah blah blah about how cycling is so hard, not for the weak, etc. is comical. I think we protest too much on that. The macho he-man stuff is both a turn-off to newcomers and mostly inaccurate. After all, once you develop some pack skills, you can just sit in a group in a crit even if your fitness is total crap. It doesn't need to be hard. Sure, actually winning is hard, but hanging out in a race? Not really. Running, you get to turn yourself inside out whether you're at the front of the race or the back. Besides, getting swag is nice. Geez, who gives a frak.

The pointy-nippled crewcut crowd gets all lathered up about how this mollycoddling is ruining America, but you know what? People actually show up to running races. By the thousands. Likewise, gravel races, gran fondos and centuries (albeit in somewhat smaller numbers, but huge compared to road racing). Having a bunch of uncompetitive participants there to effectively subsidize the people who are actually racing is frickin' genius. I'm not saying USAC should go that route with road racing, but they're not idiots. The benefits of that set up are obvious. There's a reason they're eyeing fondos and gravel events.

The other reason running events are so popular with the un or non-competitive, by the way, is pretty much built in: the equipment requirements are basically zero. With road racing, you don't need a great bike, but even if you have one hanging in a garage, there are pretty good odds it's not a road bike. There's a reason lots of people dipping their toes into personal fitness for the first time since childhood often go to running first, and once you're running, a 5k isn't much of a leap. These advantages are basically fixed. Not much we can do about it. This idea that it's because cyclists are these magnificent specimens of human toughness and perseverance is deeply silly, self-serving and is exactly what people mean when they say we take ourselves too seriously.
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Old 03-23-16, 08:17 PM
  #109  
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
All the blah blah blah about how cycling is so hard, not for the weak, etc. is comical. I think we protest too much on that. The macho he-man stuff is both a turn-off to newcomers and mostly inaccurate. After all, once you develop some pack skills, you can just sit in a group in a crit even if your fitness is total crap. It doesn't need to be hard. Sure, actually winning is hard, but hanging out in a race? Not really. Running, you get to turn yourself inside out whether you're at the front of the race or the back. Besides, getting swag is nice. Geez, who gives a frak.

The pointy-nippled crewcut crowd gets all lathered up about how this mollycoddling is ruining America, but you know what? People actually show up to running races. By the thousands. Likewise, gravel races, gran fondos and centuries (albeit in somewhat smaller numbers, but huge compared to road racing). Having a bunch of uncompetitive participants there to effectively subsidize the people who are actually racing is frickin' genius. I'm not saying USAC should go that route with road racing, but they're not idiots. The benefits of that set up are obvious. There's a reason they're eyeing fondos and gravel events.

The other reason running events are so popular with the un or non-competitive, by the way, is pretty much built in: the equipment requirements are basically zero. With road racing, you don't need a great bike, but even if you have one hanging in a garage, there are pretty good odds it's not a road bike. There's a reason lots of people dipping their toes into personal fitness for the first time since childhood often go to running first, and once you're running, a 5k isn't much of a leap. These advantages are basically fixed. Not much we can do about it. This idea that it's because cyclists are these magnificent specimens of human toughness and perseverance is deeply silly, self-serving and is exactly what people mean when they say we take ourselves too seriously.
Exactly what I meant by "ditch the attitude". Someone give this man a cigar.

But you can't have the unwashed masses supporting your racing in fondos and gravel races and then tell those people what they're doing isn't as real as what you're doing. They'll just say f-yall and go do those things without USAC. Because you in no way need USAC to participate in those types of events. What you want to do is make everyone love the *idea* of bicycle racing not matter what the difficulty of the event is that they are registered for. You want them to come to the gravel event associated with a USAC stage race. Pay their entry fee, buy a license, support any vendors, watch the other races. Have a great time. Then go home and talk it up.
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Old 03-24-16, 05:21 AM
  #110  
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I think some of those dynamics are pretty common across a wide variety of interests. Has anyone every checked out audio or photography forums? Elitism isn't limited to cycling.

The main difference between cycling and running though is their elite events are tied into their rec events. A lot of that is due to the logistics of needing to run fields separately at most events.

Does anyone actually say gravel grinders or such aren't "real?" I don't really see anyone saying anything like that. In fact the very guys I see promoting those events are ex or current racers, and they're populated with outstanding racers. Same thing with the NY Gran Fond which has a massive racer presence.

Last edited by gsteinb; 03-24-16 at 05:43 AM.
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Old 03-24-16, 07:59 AM
  #111  
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A couple weeks ago, two new guys on our team - both cat 5s, entered a tough 4/5 crit. They hung on for a few laps, one hung on a bit longer than the other. After awhile, the officials started pulling lapped riders. (Really, given the course, pulling the lapped riders was safer for all.) The one guy who was doing a bit better got pulled first. The second guy, who was struggling more, ended up getting caught by the field just as he passed the race officials. They didn't notice that he was down laps and left him in the race. He ended up being the only lapped rider left in the race, and try as he might, he couldn't hang with the field.

For the next 30 minutes, he basically rode on his own, with the field passing him every so often. We cheered for him every time he came by.

When the race was over, he was in a terrible mood, largely because he was embarrassed that he was stuck out there by himself getting lapped over and over again. He could have DNF'd, but he didn't want to give up. But it was not a fun experience for him. Despite all his training and effort, he just wasn't race ready yet. And it was extremely difficult for him to come to terms with that situation - How can I train so hard and still get beat so badly?

I chatted with him and emailed him later on to calm him down and continue to encourage him. But had I not done that, maybe he would not have raced again.

And that is the situation we face with Cat 5s. Bicycle racing is really hard, and it's very different from group rides, even fast hammer rides. Most people aren't prepared physically or mentally for the challenge of a Cat 5 race. How many of us were dropped in our first race? It can be incredibly demoralizing to put in what seems like a lot of work and effort riding and training only to be shelled in the first race.

USAC's Beginner Racer Program seems like a great idea, but like all things USAC, it's not being promoted sufficiently. They aren't holding enough certification clinics nor are they doing things to encourage more people to run the programs. We have a great crit series here that would be ideal for doing the beginner racer program, but we can't get anyone certified to run the course.
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Old 03-24-16, 08:05 AM
  #112  
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
I think some of those dynamics are pretty common across a wide variety of interests. Has anyone every checked out audio or photography forums? Elitism isn't limited to cycling.
To be clear I think the elitism accusation is leveled at roadies a little too frequently. Though as I said it's not too hard to hang out in a 4/5 race once you have some skills, developing those skills and the basic fitness to exploit them isn't trivial. I think the intimidation factor there leads to some of the "elitism" accusations. But I also don't think it's a great idea to actually hold and promote an elitist attitude, even if the prevalence is overstated and even if elitism is found in other interests. I mean, of course it is. Doesn't mean it looks good on those people, either.
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Old 03-24-16, 08:09 AM
  #113  
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
Does anyone actually say gravel grinders or such aren't "real?" I don't really see anyone saying anything like that. In fact the very guys I see promoting those events are ex or current racers, and they're populated with outstanding racers. Same thing with the NY Gran Fond which has a massive racer presence.
I can't speak to the gravel races because I've never done one. But for the Fondos, absolutely. If I were to come here and refer to a Fondo as a race, I guarantee that several people would chime in to correct me and to say that Fondos are actually "feel-good participation events" not races.

I think traditional mass start races are cool and I'm mildly interested in them. But I'm a primary breadwinner who needs both an intact brain and body to produce income. I'm risking a lot financially if I get injured. I'm ok with cyling risk that I take on as a result of my own prep and skills, but am leery of mass start races where I may encounter someone who is reckless and untaught. Plus I'm a woman in my late 40's. The chances that I show up at a mass start event and have a nice field of appropriate competition is not great. So it might not be that fun for me anyway. Those things add up to mean that I'm not going to throw tons of energy into giving mass start racing a whirl, at least not now while the TTs have captured my interest. But when I look past the TTs to what's next, I see mountain bike racing or track before I see crits or road races.

But for whatever reason- even though I train very seriously, I have nice stuff, I organize much of my life around cycling and I'm not interested in anything anymore unless its timed- people who race mass start races want to tell me how non-mass-start races are not quite "real" racing. I even get this about TTs to some extent- they are just "not the same level of competitiveness" as a crit, for example.

None of this is to complain. Its just to point out that I think its counterproductive, all this chest beating about who's racing and who's "participating". Whatever. I just think if I am interested in cycling and willing to spend $ doing it, that USAC should be pretty interested in developing the types of races that I actually will compete in in order capture my dollars. But they don't seem to interested in doing that. And the mass start cycling "culture" seems to really want to make a distinction between what I'm doing and what they're doing. Elitism, yes, its there in most sports/hobbies. But Tri manages it well. Cycling, not quite so well.

Last edited by Heathpack; 03-24-16 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 03-24-16, 08:22 AM
  #114  
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
To be clear I think the elitism accusation is leveled at roadies a little too frequently. Though as I said it's not too hard to hang out in a 4/5 race once you have some skills, developing those skills and the basic fitness to exploit them isn't trivial. I think the intimidation factor there leads to some of the "elitism" accusations. But I also don't think it's a great idea to actually hold and promote an elitist attitude, even if the prevalence is overstated and even if elitism is found in other interests. I mean, of course it is. Doesn't mean it looks good on those people, either.
I'm not saying it should be promoted or looks good on other groups of people. It's just not as particularly novel as often stated, which you said. It has more to do with 'people' than the sport. People often tend to identify with what they're doing, and they like to appear better or more important than they are. Regrettably it frequently manifests as putting down others.
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Old 03-24-16, 08:30 AM
  #115  
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Originally Posted by Heathpack View Post
USAC should be pretty interested in developing the types of races that I actually will compete in in order capture my dollars
While that's a nice idea the reality is that USAC doesn't really develop races on the scale you're talking about. People do, and the sad reality is it's hard for people to make money putting on races due to the costs associated with putting them on. Unless people get out and promote races there's just no way for them to manifest. Tri works on a different model, has huge community support, and they charge a whole hell of a lot more. Cyclists are generally hated by communities, they race a lot more (requiring many more starts) and the trend (at least in the NE) is for RRs to disappear in favor of corporate park crits. It seems, again at least here, the kind of new races that are coming in are the very type of events you're talking about. There's also a robust TT scene. So I don't really see a lot of the issues you reference.

I don't really have an interest in trying to map how the opinions of a forum of 20 or so people relates to how cyclists as a whole view a type of event. What you say about fondos simply isn't how they're viewed in this area. The NY one is probably the biggest one in the country.
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Old 03-24-16, 08:38 AM
  #116  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
Eh, road racing turnout across the board has been going down for a couple years now. It's one of the big issues USAC is trying to tackle. Some areas remain stronger than others. But there has been a lot of growth in gravel racing and cyclocross, which makes some sense. The initial entry costs are lower - you can use mountain bikes - and in the case of cross, it's much more spectator friendly. Also, the perceived risk is lower.

And let's be honest, road racing is a fairly brutal sport. It's horribly demoralizing to put all those hours in training and then get your ass handed to you in your first race.
2 things: my strava feed is COMPLETELY full of zwift right now and it's super super annoying. it almost weirdly makes me feel like I'm not one of the cool kids because I don't have a smart trainer . . .

also, I did my first road race last summer, and yeah, the turnout was bad. I actually signed up for the citizens race, just to get my feet wet, and I was literally the only entrant. they moved me to the the cat 5 field and it was super small, almost exclusively teams of 3 or more with the exception of me and one other guy, and we were both shelled by the 3rd mile. I was totally alone on the road inside 10 minutes and it was not fun at all. it was supposed to be a 30 mile kindof hilly race, and the guys up front took off like it was a track sprint after the first corner. totally demoralizing and it made me question a lot of things. mostly, how the hell anyone gets into this sport . . .

long winter training, lifting, sprinting on the trainer, and my fitness has significantly improved. I would like to try a couple crit races this summer (its' a short flat fast 4 corner downtown) and I hope they might play to my strengths a little more than a hilly road race. I have also made acquaintances with some local racers in one our local group rides, and I'm hoping I can offer to work with some of them come race time so I don't get spit out so badly by the teams working together.

our club DOES offer several training events and "mock" races with in-race mentoring for new riders, and I plan on doing a couple of these in April and Early May before the actual race season kicks off here. fingers crossed I don't get so smashed again, because if I don't at least finish with the pack this time around I will probably stop trying.
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Old 03-24-16, 09:11 AM
  #117  
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
How many of us were dropped in our first race? It can be incredibly demoralizing to put in what seems like a lot of work and effort riding and training only to be shelled in the first race.
I got dropped seconds into my first race.

It also took me, I don't know...25 races? (we are talking USAC and the club I race with) before I finally stopped getting dropped (as often).
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Old 03-24-16, 10:45 AM
  #118  
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I also don't see this "elitism" as a barrier to entry for road racing. I don't see the fact that people get shelled in Cat 5 races as a barrier to entry. I don't see the fact that most people can't get a hit more than 1/5 of the time in baseball as a barrier to entry.

I simply see the fact that cycling as a competitive sport just isn't on most peoples' radar at all these days. There are other sports like that (and I used to participate in one, competitive water skiing) and trying to re-make an unpopular sport into a popular one isn't something that the governing body is going to have a huge effect on. Television makes or breaks sports. Scholastic programs might help somewhat, but funding is going to come from sources who want to see somewhere for their kids to "graduate" to, like the NCAA.

Armstrong made cycling popular. USCF didn't "make" Armstrong. Television did. It also unmade him. Had his drama been confined to cycling news sources it would have the same impact as stories about Marco Pantani. Only people who actually read Velonews even know who that was. Armstrong made the mainstream media in a big way and cycling followed.

These days the degree of interest in cycling is quantified by the following exchanges:

"It's a bio pic about Lance Armstrong." "Oh, the guy from the moon landing?"

"I race bikes." "Oh, do you do the Tour de France?" (the second one has been quite prevalent, it's tantamount to saying you play football and someone asking if you play in the Super Bowl. A ridiculous statement ONLY to someone who watches television.)

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Old 03-24-16, 10:49 AM
  #119  
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Turnout in general is HUGE around here right now. Next weekend's race in Marblehead is sold out, we missed it. Crits are seeing 50+ people easy now, last year it was like 20.
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Old 03-24-16, 10:51 AM
  #120  
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
While that's a nice idea the reality is that USAC doesn't really develop races on the scale you're talking about. People do, and the sad reality is it's hard for people to make money putting on races due to the costs associated with putting them on. Unless people get out and promote races there's just no way for them to manifest. Tri works on a different model, has huge community support, and they charge a whole hell of a lot more. Cyclists are generally hated by communities, they race a lot more (requiring many more starts) and the trend (at least in the NE) is for RRs to disappear in favor of corporate park crits. It seems, again at least here, the kind of new races that are coming in are the very type of events you're talking about. There's also a robust TT scene. So I don't really see a lot of the issues you reference.

I don't really have an interest in trying to map how the opinions of a forum of 20 or so people relates to how cyclists as a whole view a type of event. What you say about fondos simply isn't how they're viewed in this area. The NY one is probably the biggest one in the country.
Well I guess my perspective is that I'm in the midst of a 10-race TT series. A few years ago, there were 5 venues in this series. This year, there were supposed to be 4 venues but one folded before we even started. And the 3rd venue was talking about dropping out mid-series because they were losing money on their race. So to me, the TT scene does not feel that robust. Maybe its regional. Maybe just bad luck. Or maybe there's a problem that could be fixed.

Most of the things that you point out (tri works on a different model, tri brings in more money, tri is a community event, its hard for race promoters to make money, cyclists are hated, etc) are actually things that IMO would be best addressed by a more global governing body like USAC. It would take a major change in the way USAC perceives itself and its role in the world of cycling. For example, people will obviously drop major money on tri. Who races tri, what motivates them and is there anything USAC could do to capture some of those people? There is a perception that people race tri because they are interested in a feel-good participation sport and maybe that's true. Or maybe its just that tri is better organized from the beginner level through advanced and is more accessible to a broader swatch of people, women and juniors included. Maybe there is something to be learned from the tri model.

My argument would be that you want the maximum number of people involved in cycling as a sport and you want them exposed to the idea of racing, whether they race or not. The broader the pool of people to draw from, the better the competition. But also people support their local events if they feel involved and invested, if they know the people participating.

So I hear you when you say: "that's not how it works" and I accept that I may just not understand how it works. But I also think sometimes its worth reconsidering how things work. Oftentimes its the new people or the outsiders who can shed light on where changes could be made, simply by virtue of the fact that the system is not already working for them.
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Old 03-24-16, 11:05 AM
  #121  
mike868y
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Originally Posted by Harlan View Post
Turnout in general is HUGE around here right now.
umm, what?

take a look at dieter's stats and at the number of races that have been cancelled in the past 5 years.
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Old 03-24-16, 11:06 AM
  #122  
Harlan
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
umm, what?

take a look at dieter's stats and at the number of races that have been cancelled in the past 5 years.
I'm just comparing this spring to last.
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Old 03-24-16, 11:09 AM
  #123  
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I think last winter was metal as **** though, this one has been pretty easy to deal with. Also bethel is dead so the limited racer pool is flocking to one venue instead of splitting up to go to different places.
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Old 03-24-16, 11:13 AM
  #124  
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Originally Posted by mike868y View Post
umm, what?

take a look at dieter's stats and at the number of races that have been cancelled in the past 5 years.
Again, I'm not sure I'd really buy that whole hog. When you consider other parts of the country require people to make regular drives of multiple hours to race, it becomes difficult to compare those to a region with multiple race options every weekend. The question one might ask is something like "should there be two or three race options each weekend from the mid atlantic to NE?" Yes. we're losing road and stage races. Some of that is loss of interest in a particular type of racing and some is simply the cost and difficulty of putting on a race and getting the closures. Some is the fact that gas has been so expensive, and guys have race options closer to home. But if there are two other race options (crits, for instance) within a several hour drive, perhaps the framing isn't 'woe is us the sport is collapsing' but a leveling of what's realistic in a small fringe sport. Why should Plainville and Bethel exist on the same day? Why should a given weekend in the spring host 3 crits within 2-3 hours of each other? More than anything it would seem what would help is a universal calendar with a priority on weekend racing every weekend.
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Old 03-24-16, 11:17 AM
  #125  
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Also factor in the popularity of cross. People only have so much money to spend on hobbies, and if they have a hard budget, maybe people are choosing to spend their money there. I do far fewer road races than cross races. Until I'm Scrooge McDuck-ing my money that's unlikely to change.
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