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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 03-05-16, 03:11 PM
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grwoolf
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Low turnouts for cat 5 this year? Is there a zwift effect going on?

I don't know if this is just a central texas thing, but I've seen pretty low turnouts for Cat 5 races this year. Normally, these are the first to fill up.

My team puts on one of the big texas races every year and we normally have 2 different cat 5 groups because 1 can't handle all the demand. This year, it was at least 50% dropoff on cat 5 numbers, despite nice weather. There might be some other factors (change in venue), but I've seen the same thing in a couple other races and was wondering whether this is a trend.

I was thinking zwift might be enough to keep some people from trying the real thing. If I had tried a zwift race first, I could see being discouraged from trying a real race. I find hanging with the "C" race in zwift harder than a real Cat 3 or Masters Open race, so that is not an appropriate level to start at from a fitness perspective. If an aspiring racer is getting dropped constantly on Zwift, I could see them not wanting to pay $40 and brave the real world if they think they have no chance of hanging on. Many aspiring racers also tend to focus too much on whether they are fit enough to race before trying (and don't think about the other skills). I think Zwift is only going to compound the "fitness focus".
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Old 03-05-16, 03:45 PM
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amateur racing RIP. 1868-2016
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Old 03-05-16, 04:04 PM
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I think you have to look over a period of years to see real changes.
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Old 03-05-16, 05:42 PM
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We had good turnout - all fields - at our first club race today in Central Park, even though it was FREEZING.
I know nothing about the effects of Zwift except that it's annoying how people post such rides on Strava.
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Old 03-05-16, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kbarch View Post
We had good turnout - all fields - at our first club race today in Central Park, even though it was FREEZING.
I know nothing about the effects of Zwift except that it's annoying how people post such rides on Strava.
If you use Chrome as your browser, you can add a Strava Enhancement Suite that makes it so
Zwift rides do not show up on the Activity Feed.
It does a bunch of other cool stuff too, but no Zwift might be the best feature.
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/d...iemlg?hl=en-GB
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Old 03-05-16, 06:24 PM
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Old 03-05-16, 07:02 PM
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Zwift is just one of a few new competitive outlets that are sucking up potential road racers.

Gravel races are expanding and draw huge numbers compared to USAC category racing. Gran Fondos as well.

From a participatory standpoint they're generally better products that provide a better value to the consumer. Hell, last road race I did didn't even have any bathroom facilities. Last two gravel events have given out product samples, had stocked aid stations and a hot post-event meal.

So I'm not sure if Zwift is actually going to reduce USAC participation but if it provides a better experience, I would imagine that it would. People say the same thing about local group rides. People want to ride from their local area, cherry pick the course where they're strong and "race" against their mates.
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Old 03-06-16, 04:50 AM
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like in real life, sad that people even cheat for zwift races
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Old 03-06-16, 07:25 AM
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i'd be more inclined to blame gravel "racing" before swift.
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Old 03-06-16, 10:24 AM
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this is the same as when Strava killed racing.

It surely has nothing to do with the high cost of entry (bikes, wheels.. not race fees), the high time commitment to compete, or the high risk to one's person relative to running events or just about any other outdoor activity.
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Old 03-06-16, 03:07 PM
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Cat 5 race entries dropped off pretty hard in CT a few years ago. Like you said, you had to have 2 races (50 rider field limit back then) to accommodate the fields, this being 5-6 years ago. Last year I could have held just one of those 50 rider field limit races and never filled a race (but now with 75 rider field limits I just had one Cat 5 race, a few of which were half full or less).

Cause? I have no idea. Any number of reasons. Cycling related I'd guess gran fondos, Strava, stories of crashes, personal satisfaction from simply beating their own numbers, etc etc etc. Non-cycling related I'd guess family/personal reasons (kids, parents, work change, spouse disapproval, etc), other time sucks (running, triathlon, other hobbies), etc.

I have friends who quit bike racing to: raise a kid; build model railroad sets at a super serious level; so they wouldn't get hurt because then they can't work and they got hurt a few times racing (said person only runs now); pursue a pretty good career doing something he loves; race RC cars; they were done with racing; etc. I have friends who might enjoy racers but they generally spend time/energy on other things.

I have two brothers who I think are more talented than me in terms of physiological attributes. One held the 600 yard run record at our middle school for many, many years, and he ran that day on Vans that had half the sole flopping down. He had to kick his feet up on every step to flip the front half of his sole up so his toes would step on sole, he did something insane like a 1:40 or something. High school running coach (a cyclist I rode with regularly) called our house regularly to see if he wanted to run with the team. He's about 30-40 lbs lighter and aerobically just insane - he'd be a great racer. My other brother annihilated me in the 50 yard dash in high school, I think he is stronger in terms of fast twitch and he's also generally same height but 10-20 lbs lighter. Both brothers enjoyed composing/playing music so did that instead. One did skateboards (still does, 30 years later). I use their music in my clips.

Also bike racing actually forces you to get out there and do stuff. It's not like sitting on BF on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the kitchen table, tap tapping on the keyboard. Um, waitaminute

I have to take my dad out for his walk shortly, once his back eases up a bit. Chalk up "family/personal reasons" for me not promoting any races this year, me not working any races (handling registration or photo finish) this year, and me not planning on any Sunday races this year. I hope to line up at one race in 2016, that's my goal. I love bike racing, I enjoy pretending to race (like sprinting after trucks and such), but other than that I really don't need bike riding. I ride only so I can race, and actually participate in the race rather than get shelled a minute into the race.
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Old 03-06-16, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot View Post
Zwift is just one of a few new competitive outlets that are sucking up potential road racers.
....
From a participatory standpoint they're generally better products that provide a better value to the consumer....

So I'm not sure if Zwift is actually going to reduce USAC participation but if it provides a better experience, I would imagine that it would. People say the same thing about local group rides. People want to ride from their local area, cherry pick the course where they're strong and "race" against their mates.
Hmm.... I must be some kind of freak, because I didn't take up road racing because it was a "competitive outlet" or any kind of "consumer product." I picked it up because I enjoy riding bikes fast with other people, in organized fashion, with a predetermined start and finish and all that. I love to pass people, and admittedly the competition is exciting, but I don't mind if others "win." And I love that it's outdoors.

If some would-be road racers don't appreciate sharing a real road, out in the elements with other riders just inches away (and probably need a trainer to hold a line anyhow) who needs 'em?
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Old 03-06-16, 08:48 PM
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There was crazy, crazy riding and lots of crashes in the cat5 races around here (Lancaster, PA). Guys with gray hair bumping bars for position at the back of the peleton. Lot's of crashes on straight roads and getting pinched in corners. It was like some of these guys had never ridden a bike before yet they were riding fit. It took me awhile but I learned enough to get up front where is was more safe but there were still weird crashes up front too. Cat4 races were not much better.

They should straight up have training races or at least some clinics that are fun and educational and REQUIRED before you suit up. I know that it would be a tough sell for any organizer but it would add some safety and maybe some of the pack fodder would come back and race again after getting crashed or shelled. Also, move people out of cat5 right away when the results start coming in.

Sending flyers out, race coupons, parts raffles, organized picnic lunches or pot luck after the races hyped up for the poor spouses and you know, some marketing!

Zwift is going to make some folks even stronger but is not going to do anything for their riding skills.

Last edited by Number400; 03-06-16 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 03-06-16, 09:47 PM
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Cycling, like every sport is going to increase and decrease in participation in cycles. A lot of reasons people give have always been around and always decreased participation -

1. It isn't any crashier than it was in the past, and you could always get hurt.
2. It has always been a huge time commitment to be in good enough shape to do well. For many it is a huge amount of time to just finish with the pack.
3. It has always been a very expensive sport (bikes, kits, travel, hotels, etc..). Maybe it is a bit more expensive now to be at your best (all the aero stuff and power meters), but it isn't really any more expensive than it has been to participate.
4. There has never been anyone getting rich promoting amateur, US bike races.

So whatever decline we are seeing isn't likely due to any of those reasons.

There has been a huge increase in cyclocross racing, gran fondos, and gravel rides so that may be a factor. More power to them, I'm glad they have more people out riding bikes.
There is strava and zwift, and while I have no data, I don't believe these are detracting from sanctioned races.
Maybe it is all the PED busts in pro cycling? No more 'Lance effect'.
Maybe it is something completely different? 'Tough mudder' races? video games? low gas prices ?

There are less road races in Oregon than a few years ago and declining field sizes. (It was depressing to have only about 15 racers in the 35+123 circuit race last weekend. Yes, the weather forecast was bad but it always is for early races and they have always had good sized fields.) But racing is still fun. And it is likely to increase in popularity again in the future.
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Old 03-06-16, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
Cat 5 race entries dropped off pretty hard in CT a few years ago. Like you said, you had to have 2 races (50 rider field limit back then) to accommodate the fields, this being 5-6 years ago. Last year I could have held just one of those 50 rider field limit races and never filled a race (but now with 75 rider field limits I just had one Cat 5 race, a few of which were half full or less).

Cause? I have no idea. Any number of reasons. Cycling related I'd guess gran fondos, Strava, stories of crashes, personal satisfaction from simply beating their own numbers, etc etc etc. Non-cycling related I'd guess family/personal reasons (kids, parents, work change, spouse disapproval, etc), other time sucks (running, triathlon, other hobbies), etc.

...
IMO, in no particular order, bad press + recession + more perceived entry barriers for the uninitiated. My first road bike was like $1000, aluminum, and I eventually bought a HRM to go with it which was like 60 bucks. Now that most things be carbon my perception is that prices have gone way up relative to inflation; it is a lot more expensive to get into the sport than it used to be. Then you're told you're supposed to buy a power meter on top of it to train properly, swaggy wheels, aero gear, and then you're supposed to risk breaking all of it and yourself? Even if a men's 5/women's 4 race isn't any sketchier than a racey group ride, as a rider interested in trying it out you probably heard from some dudes at Tuesday night worlds that they're basically passchendaele.

I think it's probably cyclical and maybe the new hotness is mma or mud runs or extreme taser dueling or *sigh* tri.

Maybe Taylor Phinney keeps doing amazing things and the economy keeps improving and more 5's will probably show up. Murrica likes winning enough to become a nation of rabid soccer fanatics every 4 years, so if Phinney and some other talent start running train on Europe I will bet you a red, white, and blue statue of a Bald Eagle sculpted out of hamburgers and hot dogs that more 5's will come.
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Old 03-07-16, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Ygduf View Post
this is the same as when Strava killed racing.

It surely has nothing to do with the high cost of entry (bikes, wheels.. not race fees), the high time commitment to compete, or the high risk to one's person relative to running events or just about any other outdoor activity.
Not to mention that 99% of people that show up to a race lose.
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Old 03-07-16, 05:23 AM
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At least the 99% figure improves as partcipation declines!

Last edited by globecanvas; 03-07-16 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 03-07-16, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
I will bet you a red, white, and blue statue of a Bald Eagle sculpted out of hamburgers and hot dogs that more 5's will come.
This would be the single most 'Murica thing ever.
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Old 03-07-16, 08:25 AM
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Old 03-07-16, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin View Post
Murrica likes winning enough to become a nation of rabid soccer fanatics every 4 years, so if Phinney and some other talent start running train on Europe I will bet you a red, white, and blue statue of a Bald Eagle sculpted out of hamburgers and hot dogs that more 5's will come.
This is one of the best sentences I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
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Old 03-07-16, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
There was crazy, crazy riding and lots of crashes in the cat5 races around here (Lancaster, PA). Guys with gray hair bumping bars for position at the back of the peleton. Lot's of crashes on straight roads and getting pinched in corners. It was like some of these guys had never ridden a bike before yet they were riding fit.
That has been my observation before I quit racing a few years back. There are now a lot of strong riders with absolutely terrible bike handling skills and they are a danger to everyone around them and themselves. Not overlapping wheels is now apparently a stupid guideline that doesn't really apply to special people.

I may do some time trialing this season, but I am too dam old to end up in a cast or with Ti parts bolted to my bones.
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Old 03-07-16, 08:58 AM
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Old 03-07-16, 09:00 AM
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And yes, I overlooked mentioning the lack of an American "star" cyclist. We need a Steph Curry of cycling to get the public's eye. Everyone's working on their handle and deep 3 now, not pedaling like when we had Lance as a face.
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Old 03-07-16, 09:12 AM
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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.
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Old 03-07-16, 09:14 AM
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