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Road is Dead!

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Old 01-31-19, 10:30 PM
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UmneyDurak
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Road is Dead!

Anyone read this article about road racing in US it's challenges, and potential solutions?
I think he describes issues pretty well. Some of the solutions seem interesting. Like combining racing with other events, more noticeable location. Although realistically not sure how possible that actually is. Downtown permits are harder to get, more expensive, and space is usually limited. So if there is a crit, there might not be enough room in "good location" for an event, and parking would be even more challenging.
Road is Dead maybe(?)
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Old 01-31-19, 10:44 PM
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I haven't paid much attention to road racing for decades.

I used to go to a few races with the family as a Midget (along with my older brother). Neither of his kids has raced.

I believe a couple of local crit races are gone. And, perhaps one should sigh a relief. One of the crits that I raced as a Midget had a descent with an S-curve and a hairpin turn lined with straw bales.

I'm not sure about a sport that expects riders to get serious injuries every year or two.

Are TT races, Tri races, and Ironmen replacing the road races?

Personally, I'd prefer Amateur to Pro races.
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Old 01-31-19, 11:00 PM
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There are plenty of road races coming up in my area almost 15 , most of them are series , doesn't seem dead to me cyclocross has less events than road and a shorter season in my area .
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Old 02-01-19, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Are TT races, Tri races, and Ironmen replacing the road races?
Participation sport is always going to have a lot more, well, participation.

Despite the rigors of IM and 1/2 IM and full and 1/2 marathon, it's a participation sport. The max finish time for a 1/2 IM for the bike and run are pretty much a brewery critical mass ride and jog/walk. Yes, it's far, but you can average 14mph on the bike leg and a 3 hour 1/2 marathon and get a finisher 1/2 IM medal.

14 to 15mph on a tri bike is what? Maybe 100 watts?

I think USAC has gotten lost in the classification and upgrades model for the non-elite riders.

You're either going to be elite or you're not. Or want to be elite, or not.

This is why you see riders who could probably win races in Cat 3, 2, 1 instead doing fondos and fondo series.

The comment on the crit thing, I think if the field is too large they should split the classification's race time into two 15 minute heats and a 7 minute finale' after a fair cooling period.

I saw pictures from a local crit that has had some nasty and frequent crashes. The field lineup was HUGE with no features to breakup the pack. The inevitable happened according to a guy who rides in our group ride. Several crashes.

I bet seeing that, two of the three guys who went to that as their first event.......will never go back.

And I, seeing that absolute mob of a group on the lineup picture.......can see why that happened at that crit. And seeing that, I won't be attempting that race.

I bet if your local 1/2 marathon was even a 1 hour drive away instead of in-town, your participation would drop like a rock.

Sure, wah wah wah. I have to drive to a race, wah wah wah. But it's not about me. It's about participation #'s. And participation means we have options and keep races. No participation, you lose races.

Here in Raleigh the speedway series is about 90min drive from me, for the crit. One road race is about a 75min drive. The other didn't happen last year but would have only been a 20 min drive. The next closest was in either Winston Salem or at a college town in the mountains.

Almost every other weekend "in season" you can do a local 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathon race within a 15 minute drive locally. I wonder WHY that's so good? Hmmm? It's super obvious. Despite participation sport like running being vastly more popular to begin with, the events take place near the people wanting to do them. Not over an hour away.

They say they can't find places to do it? Geesh. There's a public road that's empty 99% of the time around the PNC arena that would have super parking, zero traffic abatement needs and is an awesome 1-mile loop with a hill!

That would be a 10min drive inside a major population center. I ride there from my freaking house. It's wide enough you could put cones out and do both a clockwise and counter clockwise race at the same time. Or run a time trial event at the same time going the opposite direction.

The non USAC gravel race, the Umstead Gravel Grinder is right in the middle of town in a beautiful park accessible by a short drive to a metro area with hundreds of thousands of people and many bike enthusiasts.

Hmmm, I wonder why that's been so popular that it often sells out in a day for registration? Not just being gravel, but how local it is.

Nobody is asking the "why" people won't race.
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Old 02-01-19, 08:29 AM
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I'm sure it is expensive to shut down and monitor roads in a city.

I did a DRT cargo race that was based in a central city park, but sent riders out like spokes in a wheel on a "scavenger hunt", open roads. And, I think there was at least one bike/auto accident. Nonetheless, it was similar riding to what I'm doing all the time now.

The "Crits" I remember as a kid, one was around a small park in Eugene, and another around a hill park, with a few roads closed, but nothing too critical.

Our local 24 mile loop TT is about 20 miles out of the city in nice farmlands. I assume they either close the roads, or do a lane drop, with only a few intersections to worry about.
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Old 02-01-19, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm sure it is expensive to shut down and monitor roads in a city.

I did a DRT cargo race that was based in a central city park, but sent riders out like spokes in a wheel on a "scavenger hunt", open roads. And, I think there was at least one bike/auto accident. Nonetheless, it was similar riding to what I'm doing all the time now.

The "Crits" I remember as a kid, one was around a small park in Eugene, and another around a hill park, with a few roads closed, but nothing too critical.

Our local 24 mile loop TT is about 20 miles out of the city in nice farmlands. I assume they either close the roads, or do a lane drop, with only a few intersections to worry about.
There's a few places in town here that on a Sunday morning from 7AM to 11AM you could easily do a a 4-right turn course with using roads with a "lane drop". There's also industrial complexes, an arena, a paved fairgrounds complex with a few roads around it that are super low traffic.

Also, FWIW..........USAC road racing is often so hairy on if it will happen that year that you can't hardly plan ahead for anything.

One local race is often first weekend in March. Nothing on USAC about it yet, just like last year. Last year I messaged the event organizer about it in late January to even confirm if it would happen.

That's a problem. With Ironman branded triathlon stuff, they have their **** together. You KNOW the event time, location, and pretty much course a year in advance.
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Old 02-01-19, 09:25 AM
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The comment on the crit thing, I think if the field is too large they should split the classification's race time into two 15 minute heats and a 7 minute finale' after a fair cooling period.
that’s a death rattle moment for the sport. Promoters have a nearly impossible time making money. No one is going to pay “make the promoter money” freight on a 15 minute race chance to advance. It’s not even worth driving to that. I’d get a better workout hitting myself in the head with a hammer.
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Old 02-01-19, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post


that’s a death rattle moment for the sport. Promoters have a nearly impossible time making money. No one is going to pay “make the promoter money” freight on a 15 minute race chance to advance. It’s not even worth driving to that. I’d get a better workout hitting myself in the head with a hammer.
That's my point in my earlier post. It shouldn't be such a damn drive. To me, it's silly to drive 2 hours for a 30 minute race even. So, in a way, I agree with you. You do have an interesting point.

That's why I said you see such high participation in running events. They're generally very local.

Oh, you know, your local 5k foot race is now a 2 hour drive away........yeah, screw that. Why don't we think the same way for cycling? That there aren't folks out there willing to try but think it silly to drive 2 hours.

I praise the organizers for trying, but they HAVE to get the events closer to the population centers that hold the riders. In my head, if you want participation, it does NOT work to hold events 2 hours away.

I live in a county/city area with at least a million people and a big cycling scene. Absolutely ZERO road race (including crit) events within the county lines.

Closest one is 90min away at a Nascar track in a little rural town.

WHY?! We have a huge arena parking lot sitting empty all the time right in town. And the circular 1mi road around it is public.

If that series was actually local, I'd do every event they put on. Given it's a 90min drive for a 30min oval speedway crit......uhmmm, no thanks.

I'm stating this not from the jaded or picky cyclist point of view, but the point of view that if we really want to address participation numbers..........there's some soul searching to do.
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Old 02-01-19, 10:25 AM
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BTS, your comments speak largely to your inexperience with racing - from both a participant and promoter side.

USAC does not put on events. It merely permits them and provides a set of rules and officials. There are few full time bicycle race promoters. Rather, bicycle races are put on by local promoters, who are really just the local teams/clubs. Most are organized by poeple working 9-5 jobs and do this on the side. Triathlons and marathons are typically put on by large, national or international companies. There is a reason why IronMan was bought for $1b a few years ago.

The model USAC uses isn't great for promoting races, but lack of participation and comments about how dangerous it is from people with no experience - you have only done one road race - is a major problem with pushing past that. I encourage you to drive out to the speedway race. Crits also are really not any more dangerous than road races.

As for the location of races, I also encourage you to go talk with your local community about what it would take for you to shut down the roads on a Sunday morning to put on crits. You can also go ask how much it would cost to use that parking lot you mention. I already know the figures.

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Old 02-01-19, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm sure it is expensive to shut down and monitor roads in a city.

I did a DRT cargo race that was based in a central city park, but sent riders out like spokes in a wheel on a "scavenger hunt", open roads. And, I think there was at least one bike/auto accident. Nonetheless, it was similar riding to what I'm doing all the time now.

The "Crits" I remember as a kid, one was around a small park in Eugene, and another around a hill park, with a few roads closed, but nothing too critical.

Our local 24 mile loop TT is about 20 miles out of the city in nice farmlands. I assume they either close the roads, or do a lane drop, with only a few intersections to worry about.
The Twilight crits are still happening in the summers in a small industrial park off of Beltline, and the Coburg TT is held on open roads that see barely any traffic, with the intersections marshaled by volunteers.
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Old 02-01-19, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
That's my point in my earlier post. It shouldn't be such a damn drive. To me, it's silly to drive 2 hours for a 30 minute race even. So, in a way, I agree with you. You do have an interesting point.

That's why I said you see such high participation in running events. They're generally very local.

Oh, you know, your local 5k foot race is now a 2 hour drive away........yeah, screw that. Why don't we think the same way for cycling? That there aren't folks out there willing to try but think it silly to drive 2 hours.

I praise the organizers for trying, but they HAVE to get the events closer to the population centers that hold the riders. In my head, if you want participation, it does NOT work to hold events 2 hours away.

I live in a county/city area with at least a million people and a big cycling scene. Absolutely ZERO road race (including crit) events within the county lines.

Closest one is 90min away at a Nascar track in a little rural town.

WHY?! We have a huge arena parking lot sitting empty all the time right in town. And the circular 1mi road around it is public.

If that series was actually local, I'd do every event they put on. Given it's a 90min drive for a 30min oval speedway crit......uhmmm, no thanks.

I'm stating this not from the jaded or picky cyclist point of view, but the point of view that if we really want to address participation numbers..........there's some soul searching to do.

that's fine, though wildly unrealistic unless you live some place like NYC (where there are more than 100 races a year in the five boroughs). Participation levels are simply not high enough to field regular races in every town. This isn't Belgium.
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Old 02-01-19, 12:23 PM
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That article is why the sport is dying.

Everyone wants bike racing to be a funnel for Americans to get into the pro ranks and race schedules are designed around that (dropping more entry level 5's and 4's races) and that really only caters to a small amount of people. Sports don't grow when the sole motive is to build youth talent, that's an end result or a sport with a solid base. To achieve this they've alienated a large group of their base (i.e. any racer who doesn't have Cat 2 or better potential).

Cyclocross is killing it in participation because they have races were everyone can actually compete. They have age group A,B, and C races. I could race 45 C's (which will have a large field of 30+) and probably have a fair shot to win. In SCNCA Road they've largely eliminated Masters entry level races, which is a big reason we've dropped from #1 to something like 5th? in participation. To an extent road is handcuffed because they can only do so many races, but they keep making the races more geared towards the higher Category racers and the lower category races offered keeps shrinking. Coincidentally that means you have to be faster to get out of the lower cats, because there's less garbage races. Every 4's race has Cat 1 talent in it, so many riders just hang it after a few races. Racers, no matter how terrible they are at racing, want to enter races they have a chance to win.

A big issue is the voice of the sport are Cat 1's, pro's, etc. The promoters listen to them and USAC to create their schedules. Outside of Junior Development, anything under 123's is an afterthought.

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Old 02-01-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by topflightpro View Post
As for the location of races, I also encourage you to go talk with your local community about what it would take for you to shut down the roads on a Sunday morning to put on crits. You can also go ask how much it would cost to use that parking lot you mention. I already know the figures.
Well, I'm not a seasoned racer. I would like to race more. And I'm here to spout off nonsense about why I don't race more.

Any ignorance I show to how the system currently works is just icing on the cake to my non-participation. I'm trying to show some of the reasons I don't do more than I do.

I raced 4 timed events last year, only one was USAC. CMS TT, AOMM, CH road race, and the UGG. I also did some informal TT stuff. AOMM is a freaking haul of a drive, but, it was also a whole day event.

I have no idea how much the PNC parking lot costs. I'd assume too much for a road race at 200 people at $30 each or something like that. I'd assume north of $1k and south of $20k. I do know that the "Rock and Ride" fundraiser was there for a half day the past two years and raised somewhere around $20k.

Folks like me seem to ask questions that don't make sense or make comments that seem stupid or like complaints. But it's the folks like me that could participate a little more depending on how stuff goes. And those silly questions are borne out of the desire to do more without being able.

It seems you're into the local scene near me. If you want to PM me or anything, I'd feel free to share my limited experiences so far locally. But can pretty much sum it up as the shortest thing I've driven to ride in was a tie between a DPTT and the Chapel Hill RR. For road. Ace Speedway is 85min for me according to Google. Wake County speedway is only 25min. The old Falls Lake RR course is only 25min or so. I've got kids. The 3 hours of driving on top of the event kind of kills it unless it is a "whole day" fondo event.

That's not anyone's fault but my own. I'm just saying, bring the racing closer and I'll probably be there.

Most likely, I'm going to bite it and learn to have some balance/dexterity and take up CX. I own the bike. At least then I can go to nearly 1/2 dozen events within bike riding distance of my house between Dix and the one at Jaycee park? Or some other park. I'm just a bit clumsy with practicing the mounting stuff still, but this fall I'll likely do it.

I thought about riding to UGG from my house. Shoot, UGG is so close I signed up for that without even owning a bike I could use in there.

Originally Posted by furiousferret View Post

Cyclocross is killing it in participation because they have races were everyone can actually compete.
For me, they're also really close by. I'm sure holding events in parks is easier than roads or renting tracks/lots, but there's something to it.

If I do a map of all the CX, gravel, and MTB races less than an hour drive to me it's over a dozen. There's probably even a dozen of those I could ride my bike to the race from my house, race, and ride home. The Berger CX summer series was like 3 races at Dix, they hold a fall series race there, UGG, Crabtree mtb races, etc......

If I do a map for crit, RR, TT.......it's not even a fair comparison if considering "proximity".

I need to man-up and start riding CX at DIX for practice. Heck, the kids are old enough now that BHB even has a series to include them. I can't really do that with road events.
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Old 02-01-19, 04:15 PM
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Just skimmed the article - a good perspective.

All I know is there are still tons of races happening in Norcal every weekend (Jan-Sept), and hundreds of people showing up to them. Probably too many races in fact.

Way more annual road racers in total than all the gravel "events" or fondos.

Sure road racing #'s may be down, but not tanking by any means.
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Old 02-01-19, 05:21 PM
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Losing races does make it tough. I've been racing road for about 10 years and have seen the number of events put in in SoCal (specifically San Diego) dwindle significantly. This comes at a bit of a poor time for me when my fitness is great and I'm actually trying to upgrade again. On that note both of my races this weekend were cancelled due to weather or other extenuating circumstances.

The biggest issue I have with road (riding or racing) is that it is just too dangerous. There are other cycling disciplines where that risk in minimized (relative to road) that are plenty gratifying, namely track and MTB (for me). You can train indoors and venture out less often to lower your chances of getting run over by a distracted driver.

Some guys are lucky and never get seriously hurt out there but that is just not me. My recent "lucky" crash at training camp came after years of tentative descending from previous crashes... I was feeling good and let my guard down and overcooked a corner. For me cautious/slow descending has to be a permanent mode and decreased in frequency.

That also isn't to say that track and MTB aren't without their risk factors either, someone died at the SD Velodrome a few years back. But no one can argue that the crashes are less frequent than road.

I am going to continue putting in my diligence with training and racing to finally earn that upgrade this year, but after that, I see myself taking a big step back from road. I will continue to train and race bikes, but the road fraction is going to go down, a lot.
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Old 02-01-19, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mattm View Post
Just skimmed the article - a good perspective.

All I know is there are still tons of races happening in Norcal every weekend (Jan-Sept), and hundreds of people showing up to them. Probably too many races in fact.

Way more annual road racers in total than all the gravel "events" or fondos.

Sure road racing #'s may be down, but not tanking by any means.
I've never done an NCNCA race, but they run things almost the polar opposite of how we do down here. The race day schedules they put out are great (for Masters at least) and there is a great mix of races. Every year I look at the calendar there are 5-6 I'd like to do up there, but I can't convince the wife to go a couple hundred miles for a 2-3 hour race.

We are planning on doing Sea Otter this year though.
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Old 02-01-19, 06:50 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Losing races does make it tough. I've been racing road for about 10 years and have seen the number of events put in in SoCal (specifically San Diego) dwindle significantly. This comes at a bit of a poor time for me when my fitness is great and I'm actually trying to upgrade again. On that note both of my races this weekend were cancelled due to weather or other extenuating circumstances.

The biggest issue I have with road (riding or racing) is that it is just too dangerous. There are other cycling disciplines where that risk in minimized (relative to road) that are plenty gratifying, namely track and MTB (for me). You can train indoors and venture out less often to lower your chances of getting run over by a distracted driver.

Some guys are lucky and never get seriously hurt out there but that is just not me. My recent "lucky" crash at training camp came after years of tentative descending from previous crashes... I was feeling good and let my guard down and overcooked a corner. For me cautious/slow descending has to be a permanent mode and decreased in frequency.

That also isn't to say that track and MTB aren't without their risk factors either, someone died at the SD Velodrome a few years back. But no one can argue that the crashes are less frequent than road.

I am going to continue putting in my diligence with training and racing to finally earn that upgrade this year, but after that, I see myself taking a big step back from road. I will continue to train and race bikes, but the road fraction is going to go down, a lot.

thinking track is safer is what's called delusion. less crashes, perhaps, but when you go down it's typically catastrophic.
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Old 02-01-19, 07:07 PM
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Being in norcal and living in the east bay... I get some business park crits (livermore and pleasanton)... some road races (livermore/patterson pass /wente bump) but my lack of climbing skills.(weight) keeps me from doing well in those.. I've never been a big crit person since my collegiate racing days. I do enjoy the TTs in the area which I can actually ride to 3 of them...but I've taken to doing sprint tri's again since I have a local series and a few a shortish drive away. Gravel and the better fondo events are like majority of races... (quite a drive) so I really can't see driving 2 hrs for a 30-40min ncnca race.
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Old 02-03-19, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
thinking track is safer is what's called delusion. less crashes, perhaps, but when you go down it's typically catastrophic.
Yeah I think you're right about that. The more that I think about it, it's road riding that I'm most adverse to. Racing not as much. I'd like to (at the very least) continue racing San Diego USAC Road events to support whatever is left.
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Old 02-03-19, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Yeah I think you're right about that. The more that I think about it, it's road riding that I'm most adverse to. Racing not as much. I'd like to (at the very least) continue racing San Diego USAC Road events to support whatever is left.
I'm right there with you. Basically, I won't ride outdoors on the road anymore, except for a few situations. Whiteface for one, but I rarely see a car riding over to there, and the mountain is closed when I ride it.
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Old 02-03-19, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
I'm right there with you. Basically, I won't ride outdoors on the road anymore, except for a few situations. Whiteface for one, but I rarely see a car riding over to there, and the mountain is closed when I ride it.
what does it say when I reach the same conclusion as you, except i'm probably 15 years younger?
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Old 02-03-19, 04:27 PM
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Well, for what it's worth I haven't really trained outdoors regularly for at least a decade. And 15 years? I wish.
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Old 02-03-19, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TMonk View Post
Yeah I think you're right about that. The more that I think about it, it's road riding that I'm most adverse to. Racing not as much. I'd like to (at the very least) continue racing San Diego USAC Road events to support whatever is left.
Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
I'm right there with you. Basically, I won't ride outdoors on the road anymore, except for a few situations. Whiteface for one, but I rarely see a car riding over to there, and the mountain is closed when I ride it.
Originally Posted by echappist View Post
what does it say when I reach the same conclusion as you, except i'm probably 15 years younger?
Do you guys avoid driving too?
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Old 02-03-19, 08:45 PM
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i know you are being rhetorical, but just to be pedantic

most people drive in order to go to work; cycling is a hobby and a discretionary line item. The two are not the same.

not to mention that getting into a head on collision at 25 mph while driving is not comparable to getting smashed into at 25 mph while riding a bike, and that there's almost no risk of other cars trying to pass you on a narrow-two lane road...
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Old 02-03-19, 11:22 PM
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@mattm you gotta pick and choose your battles
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