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The State of Road Cycling

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

The State of Road Cycling

Old 02-04-20, 01:54 PM
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Cypress 
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The State of Road Cycling

I'd like to crowdsource the forum for a generalized idea of how road cycling is doing as an activity. This may be a great thread to rant in (or an absolute handful for mods, so keep it nice). Catharsis is healthy, so all opinions are welcome, even if unpopular.

My background:

I'm a road cyclist coming from a MTB background in the 90's and have been riding/racing for the better part of 24 years. I've lived in Colorado, Montana, and now Oregon, so mountainous places with varying states of winter. I've raced as a junior, P/1/2, and Master. My knowledge of bikes and athleticism has taken me all over the country and afforded me some truly insane experiences, and it shows no signs of stopping.

I see road cycling falling out of popularity with the racing crowd, and to some extent, non-racers as well. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's dying, but road participation on all fronts is down. In no particular order, here are my top 3 reasons:

Risk.

I see the inherent danger of road riding increasing as cell phones in the hands of drivers continues to be a problem. I feel that we are in the "death valley" between the increased prevalence of cell phones creating this hazard and the inevitable self-driving cars that will (hopefully) eliminate car vs cyclist collisions. The AI is here, but not the willingness to give up control/pay for it. It's truly shocking how casual the attitude is towards potentially liquefying a cyclist with your car just so you can comment "love this!" on Justin Bieber's Instagram photo.

On top of cell phones, drivers are becoming increasingly impatient and, subsequently, aggressive with cyclists. Cyclists are far-and-away THE most-hated and vilified people on the road. I have my own thoughts as to why this might be, but maybe someone with a sociology degree can tell us why it's getting worse. I told a story in another thread about how a drunk woman told me that she wants to kill cyclists for being on the road TO MY FACE, knowing full well that I am an avid cyclist. The increasing risk segues into my next reason:

Gravel.

A lot of the guys I used to race road with have gone gravel, and the predominant reason for the shift is "it gets me away from traffic." I've dabbled in gravel, and most of the races I've signed up for this year are gravel. I feel that is as much a safety move as it is a physiological one. If any racer is distressed by the current flood of retiring World Tour pros entering gravel events, there's two main reasons:

1: Gravel racing is becoming the new hotness in the market and there's money to be made. A retired WT rider needs to eat, and what better way to cash checks than to beat on the local Strava heroes for $1500/pop.

2: WT riders retire for a myriad of reasons (injury, burnout, etc), one of which is the loss of the "snap" required to do well in WT racing. With age, that snap goes away, and what's left is a MASSIVE diesel engine. Enter gravel racing. The ability to hold tempo for 5-8 hours with a few FTP efforts is exactly what races like BWR, DK, and Tushar require.

For non-racers, gravel not only gets you away from cars, but it's also a very welcome change of scenery from what might be the old stale road routes. With the changing surface comes the reason to buy new bikes and gear, which is in itself, exciting. ...which brings me to my next point:

Cost of admission.

As I stated in another thread, I've had bike/equipment/nutrition sponsors for most of my life. Now that I don't have bikes and equipment being handed to me, I was shocked to see what a decent road bike goes for nowadays, and it's difficult to see the value. Why does a top-end road bike cost several thousand dollars more than a top-end mountain or gravel bike from the same manufacturer? The amount of engineering and component optimization going into a MTB is arguably higher than a road bike, and they are every bit as difficult to manufacture (if not more).

My local group rides show this pricing as well. The bikes used to be fairly heterogeneous throughout the group. You'd have people on 15+ year old bikes because they "still work", a fair bit of 5-10 year old bikes in varying trims, a few race rigs (Ultegra or better, ridden hard and put away wet), and one or two superbikes that everyone geeked out over.

Now the group rides somewhat mimic the income gap; There are a lot of 15+ year old bikes that were in the 5-10 Y.O. group 5-10 years ago and are still being ridden with no intention of being replaced because the same bike is now $2000 more expensive, and nobody likes a downgrade. The 5-10 year old bikes are almost nowhere to be seen now, and the race rigs number even less. Superbikes on the other hand, seem to be making a huge surge. It's not uncommon to see several $15000 bikes with ceramic over-sized RD pulleys, powermeters, and other "me-fast" tech bolted onto a bike that has 40mm of headset spacers, upturned 80mm stems, rolled-back handlebars, and SPD mountain bike pedals being ridden once a week by a person wearing a baggy Showers Pass jacket and a $400 aero helmet. One category that needs to be addressed is the prevalence of mail-order bikes becoming a staple in the road community.

Canyon Bikes are a great representation of the unwillingness to pony up the outrageous prices posted by Specialized/Pinarello/etc. Skipping the storefront allows for better pricing to spec, and that's beginning to show in the groups I ride with. Canyon is popping up everywhere, and I hear the same thing from every rider: "It was [insert substantial amount of money here] cheaper than the same bike from [insert popular manufacturer here]." Are they good bikes? I don't have any experience with them, but they seem to be loved by everyone that rides them.

The idea that things need to cost a lot to get a lot is an issue in commerce right now. When someone wants to take up road riding, they see what's out there and get discouraged. I can't count how many times I've had to tell someone that a $400 pair of cycling bibs is NOT 4x better than a $100 pair of bibs, or a $15000 bike is in no way 15x better than a $1000 bike. I've been helping a friend try to enter the sport and he sees any bike under $2000 to be "junk" due to the contrast in pricing with the top end bikes. It's maddening for both of us.

So, BF... What say you? How's road?
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Old 02-04-20, 02:37 PM
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I totally agree with you about cost, though the disparity between "tops" and "good" has become bigger. In the late '60s the Peugeot PX10 for $140 or Releight Super Course for $120 were good bikes by most yardsticks. The top model from a UK manufacturer would have been teh Raleigh International or Professional, in the $250 range. Today the same disparity in quality is a 15 to 1 ratio.

I manage the cost by building myself "new" bikes from vintage high-grade frames and key components. I don't expeience the "magic" of carbon versus high-end steel, but that is ok.
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Old 02-04-20, 02:44 PM
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I have at least a dozen road bikes in the garage, from 30 years old to new super (to me) carbon bikes. Also one $300 mtn. bike. So I'm pretty well committed to road riding. That being said, several years ago a group I ride with was hit by a pickup truck on a country road with wide bike lanes and no traffic. I wasn't there, but it spooked me enough to ride Fulgaz indoors on my Tacx for over two years. I finally started going back out by myself, but it's still hard to get myself out the door. Once I'm out there, though, I love the feeling and will not quit.
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Old 02-04-20, 02:47 PM
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Mmm. I've gotta answer it from two points of view. One, road riding and clubs and more "fun" casual stuff. Two, road racing.

Our local clubs and weeknight/weekend rides are doing great. We're a beacon in the mire of the south in our area. People are a little more open minded, fitness oriented, and that lends well to having a more active road community. Plenty of group rides going on all the time. More people than when I began a couple years ago. So local to me, it isn't contracting. It's expanding. We've got more bike lanes, greenways, everything because of it.

There's some pains as the metro area expands some into rural areas for "sprawl". But nothing too serious yet. We're lucky.

Racing?

As a newbie to racing (still a Cat 5, but close), I have to say the #1 failing in the US is how lots of race clubs are separate from general road clubs and groups. Just a wild theory of mine. I think it would be bigger if race teams dominantly were an "arm" of a much larger club. Not a lot of separate racing "teams" that say they are "clubs" due to the USAC designation of groups as "clubs". That's a team to me. A club does fondos, fund raisers, A/B and C group rides, has dinners, shares beers together, talks, etc........ They don't just show up to train together then bail, or only go to races.

Some clubs and teams do this, but I dunno. I still think it would be better.

Your HS had sports team because there was a school they were associated with, not because they were teams separately. Even there, ultimately, even the private "challenge" pay to play leagues feed HS and college athletics for talent. They announce the NFL player as "played at THE Ohio State University"........not "played for Elite Football Inc. Club program". That may be a lousy example, but I'm trying to make the point that competitive cycling in the US needs to become an arm of something bigger than just itself.

I think the HS mountain biking and cross stuff is a fantastic start. Get that into some schools as clubs/teams sponsored by the local clubs and race teams to get some youthful interest going. It's happening places, and is exciting to see.

Growing up, we had nothing like that. We were kinda rural. Road probably wouldn't have worked out. But I bet for sure a MTB team would have gotten at least 5 or 6 regulars!

I think competitive cycling needs to flow from the community more.

Dangit, I know what I have in my head. I just can't type it out.
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Old 02-04-20, 03:03 PM
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Can't say I've noticed a decline in road cycling in my area.
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Old 02-04-20, 03:25 PM
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Road racing down, but has never been that big in the US. High school mtn bike race is big, road race is practically non-existent.

Road riding- cruising along among the older set, and the also among the young-and-fast. Pretty good rural roads in my area. Sheer number of cyclists seems to have overwhelmed the ability of the yahoos to honk and yell- they have largely given up.

Bike culture and transportation riding- booming. Gridlock breeds alternatives to driving cars.

Mtn biking- popular, but suffers from limited available trails. A mtn bike is much more likely to be $$$$ than a road bike IME.

Gravel: All the cool kids are on it. Good and in many areas abundant resource.

Cost generally- sure there are expensive bikes, but still doesn't come close the the overall cost of many other sports/activities.

Risk- Overpopulation of cars is doing away with expectations of being able to go fast, and improving cycling infrastructure both
moderate danger. We are on the way to becoming a third world country, so cycling should become more dense.
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Old 02-04-20, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
I see road cycling falling out of popularity with the racing crowd, and to some extent, non-racers as well. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's dying, but road participation on all fronts is down. In no particular order, here are my top
Are you sure? Are you riding in the correct portions of the country? I see others from different states posting on Strava. Let's say, Georgia, one may have KOM's on segments consisting of 20 riders climbing a 4% grade at 13 mph.

But look at a state, lets say California, where the segments are consisting of 15,000 riders on grades of 6% averaging 16-17 mph. Seems a bit more popular and more competitive.

KOM's over 20 cyclists is much different than the places where there are 15,000 cyclists.

Maybe some of the racers who travel the country are actually traveling to the not so popular countries. Around here, it doesn't seem to be on the decline. If anything here in California, I see more cyclist on the road than ever.

Could it be you're in the wrong state?
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Old 02-04-20, 05:40 PM
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A 50+ mile bike trail is being built through the middle of the Valley where I live. I see bikes on it constantly, at all hours of day and night, and the sections up to the far north of the valley haven’t been built yet. We took the kids to the local park on their bikes at the weekend, and they had to be careful not to crash into all the other kids riding bikes around.

I grew up in Ireland, where old rail trails and canal tow paths and greenways are constantly being paved for bicycle use, and a new stretch seems to open somewhere in the country nearly every day. Back in the 90s I was the odd one for wearing Lycra and going up the Wicklow hills on the weekend; now events like the Wicklow 200 and Ring of Kerry are oversubscribed. In a country not known for outdoor-friendly weather, numbers of tourists visiting to go on cycling/walking holidays are up by orders of magnitude.

Road cycling is certainly healthy in terms of participation, even if not everybody is actually racing.
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Old 02-04-20, 05:49 PM
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Why does a top-end road bike cost several thousand dollars more than a top-end mountain or gravel bike from the same manufacturer?
If you're talking about comparably equipped bikes, I don't think this is true. From what I've seen a carbon road bike with a given groupset is generally a little less than a carbon gravel bike with the same groupset.

Now it may be that there is a top of the line road bike that is a lot more expensive than the top of the line gravel bike from the same company but that is due it actually being equipped differently and/or more technology involved.

I would also guess that a lot more R&D goes into road bikes because the value of saying your bike won the TDF is much greater than any gravel race. As with any product, you need to put your resources towards the best ROI.

Price is an issue with just about any sport these days. If you want to go nuts and have lots of money, someone will be happy to take it from you but an aluminum bike with a Tiagra groupset from a reputable company is probably better than what you could buy for the same inflation adjusted amount 20 years ago or 40 years ago.

And I don't begrudge anyone from buying whatever they like and can afford. I couldn't drive a Ferrari anywhere near it's limits, but it doesn't mean I wouldn't buy one if I could comfortably afford it. I know it's not going to instantly turn me into a world class race car driver but I can still appreciate it.
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Old 02-04-20, 06:21 PM
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I've been road riding in Southern California for over 35 years, a member of a road club for almost 31 years, and have ridden mountain bikes on and off as well.
My club was over 500 members at one time and now is well under 400 with actual participation much lower than that. Oddly, the bikes at our rides are higher-end than years past.
Yes, drivers are worse but I notice it more in the car than on the bike. Most drivers in my area are cool with us, although I have heard plenty of hate-speak at parties, at work and on social media.
There has been an explosion of gravel bikes, I see a lot of them at one place I ride mtb which has a lot of fire roads. I enjoy talking to the riders and checking out the bikes but I haven't bought one yet. Some of my local rides are perfect for a gravel bike.
I did a few rides with a newer club near here. They are super friendly and welcoming but a much smaller group and their rides are generally shorter.
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Old 02-04-20, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDudeIsHere View Post
Are you sure? Are you riding in the correct portions of the country? I see others from different states posting on Strava. Let's say, Georgia, one may have KOM's on segments consisting of 20 riders climbing a 4% grade at 13 mph.

But look at a state, lets say California, where the segments are consisting of 15,000 riders on grades of 6% averaging 16-17 mph. Seems a bit more popular and more competitive.

KOM's over 20 cyclists is much different than the places where there are 15,000 cyclists.

Maybe some of the racers who travel the country are actually traveling to the not so popular countries. Around here, it doesn't seem to be on the decline. If anything here in California, I see more cyclist on the road than ever.

Could it be you're in the wrong state?
Seems like it's way up in Georgia, at least from 12 years ago when I started. You won't find many segments like that in this area.
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Old 02-04-20, 10:37 PM
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Despite one serious injury from being hit by a car (2018) and several minor incidents (slow speed hits from behind at intersections, that sort of thing), I'm not inclined to give up road riding. Yet.

Consciously I'm always looking forward to a road ride.

Unconsciously, my body is rebelling and trying to tell me I'm an idiot.

When I'm prepping for an indoor trainer session my heart rate is usually around 70 when I climb on the bike. Even with fairly hard efforts I find it a challenge to get my heart rate over 140 bpm (I'm 62 and my last tested max HR was 173 last year, probably lower now).

But when I'm prepping for an outdoor ride my HR jumps to 100 before I've walked out the door. By the time I'm clipping in it's 120 bpm. It'll jump to 140 bpm on the 1/4 mile downhill coast to the main road. If I don't warm up thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, my heart rate pegs on the first moderate climb. So I'll take a lap around my usual 20-40 mile route and come back to that same climb later -- then my heart rate will be appropriate to that level of effort.

Clearly my subconscious and body are trying to remind me that zombies in metal cocoons are trying to kill me.

But I keep going out anyway.

And road riding still seems popular here, although some friends have switched mostly to gravel. They have to drive to their meetups. I ride to and from wherever I go.

BTW, regarding the cliches, money, etc., I've seen every stereotype. But most folks I ride with have bikes and kit appropriate to their actual capabilities. My bikes cost $200 or less, all 20-30 years old when I bought them. My big upgrade might be a $15 set of Tacx sealing bearing pulleys to replace the sintered bearing Suntour or Shimano originals. My bikes are set up pretty much as I would have 40 years ago, although it takes more home physical therapy, core work, etc., to stay comfortable in a reasonably aero position for hours. I'll wear fairly aero kit occasionally, especially for windy days, but I'm a cheapskate. I'll put some Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Speed short and long sleeve jerseys in my Amazon cart and wait patiently for a price drop to around $20-$30. I'll buy it no matter what the color is, as long as it's my size. I have a cheap aero helmet. It all helps on days with long slogs into headwinds, or fighting crosswinds on open prairie roads. My few gains have come from getting as aero as I can tolerate for the duration of a ride.

But I can't buy back the 30-40 years it would take in a time machine to regain the power I had then. I can't justify a skinsuit, aero handlebars, oversized pulleys, anything with "ceramic" in the description, or bikes that won't make me faster than that teenager on a mountain bike who just flew past me on a climb.
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Old 02-04-20, 10:44 PM
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I'd say cyclist hate comes from pretty much the same place as vegan hate. The mere existence of such a class of people does folks' heads in, because it's showing them up, which they refuse to consciously acknowledge, so they project their feelings of inferiority (I'm not even a vegetarian, FTR).

Throw in all sorts of authority figures who are only too happy to foster a sense of aggrieved entitlement amongst their followers, and you get some prize-winning arsehole behaviour.
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Old 02-04-20, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by TheDudeIsHere View Post
Are you sure? Are you riding in the correct portions of the country? I see others from different states posting on Strava. Let's say, Georgia, one may have KOM's on segments consisting of 20 riders climbing a 4% grade at 13 mph.

But look at a state, lets say California, where the segments are consisting of 15,000 riders on grades of 6% averaging 16-17 mph. Seems a bit more popular and more competitive.

KOM's over 20 cyclists is much different than the places where there are 15,000 cyclists.

Maybe some of the racers who travel the country are actually traveling to the not so popular countries. Around here, it doesn't seem to be on the decline. If anything here in California, I see more cyclist on the road than ever.

Could it be you're in the wrong state?
I remember reading that gravel bikes and Ebikes are two highest selling categories of bikes, currently.
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Old 02-05-20, 01:14 AM
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I don't understand why so many people think riding a drop bar bike on dirt and gravel roads is something different than road cycling. Especially when most people who do it don't ride anywhere near 100% gravel, there are long stretches of pavement too.

Road cycling is doing pretty good, the way I see it.
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Old 02-05-20, 02:37 AM
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I'm a long distance cyclist ... randonneuring/audax, centuries, etc. etc. Our numbers are, I think, fairly stable ... people come, people go.

And speaking of "people going" ... keep in mind that there is, in general, an ageing population. If there is a decline in various active hobbies, it may be because older people are slightly less active.

Anyway, addressing your points:

Risk - Rowan and I don't like cycling on the roads where we live, especially since his workplace accident. The roads are narrow, often windy (twisty), and busy. People like driving about 10 km/h over the speed limit, even when the roads don't have good sight lines. Shoulders are rare here. Although people are not supposed to use mobile phones, and can be fined heavily, they still do. Although people are supposed to give cyclists 1.5 metres, some do, but some are too busy texting and trying to break land speed records around tight corners to notice cyclists riding along the edge of the lane.

I am trying to find routes we can do. There are three or four short trails, the longest of which is a paved Cycleway that is about 27 km round trip. And there are a couple 20-30 km loops we can do. It's just not enough. This weekend we're doing to explore slightly further afield to see if there might be more options.

Meanwhile, in the north of the State, the situation is quite different. That's the area where Richie Porte comes from ... so maybe it makes a difference! There are more cyclists, more cycling groups/teams, lovely quiet roads, practically no traffic, traffic that slows down and goes around cyclists with a wide berth ... the cycling up there is brilliant. So we organise a Super Randonneur series, a Northern Nouveau series and a Fleche (all Audax events) up there. We also go up about once every month or 6 weeks to ride.


Gravel - I'm a road cyclist. I'm not that keen on gravel. However, so many roads around here are gravel and a lot are sealed then gravel, then sealed then gravel. One of those 30 km loops I mentioned is like that. The gravel is a little annoying but at least the traffic is lighter ... tourists in rental cars, for example, aren't allowed to drive on gravel, so gravel does have its place.

We have been talking about setting up mtn bikes for gravel roads just to expand our options ... and may do that depending on the results of our exploration this weekend.

Meanwhile, in the north of the State, a lot of the roads are sealed ... which is great!


Cost - don't know ... in Audax you don't have to have the best of the best.
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Old 02-05-20, 04:35 AM
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Risk.

I'm not in the USA, but here in Spain I don't see all that people driving with the cellphone. There's the occasional one, but it's not that common. I'm more worried about impatient people who try to pass when there's little visibility of oncoming cars, which usually leads to not leaving the legal separation of 1.5m. To prevent this I usually take the whole lane when I don't want anyone to pass me and it usually works.

I must admit that I avoid traffic as much as I can, but my commute, which I do in my road bike, includes parts with quite heavy traffic that I can't avoid. I always ride defensively and try not to hesitate. If a driver feels you are in doubt, lots of them will try to take advantage from it. Sometimes putting you at risk. I don't trust yield signs, as drivers tend to loosely respect them when the incoming vehicle is a bicycle. I also never ride on the door zone. If a cycle path is on the door zone, I'll ride on the road instead.

Another thing that minimises risk a lot is planning. I always use street view to analyse where I'm going to ride. I try to avoid uphill roads with heavy traffic, especially if there's no shoulder. This means there are roads that I only ride while descending, and I take an alternative if I have to climb them. I regularly put my road bike with road tires on short stretches of unpaved paths as sometimes, riding 200m of a dirt path can allow me to avoid a road including a 2km climb with no shoulder. I also tend to pick safer but longer routes. I enjoy being on the bike, so the extra km and climbing don't bother me.

Gravel.

I like gravel bikes, but don't have one. Here it's hilly and I feel there are little places where a gravel bike is worth it. If you're going to ride on asphalt, a road bike is better. And if you're going to ride unpaved trails a mountain bike is miles ahead (climbing is too hard on gravel gearing, and paths here are too rocky to comfortably ride without suspension). There's little people riding gravel bikes here, as you're really limited to where you can ride since there are few moderately smooth gravel paths.

Cost of admission.

I started riding on the road 6 years ago. I previously only rode on a mountain bike. I bought a 400€ bike from Decathlon. Microshift 3x8 gears, steel fork, alu frame, no brand wheels (the worst part of the bike), 10.5kg. It worked flawlessly and could keep up with other riders with no issues, although I admit it was a crappy bike with low quality components. Last year I replaced it with another Decathlon bike. This time it was still alu frame, but carbon fork and seatpost, 2x11 sram rival, hydro discs, Mavic Ksyriums and 8.5kg. I paid 1100€ new for it.

I don't feel the cost is all that high compared to MTB. Part of the problem is that equipment in cycling is overrated. Lots of people ride on professional bikes when they're not professionals. Here I see lots of people struggling uphill with a 53/39 and 25 or 28 sprocket when even pro cyclists during "La vuelta" use compact chainrings on some stages. Wouldn't it be better to have adequate gearing on a cheaper bike instead of being broke after buying a top of the range carbon bike to look like a pro?

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Old 02-05-20, 05:47 AM
  #18  
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Bikes cost a lot because people are too wealthy or too uniformed ... or are willing to buy bragging rights.

Nine-speed Sore nowadays is probably considerably better than 9-speed Dura-Ace when it was new. 5800 or 7800 105 is probably better than anything before save 6800 Ultegra and 9000 D/A. Bikes that used to be "racer-light" in weight can now be had for $1200, and bikes which are "runway-model anemic" are the new standard----ridden by guys who are 30 pounds overweight. (And and why not? My best bike is showroom-ready at about 16 lbs, and I am 50 pounds overweight. It is a great bike (only about $2k, though. Can I ride along anyway?))

People maybe won’t listen if you tell them that that $1500 bike is 85% as good as that $15K bike …. Or that the engine is 95% of the ride.

And yes, $1200–$1500 for an entry-lever real bike (as opposed to big-box bikes, which are actually fine for a lot of riders) plus the “needed” and actually needed accessories is steep …. But consumables costs are low. Shop smart, don’t feel you need the name brands, and once you own the bike, cycling is pretty cheap.

And if you know a little about bikes or have a friend who does, the used market is a huge resource.

Not a lot of people (it seems) are secure enough to show up to a group ride on a $500 BikesDirect bike with a couple hundred in upgrades … but the bike is good enough to keep up if the rider is. (Been that guy, so I know it.)

As top overall popularity … I see more bike lanes, more Greenways, more “Share the road” signs … and no sign that cycling is drying up. I am sure it is regional, and leisure activities often run in trends, but I don’t see the sport seriously shrinking.

I also see more online and cable/streamed coverage … and now more of it is behind paywalls, which says to me people are more interested in watching cycling.

I also haven’t seen a huge upsurge in accidents involving cyclists. Yeah, drivers are distracted and impatient … but more so? My experience has been quite the opposite—more drivers are willing to wait while I take the lane on a particularly windy stretch, and are willing to give me room (instead of riding my tail light) and then pass me reasonably when I can get over, rather than nailing te throttle in obvious frustration, and/or passing too close.

Still a few losers … always will be.

Gravel is more popular, but it depends on the area. How many places have great road-cycling roads, and how many have great gravel networks? It is like MTB … in most cases one needs a special bike and needs to drive somewhere to go riding. For me that is a bit of an obstacle—it is 45 minutes to the nearest real MTB trail network and I don’t always have the time. No clue where to good gravel is locally.

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Old 02-05-20, 07:35 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Bikes cost a lot because people are too wealthy or too uniformed ... or are willing to buy bragging rights.

Nine-speed Sore nowadays is probably considerably better than 9-speed Dura-Ace when it was new. 5800 or 7800 105 is probably better than anything before save 6800 Ultegra and 9000 D/A. Bikes that used to be "racer-light" in weight can now be had for $1200, and bikes which are "runway-model anemic" are the new standard----ridden by guys who are 30 pounds overweight. (And and why not? My best bike is showroom-ready at about 16 lbs, and I am 50 pounds overweight. It is a great bike (only about $2k, though. Can I ride along anyway?))

People maybe won’t listen if you tell them that that $1500 bike is 85% as good as that $15K bike …. Or that the engine is 95% of the ride.

And yes, $1200–$1500 for an entry-lever real bike (as opposed to big-box bikes, which are actually fine for a lot of riders) plus the “needed” and actually needed accessories is steep …. But consumables costs are low. Shop smart, don’t feel you need the name brands, and once you own the bike, cycling is pretty cheap.

And if you know a little about bikes or have a friend who does, the used market is a huge resource.

Not a lot of people (it seems) are secure enough to show up to a group ride on a $500 BikesDirect bike with a couple hundred in upgrades … but the bike is good enough to keep up if the rider is. (Been that guy, so I know it.)

As top overall popularity … I see more bike lanes, more Greenways, more “Share the road” signs … and no sign that cycling is drying up. I am sure it is regional, and leisure activities often run in trends, but I don’t see the sport seriously shrinking.

I also see more online and cable/streamed coverage … and now more of it is behind paywalls, which says to me people are more interested in watching cycling.

I also haven’t seen a huge upsurge in accidents involving cyclists. Yeah, drivers are distracted and impatient … but more so? My experience has been quite the opposite—more drivers are willing to wait while I take the lane on a particularly windy stretch, and are willing to give me room (instead of riding my tail light) and then pass me reasonably when I can get over, rather than nailing te throttle in obvious frustration, and/or passing too close.

Still a few losers … always will be.

Gravel is more popular, but it depends on the area. How many places have great road-cycling roads, and how many have great gravel networks? It is like MTB … in most cases one needs a special bike and needs to drive somewhere to go riding. For me that is a bit of an obstacle—it is 45 minutes to the nearest real MTB trail network and I don’t always have the time. No clue where to good gravel is locally.
You're talking about Sora: as I said I rode for 5 years with a bike equipped with Microshift 3x8 gears which are worse than Sora for sure. When I replaced that bike with my current one (that BTW is almost 2kg lighter), my average speed went up by a totally negligible amount (it's so small I've been unable to quantify it even on routes I've done hundreds of times). Some people laughed at me when I rode that bike though. I didn't care.

Gravel, as you say, it depends on the area where you are, the same happens with MTB. I have both roads and several mountain bike trails riding less than 5 minutes away from the door. I only have one path relatively close to me that can be ridden better on a gravel bike than on a mountain bike, and it's not a particularly beautiful route. Other areas may be different, but as you say, driving before riding is an obstacle. I may drive twice or three times a year to do a particular ride, but no way I'm doing that on a regular basis.
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Old 02-05-20, 08:01 AM
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Risk
I see plenty of roadies on the routes I take even on week days. These are popular training routes with a lot of climbs. Although I have been sideswiped and run off the road, I never sustained serious injuries except for my own lapses in judgment leading to concussions. I mitigate risk by route planning, slowing down, keeping up with maintenance, using two back and one front flashing lights and high vis kits. SoCal might be the hit-and-run capital of the world for cyclists. I am just as concerned with all the drunks and addicts in this area as I am the texters. I smell pot coming from about 1 of 4 vehicles that pass me.

The two most recent bike accidents I saw were from from excessive speed on wet twisty roads; and poor maintenance, a blowout on a badly worn tire. One roadie had some bad road rash and the second likely had a fractured clavicle and concussion.

Gravel
I have hiked all the dirt/gravel roads in my area and it is not particularly scenic and often very crowded with hikers/dogs that are also very unpredictable. I do not see this as a very attractive option. Perhaps if I lived in a more scenic wooded area I would be interested in gravel riding. Otherwise, dirt SCE roads just plain suck!

Cost of Admission
I started road riding on an entry level heavy Mtn bike in 2014 that cost $600 at the time. In 2016 I purchased my carbon 105 mixed road bike for about $2,000. I do not pretend or buy into marketing that I need the best anything as a low level recreational cyclist that likes to ride in the local hills and mountains. My kits are mixed with higher end DeSoto, 2XU and LG as well as cheaper Chinese Amazon stuff which I am satisfied with.

I recently purchased a 20 year-old steel bike off ebay with Ultegra 6600 components after looking for and not finding a quality gravel bike for about $1000. This will be fitted with 28mm tires so I can use it on rough roads in the OC to be able to climb more on service roads.

Road cycling does not have to be expensive to gain admission. In retrospect, I would have been satisfied with a Tiagra level steel bike for $1,000 new back in 2016 but bought into the hype of a carbon bike that I later upgraded to full Ultegra mix 6800/8000.

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Old 02-05-20, 08:46 AM
  #21  
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And what exactly is wrong with SPD pedals on a road bike? Some of us actually prefer to be able to walk and ride.
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Old 02-05-20, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Sapperc View Post
And what exactly is wrong with SPD pedals on a road bike? Some of us actually prefer to be able to walk and ride.
Never understood what road pedals are good for, lots of talk about hotspots in the foot and blah blah blah but... If you get a hotspot in your foot from an SPD pedal the problem is not the pedal, it's the shoe sole that's too flexible.
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Old 02-05-20, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Sapperc View Post
And what exactly is wrong with SPD pedals on a road bike? Some of us actually prefer to be able to walk and ride.
I'm going with SPDs on the new road bike. I've had no issues with them on the gravel bike and have noticed no difference in power output when riding (multiple A group rides with sprints).

Road riding is definitely alive and well here, there's an event almost every weekend. Gravel is taking off, no doubt, I already have seven gravel races on the calendar, and will prob add some more.
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Old 02-05-20, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by TheDudeIsHere View Post
Are you sure? Are you riding in the correct portions of the country? I see others from different states posting on Strava. Let's say, Georgia, one may have KOM's on segments consisting of 20 riders climbing a 4% grade at 13 mph.

But look at a state, lets say California, where the segments are consisting of 15,000 riders on grades of 6% averaging 16-17 mph. Seems a bit more popular and more competitive.

KOM's over 20 cyclists is much different than the places where there are 15,000 cyclists.

Maybe some of the racers who travel the country are actually traveling to the not so popular countries. Around here, it doesn't seem to be on the decline. If anything here in California, I see more cyclist on the road than ever.

Could it be you're in the wrong state?
I get what you're saying, and I'm not saying you're wrong, but I think it's a little off topic of the thread.

Maybe I didn't word my first post well enough. This isn't a thread for people to come debate my reasons for having my outlook. This is a thread to share your opinions and observations from wherever you are.
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Old 02-05-20, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Sapperc View Post
And what exactly is wrong with SPD pedals on a road bike? Some of us actually prefer to be able to walk and ride.
Originally Posted by Amt0571 View Post
Never understood what road pedals are good for, lots of talk about hotspots in the foot and blah blah blah but... If you get a hotspot in your foot from an SPD pedal the problem is not the pedal, it's the shoe sole that's too flexible.
Nothing wrong with them for most people, I suppose. The big difference (to me) is road pedals like Look have a wide platform to distribute the load more evenly than SPD pedals do. I used SPD on the road for a few years and I have nerve damage/issues with my feet. I switched back to Look Delta pedals and it helps a lot.

People will say the stiffness of the shoe is the problem but the small cleat of SPDs has so much less area than a Delta cleat. I'm heavy and have been riding for decades so this all adds up over time. I have heard from other long time SPD users who have experienced the same thing. When I ride my mountain bike with SPDs, my feet hurt for days. This is with stiff plastic soles and 2 footbeds in each shoe.

edit: I don't know why this question ended up on this thread but I felt compelled to reply.

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