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Is recreational cycling dying in SoCal?

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Is recreational cycling dying in SoCal?

Old 01-25-16, 11:32 PM
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Is recreational cycling dying in SoCal?

Iím starting this thread, hoping that you guys can prove me wrong. Because my answer to the question above is "yes". At least as far as recreational cycling is concerned.
Here are just a couple of my observations:
Club riding - when I started riding with the OC Rebels (around 2001), we were getting regularly 50+ people on the weekend rides. Today, they can't get more than 15-20. I've also ridden with BCI and I've noticed the same trend there.
Organized rides - I remember the days when rides like the Breathless Agony and the Bear were selling quickly. Last year, I believe both rides had same day registration and they couldn't get even half the people they used to. Just check the results of the BA - in 2010 they had over 650 riders, in 2015 they had around 300. Same with the Bear. They had a 400 riders limit and they used to fill it by the end of April. In 2015 they had just over 200 riders. The KOM Challenge had 162 finishers in 2012, only 41 in 2015. And don't tell me that these rides are too hard and SoCal is simply running out of masochists. I've seen a decline in many other organized rides which are a lot easier than the ones listed above. I believe some rides don't even exist anymore (Solvang Prelude).
Why is that decline? IMHO - fear. Cycling has been labeled as a "dangerous" sport and people are afraid to go out and ride a bicycle. I think they'd prefer to be killed in a car accident or die slowly from diseases related to a sedentary life style.
Please prove me wrong.
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Old 01-25-16, 11:59 PM
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I don't have your perspective as I just resumed riding about 2-1/2 years ago. I mostly ride with BCI and over the last couple of years participation seems to be pretty steady. I do know that overall club membership is down from where is was 5 years ago. I did the Bear last year, it was not sold out. Amtrak still sells out quickly. I live in Lake Forest and on any given weekend morning, I see lots of cyclists, so maybe it's just more people doing their own thing or in smaller groups.
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Old 01-26-16, 12:15 AM
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Could be different kind of riding. At the trade shows, what's touted as the next thing is ebikes. Maybe they're not considered recreational. Then there's the gravel bike riders. They could be a bit more independent.
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Old 01-26-16, 12:26 AM
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You're conflating "recreational riding" with "organized group ride events."

I don't participate in any of those events, very, very rarely ride in any sort of group setting, but cycle recreationally 5-6 days a week. I see plenty of riders on the SART and on my local routes. I also tend to think that reduced turnout for these events could have some tie to the costs/time involved. A big event ride might cost $200-300 a person including entrance fee, food, and travel/lodging. I generally do not feel inclined to pay someone to let me ride a century. I'll do it myself, and pocket the $75+ entry fee.
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Old 01-26-16, 12:29 AM
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I didn't vote because I live 2,700 miles away, but you raise interesting points.

I agree that the current perception of road bicycling as dangerous doesn't help, but I'm not sure it's a serious barrier.

Times change, and so do lifestyles. Consider the advent of mountain biking. This brought many new faces who'd never seriously ridden on roads. For a while, at the peak in mtn biking, bike shops barely had road bikes on the floor, usually tucked onto some corner near the back. Over the last few years, road biking has made a major comeback, but many of the rew roadies were folks who'd started as mtn bikers, and so now, while skilled, they're simply not used to riding in traffic.

Ride participation may have suffered simply from saturation. Decades back there were few "event" rides, and they were highlights in a year that was mostly about riding with the club or a few friends. Now there's god knows how many events and charity rides, and an open weekend to ride with a few buddies is rare. In short, the novelty of big rides has simply worn off due to saturation.

So, lots of things are happening which may account for what the OP sees. Even the fear consideration has changed. Years ago we only heard about the few accidents involving friends or well known people. These days, the internet has ensured that we hear about almost all the serious accidents regardless of where they happen. So while nothing has changed, it seems worse because of how it's reported.
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Old 01-26-16, 02:49 AM
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JimmyNH...let's just call it the lance factor...


but besides that, it may be too many charity rides. seems like there is a charity century/half-century every weekend and
that may dilute the biggie rides. can't attest to club rides as i've never joined one and have ridden in very few.

here in san diego, i haven't noticed more or fewer road riders. definitely more people using their bikes for short commutes & errands tho.


i have, however, noticed more riders in two places i ride 5-6 times a year.
the palos verdes peninsula seemingly has more kitted up riders (even on weekdays) every time i'm there. moved away from the area
in 1988 and riders were few and far between then. not an early riser either so i usually miss the bigger group/club rides that i know take
place there. oodles of solo and small groups there.


santa monica mountains west of topanga canyon rd/hwy 27 have been chock full of riders (and not just on pch) during the weekdays
(i never ride the area during the weekend-too busy and too many rookies/weekend warriors in cars/motorcycles). usually do at least a 40 mile
ride there and have seen at least one "cycling vacation" support car/van/sag vehicle with bikes on top every ride there the last 4 years.
i rode past 3 such separate outfits once on a weekday. those groups usually seem to be about 6-10 riders. seems like a few years ago, i would
see 2-5 riders on a random 60 mile climbfest through those mountains. now, the number is closer to 30-35.
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Old 01-26-16, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ooga-booga
JimmyNH...let's just call it the lance factor...
Rejoice! The insufferable Lance fanbois have at last grown beards and moved on to the next bandwagon.
Look at the bright side Jimmy: as our quantity goes down, our quality goes up.
(You and I are still here, yes?)

You sound lonely just now Comrade. When are we going for a ride?

Last edited by calamarichris; 01-26-16 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 01-26-16, 10:17 AM
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No. But do you know what is dying? Organized rides. Using a handful of expensive fondo style events and a single club is not a proper metric for measuring the popularity of recreational cycling. USA Cycling seems to be holding its own, though. Big fields, plenty of enthusiasm. The roads of SoCal are full of riders. My left hand is still sore from all the waving I did on Saturday.
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Old 01-26-16, 10:25 AM
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Our Saturday shop rides used to get twenty participants; now we will see fifty or more. Our area has tons of cyclists, probably more so as the Santa Monica's draw from surrounding communities on weekends.

As to events, I do agree that the novelty factor has kind of worn off and with so many crowding the calendar, hard to know which to pick. Also, the costs of riding events has risen. Where we used to pay $45, we now see $75 or more. Fondos are over $200. I know the cost of putting these on is high, but given that I can ride the same roads solo for free, paying the entry fee to get some tired PB&J slices aren't enough to entice me.
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Old 01-26-16, 10:27 AM
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Cruisin' the Conejo was positively deserted last year, although I did miss the "mass start" by about 15 min.

It seems like I see plenty of cyclists actually on the road though, and bike shops actually have road bikes now. Back in the 90s it seemed like you'd be hard pressed to find more than a lonely road bike or two in a shop.
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Old 01-26-16, 11:42 AM
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Hi Jimmy, Whenever I invite you on a ride you always say "No, it is too cold, invite me when it's warmer. Then in the summer you say, "No, it's too hot, invite me when it's cooler." I used to see you and Kim on Rebel rides, but not anymore.

True, no matter how many routes Jess (OCRR) comes up with, riding around Irvine, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, etc. gets boring after awhile.

Since I love to climb, I usually take off to Hwy 2 (Angeles Crest), Onyx Summit, GMR/GRR/Little GMR, Hwy 39, etc. and while I almost always invite you, it's a rare day when you actually show up. Instead, I get an email from you with some "wuss" excuses.

Had you shown up, you would have seen lots of road cyclists on these mountain road climbing rides!

Regarding organized rides, yes, there probably are too many charging too much. I still do a few every year and there are some (Grand Tour and Dead of Winter) that are great bargains . . . if you want to ride a double (which I know you don't).

Overall and big picture, I think there will always be up and down times, road rider participant wise, but overall the road cycling situation in SoCal is still very good to excellent so, except for some of the "event" prices, I have no complaints.

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Old 01-26-16, 06:23 PM
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A couple of years ago in what was left of California Bicyclist, there was an article in which the question was posed, "Where are all the young riders?" The real, root question that the author seemed to be asking was, "Where are all the young roadies in full kit?" Or, "How come our club rides are largely made up of people over the age of 50?"

The simple answer: $.

(Hopefully, that's not too simple an answer.)

In a sense, it costs $2,000 to go on a club ride ($bike + $pedals + $cleats + jersey). Or more. Cycling, at that level, looks increasingly like an upper-middle-class doctor/lawyer sport. If you are 26, you may have $10-20K in outstanding education loans and a McJob and no spare $4K to drop on a Colnago or a Trek.

The good news is that there is plenty of recreational cycling going on in Southern California. Plenty of millennials are cycling. Everywhere, every MUP, every street, to and from every train station. They just aren't going on organized rides.

Cycling isn't dying; perhaps its image is mutating.
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Old 01-26-16, 08:18 PM
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What do you define as 'recreational cycling'?

IF its beach cruisers, there are plenty here in Orange County. Just drive through Huntington and Newport, you can't miss them. Well, you may want to miss hitting them, though, as riders are constantly blowing through stop signs and red lights, usually while talking on a cell phone.

Road bicycling? No the numbers don't seem to be falling, but they could very well increase if not for the mythical 'barriers to entry'. I know quite a few folks who are discouraged from starting riding since they believe they have to buy a multi-thousand-dollar CF bike, the strange shoes & helmet, and spend $$$ on a whole new bicycle-specific wardrobe so they won't look out-of-place (aka 'they won't look like me! ). Luckily they get discouraged and leave more room on the road for me.
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Old 01-26-16, 08:32 PM
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1. Boomers are getting older?

2. I get emails from a few private email lists. They do regular weekly rides, but try to only invite riders that can comfortably keep up. I don't do facebook, but I'm sure there's a lot of riding groups organized via social media these days.
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Old 01-27-16, 01:45 PM
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Alot of riders I know are moving from Road to gravel and mountain. I know I did and it's just so much more fun than road. I haven't touch my road bike for over 3 months now.
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Old 01-27-16, 02:16 PM
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My unofficial poll of seeing people out on the main roads on the weekends says it is fine. Even in this "winter" we are having there is no shortage of people and groups (large/small) in San Diego.

Now organized/competitive events are a different story I think. I have seen more large groups of older riders in the past years.
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Old 01-27-16, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by asiantrick
Alot of riders I know are moving from Road to gravel and mountain. I know I did and it's just so much more fun than road. I haven't touch my road bike for over 3 months now.
Don't blame them at all. Texting drivers are getting worse and worse. If one of them negligently-homicides you, they're almost certainly not going to see the inside of a jail cell.

I don't know about the monetary influence; it's hugely fun to show up on a 30+ year-old-steel sled and ride those $5000+ bikes off your wheel.

Main reason I generally opt away from group rides are the lane-takers who suddenly feel emboldened by our numbers to start picking fights with motorists. Anytime you get more than 6 people together, one of them suddenly grows fangs. It's tiresome. I came here to ride and be social, not have your back after you've inconvenienced and then antagonized motorists.
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Old 01-27-16, 05:00 PM
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I cant answer the question but I can provide some useful info. My mom retired last year as a teacher at a middle school in Torrance,CA. She taught for 31 years and is a cyclist herself. She said the number of kids who ride their bike to school in the last few years is miniscule compared to in the 80's -mid 90's.
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Old 01-27-16, 05:45 PM
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Originally Posted by JimmyNH
Why is that decline?
I agree with the poster above that the novelty has worn off. For me it goes further, recreational cycling is a rather boring and time consuming activity. My rides now tend to have a purpose; more commuting, more farmers market trips, more trips to the coffee shop, i.e. utilitarian. I think that's a natural evolution.
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Old 01-28-16, 07:04 AM
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Why hasn't the novelty worn off when it comes to 24 Hour Fitness, L.A. Fitness?
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Old 01-28-16, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
It seems like I see plenty of cyclists actually on the road though, and bike shops actually have road bikes now. Back in the 90s it seemed like you'd be hard pressed to find more than a lonely road bike or two in a shop.
Boy do I remember those days. I got hit by a car in '93 and had to replace my Bianchi ASAP for an upcoming charity ride I did every year. There was a shop in Philly with an awesome mechanic named Otis. The shop had a Guerciotti frame in my size hanging in the basement, left over from the days when they sold a lot more road bikes. Otis built it up. When I picked it up he remarked that it had been a long time since he built a road bike. I remember him saying "Everything these days is mountain bike, mountain bike mountain bike."
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Old 01-28-16, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by KingCat
... the number of kids who ride their bike to school in the last few years is miniscule compared to in the 80's -mid 90's.
I noticed this as well when my kids were in elementary school. Try driving by any school at about 7:45 in the morning - total gridlock.

It does seem like we have fewer elementary schools than we used to, so the population is larger with fewer schools which means they're farther away with more cars on the road. Never mind all the news you hear about child molesters, abductors etc. I'm sure it's no worse than it was 40 years ago but it SOUNDS worse.
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Old 01-28-16, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse
I noticed this as well when my kids were in elementary school. Try driving by any school at about 7:45 in the morning - total gridlock.
Would you trust your kid on a bicycle with all the other texting mothers not paying attention to what or whom they're running over? Safest to get yourself a cellphone & minivan, and get in line with the rest of them.
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Old 01-28-16, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by calamarichris
Would you trust your kid on a bicycle with all the other texting mothers not paying attention to what or whom they're running over? Safest to get yourself a cellphone & minivan, and get in line with the rest of them.
There was no place to lock up a bike anyway and word on the street was that it wasn't "allowed", texting mini-van drivers aside.

We parked about a mile away and walked, picked up his best friend on the way. The dog liked that plan best. We moved about as fast as the cars anyway.
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Old 01-28-16, 03:34 PM
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Lot's of good info, I think things are much more diluted these days, Meetup in SoCal is 40+ groups just within 25 miles of OC, not including LA or San Diego or other social sites like FB. Sure, lots of them are not very active but smaller groups are often much more manageable. A current success story is the BOBIES in the IE, 1,100+ members and almost every day of the week is filled with a ride, often multiples at various levels. But their dynamic is different than some of the groups I've seen or ridden with, the originators really encouraged people to become ride leaders and placed very few restrictions on who posted what. Several groups I've belonged to did not encourage others to post or were very restrictive in the rides they allowed to be posted (control factors). I often don't ride with groups because of their helmet requirements, sometimes these groups are too aggressive in their rules and sometimes have a put off vibe. Most cyclists one on one are really friendly, get them into a group and the dynamics change sometimes.

I think the costs for organized rides are another like some have stated, I'm not paying upwards of $100 to ride supported when I often do that unsupported.

But go up and down PCH on any Sat. or Sunday in OC or San Diego and there's a ton of cyclists out there!
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