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rad to the power of sick
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So on another forum that I frequent, it came up that former MTB'er Ryder Hesjedal will be racing in the Tour this year. Its great to see a canuck reppin' in the tour.

Anyways, his humble origins came up via veteran_youth posting THIS link.

Aside from seeing a whole boatload of familiar names racing far younger categories is there anything else that surprises you?

Check out the enrollment. (August 1997)

Theres more than 50 competitors in 6 categories, with a few approaching 100. Total Rider Count: 1047

Now check out the most recent race equivalent, the Can. Cup earlier this month. (June 2008)

The largest category is 45 riders. Total Rider Count: 696

Given that I have only been racing since 2001, i have relatively little scope on how the MTB race scene has developed through its course, but I have to say, this seems to be quite depressing. I would have thought with the advent of the internet and increased environmental programs advocating healthier lifestyles, that there would be increased race participation.

So does someone want to explain what went wrong? and why it went wrong.

Id suspect increased race, insurance and licensing fees. More kids devoting their time trying to be like Josh Bender instead of Ned Overend. The rise of Communist China... New Dorito flavours....
 

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NormalNorm
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Great topic.

Yeah, cost of racing is a big thing. Gas, signups, insurance, bike parts, etc. Not much you can do...if you want to race. I know that ive "not" raced at some events because of cost. I do realize that the events do cost the organizer money, and its a business. For me its mostly a venue thing....too far away.

What about beginner vs sport in Ocups. There is a big difference here. Beginner races are done in about an hr. Too far for most to drive for an hr. Sport racers are pretty good riders and the average person would get smoked in a sport race. Not good for moral.

Agreed, most of the youth are in to freeriding and stunts. There is no glory in XC.

On a side note. What ever happened to Saturday races? I would rather race Saturday.

Just my .02$
 

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rad to the power of sick
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd argue the driving distance is the same as its ever been.. but the incentive has decreased.

Like you say, driving 2.5hrs for a Beginner OCup race is equivalent to driving from London, ON to Albion for the Tuesday nighter. (Arguably, the Tuesday night race is probably better cost/benefit given that the draw prize/participant is higher.)

Perhaps more advertising has to be done for these events? Maybe piggybacking a bigger sponsor such as Tim Hortons would help pull in more publicity? I know the DH scene has taken off recently due to some very effective marketing by the organizers, heck, I even see DH O-Cup ads on the front page of MTBR. Saying that the Ontario DH is blossoming is saying ALOT, seeing as Ontario's downhills are glorified mole hills.

One thing I've always been supportive of is moving the Elite Race to an earlier time. This will give the beginners, sport, expert riders the opportunity to spectate some of Canada's best, prior to getting exhausted from their race and wanting to go home. Half the time when I finish my race, the place is deserted.

I've often thought that getting some TV publicity would be productive for the scene as well. I remember being 11 or 12 and seeing some world cup footage on the CBC or something and being quite riveted. Arguably, you can say that provincial MTB'ing is a select niche that won't garner much attention, but if the dreadful comedy of Rick Mercer can make the CBC, then im sure MTB'ing has a fighting chance. A 30 minute recap short on weekends between OCups might be enough to pique interest.

It'd be awesome if there were 60 competitors in my category, itd be that much more exciting..

bla bla bla.. thats the end of my late night rant.
 

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bi-winning
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superlightracer said:
More kids devoting their time trying to be like Josh Bender instead of Ned Overend.
Maybe when these kids are 35 they'll start to settle down, and start riding their bikes around some XC trails, instead of searching for a roof to ride off of.
 

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superlightracer said:
So does someone want to explain what went wrong? and why it went wrong.

Id suspect increased race, insurance and licensing fees. More kids devoting their time trying to be like Josh Bender instead of Ned Overend. The rise of Communist China... New Dorito flavours....
nothing went wrong...this came up with an LBS owner in my neighbourhood, a former European road racer.

He tells me, that with the aging population, the future of cycling in Canada is road, cyclecross, and comfort bikes...he sells fewer mtb's each year. He thinks that Canada will be like the rest of the world in a few years, XC will be a nice hobby for some, but the real riders will be on asphalt.

Some truth to this...I now have 8 asphalt bikes, sold most of mtb's over the last 3 years.
 

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That and in some places (ie london) there are few places to publicly ride for free. You lose the new people and its the experienced riders that are still around. I know few teens that are into it as much as I was back then.
KIN
 

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bi-winning
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KINBOY said:
That and in some places (ie london) there are few places to publicly ride for free.
KIN
That may be a bike part of it. Kids are more likely to get involved, if they can take their Super Cycle for a ride out of their driveway, and go shred some trails, for free.
 

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I think the way this thread is going, we’re gauging the popularity of XC mountain biking by number of race entries… :confused:

I think we have to look at the growth of recreational MTB’rs out there… for instance, I rode Kelso last night, parked at the summit and the lot was jam packed. 5 years ago that was not the case. I think the XC mountain bike population has grown substantially in the past years. I’ve been through the DH thing, and although it’s fun as hell, I really enjoy a decent epic trail ride instead. More rewarding and more options for places to ride.

Also, with the state of DH in Ontario, I think we’re going to see more people cross over to trail riding, albeit with larger bikes…

As much as I enjoy the thrill of racing (I’ve done a few this year after a hiatus of about 10 years), I would much rather plan a trip to an area I haven’t ridden and do a few day long epic rides. Off to Penn State this weekend! :thumbsup:

My 2 cents… :)
 

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Misfit Psycles
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philshep said:
we're gauging the popularity of XC mountain biking by number of race entries…
i agree.

we cant judge out sport based on OCUP/Canada CUP numbers, a look at recreational numbers along with some unscientific observations and i am not concerned for our sport - people are riding...tuesdays at albion, wednesdays at hardwood...these are people 'racing' for fun.

we cant judge our sport based on CDN retail numbers either, they have been eaten alive for 2+ years thanks to changes in the market and a strong dollar, only now are they starting to see some positive growth - HYPOTHETICAL NOTE: maybe the shift to blacktop they see is a result of their only remaining loyal demographic...that said as someone who recently found the road and loves it.

like the spak-a-tola said, look at endurance races (stage races) 24hrs, 8hrs and to the south 12hrs and 100 milers they are all the rage...way back in the day (ok 10-15yrs) riders/racers/enthusiasts didnt have the choices that we enjoy today...

fret not supa...there will always be someone behind you!
 

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Looking for Adventure
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Nice topic.....I like this stuff.

I did a poll some time ago, and it basically shows that mountain bikers are mostly riding on their own or with a small group of friends "casually". That is to say, not in organized events.

The stats in the U.S. and Canada show that participation in "organized" mountain biking events is down and continues to go down. I would say that is in direct correlation to the drop in media attention, and drop in race rewards and sponsorship money. Mountain biking in North America just does not pay, and has few “public” rewards. Most of our Canadian mountain bike pros have moved on to other sports or events, as you know. The lack of public support for the sport also does not help…..trail closures, hostile opinions of mountain bikers, lack of interest in watching events, lack of facilities.

In reality, the sport, as a profession, has been in decline since 2000, and there is no indication it will turn around anytime soon.

Road cycling, on the other hand, is in a boom right now at all levels. It was almost dead just 10 years ago.

Adventure racing, another sport supporter of mountain biking, has also been in decline since 2003 when the last Eco-Challenge was televised…….so sad.
 

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rad to the power of sick
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Regardless of how you look at it, a decrease from 1047 to 647 in a National level race is still depressing. Didn't the whole 'get out for an epic ride' instead of race mentality exist back then?

In terms of road riding on the upswing, im sure that has alot to do with Lance Armstrong bringing media attention to cycling for the past decade. Mountain bike sales have been decreasing over the last few years as well, and with a 10-15% price hike coming next year.. that won't do any good.

For increased participation in 24hr races, i feel thats largely due to people realizing they are not as hard as they sound. Especially if you're riding on a team. Riders who participate in a team one year, consider doing tag team or solo the next year etc. which i feel is the reason for increased solo participation.
 

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superlightracer said:
Regardless of how you look at it, a decrease from 1047 to 647 in a National level race is still depressing. Didn't the whole 'get out for an epic ride' instead of race mentality exist back then?

In terms of road riding on the upswing, im sure that has alot to do with Lance Armstrong bringing media attention to cycling for the past decade. Mountain bike sales have been decreasing over the last few years as well, and with a 10-15% price hike coming next year.. that won't do any good.

For increased participation in 24hr races, i feel thats largely due to people realizing they are not as hard as they sound. Especially if you're riding on a team. Riders who participate in a team one year, consider doing tag team or solo the next year etc. which i feel is the reason for increased solo participation.
"Didn't the whole 'get out for an epic ride' instead of race mentality exist back then?"

YES, very much.

Increased participation in 24 and 8 hour relay races is strictly a Chico Racing phenomena....this is happening no where else in North America.
 

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supa: In terms of road riding on the upswing, im sure that has alot to do with Lance Armstrong bringing media attention to cycling for the past decade.

No doubt about that, but I think the increased road popularity only pertains to recreational riders. I doubt road racing attendance increased significantly. I think young people's attention is caught by the latest cool stuff on TV, and neither road racing nor mtb racing are cool or receive much coverage on TV. Even the TdF is looking much less exciting now that drug scandals have decimated the top players.
 

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Looking for Adventure
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serious said:
No doubt about that, but I think the increased road popularity only pertains to recreational riders. I doubt road racing attendance increased significantly.
I disagree.

I am a member of the Brampton Cycling Club (road), Chain Reaction Bike Club (local bike shop road), and Caledon Cycling Club (mtb). I have seen participation in races increase, I have seen the number of racing events increase on the calendar each year, and I am seeing a growing number of ex mountain bikers in the road race scene. I don't see ex roadies in my mountain bike club, or in most mountain bike events.
On top of that, road based charity rides have ballooning registrants, and new events are appearing every year. If you have ever been to a charity event, you will know that it ends up being a race with the riders up front.
And to cap things off, the number of triathletes continues to grow.

This is all Ontario observations only.
 

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Gears, beers and slices..
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superlightracer said:
Regardless of how you look at it, a decrease from 1047 to 647 in a National level race is still depressing.
But it's not necessarily indicative of the true number of racers, because there are more options now. How many people do you know that do the entire Canada Cup series? Some of the higher level riders I know will do a few Canada Cups, and maybe a few Norba's when the timing is right, or use some longer races (BC Bike Race) as training. This wasn't the case 10 years ago.

The fact is that there are more race options, and more distances...gone are the days of everybody doing the entire O-Cup or CC series. Many of us race a few O-Cups, maybe a 24 or 2, some 8's, maybe some enduro's, perhaps weekly series.

Maybe another way to look at the growth is to look at the grass roots weekly series that are everywhere. Based on the numbers at Hardwood, Albion, or even more obscure places like MountainView, the numbers are pretty good where it counts - grass roots, recreational.
 
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