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i think they have struggled some. the first year of the race was sort of a cluster. i didn't race the second year, but lots of non-pro riders struggled with the stage race only format (i was there supporting the wife, only had a couple rides under my belt after being broken most of the early part of the year).

that is the race though. as far as sponsors go, things are indeed bleak. the industry is canibalizing itself and for one reason or another can't draw money from the outside. the athletes are having a hard time so it makes sense that the promoters struggle.

i wish i could fix the problem, but i am just a little fish. Lance Armstrong has ties to the big dogs with billion dollar annual bonuses. those are the people that we need to make the sport really zing.
 

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I'm one of the non-pros that wanted to race last year but could only get out there for one day. I was looking forward to at least watching after missing the Subaru cup in Wisconsin. All my riding buddies were at the Wisconsin race and talked about how fun it was to race and watch. The Colorado xct wasn't what I expected. First, I was disappointed with not being able to race in C-Springs because of the stage format then I was disappointed with the lack of spectators. Seemed like the crowd consisted of a couple family members and a few support people. I think the pizza fire truck had more of a following than the races. I stuck around to cheer on a local Wisconsin kid, took in the women's race, watch part of the men's race, and decided to leave to go ride. The ten days of great riding more than made up for not being able to race. Happy hour at the Breck Brewery didn't hurt either.
 

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Not to derail the topic, but I think it's hard to examine the microcosm of XC racing without looking at the overall state of pro cycling in the US, which is not good.

I don't know why the european models work better for cycling, but they do. More money, fans, and events - maybe intrinsic or maybe engineered.
 

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lassiar said:
Not to derail the topic, but I think it's hard to examine the microcosm of XC racing without looking at the overall state of pro cycling in the US, which is not good.

I don't know why the european models work better for cycling, but they do. More money, fans, and events - maybe intrinsic or maybe engineered.
Maybe cycling in general is more popular over there because of the gas prices? We might get there...
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Bummer. Spectator sports that tons of people can relate to is where the money goes. Mtb just aint that unfortunately.

Some day....maybe. Tons of people mtb, but what I see most of are weekend warriors with 6" travel all mountain bikes that don't even know that XC racing exists.

Everyone rode XC rigs back on the 90s, so I think that more people could relate to the race scene back then. It wasn't a big scene back then either, but I don't recall big races getting cancelled.

.02
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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letitsnow said:
Maybe cycling in general is more popular over there because of the gas prices? We might get there...
Cycling as a sport in general has a lot more history and respect in Europe compared to the US. Before Greg LeMond starting doing well over in France, rarely did the US tune into any race at all. The TdF is over 100 years old.
 

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rydbyk said:
Bummer. Spectator sports that tons of people can relate to is where the money goes. Mtb just aint that unfortunately.

Some day....maybe. Tons of people mtb, but what I see most of are weekend warriors with 6" travel all mountain bikes that don't even know that XC racing exists.

Everyone rode XC rigs back on the 90s, so I think that more people could relate to the race scene back then. It wasn't a big scene back then either, but I don't recall big races getting cancelled.

.02
Very true. We all only owned one or two bikes back then, and they both were XC's.
But I was never into the crowd thing anyway. Just wanted to race my bike with my friends.
Small or big event didn't matter. Now, it appears as though people want a show.
I still like racing....
 

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As someone who has been involved in putting on many races, this cancellation doesn't really shock me, it's much like BUMP's Bump and Grind pulling out of the PRO-XCT last year. The expenses and hassles of having your race UCI/PRO-XCT for the relative handful of athletes that benefit from it just isn't worth the investment. You can get 90% of the attendance for 50% of the cost by just having an all amateur race with a non-UCI Pro class offered. In the end, who are you serving, the handful of pro's or the hundreds of amateurs your event draws?
In a perfect world, you have both, and for the most part that takes deep pockets sponsorship from both inside and outside the cycling industry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
mtbscott said:
As someone who has been involved in putting on many races, this cancellation doesn't really shock me, it's much like BUMP's Bump and Grind pulling out of the PRO-XCT last year. The expenses and hassles of having your race UCI/PRO-XCT for the relative handful of athletes that benefit from it just isn't worth the investment. You can get 90% of the attendance for 50% of the cost by just having an all amateur race with a non-UCI Pro class offered. In the end, who are you serving, the handful of pro's or the hundreds of amateurs your event draws?
In a perfect world, you have both, and for the most part that takes deep pockets sponsorship from both inside and outside the cycling industry.
I know USA Cycling is not flush with cash, but it seems like this is where they need to step in and help cover the cost of UCI classification. I also think the manufacturers with teams that benefit from the UCI classification should step it up as well.

XC racing is just never going to be a huge spectator sport, so it will always be hard (but not impossible) to attract outside sponsors. However, with the huge increase in interest in endurance events and the large participation numbers at those events, there is certainly a growing potential audience. It seems to me that an interesting idea would be to pair and XC race with a large endurance event. You get the large number of participants and their large group of support crews as a captive audience for your XC race.

I also think a multi-sport events like the Teva games makes sense for a pro level XC race. Again, you get a larger group for sponsors to reach out to.

There has to be solutions to make this work, particularly at this time when mountain bike racing seems to be really growing. Locally we have three thriving weeknight race series within an hours drive. One long standing weekend race series with 15 or so races and a new weekend series with 4 events. We also have some relatively new endurance races that are very popular and fill up their spots quickly.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Fishlips said:
I know USA Cycling is not flush with cash, but it seems like this is where they need to step in and help cover the cost of UCI classification. I also think the manufacturers with teams that benefit from the UCI classification should step it up as well.

XC racing is just never going to be a huge spectator sport, so it will always be hard (but not impossible) to attract outside sponsors. However, with the huge increase in interest in endurance events and the large participation numbers at those events, there is certainly a growing potential audience. It seems to me that an interesting idea would be to pair and XC race with a large endurance event. You get the large number of participants and their large group of support crews as a captive audience for your XC race. I also think a multi-sport events like the Teva games makes sense for a pro level XC race. Again, you get a larger group for sponsors to reach out to.

There has to be solutions to make this work, particularly at this time when mountain bike racing seems to be really growing. Locally we have three thriving weeknight race series within an hours drive. One long standing weekend race series with 15 or so races and a new weekend series with 4 events. We also have some relatively new endurance races that are very popular and fill up their spots quickly.
I am not sure how easy that would be to do, but I really like that idea. It makes sense IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
rydbyk said:
I am not sure how easy that would be to do, but I really like that idea. It makes sense IMO.
It would definitely take the right venue and would still probably be difficult, but it may be one way to take advantage of the endurance surge.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Fishlips said:
It would definitely take the right venue and would still probably be difficult, but it may be one way to take advantage of the endurance surge.
Perhaps the pros should get with the program and just start dominating the endurance events and shift away from the traditonal XC format.

That would work IMO. Seems like the endurance scene in S. Cal. is a bit bigger than the XC scene.

.02
 

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Mountainbiking is more of a "doing" sport than a "watching" sport. I travelled to the Windham World Cup last summer on vacation, some friends and I making it our annual biking adventure. We stopped twice along the way up the East Coast to ride some cool trails, and spent a day sightseeing in NYC on the way up. Once there, we got to ride the course and my friend entered the amateur races, too much climbing for me. Watching the best mountainbikers in the world duke it out was fun, but 95% of the spectators were the other cyclists there, despite an advertising blitz, I don't think many folks came just to see what it was all about. Would I go again? Probably not. Even for a longtime rider/racer/promoter, it just wasn't that exciting to watch, and I don't care much for riding/racing at ski resort courses.
 

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rydbyk said:
Perhaps the pros should get with the program and just start dominating the endurance events and shift away from the traditonal XC format.

That would work IMO. Seems like the endurance scene in S. Cal. is a bit bigger than the XC scene.

.02
there are a few races now that are starting to offer big purses. though they are few and far between. Whiskey 50 is going to have a huge pro female turnout, everyone is gunning for the big bucks! Allison's dreams were centered on XCO. we will see where that goes, but this is going to be a tough year with the injuries. maybe switch focus to marathon and longer races, she does like those a lot.

i find it depressing that a promoter would say that doing the work to get the UCI points for the pros isn't worth it. i guess that is why we lost all the world cups in the usa.

so stupid for anyone to blow all their hard earned money to try to reach the top of this sport. :madman: just dumping my money in the laps of promoters and manufacturers, my loss is their gain...
 

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whybotherme said:
only had a couple rides under my belt after being broken most of the early part of the year).as far as sponsors go, things are indeed bleak.
big surprise there. it's people like you that drive sponsors away, you're not that great so quit trying to convince people you are.:madman:
 

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Symptoms are not the problem

MTB Racing is like a house of cards. The foundation is too sparse to support anything at the top for long. I think that looking longingly back at racing "back in the day" is misleading as well. The mass of people who might have been involved in have age past that kind of experience. That was just a statistical hump and now are feeling the toe of the bell curve.

Adult racers are a rare breed at best. They represent a very small group of athletes and, as such, have no broad cultural support. Why would anybody sponsor something like that. Think of the traditional sports that are deep in the heart of Americans. Very many have played those games since kindergarten and continued on playgrounds and PE classes and after school as they grew up. Even fat old geezers played beer league softball. So it is no surprise that Budweiser advertises on baseball broadcasts.

Atop that house of cards is the USAC. Its efforts focus on adult racers who somehow come up "through the ranks". One must ask the question then: what are the "ranks"? The U23 program is comparatively small and then you have to ask the question: where the kids come from before that? The USAC Really focuses on the very best they can be found. If you talk to many of the top racers they seem to just have emerged by their own vigor until they got notice that a certain level. And there you have the real rub, athletes are not just found, at least not in numbers large enough for a healthy sustained culture.

With the paucity of sponsorship we hear people talking about getting more spectators involved, another source of cash. Remote venues, aficionados who are really more doers than watchers, a sport that is notoriously hard to cover with cameras and we have a recipe that feeds to few.

So absent large numbers of developed racers the top racers and the USAC are really funded from all the non-pros: one day pass racers, occasional racers, and what is probably a relatively smaller segment, dedicated non-pros. It can actually be seen as sort of a Ponzi scheme, where the top racers, and USAC employees (who work their butts off) have the most immediate access to the resources.

And there you have it, no foundation, no cultural support, no sponsorship. And here in the choir of those of us who love this sport and actually needed to keep our lives straight, I see people looking for short-term answers. Suggestions for different kinds of races that might be currently popular like endurance races which seem to draw a lot of participants. The whole short-track style of racing was developed to try and draw larger crowds. I suspect that 4 Cross has similar roots. these do little to really broad support and bring in cash.

European cycling is more successful because there is a culture there that supports it. The reasons for that are varied. The other sport that is big there is soccer, largely because huge number kids can play with one ball and that is very inexpensive. Baseball, football, and basketball hold the same kind of attraction with their financial simplicity. Cycling in the US, not so much.

In the meantime we will tinker with short-term solutions which fundamentally pursue a small culture of devotees to raise more, watch more, and buy more. Yet on the horizon much closer than many people think or the seeds for greater cycling culture. It is a movement to develop cyclists for fun and victory at a much younger age. The future of cycling in the US is in High School mountain bike racing. It started in Northern California in the NorCal League which went on to found the SoCal League and has since become NICA, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Since its inception there is a new league in Colorado with two in the pipe, one in Texas and one in Washington. A league in Minnesota is in development and inquiries from all over the country flood the NICA offices.

In California we have 1000 high school racers and counting. It is growing so fast that these leagues may need to split into smaller leagues. Anyone care to guess how many high school racers there will be in Colorado in three years? And when these guys show up at the championships they find the podium. Oh yeah, and guess where these kids will go after they graduate. These racers were going to collegiate programs and into the ranks of the U 23 USAC program. Maybe we should get them to send us a few bucks.

This movement is the key to building a culture of cycling not just in developing the racers, the coaches, and support staff, but in developing sponsorships from large organizations. I know it may not do much for the needs we have now but who we are now and how we format our skills and transmit them to the upcoming generation will be key to the success of our sport.

The greatest challenge is one of taking a community of independent, unbridled, freethinking, and self-taught athletes and helping them to understand that formulating and instructing is a reasonable way to develop cyclists. That means structure, rules, limitations, compromising, holding back and all sorts of things mountain bikers don't like to do. Yet the thing I hear most often when I talk to people about these high school programs is this: "I wish I had this when I was in high school." Frankly, I wish I did too, especially at a time I just might have listened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Amen on the need to focus on the junior riders. I am excited to see some effort to start a high school league in my state. I am anxious to help in whatever way I can. I have a 10 year old son that loves to ride and race and it would be great to see an established high school league for him to target.
 
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