Thursday, November 11, 2010

Masters Racers are Ruining the Future of Cycling

This is not pretty, not only the topic, but my attempt to get the thoughts down on 'paper' but i wanted to get these thoughts out there.

1. What have I done to help grow the sport?

2. What have I done to deserve deals?

3. What have I done that helps those who have a future and need assistance?

4. If i receive something from a business or sponsor, do I honestly give something back in return (sorry gang, a logo on a kit doesn't mean shit, nor does a podium at a local race)

I believe we should be spending our time and effort on building the sport for the future and I see many things that cause me great concern.

We live in a selfish society, people generally want to know what is in it for them, they want the ‘bro’ deal at a shop, they want free kits and entry fees covered all because they had a few decent results in some local weekend warrior event. Most of the people I see asking for these freebies DON’T need them, let alone, deserve them.

I see 30+ racers asking for and sometimes getting free bikes (I got one myself in 2009) I see shops recruiting 30+ racers by promising to pay entry fees and give away kits. I see teams reimbursing riders entry fees at the end of seasons. I see riders taking advantage of local businesses.

Most of this makes me uncomfortable and sometimes downright sickens me. Most of the people asking for and/or receiving these deals and dollars do not need them or in some cases don’t even deserve them.

Every single one of those dollars should be channeled into a junior program, building the future of the sport. As adults, we can afford a 30 dollar entry fee and a couple hundred bucks for a team kit

----Every time I hear someone complain about entry fees, while they ride off on a several thousand dollar bike, I want to throw up. ----

With very few exceptions, any racer, over 30, does not have a pro contract in their future. if these racers pooled their energy and time, just a small amount into building a sustainable Junior/U23 program, imagine the possibilities.

People are selfish, everyone is a legend in their own mind, because they win a sport race, a B race or a cat3 race, meanwhile, the next potential National Champion is sitting at home, because some jackass 40 year old, who drives a $40k SUV and lives in a $500K house got a 'Bro' Deal on a bike and entry fees reimbursed, leaving a business or teams budget empty.

What are you going to do about it?


Anonymous said...

I had no idea you had that kind of rant in you, awesome! I think you should change your name from stupidbike to smartbike. I think this needs to be reblogged, retweeted and refacebooked

Dave said...

I like where your head's at. I've thought lately how cool it would be if we could somehow come up with a high school program here in Utah or even more local, SLC, similar to what Colorado has recently rolled out. It would get younger people involved in competitive, endurance sports, and help promote the sport of cycling among younger aged people.

Blackdog said...

I am with Dave but even dealing with my son's private school. They fear being sued so badly that they just laughed at me when we asked about starting a School Club. As far as what we can do? That seems to be a very difficult question.

Draper does seem to be a very good area to try to start some sort of JR group. With the coming addition of a Velo, CX course and all that Corner Canyon has to offer. But here is the kicker. I hardly have time for my own kids. And I know I am being selfish but I want to have time to my self. So the only way I know of to do something like this is to throw money at some sort of program. Would I be willing to donate money. Yes. Time is another story.

Grizzly Adam said...

I've been on a team for 10 years. We average about 35 active riders each year. We've had a lot of people come and go. And we have our core group that comes back each year. Most of the team riders are 30-50 years old. I think we've had in those 10 years, maybe one or two guys act like the world (or the shop) owes them their existence. They didn't last. They were disillusioned after one season and moved on.

Nobody gets a free bike, or even a free kit. We charge a reasonable membership fee (which covers the cost of the kit) and offer a few other incentives. It's a good gig, but riders pay their own entry/travel/repair fees. Every year the interest level in the team grows. Mostly at the beginner/sport level.

The sport is growing because those 30, 40, 50 year old racers that can afford a nice bike and race fees are bringing their kids to the races.

Your experience may be different, but I don't see a lot of mid-packers acting like Lance Armstrong. At least not locally.

A strong Junior program would be awesome. But the same pitfall exists. Instead of some wealthy-ish adults looking for a bro deal, you'll have a bunch of entitled teens demanding one. And when they don't get it, then what? It's also a risky move for a shop to invest in the the whims of a teenager who might decide, after 2 or 3 years of intense training and racing, that he hates riding a bike.

Now, if you want to look at USAC and how micro-divided they have become with the age-group "national championships", I am 100% with you. I think that lends to the mentality you describe. Somewhere out there, there is a 10 year old (And a 34-36 year old) with a stars and stripes jersey.

One last thing: when it comes to sponsors, I learned that a quality blog is 10 times more valuable to the sponsor than a season of podium finishes.

Dallin said...

Awesome post. Agree with Brad that this needs to be spread out there and seriously considered. Having worked race registration before it sickens me everytime someone puts up a stink to add $10 or $15 to day-of registration when they could have registered on SBO or for 8 weeks prior and then threaten to take off in their land rover.
@blackdog, there would be plenty of people ready to give up their time who can't give up their money.
Look at what Trek/Livestrong has done the past few years, they had something like 6 members sign on to ProTour teams for next year. And a handful other, (thinking of local Chase Pinkham) going to Pro Continental teams. Pretty amazing.

KanyonKris said...

I like the idea of raising sights and thinking bigger, beyond ourself. For you that's juniors and racing. For me I'm trying to make sure we have trails to ride.

Jeff Clawson said...

Great thoughts. Starting a junior program takes more than just dollars, it takes committed adults to organize and administer. Sort of like a scout leader. I shudder at the thought of taking some of these young kids on a group ride, the dangers of the road are real and scary. Check out Canyon's cyclocross kid's program. Cross is a great place for kids (and masters) to start. BTW: the average age of USAC license holder is something like 35.

Bill said...

I cant even afford to pay my rent half the time. Jesus, I don't even contribute to society in any way. If I don't get free shit I just steal it from some junior rider with rich parents.

Money and shit will not make the sport stronger. Organization (USA cycling has ruined mountain biking) maybe. People that inspire and lead, most definitely.

Ski Bike Junkie said...

Here's what I'm doing about it: I'm riding the kiddie cross race with my son when I should be warming up for my race. I take my son with me to every race I can. I ride bikes with my son and reinforce that riding bikes is cool and fun. I praise him for every little thing he does well and don't sweat the things he hasn't learned yet. I don't tell him that if you don't swallow back the vomit at least once in a race, you weren't going hard enough--he'll figure that out on his own in due time. I idolize Daren Cottle and try to do every thing I can with my kid that he has done with Tanner so that when David is Tanner's age, he'll be racing A flight, too.

Could I have signed a pro contract had I started racing at 15 rather than 35? Probably not, but who cares? Will my kid sign a pro contract someday? Probably not, but who cares? Will my kid discover a wonderful hobby, a wonderful community, a way to stay healthy for a lifetime, and a circle of friends not found anywhere else? If I don't screw up, he will.

JZ said...

Both Colorado and California have cool high school club racing. Here is Colorado's website:

I would love to see that here. I think there would be a fair amount of interest and I for one would be happy to work with my local high school group. We just don't see enough teenagers out on the trails.

I dig that UTCX has seen the value in cheap Junior racing.

JZ said...

We could even sell signs for parents to stick in their lawns pronouncing their pride that their child is number __ on the MTB race team.

Rick Sunderlage said...

I'm not allowed near the high schools so that limits my options.

but as someone who works for a large company who supports cycling/racing, I think it would be cool to pick one or two of the local young guns and support them in their races.

Tanner Cottle said...

As a junior racer I have only known support from everyone I have met. I think that a highschool program would be rad but wouldn't really attract many kids besides the cross country runners who will turn to it later when they hurt their knees running. Mostly I wish more kids rode so I didn't just have to ride with old guys. Though you guys are still pretty fun.

Jube said...

I hear you, but I feel that there is a real risk of spending sponsors' money on a few kids who most likely won't last.

It would be great to see more teens, especially girls, get into biking/racing. I think the best way for a team to do this is to organize team members to mentor kids; start a youth club, put on kid clinics, and be supportive of team members' kids. Sure this will take time and money, but I don't think it needs to be the sole focus of every team member and where every sponsor and team membership dollar goes.

Not many $40K SUV-driving sport racers get free bikes and kits. We are the ones buying the gear from those sponsors. We are the ones being, I hope, good ambassadors for our shop so some other $500K homeowner riding the local trail sees the shop logo and goes there to buy stuff too. The real future of mountain biking lies in your average person having a good time on his/her bike, supporting trails, and let's face it, buying that bike (whether is cost $1000 or $6000) to race mid-pack in the sport category. Not in Little Miss Junior National Champion.

The best way to pay back your sponsors is to buy their products and get your friends to do the same. Drink Epic beer.

That's just the opinion of a 40-year-old sport racer who wants her entry fee reimbursed.

Grizzly Adam said...

Tanner, we are not old. We only feel that way when you smoke us.

Anonymous said...

UVU has a cycling program dedicated to enable young riders to experience racing. We have even used our fund raising dollars to hire a exercise physiologist to help develop new riders talent.
The biggest issue we face is lack of sponsors. Without some aid from the community it is unlikely that we will be able to expand our program to include more kids.
Any one have suggestions as to how to raise more funds? Better yet, anyone want to dig into their own pockets to help with the solution?
The school has shown their support by matching dollar for dollar the money we raise. Heres YOUR chance to do some good in the cycling community and pay back some of the good karma you have received with "bro deals".
Donate $50 magically turns into a $100.

ER Dog said...

Wow! Sounds like a Quorum. So when do we start the kids club, StupidBike? I've found the one who has the idea owns it.

MtbAllDay said...

Mountain bikes are too dangerous for kids - they should stick with football...

MtbAllDay said...

and then they get cheerleaders too...