What would motivate the casual competitor to invest a couple grand on a bike and gear and train for months, only to have to spend $80 on a USAC license (that inexplicably expires at the end of December, instead of a year after purchase), then another $50 on registration, just to get dropped or crashed into seven minutes after their race started (because #cat5problems), and then pack up and go home because there’s nothing to do after the race? I wrapped myself in spandex for this?
I understand the grassroots solutions presented by the author but the pessimist in me says that road racing in its current form truly is dead. Office park crits won’t be making a comeback.
A few thoughts on why:
Boomer Money is Leaving the Sport
I’ve been one of the youngest guys out racing, since I began racing. And I’ve been racing around the same group of masters racers, who have gotten progressively older over the years. There’s not a log of fresh blood and fewer masters are returning each year. Those guys were paying a lot to compete, were keeping clubs alive and were spending a lot of cash at local shops.
It’s a hard sport to attract millennials and zoomers to, we have record low amounts of cash to spend on recreation.
Cycling Takes Itself Way to Seriously
There’s no true beginner category for cycling. Cat 5 is high pressure right off the bat, you’ll get dropped and most races won’t let you join back in next lap. Running events and even triathlons have participants that range from super athlete to just trying to finish, which keeps everyone engaged and makes it fun. No one enjoys showing up to a Cat 5 race just to have some Trainerroad addict whip out their 340 ftp and curb stomp everyone.
There Are Higher Reward/Lower Cost Alternatives
Which do you choose?
- The business park crit with its $80 entry fee and high risk of crashing
- A fondo or gravel grinder with a similar entry fee, a range of riders from racing to just finishing and a fun event at the start/finish
That choice is easy for most. Add to that, the fact you can jump on Zwift and race just about any time of day without trucking your bike somewhere.
Cycling needs to position itself as more inclusive instead of an exclusive club for rich white guys.
There are automotive racing events out there where every car has to be assembled for less than $1000.
Increase the number of Merckx style time trials, have $500 limit categories, get creative with it.