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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

14.5 ... + 4 for graphics

One of the heroes brought up some remembrances about doing the NorCal District Champyships a couple ten-spots ago. It's the MeatCalf ... and his placing only differed by a six-pack between the decades.

fukking show off.

Anyway, the question arises ... where have all the flowers gone?

Casey gives us some numbers to ponder ~ registered racers ages 20-29:

2007 : 6,456
1988 : 11,241

isn't that bizarro? almost double the number of young people were racing their bikes back in the days when Lemond's neon yellow shades made their first run at fashion. So, what's the story? Or as Kev asks, where have all the racers gone?

i have a theory.
- -

Bike racing is, as we all know ... fringe. Maybe not as fringe to the American consciousness today as it was back in '88 ~ but still fringe.

When you sniff around the jockstraps of the homeland's middle and high schooleries ... you're gonna get a whifter of that true-blue sweat generated by god's favorites ~ football, baseball, volleyball, basketball ... all those silly ball-oriented activities. And i guess you can toss in a little bit of running as a lost sock in the pile 'o dirties.

But cycling?

it's lost on the landscape of youth nowadays. And just what is cycling? What are the necessary traits of the cyclist? Who are the types of people that would be attracted to this world of fringe and outsiderdom?

Cycling is for the obsessive. Cycling is for those with the endurance, both physical and mental, to sit absorbed in a mind-numbingly repetitive activity, punctuated by moments of absolute intensity and froth. Cycling is for the weirdo who has energy to burn and nowhere to set the match.

Video Games ~ they have stolen all the cyclists of our day.

i mean, think about it ... fringe-dwellers on the outside of the bubble, looking for something to expend their significant powers of concentration upon ~ to obsess over, to spend countless hours hunched around as they advancing in skill through endless sessions of practice, practice, practice.

and the fight, they love it. they battle ogres, speed around the most challenging of tracks at mind-zapping speeds ... they live for the contest. They live to ... compete.

And yes, television gluttony and fast food absorption plays a role. And yes, the american fascination with ball sports suck most potential athletes into its own vortex. But, there are always the fringe-dwellers looking for a niche to nibble upon.

and i believe a large portion of those fringers who had all the skills and kick-asseyness to become cyclists have already had their minds sucked into video gamery. and they are excellent at what they do. there are cat1's out there huddling over control pads, putting a bunch of pixels and microprocessors through burn sequences of agility and decision-making that you and i have no concept of.

'tis true.

But, there are breaths of youth in this sport that i believe are making a difference. i'm a fan of the Frishkorn. i dig how he pens it, how he rides it, how he styles it.

i look at the L'Abitibitibi results and hope for a good crop of result'ers on the horizon to keep us competitive in the world market.

but, that's not what it's really about.

i just hope the sport attracts young people to it ... because, it's a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.


velogirl said...

I personally think blogger and myspace and livejournal are to blame! think of the endless hours spent living "virtual" lives. why bother to go outside when we can live vicariously through our "virtual" friends who are also living vicariously through their "virtual" friends, and so on and so on and......

funkdaddy said...

i wonder how many kids in that age bracket have been lured into tri-geekdom instead of bike racing...i am noticing a good percentage of cyclists I meet these days describe themselves as triathletes.

well, they don't all necessarily describe themselves as such - for most it's fairly obvious...

Anonymous said...

"Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Mark Twain.

Wring your hands if you must...but junior numbers are rebounding some, especially in Northern Cali. The biggest challenge faced by is dealing with an average annual growth rate around 30% and raising enough financial support to not crumble under our own weight of numbers.
Estimated 2007/2008 freshman new ridership...prolly 150. 2007 brought forth kids who might be called vanguards of the "Lance echo" who were raised in households where cycling has become the family sport, and had already been racing several years.

More later....gotta get some work done.


Auffderbach said...


I would like to personaly thank you
and Mel Maalouf and Steve Wick and
Joan Anton and Jason from Tiene Duro for encourgement, guidance and
dedication to our local juniors. I know mine would be nowhere near where he is without you guys, (and gal).

After having been on the fringe for
most of my life, ( 5th generation
musician...can you get much more fringed than that? ) I watch with pure joy these young lads giving everything they have on their bikes
for little to no glory.

Seeing what the boys did in Belgium
sends shivers about. Talk about kickin' arse !

But then, with folks like yourself,
Larry Nolan and Wyatt Weisel and so many others taking the time to just talk to and educate our juniors , what other choice do they have?

Thanks dude.


velogirl said...

Mark brings up a good point. do Casey's demographics include USCF and NORBA?

Anonymous said...

I do not know if your logic will hold MK once you adjust for gross population growth in our district...

which when comparing apples to apples should be done.

Tend to agree with the blogmaster.

Dino Dante said...

When I was a kid in the 70's bikes were our main form of transportation. We rode them to ballgames where we learned how to be a team player. We rode them to the pizza joint where we spent our quarters on pinball, asteroids and bubblegum. Fear is the number one reason why kids don't ride bikes to school anymore. It was easier back then to make the jump from commuter to racer.

Hooptie said...

The barriers to entry keep rising, 2K buys you an entry level race bike, plus $60 for a license, $30 per race, $120 for a kit.

I rode for BBC when I was 16, they paid all my race entries, gave me 2 free kits. It's hard to find support like that anymore...although LGBRC, Tiene Duro and AMD all seem to have solid commitments to the Jr's.

Here’s the problem, if I was 16, and had 2K to spend...I would buy a freeride bike.

The Nor Cal MTB league is insane, such a great program. I would love to see then do a few cross races...get them thinking about 700c wheels.

T. Marie said...

sorry to point out the obvious but,

since when have 20-29 year olds been high school kids?

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

they age, don't they ms. obvious?


T. Marie said...

true. but then what you're really looking at is what the junior development programs were like at least 3 years ago.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

who me?

i'm looking at video games and tv dinners.

and smelling jockstraps.

WarrenG said...

Have we noticed how fat the average 12-25 year-old is lately? They're a long ways (mentally and physically)from wanting to do something as hard as bike racing.

In recent years it seems like there are a bunch of masters racers (the largest demographic by far) that are now old enough to bring their own kids (and their friends) to races.

In marketing, sometimes you appeal to the kids so they will bring their parents (to spend money), and other times you appeal to parents and hope they'll bring their kids.

Want to add 200 adult entries to your running race? Or add 200 spectators to a bike race? Offer a great kids event.

Kids want to have fun. Have you ridden a MTB? It's fun.

cycloscott said...

Simple issue.

How many of you have kids, or know friends with kids? Now how many of those kids ride their bikes to school/mall/QuickieMart? There's your answer.

This society is so afeared of a psycho snatching their kids that we don't allow them out of our sight. When I was a wee one, I used to run wild on the acres of land behind my house. Trust me, you haven't played 'cowboys and indians' until you've played with a dozen of your best friends on 20 acres of forest. Instead, we've got kids who get off the bus and are locked inside until their parents get home. No bikes, no racing.

Additionally... Look at what's happened to those quiet little back roads that we all love riding on. More traffic on the main roads mean longer drive times, which means people looking for shortcuts, which means more traffic on the back roads. Hell, I've seen cars in the East Bay avoiding the Caldecott Tunnel by flying up Canyon at 40+ mph. This is a very twisty, essentially one lane road, that tops out in the Oakland Hills. It's also one of the few ways to get over the hills on a bike. Used to be quiet, now it's a rush hour rally-car course. What parent in their right mind is going to let the kids learn how to ride a bike on that?

Beth said...

bikes are REALLY expensive... especially for that 20-29 year old demographic just out of college. (not to mention all the clothing and other stuff)

last spring i start riding a 1970s motobecane 10 speed around the hills of oakland/berkeley with flat pedals, tennis shoes, and running shorts. some really nice old men found me riding this clunker. we'd get to the top of hills, they'd pick up my 35lb bike and tell me "don't get a new bike! you won't ride with us anymore!"

luckily one of the men, who actually lived around the corner from me, used to race in the 70s and told me i should buy a bike and try racing. then i test rode no less than 20 bikes and they all felt the same and the bike shops were really overwhelming me talking way over my head about technical stuff that i had no clue about. i almost decided not to get a bike cause i was too overwhelmed. then fred - the older man above who used to race and was encouraging me to do so - told me a shop to go to where i ended up getting my bike. still, it was really hard justifying spending $1500 on a bike. that is just a lot of money. now it is definitely the best decision i made recently...but at the time that is a huge plunge.

once i got my bike, it was hard to figure out how to ride it...with those clipless pedals and the old men would say i'd go around a corner like a grandma. they were nice enough to put up with me and give me pointers. i was really lucky to have fred teach me how to ride my bike, and all those men giving me tips on training rides. most people aren't so lucky. clinics are awesome, but it sometimes takes week and after week help to get those skills down.

moreover, all the gear is real expensive and i used old cut up running spandex for arm warmers until this march when someone got me a real pair for my birthday. the old men would laugh at what i would show up to ride in but not really care--but some bikers are kind of pretentious and are not so nice to people riding in running spandex (ouch!) i don't know if biking was just expensive for people in the 70s/80s--but regardless, it is just cheaper to buy a pair of running shoes.

That was a long story about my life this past year--as a new young person in the sport...i have been very fortunate to find so many helpful people. i never imagined a community of strangers could be so gracious to a new person. if there is one thing that cycling has for expanding the sport, it is certainly all the friendly and helpful people. I don't know if this is everyone's experience, but it has been mine. I think the advice and tradition that older racers give to new riders is really cool. I certainly owe my entry to the sport to the 55+ masters!

i guess the point of this long post is that it is that masters category that has done the most for me going as a new racer. I think that is really cool that masters are kickin' ass and takin' names on the track and the road-- and still have the time to help out newbies. such a love and commitment to the sport - thanks!

Kevin said...

Regarding the cost of the sport, is it really that expensive to get in compared to 20 years ago?

My first racing bike was a Bianchi Campione d'Italia. It cost about $800 in 1984. It had a mixture of Campy Nuevo Record and Ofmega stuff. Probably equal to an Ultegra level bike these days.

With that in mind, is $1500 really so much? Sure, $1,500 is $1,500, but the price of gas has tripled in the last 20+ years along with just about everything else. So I don't necessarily think that the entry level costs of cycling are any more out of line than they were in the 80's.

Having said that though, we have a lot more things to spend our money on than we did then. I didn't have a cell phone, high speed internet, cable TV, an iPod, etc. back then.

Not to mention all the other factors that others have mentioned. My pet peeve is parents driving their kid to school, three blocks from home. Drives me crazy...

patrick Dunaway said...

I think there needs to be more teams focused on developing the 20-29 year old age bracket. The junior and to some extent U23 development programs are great but where do the kids go afterwards? If they don't get a ride on a good regional or D3 team the support system drops out from under them. Collegiate cycling fills this gap to some extent but after college priorities change and money gets tight. There aren't many teams willing to support this age group, especially if they are an entry level rider. I got lucky and the U27 rule for D3 teams kept me on teams that I wouldn't have been on had I been a bit older but once you are 28, game over. There need to be more teams to develop this "middle aged" rider from 20-29. I would argue that this age bracket is the most important to support.

Nome Agusta said...

We are looking for Juniors.

Someone please save them from the Tri-geeks.

Mamas Don't let your babies grow up to be tri-geeks.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

we had JunkaDonk's blog rule that comments should not be longer than the original post.

i'll add Vanderpoop's blog rule that comments shouldn't be better than the original post.

... both are thoroughly ignored round these parts.


WarrenG said...

The guy pitches 8 innings and the closer gets all the credit!

dr-nitro said...

Cost of racing has outstripped inflation. Add the competition of other two wheeled activities (mt. biking and huckerdom biking), and we get less.

I don't doubt that sedentary lifestyle plays a roll, but you'd probably want to expand your analysis beyond cycling to other outdoor sports, since it is unlikely that video games would only attract potential bikies.

Back to the top point, I'm the faculty advisor for the Cal Poly Wheelmen. The Wheelmen used to be able with ease attract a fair amount of racers. They still have a lot of members, but most like the dirt. And maybe due to what you are talking about, OV, many of them simply want to tool around, and turn the Wheelmen into a recreational rider club. I'm going to work to turn that around. Especially since there is a long history producing or attracting top notch riders--Lucas Euser, Ken Hanson, Ozzie Olmos, Dirk Copeland, Greg McNeil and now Jared Barrileaux (sp).

Oh yeah, along the lines of Nome, the tri-club at Poly is probably larger. Competition. Damn tri-geeks.

velogirl said...

tri is where the girls are. smart boys will follow.

Anonymous said...

"I do not know if your logic will hold MK once you adjust for gross population growth in our district..."

Kind Anon:
I have carefully used "rebounding some" terminology. You are correct..numbers are still down, and even more so as a function of population growth...but...there are some really encouraging trends.

I guess my point is this: The NorCal phenomenon more than anything indicates to me that there is still pent-up-demand for cycling in the junior age group, and that it may be as simple as (to borrow the movie line) "Build It and They Will Come."

Junior cycling will not spontaneously self-generate, any more than youth soccer games would fill...without coaches and programs every weekend.

As seductive as the graphics, sound, and action of video gaming might be...they're no match for the mesmerizing whirr of the spinning wheel, the wind in the
face, the rush of adrenalin, and the company of friends outside on bikes. The allure is timeless. What drew us all to the bike still has the same sizzle.

What many kids need is simply someone to show them this. Start with your own kids, and their friends. Each one..teach one.

If you don't have kids, find one of the programs listed in this thread and volunteer, or provide financial support.

You CAN make a difference.


banks said...

Seems to me track racing is a great way to introduce juniors to our sport. No disrespect to trackies, but their's is the easiest cycling discipline to grasp. All the action happens in a contained environment. So when teaching there's a visual element that one cannot use for road or mountain bike racing.

I googled hellyer and came up with It looks like there's a great juniors program already going on there. Bravo to those folks.

If I may do a little profiling of who the future cyclist might be... I'd look for boys and girls who get cut from the middle school and high school "silly" ball sport teams. Tell them at the very least riding a bike will make their legs stronger so they can run faster at next year's tryouts.

Biscuit said...

Maybe it's not about young people today not racing. The best young road racers in California are on pro teams so they can't ride district championships and only occasionally participate in the local calendar.

Velo Bella said...

You're getting married??!

AdamB said...

As a 24-yr-old racer, racing is superduper expensive.

I think it's coming back, though. There are a lot of 20somethings out there that want to get into shape, but never got the coordination to play ballsports and don't want to have to deal with the chronic injuries of long-distance running. Four of my non-cycling friends have bought bikes in the last year.

One thing that could really help is reducing license fees for Cat5s and collegiate riders that also race in USCF events. Money is TIGHT for my age group.

WarrenG said...

License fees are only about the same as two race entry fees. It would be nice if promoters didn't see cat 5's as their cash cows-charging them full entry fee while giving none back in prizes. But that's still small stuff compared to all the other expenses of bike racing.

Triathlon costs at least as much, but their numbers are pretty good, yes? But it's easy to hide your failings within a mass of hundreds of people trickling past, and you can keep your number on your arm so that people at work will ask about your triumphs.

It's not as though the whole infield sees you getting beat, or having yourself announced to the world when you're eliminated from the miss n' out. Fragile egos need not apply.

Bike racing isn't for everyone. Neither is soccer, or golf.

funkdaddy said...

tri is expensive, yes, but generally triathletes only do a few races a year.

compare that w/ Hernando's race registration costs...even for a single month.

bike racing is a difficult sport to just "dabble in".

Anonymous said...

There are teams out there that reimburse for entry and license fees...

Marco Fanelli said...

I think OV's theory is right on, and it applies to more than bike racing and it's more than just video games. Most of today's teens (and pre-teens) only know a world of instant gratification and constant connectivity, so spending hundreds of hours out on a bike is an inconceivable way to pass time. That's a generalization, I know, but it's based on lots of time spent with my kids and many of their friends. I love them all of course, but it's a different world today compared to 30 years ago. I fear that too many kids will miss out on earning the really big satisfactions that come from putting in a lot of time and hard work, and instead they'll only know lots of smaller easier-to-achieve pleasures. If that makes any sense...

And I certainly agree with the comment about how crazy it is to let young kids ride out on the roads today with all the type-A drivers in their huge SUVs--god I sound like a cynical old geezer. I do take my 12-year-old son out on a few rides but we stick to less-traveled roads and bike paths. That's pretty limiting around here.

Even though cycling has been a positive aspect of my life for better than 30 years, I would not encourage my kids to pursue it above mainstream alternatives like running and swimming, or more traditional team sports.

That said, it's still great to see the junior ranks growing again! I guess I'm a bit conflicted...

jeninsb said...

I think the issues are different between juniors and 20-29s. For 20-29s, I think cost is a huge part of it.

Bikey racing is seriously spendy. 20-29 year olds are right in the not so sweet spot where mom and dad probably won't throw down, but they also may not make enough money of their own to cover buying a bike and taking up an expensive new addiction. An increasing number of under 30s have seriously big student loans to pay, and may be working long hours that preclude putting in training hours.

I started riding as a grad student. I rode a really sh-tty bike for a really long time, and scrambled to accumulate the necessary stuff. A shop job helped muchas in the cost and stuff acumulation department.

It's a hard sport to get going with, because you need to invest big time up front. A gym membership or swim team might end up costing the same over time as a new bike, but you don't have to pay it all at once, so the perceived cost is lower.

You have to be pretty convinced you want to do it; it's easy to have doubts when you're talking about a big sum of cash that you might not really have. What if you pay all that money and don't like it? What if you buy the wrong one? Much easier to buy some shoes and start running. (I've had this conversation any number of times with women friends I've tried to convince to ride.)

All that, and you still haven't even gotten to a race. Fees, travel...


But damn it's fun :-)

Anonymous said...

Damn, all of the sudden everyone is blaming video games. You all must be old like my dad. Generalizing, isn't the best way to make a point unless you are looking for peer consensus

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

great post, great comments.

i'd much rather discuss and read about this topic than try to figure out how to cure the corruption of pro sports...

i really like marco fanelli's assessment of how our society is into immediate gratification, and that bike racing takes too long a commitment to see rewards. We all know how demanding this sport is.

and don't even get me started on the subject of traffic and user-fiendly roads. places in the Bay Area that I used to ride 20 years ago without a care, now scare the crap out of me.

Anonymous said...

Funny how you old folks all try and rationalize things and figure things out like everything is a problem, and what can we do about this life we live and it is all a problem and wrong.
Stop being stress heads and lunatic freaks and just have fun on the bike and try and share your fun with others. The norcal high school league is strong, and where was that 20 years ago? My dad told me that when he went to high school there was no cycling programs at all. Who ever thought cycling would be a high school sport 20 years ago? It was not a sport that attracted youth, Now it is, with many good kids learning the racing ropes. But you are all missing the fact that downhill racing is now a major aspect of cycling as is jumping and free-riding. I think that all the people who wrote thoughts on this topic do not go out and hit jumps and work on jumping or do downhill racing or go rail any berms. If they did they would see that the biggest groups are the junior divisions. My 16-18 race group is usually the largest at the downhill races, so kids do race, they just tear it up and shred a little harder then the drafting group you all are.

Cycling is expensive, but what isnt expensive now a days. Over on the DH blogs
they are not stressing out over this and that, like I see so often from this group. They are having fun on their bikes, and the kids are leading the way. Basically you are all geeks, and need to either do some jumping and berm sessions to lighten up and have fun instead of getting grey hair from worrying over where is everyone or why cant we do this or that to make it better. I will race my final high school season next year, and after that I will do some more xc races and more downhill races and hopefully keep my high school club team strong by motivating other young wanna be racers. Just remember everyone who writes in this blog is a geek. Sorry to say but you are all pretty lame, and need to just have some fun and stop complaining.

PAB(a.k.a.CID) said...

ungrateful little punk!

who you calling old??

we'll show you a thing or two about jumps and berms!

go get em Sabine...

Anonymous said...

Sabine hits Berms, she does not Jump, but she hits Berms.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, the kids got some good points.
There is only a very, very, very small percentage of Road Racers who have raced Downhill or competed in BMX, but those who have, seem to have the best bike handling skills and stlye on the bike. Infact some of the best Roadies in the world started out in the dirt, so there is a advantage to being a well rounded cyclist. Sometimes I am amazed by the amount of braking that goes on when Road Racers take turns. The best riders are the ones who can saddle up on any bike and tear it up. And not work a computer key board better then they can hit a corner in a Crit.


Hooptie said...

Nice TJ! No doubt roadies are geeks, many are cocky assholes too...but then there are the guys you will be riding the epics w/ year after year well into your 50's...That makes it all worth it.

It's much easier for a Jr to fall in love w/ cycling in the dirt...road riding is an acquired drinking fine wine. Stick to the dirt, dig kickers in your neighbors backyard, take off your brake so you can bust bigger bar spins, force your little brother to hit the gap rather than the table...then go show off your skills to the hot tri chicks.

Anonymous said...

I think most roadies are geeks. Track racers have skills, x-c racers can throw it down, but most roadies, who do not do track practice or dirt practice are geeks. They seem to be the ones who were picked on far to often when they were growing up. That makes them so afraid when turning thru corners on their road bikes. Just let go of the brakes, and trust your tires, and enjoy the thrill. Its the same scenario as using a condom, just strap it on and enjoy the ride, but ride hard and ride aggresive, and it feels much better. Dont be afraid.

Lets face it, cyclists are some of the tuffest humans on the planet, but if your not making love to many different nationalities in your life, and really enjoying the sex, you are waisting the gift of life.

So you should do all kinds of cycling.
and enjoy it.

Practice makes perfect.

dr-nitro said...

The huckers are a different breed, and I wonder whether they would have turned to road racing were they born into a period without full suspension. And, I admit, I do feel a little distain toward the group, or at least little connection. When I hit the dirt, it's just as much about the effort to get to the top as it is the thrill of gravity pulling me back down. Shuttling the bikes up to the top of the hill is lazy, and downright wasteful. They won't be the old geezers who can still spank the young'ns. They'll be nursing their beer gut and wrecked joints later in life. That's sad, because if they simply pedaled up, they would get the full experience and benefit. Sure, hit the jumps and rail the berms, but also push yourself to the limit getting up to the top of the hill instead of pushing the gas pedal. Hey, I respect the skills many of them have, but wish they would respect themselves, the trails, and others on the trails a bit more.

But, this concern, that is railed on above, shows a passion for the sport, and an understanding that things that you care for require care. When the trails or berms come under attack by developers or insurance concerns, the huckers will start discussing/complaining about how things are not the way they were back in the good old days. Us wimpy, geeky roadies love what we do, regardless of getting picked on my huckers trucking up to the top of the hill or hicks spitting their chaw as they drive by. Most of the posts here, and at other time sucking roadie blogs (although dirt discussions do make it into this one) reflect that passion.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Nitro is full of it. I'm 47, do about 30+ crits a year, and also placed 18th out of 120 recently at Downieville, and I can tell you, that kid TJ was right on. Even though I was made fun of for wearing a skin suit on the starting line and for running a cross country bike with cut down bars, the whole group, especially the younger ones, were a lot more fun than any group I've ever been in at a crit or road race. Make it fun and don't exclude by attitude or otherwise, and the kids will come. If "roadies" didn't have such an attitude, more kids would probably be on road bikes. What would you say to a kid who showed up to a race with some of his moto gear on?

BELLA BEAR said...

Well more young people need to find cycling, because I know it sure as hell made my life sooooo much better! Now I am obsessed!

dr-nitro said...

Who said that I said that down hilling is not fun? But that is not quite the point. If you want to look at this discussion as a whining session, singing where have all the kids gone, then it will be a dead end discussion.

But is not just about fun, I think that many roadies, XCers and the lot want the physical benefit as well.

Argh, I've got to go and get bored on my road bike. But if a kid shows up on the ride, or at a race, with moto gear I'll cop my snobby attitude, and politely point out to him, that if he wants to get more of the thrill of going fast on a road bike, stripping down to spandex is the better route, then say, let's ride. But I'm a snob that way. Time to slip on the spandex.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...

youth is, most definitely, not wasted on the young.

i say go for it. tear that shit up.

just don't get in my way in the corners or dropping down the trails.

'cuz i'm faster than you.

bring it, beeyotch!

Velo Bella said...

wow TJ is pretty young to have kids and a family in Marina

oh, and there is a dirt jumpin clinic here that I bet they would let PAB do if he didn't have a broken wing

WarrenG said...

It is only natural that people who enjoy something would like to share that with other people who might enjoy it too. Goes for cycling, skiing, whatever...

MTB is really fun, and good fitness is not a prerequisite. But don't expect to be pushing your limits for year after year, especially when you have a real job you can't just skip for a few weeks while you heal from injuries.

You can go to school all busted up, but that won't work at work.

When you've figured that out for yourself the safer cycling venues may look more appealing.

Velo Bella said...


I've injured myself far more often and worse on the road than ever in the dirt. Even during the times when I spent more time racing dirt than road.

I've missed more time at work due to road than dirt. More time spent at my desk in the haze of a concussion.

A biff in the dirt, meh. A road crash, that shit stays with my psyche for a very very long time.

Anonymous said...

BL said,

"There is only a very, very, very small percentage of Road Racers who have raced Downhill or competed in BMX, but those who have, seem to have the best bike handling skills and stlye on the bike."

They sure didn't have the best skills at Fort Ord last Saturday.

jAndy donka-donk said...

"They'll be nursing their beer gut and wrecked joints later in life."

they can roll a joint with the best of them and their skills get better with age, it has to survive the pocket during the ride and all...

"What would you say to a kid who showed up to a race with some of his moto gear on?"

don't say anything, but make sure to stay out of his way for the hole shot....

shawndoggy said...

Dang so late to this post! And a great topic. So a few short randoms since nobody's gonna read 'em anyway:

1. narrow flow of media: in the 80s, it was baseball hot dogs apple pie and chevrolet. Those kids in the 80s were exposed to cycling through the 84 olympics. A real viable alternative sport. And then there was Greg. Yeah, the coverage back then was awful, but as a % of all coverage it had more impact. You couldn't find cage fights and bull riding and golf each with their own 24/7 channel back in the day. Now there's all kinds of other crap kids can do.

2. correcto re barriers to entry. It's expensive. And let's face it, also very difficult for beginners. Juniors have to race against the regional badasses right out of the gate! Wonder how many do a race or two and never come back.

3. cycloscott nailed it with "free play." Kids these days (at least the kids within the demographic to have parents who can buy the expensive bike) lead much more structured lives than we did in the 80s. From about age 10 on, I had free reign over my life between school getting out and dinner time. While I spent most of that time on a skateboard, it just as easily could've been a bike. Not so today -- even if you wanted to let your kid wild like that, there isn't an unsupervised mob to hang with.

4. Specificity starts at a very young age. For a kid to get a shot at the high school baseball team, he's probably going to have played winter and spring ball for 6 seasons before he's 12. At that point it picks up with moving to a "travelling" team so you can play regionally.

5. Having two young kids (8 and 11) who are very physically active -- don't sell 'em all short. There are a lot of inspiring bad ass kids out there. In my son's martial arts studio, the kids going for their black belts have to meet some pretty tough minimum physical conditioning standards. As part of that, they also see who can do to the most of a given exercise. Can you even conceive of doing 4,000 situps? I can't. But a 5th graded did last week.

6. video games don't make kids retarded, and I'd much rather have mine interactively playing a game than mindlessly sitting on the tube. Moderation in all things.

WOW way longer than intended! Cheers, and take a kid for a bike ride!

dr-nitro said...

Anon, this fun thing is relative. Yeah, there can be snobs at roadie events, but some of that perception is simply that for many roadies, suffering is fun.

And the fact that you're 47 and doing Downieville on an XC bike shows that you care for yourself in ways that many of the kids in the sport don't. Too bad, cuz they can prolong the fun they have zooming down the hills if they could find the thrill, or reward of pedaling their bike up the hill as well. I know plenty of bonsai down hiller lunatics that like to race to the top as well. In fact, I ride once in a while with a bonsai down hilling lunachick, in her forties, that can still drop most motogeared teenagers down hill because she likes to push her body up hill before she goes flying down.

I'm no fitness nut. I like biking first, both road and dirt, and fitness is the tasty frosting on the cake. But is a cake that not all people like. Roadies don't need to change the taste of the sport, just need to make it accessible for those who would enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Velo Bela
are mistaking me for some other TJ?I live in Berkeley and go to school there. Dont know what you were dazing off about when you said I had a family and kids. Are you drunk right now?

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote this?

Anonymous said...
BL said,

"There is only a very, very, very small percentage of Road Racers who have raced Downhill or competed in BMX, but those who have, seem to have the best bike handling skills and stlye on the bike."

They sure didn't have the best skills at Fort Ord last Saturday.


be more specific
that was a awfully vauge comment and most likely when you point out someone else, you are basically guilty yourself of riding like a squirrel! I am thinking you are refering to the cat 3 race, and the crashes in that one, but you need to be a little more specific mister skilled rider. who is so much better then the others they can make annon posts about annon people who are not as skilled as their annon asses~

Anonymous said...

Ive seen TJ at the races, he has a attitude that is very kind to others, but he is still one fast punk kid who gets serious when the gun goes off.
TJ get to bed early little guy, you need your sleep.

FatCat 4 said...

Hey Vanderpoop,

I just used The Google and found the following table:

I didn't have time to check the legititude of the source, but there's some surprising digits in there. For example:

- Bike riding down 21% over 10 years ago.
- Hoops down. Volleyball way down.
- American Knucklehead Football way up. (This explains a lot! Big, fat idiots.)
- Fishing down 6%.

I'm really surprised that hoops is down so much. The NBA is a marketing machine, man.

Whatever these number say, this much we know: mainstream kids and mainstream parents suck. Their music sucks, their diet sucks, their religious views suck, even their cartoons suck (too much dialog).

Give me some reject, Clash / Replacements-descended punk rockers and stick their skinny poopcutters on a bike. I'll bet that after a few months they do the Tam Hill Climb in under 45 mins ... or will blow chunkies all over the road in the attempt.

Leave the lazy, fat mainstreamers at home, watching American Idol and buying all the brain-numbing crap that Corporate America sells them.

Olaf Vanderhoot said...