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The State of Road Cycling

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

The State of Road Cycling

Old 02-09-20, 05:19 AM
  #76  
colnago62
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Throwing a person that is strictly a road racer into gravel racing would result in a lot of missing skin and DNF's (at least, here in Oregon). I get what you're saying with the multiple bike types, but all of those other types you listed all reside on pavement. Things change when the surface gets loose, in my experience.
I tend to agree. Look at the difference between the road and gravel bike. Gearing is different, bars are different, tire choice. A gravel bike has more in common with a cross bike than a road bike.
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Old 02-09-20, 04:30 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I tend to agree. Look at the difference between the road and gravel bike. Gearing is different, bars are different, tire choice. A gravel bike has more in common with a cross bike than a road bike.
All seriousness, I would have never guessed that multiple people view road cyclists as being so incapable of riding on a surface that is looser than pavement yet predictable in use.
It's a surprise to see this. Good conversation.
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Old 02-09-20, 06:10 PM
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I don't know if road cycling is waning in popularity. Mountain biking or bikes that can go "off-road" are certainly growing popularity, (and price.) So there is likely some folks moving from the road to the trails. Are they being replaced? The cost of cycling, in general, continues to go up way faster than inflation. Hate him or love him Lance's success in the TdF was a major influence in the US of the increased popularity of road cycling. Now that he is fading further into history and with taint to him does that too have an impact?

How impactful is the location where people cycle? I live in Southern California near the ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. So all year round riding weather, a huge variety of choices of terrain with and without cars, (or few.) Take that and compare it to areas where comfortable weather is only half of a year and choices of riding conditions are very limited probably makes a relevant geo difference in regards to the OP question.

Sorry to be redundant but the cost of road cycling is getting insane from the bike and equipment to maintenance and riding apparel or equipment. It certainly limits me in some aspects of RBR.
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Old 02-09-20, 09:41 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Even gravel road networks with lots of groomed hardpack can contain a lot of rougher stuff as well. And our regional weather means that even decent hardpack road can get rough patches, especially away from public motorized routes. For instance, today I was on my MTB, but riding roads that I usually ride on my gravel bike. Here's a photo from one logging road:



This spot was fairly smooth, and is representative of how this road mostly is. But here's another photo from the same road, from one of many spots that's been given a rock chunk bandaid thanks to the January rains:



In this case, you can see in the middle of the photo that logging truck tires have compacted parts of the chunk into something quite rideable. But behind my front wheel, you can see towards the centerline where there's less compaction, lots of loose rocks that are a couple inches across. Many spots today were closer to being like that. If you're riding 2" tires - even fairly flimsy ones - this is usually fine as long as you're somewhat careful, but it can be a big issue for non-beefy skinnier stuff. We had one guy on supple 38s take a sidewall gash today over this stuff, bad enough that the tire will likely end up getting tossed. He didn't have this problem in the past when he was running 35mm Marathon Plus Tours, but those are very stiff and slow, much slower than a fast tire that's 5-15mm wider.


Agreed, and that's true even when long stretches of pavement aren't involved.

The supple 2.1" slicks on my gravel bike have not been very successful in keeping me off the pavement, though. For instance, when I took off on a solo 100%-paved ride on the gravel bike two Saturdays ago, I ended up extending it to 100 miles on a whim. The bike actually gets more paved miles than unpaved, and when I take it on spirited road group rides, I can mostly hang with pacelines of similar composition as on my skinny-tired road bikes. It's not how I'd build a dedicated paved racing machine, but I don't see it as being a super-dramatic compromise either.
​​​​​​Speaking of local roads and conditions, Carbon River Road has just become a bike only route for the foreseeable future, see below.

I did Sauk Mountain Road today, outside Rockport. Pair of 78s was marginal but I only crashed once. Much easier going up than down. I need a wider pair and plastic boots to drive them.

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Old 02-10-20, 08:14 AM
  #80  
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I tried to read this, but it got super redundant in making its point after 100 or 200 pages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_Alone

Basically a lot of statistics to back up perceived notions that there's declining membership in civic organizations, clubs, recreational adult team sports, and lots of other things.

The book looks at it as "social capital" as it relates to civic and political involvement in the community. But address things like.............bowling. As a whole, the same or more people still bowl. But, league attendance has plummeted.

I theorize the same may be true for cycling. Similar number still "cycle", but they aren't members of clubs, race teams, and larger organizations in the same numbers any longer.

Worth a look for people really interested in the topic in general.

Flows of information and entertainment came from these organizations, be them civic or cycling clubs. As the internet, rapid fire news channels, Amazon, HBO, all came to fruition.............the need to attend a civic organization to talk politics and learn information is gone. The need to go to a LBS to get parts is gone. So, numbers dwindle.

Now, instead of organizations that used to cultivate...........we've got people that consume from limited sources of political information all the way to entertainment value.
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Old 02-10-20, 10:15 AM
  #81  
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I think road is declining due to lack of promotion by large industry stakeholders and lack of star power. It almost seems like the road cycling promotion teams at Specialized, Giant, Trek, Shimano and SRAM are hunkered down in the weeds somewhere.
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Old 02-10-20, 10:26 AM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
All seriousness, I would have never guessed that multiple people view road cyclists as being so incapable of riding on a surface that is looser than pavement yet predictable in use.
It's a surprise to see this. Good conversation.
I've noticed that people with MTB backgrounds take to gravel much more easily than pure roadies. Similar handling and feel I guess. I know some roadies who are very strong and capable on the road, but still pretty uneasy on the gravel, especially fast descents. It took me some time to get used to letting the bike float instead of trying to control it. I'm still working on my fast cornering, always afraid the bike is going to slide out from under me, so I usually scrub off more speed than I need to going into a turn.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:08 AM
  #83  
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Tell that to Ted King... (or Pete Stetina, Lawrence Ten Dam, etc.)
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Old 02-10-20, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
I've noticed that people with MTB backgrounds take to gravel much more easily than pure roadies. Similar handling and feel I guess. I know some roadies who are very strong and capable on the road, but still pretty uneasy on the gravel, especially fast descents. It took me some time to get used to letting the bike float instead of trying to control it. I'm still working on my fast cornering, always afraid the bike is going to slide out from under me, so I usually scrub off more speed than I need to going into a turn.
Totally agre. Fast descending or twisty flat bits is where I see the separations between roadies and gravel/mtb racers. Gotta be comfortable with the bike moving around a lot underneath you and trust that it'll collect itself before booboo's happen. I raced mountain bikes for a while before switching to road, so it's not unreasonable to put significant time into people on gravel downhills with zero additional effort on my part. That's time that'll have to be made up on the flats or climbs by those that aren't OK with a little slippage.
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Old 02-10-20, 11:21 AM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by goenrdoug View Post
Tell that to Ted King... (or Pete Stetina, Lawrence Ten Dam, etc.)
Stetina came from dirt. Ted King specializes in gravel. Laurens has had his hand in dirt for a while now.
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Old 02-10-20, 05:35 PM
  #86  
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
I tried to read this, but it got super redundant in making its point after 100 or 200 pages:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bowling_Alone

Basically a lot of statistics to back up perceived notions that there's declining membership in civic organizations, clubs, recreational adult team sports, and lots of other things.

The book looks at it as "social capital" as it relates to civic and political involvement in the community....

...Now, instead of organizations that used to cultivate...........we've got people that consume from limited sources of political information all the way to entertainment value.
Interesting. I'm going to bookmark that book to read.

I made a similar point this weekend in a debate over current issues. My theory is that dwindling community involvement has disproportionately favored churches as influencers, particularly those that try to cater to every need with secular activities as well as religious.

Even in the 1980s when I was a newspaper reporter, I saw relatively low attendance at government meetings, especially zoning and planning types -- which tended to affect voters and taxpayers more directly than they realized. But parents, especially moms, would crowd school board meetings to nitpick relatively unimportant stuff that had more to do with social status than anything else. Meanwhile, minority activists in Dallas who did attend public government meetings were often maligned as disruptive, uncooperative, rabble-rousers. The majority demographic attendees were generally depicted more favorably, mostly because they sat quietly, seemingly giving tacit approval to decisions made on their behalf.

Even our local public meetings on MUPs and shared infrastructure for cycling, pedestrians, etc., reveal surprising disparity in knowledge and opinions. One influential board member didn't realize cyclists were permitted to use the gravel/chat trails, and criticized the weekly or more frequent group gravel rides. Others thought cyclists should be banned from the paved path -- understandable because it's basically just a 3 foot wide sidewalk. And some members and attendees thought the solution was the equivalent to school hall monitors -- fellow cyclists, joggers and pedestrians who'd wear some sort of uniform and fuss at people who weren't using the MUP correctly. Attendance was very low at those meetings. As far as I could tell, nothing ever came of those meetings.

I ride bikes with folks whom I know have radically different views from mine on hot button issues. But we get along fine as long as we respect the unspoken agreement to not burden our bike rides with those issues. And we tend to agree on issues that affect us most directly: lousy infrastructure, bad drivers, chain lubes.

Okay, maybe not the latter. Nobody agrees on chain lubes.
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Old 02-11-20, 09:02 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Interesting. I'm going to bookmark that book to read.

I made a similar point this weekend in a debate over current issues. My theory is that dwindling community involvement has disproportionately favored churches as influencers, particularly those that try to cater to every need with secular activities as well as religious.

Even in the 1980s when I was a newspaper reporter, I saw relatively low attendance at government meetings, especially zoning and planning types -- which tended to affect voters and taxpayers more directly than they realized. But parents, especially moms, would crowd school board meetings to nitpick relatively unimportant stuff that had more to do with social status than anything else. Meanwhile, minority activists in Dallas who did attend public government meetings were often maligned as disruptive, uncooperative, rabble-rousers. The majority demographic attendees were generally depicted more favorably, mostly because they sat quietly, seemingly giving tacit approval to decisions made on their behalf.

Even our local public meetings on MUPs and shared infrastructure for cycling, pedestrians, etc., reveal surprising disparity in knowledge and opinions. One influential board member didn't realize cyclists were permitted to use the gravel/chat trails, and criticized the weekly or more frequent group gravel rides. Others thought cyclists should be banned from the paved path -- understandable because it's basically just a 3 foot wide sidewalk. And some members and attendees thought the solution was the equivalent to school hall monitors -- fellow cyclists, joggers and pedestrians who'd wear some sort of uniform and fuss at people who weren't using the MUP correctly. Attendance was very low at those meetings. As far as I could tell, nothing ever came of those meetings.

I ride bikes with folks whom I know have radically different views from mine on hot button issues. But we get along fine as long as we respect the unspoken agreement to not burden our bike rides with those issues. And we tend to agree on issues that affect us most directly: lousy infrastructure, bad drivers, chain lubes.

Okay, maybe not the latter. Nobody agrees on chain lubes.
I'm going to try to keep it non-political, but along those lines, I think the book even mentions declining (overall) church membership also.

In modern US politics (modern being last 10 years), I increasingly see on all sides a movement away from community organizations and groups influencing the county and more into tribalism based solely upon preconceived views on the issues. Think you know the answer, then form the tribe. Whereas, it used to be that you were in a member of a tribe then analyzed the issues.

Maybe the same with bikes. Tribalism via Strava, racers, clubbies............fueled by social media and a failure of the original social and civic structures in cycling?

As much as I don't like seeing the decline of road, I do love seeing people starting to go to gravel in good numbers and forming a good community there. Let's hope the UCI don't insert themselves too much and screw it up.

I see some social/civic structures in gravel and MTB staying stronger. Particularly with "trail days" for MTB and fundraising in the remaining road community of active clubs.
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Old 02-11-20, 11:22 AM
  #88  
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At the risk of turning everything into urban design, as I am wont to do, look at the difference between a country like France which has high local political action (e.g. organized strikes/protests/etc) versus us, who can only be bothered to get out once a year or so. Sprawl has created living conditions where we don't have community hubs anymore - churches are the one consistent one, which is likely why they have outsize influence- but attendance among the young is plummeting, and is very likely not coming back. In non-sprawl countries, you have community hubs in towns that people walk to (the so-called "third places") for socialization where things like organization (not just for politics, but for clubs, social groups, etc) can happen - here, you have Facebook, sure, but unless you live in a handful of large metros, who wants to drive through sprawl to a Starbucks to meet weekly?

(a scary, but provocative question I was asked - in the event of a serious disaster, if you lived in a walkable small town, you'd probably know where to walk to if you needed to meet up with people for aid. If you lived in a sprawled suburban area in the US, what would you do?)

Even in cities, you have issues where community meetings and such are generally attended by older retired people (who have time on their hands), or otherwise highly motivated groups with fringe views- leading to these meetings frequently being dominated by loud voices which aren't particularly representative of the actual community- you see this any time you want to build a bike lane which might remove a single parking space, or build an apartment building, or basically anything, leading the officials who attend these meetings to cater to loud, outsize groups, rather than, say, the majority of people who don't actually care if a bike lane gets built on Cedar Street.
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Old 02-11-20, 11:35 AM
  #89  
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Incidentally, regarding cost-of-admission - I'm in a city where I do see quite a few road riders, and among 20-35 year olds I see with bikes- I generally see two types of popular road bikes - vintage bikes (there is a *large* demand for old frames here), and bikes from companies like the QBP brands- this may be down to marketing, or simply local dealers, but All-City and Surly are *very* popular among that age group. This sort of reflects the types of road bikes I see- more steel endurance/gravel/light touring-style bikes with larger tires and not much in the way of go-fast parts--basically the type of bike you can use both for leisure/touring riding but still well-equipped enough for the weekend group ride. Oddly enough, I don't see Canyon much at all- for mail-order bikes, BikesDirect brands, and even Cinelli (who sell on Amazon for some reason) seem more popular.

This is apart from the rich Amazon kids who ride S-Works (seems to have displaced Cervelo as the superbike brand of choice), or, more distressingly, titanium (I love titanium, but it's always struck me as the type of bike you get when you retire, not when you're 23 years old making $150k a year with a job with "analyst" in the title).

Oh, and I can't forget to mention e-bikes. Those are becoming big, and I think they'll end up being an even bigger sea change than gravel when all is said and done- especially since current issues are requiring us to find alternatives to driving cars.

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Old 02-17-20, 02:17 PM
  #90  
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Let me add a thought:

It's not just about the bling or podium, sure. But my TT dq got me thinking. They made that a series with points and final prizes. Series is like 6 events. But..........zero podiums for any individual events.

I think that's a bit meh to me. The local crits do podiums for each race, but you win your prizes for the series. I like that. Something to come out once, much more to come out to as much as you can.

Reason the TT dq made me think that is that now I have zero impetus to return to their event. Even if I win, if the next guy just shows up to each subsequent event and loses but podium's the series.......I get nothing to show for it at each event.

Not very bright IMO unless you're running a full on omnium of a RR, a crit, and a TT over a long weekend or something.
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Old 02-20-20, 04:11 AM
  #91  
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It's HufPo, so it's clickbaity, but some interesting stats here. TLDR; Grownups are riding bikes more (commuting, leisure etc) but kids are riding less.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kids-...3RRJ5Gu8_h6KSs
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Old 02-20-20, 08:44 AM
  #92  
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What a rather long post so I apologize if I missed something in my speed reading of your dissertation. I don't see road cycling as being on deaths door as much as it is certainly a locality issue for sure. I think too that price of cycles could be a deterrent too as the technology increases the price tag along with it does as well.

I read a article stating that road bikes are increasingly seeing the popularity in disc braking over rim brakes. Maybe, maybe not. I see disc brakes as a more complicated beast to maintain and certainly bleed off and in effect self-serviceable by many riders. I even wrench and build bikes up from the ground up and find them a pain to deal with. I love a nice rim brake but then again I am reminded that I am a dinosaur in this world or better yet, a spoke in a broken wheel of life!

So where does road cycling as a hobby/sport go********** Its about educating the new generation on the benefits and those who don't but are cagers to share the road. I have found in my observation cyclist are our own worst enemy by doing stupid stuff on the road that creates the animosity toward the culture. We have to obey all laws on the road like a cager…….but I am digressing now into a new world totally off topic and I apologize.

So to the state of road cycling.....I see it as doing fine for now.
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