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  1. #1
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    August MBA anti-UCI rant

    So I see that the August issue of MBA has a 4 page anti-UCI rant about the shorter XCO tracks and dumbing down of pro courses. It's a bit ironic that they use the Sea Otter race as an example, as I think the paved section of that course exceeded the maximum allowance under UCI MTB regs of 15% of the total course length.

    But aside from that, they're lamenting the loss of 20 mile long lap races in the mountains dictated by the UCI with the shorter courses that are to be between 4-6km in length.

    They were pointing out that the UCI requirements to make races spectator friendly by keeping them compact is a waste of time because no one comes out to watch anyway, again using Sea Otter as an example.

    I think that Mont Sainte Anne is pretty typical of the attendance in many European World Cups, and that is a 5km course that is easily accessible by the thousands of spectators that show up, and a pretty challenging course for the riders.

    I personally think it was a poor idea of the UCI to shorten the race length from 2 hours to 1:30-1:45, as endurance should be a bigger component of a race, but aside from that, it seems that the MBA idea of 20mile long laps almost guarantees that it won't be spectator friendly and won't encourage people to attend or sponsors to support the races.

    It's also a bit ironic that on the page preceding the anti-UCI rant to take back mountain bike racing, there's a full page ad for a product called EPO Booster. What are they really saying about their viewpoint on MTB racing?

    Anyone else read the article and have any thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    What a joke, MBA criticizing the World Cup.

    As soon as we do ANYTHING better than the Europeans in regard to cycling, then we can criticize. I guess we dope better.


    On a side note. Our local weekly series has shorten its course due to snow, down to a 3 mile loop. It made for some interesting racing. The 2 guys that beat me, really schooled me on the DH even though we uphill about the same. The guy who finished behind me, I wind up beating because of my slight downhill edge; even though, as the race progressed, he was climbing better than me.

    Seems when the courses are longer, it gives more of an edge to the little climbers, since the climbs become longer (especially here in the mountain west).
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 06-26-2011 at 07:12 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Our high school races are 4-7 miles per lap with the Varsity doing 4 laps. These races are no more spectator-friendly than any other and they are very well attended. Why? Because the spectators are invested and the races aren't on the middle of nowhere. The major UCI races in the States are miles from anywhere. What do you expect?

    Europe is tiny and venues are accessable. The cycling traditions there are much older and more deeply developed than here in the US, and Canada for that matter. Canada has invested in its younger riders to build the racers of the future. The NorCal High School Racing League has developed its program and brand since 2002, formed NICA, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and brought its method to Colorado, Washing, Texas and more to come.

    The point to be made here is that until now it was individual kids in isolation who rose to the national and international stage. They were the odd kids-out in their communities who succeed with little support and lots of dedication. This is changing rapidly and the talent pool is growing. The results were clear at Granby last year with NorCal kids jamming the top 10 (who are those guys?).

    Why is baseball so well attended? Yes, it is easy to watch. However, most of the people in the stands played baseball as kids and baseball is meaningful to them in a powerful way. Spectators relate and identify.

    10-15 years from now we will be kicking ass on an international level. The sport will be better subscribed and supported and the kinks will be worked out in the venues. The races will be much better attended, not because of stupid short courses, but because racing will be more meaningful to the general public.

    I am little tired of folks parading European superiority as if it were something intrinsic and some failure of our national ability. We're just getting started here.

    You have been warned.
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  4. #4
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    Is spectator friendliness relevant ? Peeps want to see a few sections of the course, not the off portions 6 miles from nowhere.

    Are they expecting to capitalize on revenues generated from viewers? Unless you have a hot dog stand at every quarter mile selling lemonade and souvenirs I do not see how the race distance is relevant. We have world class racing and you want to shorten it for it's viewer friendliness WTF ?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post

    Seems when the courses are longer, it gives more of an edge to the little climbers, since the climbs become longer (especially here in the mountain west).
    This is exactly why I like longer courses!

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    It is what I call Podium Thinking. They are so focused on the glory of the Podium that they believe that this is what interests people in the sport and that is what motivates crowds and their pocketbooks. It fails miserably because it neglects any true foundation.

    The thinking comes from Racerheads: the motivations which work for racing do little to build a sense of community with anyone but other racers. Yet these folk are so certain of the truth of these ideas. Why not? They are surrounded by like-minded people; powerful, able, focused, determined. Yet what do they know about the people in the stands or building community? They slogged to the top on their own. They rub elbows with their own. They create their events by their own principles. No wonder they come out the way they do.

    When they coach they want to coach only the very best, most motivated, those with the highest potential; it is their goal and how they undertstand success. Talk to them; they have no time for the rest. Even when these fine athletes give their time to the High School League it is only to the top riders. After all of the encoraging of entry level riders, their exhaustive developement and support, they stand at the end of the funnel and pluck what they want. Even the champions, when they come to events, their attention is only for the top riders; they even refere to this as "givng back." That should tell you something.

    It is so Wrong-end-of-the-telescope. All these folk see is the top and selling the highlights. It is part vanity and part narrow-mindedeness. There is no sense of building outside their strata. Does the USAC work to buidl cyclists in elementry school like soccer, baseball, football, volleyball, church leagues? Nope. they just harvest the self-developed talent.

    Cycling and racing is so much bigger than the Podium. Simple victory is the easy story. The real story is about how everyone else is involved. If that is ignored then you may as well race like paramutual greyhounds.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    10-15 years from now we will be kicking ass on an international level. The sport will be better subscribed and supported and the kinks will be worked out in the venues. The races will be much better attended, not because of stupid short courses, but because racing will be more meaningful to the general public.

    I am little tired of folks parading European superiority as if it were something intrinsic and some failure of our national ability. We're just getting started here.

    You have been warned.
    Just getting started! I thought mountain biking started in the US?
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  8. #8
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    The traditions for bike racing in Europe and the market supporting it is far richer no matter where one thinks it started.
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  9. #9
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    MBA same morons that...

    Said 29ers are a passing fad that only exist in Crested Butte.. The fashion article was the dumbest though..

  10. #10
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    Don't World Cups have excellent crowds?

    Shorter courses to make the races spectator friendly makes sense to me. What I think is more important is to make sure they are true mountain bike courses in terms of the terrain. I don't want to see them racing on buff, hardpack trail that is more akin to road racing with flat bars and wider tires. If they are navigating technical terrain, powering through bumpy sections, suffering up tough climbs, having to bomb descents to not lose time to those who ride well downhill--those are the things that define a mountain bike race course to me. Not whether the loop is 6km or 16 miles.

  11. #11
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    Long boring courses with huge climbs and no technical difficulty has been a specialty of the US for years. The rest of the world has building tough, short courses that spectators pay to watch people race on. Consequently MTb racing has done well every where else but is on life support in the US.

    Except in Wisconson where the courses are very similar to your typical European courses. There race are extremely well attended and when a big show comes to town people come out to watch. The rest of the US (and Canada) needs to model after WORS.
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  12. #12
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    Well, the UCI also screwed up the whole self-supported thing in MTB as well. It is all about sponsorship money. The more they can paste sponsors names around the course and have people see 'em, the more they make. If they can put banners around the whole course like a CX race, they probably would.

    BUT having MBA ***** about the UCI is like having Charlie Sheen ***** about the D.E.A. There might be some truth to it but they are both bat-**** crazy and you can't take anything they say seriously.

    All this is why the rise of "alternative" racing has gained such favor here in the US (think Gravel Grinders, 24 Hour racing, Ultra-Marathon events, etc.). Mountain biking was all about adventure and those UCI-Dirt Road...oops, I mean XC races have no adventure at all in them.

  13. #13
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    Everyone seems to have an image of World Cup courses as non technical, but keep in mind the Freecaster TV camera positions tend to be where they can catch more than one section of the course, not in the dark and challenging sections.

    There's a good helmet cam shot of Mont Sainte Anne from last weekend's Quebec Cup race, which bypasses the most technical WC course descents and some other re-routes, but otherwise this is fairly representative of the majority of the course.

    Mont-Sainte-Anne 2011 XC Race 1st lap (GoPro Video)

    The Olympic courses should be as challenging as Mont Sainte Anne.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Fubar Rider View Post
    Well, the UCI also screwed up the whole self-supported thing in MTB as well. It is all about sponsorship money. The more they can paste sponsors names around the course and have people see 'em, the more they make. If they can put banners around the whole course like a CX race, they probably would.

    BUT having MBA ***** about the UCI is like having Charlie Sheen ***** about the D.E.A. There might be some truth to it but they are both bat-**** crazy and you can't take anything they say seriously.

    All this is why the rise of "alternative" racing has gained such favor here in the US (think Gravel Grinders, 24 Hour racing, Ultra-Marathon events, etc.). Mountain biking was all about adventure and those UCI-Dirt Road...oops, I mean XC races have no adventure at all in them.
    I agree with this guy. Thanks for saving me the typing.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Fubar Rider View Post
    Well, the UCI also screwed up the whole self-supported thing in MTB as well. It is all about sponsorship money. The more they can paste sponsors names around the course and have people see 'em, the more they make. If they can put banners around the whole course like a CX race, they probably would.

    BUT having MBA ***** about the UCI is like having Charlie Sheen ***** about the D.E.A. There might be some truth to it but they are both bat-**** crazy and you can't take anything they say seriously.

    All this is why the rise of "alternative" racing has gained such favor here in the US (think Gravel Grinders, 24 Hour racing, Ultra-Marathon events, etc.). Mountain biking was all about adventure and those UCI-Dirt Road...oops, I mean XC races have no adventure at all in them.
    Looking at helmet cam from alot of UCI course they are alot more technical than Freecaster shows them to be.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    Our high school races are 4-7 miles per lap with the Varsity doing 4 laps. These races are no more spectator-friendly than any other and they are very well attended. Why? Because the spectators are invested and the races aren't on the middle of nowhere. The major UCI races in the States are miles from anywhere. What do you expect?

    Europe is tiny and venues are accessable. The cycling traditions there are much older and more deeply developed than here in the US, and Canada for that matter. Canada has invested in its younger riders to build the racers of the future. The NorCal High School Racing League has developed its program and brand since 2002, formed NICA, the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, and brought its method to Colorado, Washing, Texas and more to come.

    The point to be made here is that until now it was individual kids in isolation who rose to the national and international stage. They were the odd kids-out in their communities who succeed with little support and lots of dedication. This is changing rapidly and the talent pool is growing. The results were clear at Granby last year with NorCal kids jamming the top 10 (who are those guys?).

    Why is baseball so well attended? Yes, it is easy to watch. However, most of the people in the stands played baseball as kids and baseball is meaningful to them in a powerful way. Spectators relate and identify.

    10-15 years from now we will be kicking ass on an international level. The sport will be better subscribed and supported and the kinks will be worked out in the venues. The races will be much better attended, not because of stupid short courses, but because racing will be more meaningful to the general public.

    I am little tired of folks parading European superiority as if it were something intrinsic and some failure of our national ability. We're just getting started here.

    You have been warned.

  17. #17
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    Berkely Mike...

    your view of what people do as "giving back" is a bit skewed maybe. when Allison and I attended the local high school race we volunteered to ride sweep. the newest and least "podium" racers were who we rode with. the entire time we talked to them, worked with them, heck i was adjusting one kid's bike because nobody told him he should raise his seatpost. i do see your point though, nobody wants to put time/money/effort into an "also ran". this is likely why so many of our pros and people with talent struggle to make ends meet.... not to mention those that are just out there for fun.


    i think that when done properly the short courses work famously here in the US. Fontana ProXCT is a great example IMO. it is a bummer that so many people complain about it. the course, the accessibility, and the spectator showing is far above anything else in the US that i have attended. caveat being that I have never been to a WORS race or the World Cup in Windham, i hope that Allison and I get to attend one of the WORS races next year... but that is dependent on her "black death foot" not returning.
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  18. #18
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    I've done this for ten years; building mtb where there was none, with several teams and communities and the YMCA. It means a lot to me that you guys did this and I really apreciate it so much. You bring so much to the party. We learn so much when we work at this level. This, however, is the exception. We generally see the great pro talent at the camps for the top riders. We see the sponsorship focus on the Podium, too. Like I said; Victory is an easy sell.

    The real work at building the sport is at the entry level, not just at the big Sunday rides and races but on those Monday and Wednesday and Friday rides. Over and over and over. It is the work with educating the parents about the value of what our sport does for kids and for riders as they get older, above and beyond what other sports do.

    And then there are the little bros and sisters who see this. They hang around the tent, eat the team food, ride their little bikes around the venue, watch the warm-ups and the riders get ready. And the parenst never have to worry about them. The kids look up to the big kids and their older sibs. You know what happens when the family buys-in and the next kid is old enough? Slam dunk.

    This is what grows the sport.
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    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 06-26-2011 at 09:19 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    I've done this for ten years; building mtb where there was none, with several teams and communities and the YMCA. It means a lot to me that you guys did this and I really apreciate it so much. You bring so much to the party. We learn so much when we work at this level. This, however, is the exception. We generally see the great pro talent at the camps for the top riders. We see the sponsorship focus on the Podium, too. Like I said; Victory is an easy sell.

    The real work at building the sport is at the entry level, not just at the big Sunday rides and races but on those Monday and Wednesday and Friday rides. Over and over and over. It is the work with educating the parents about the value of what our sport does for kids and for riders as they get older, above and beyond what other sports do.

    And then there are the little bros and sisters who see this. They hang around the tent, eat the team food, ride their little bikes around the venue, watch the warm-ups and the riders get ready. And the parenst never have to worry about them. The kids look up to the big kids and their older sibs. You know what happens when the family buys-in and the next kid is old enough? Slam dunk. And it grows.
    agreed. i honestly wish i had the time to stay on top of work and my own/allison's training plus do multiple weekly "fun" rides. that isn't my reality. some day my priority will shift, but that isn't right now.

    very similar feeling for things like Dean Kamen's FIRST organization for science/engineering. people at work ask me all the time to donate time to FIRST and share my knowledge/skill. my response is always that my time right now is spent helping my wife try to achieve a dream, and that i get the value of helping kids but my first obligation is to my own family. at least riding bikes with kids aligns with our lives outside of work!

    EDIT.... by the way. thanks for all the work YOU do to be a part of making high school racing what it has become. i love the direction of things!!!!!!!!!
    Last edited by whybotherme; 06-26-2011 at 09:24 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by whybotherme View Post
    agreed. i honestly wish i had the time to stay on top of work and my own/allison's training plus do multiple weekly "fun" rides. that isn't my reality. some day my priority will shift, but that isn't right now.

    very similar feeling for things like Dean Kamen's FIRST organization for science/engineering. people at work ask me all the time to donate time to FIRST and share my knowledge/skill. my response is always that my time right now is spent helping my wife try to achieve a dream, and that i get the value of helping kids but my first obligation is to my own family. at least riding bikes with kids aligns with our lives outside of work!
    One cannot build community from the generousity of people without appreciating the life forces which bind them. I cannot, in any way, deminish the efforts fo people who volunteer. Even folk who don't want to do it anymore or can't see their way to it; they all have perfectly good reasons. The point I want to make is that the people who proclaim to form the future of the sport from the top are off target, don't understand what needs to be done because it is not their skill, and are cutting the course.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 06-26-2011 at 10:58 PM.
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  21. #21
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    WORS is an awesome racing series. Don does a great job with the courses and the series as a whole is very organized. I wish every state could have a series as successful and developed as WORS is.

    The laps are around 5 miles and there are usually plenty of areas for spectators to view while still having a technical aspect.

    Since WORS has started Don has grown the series and has figured out how to run the series efficiently and in a way that keeps everyone happy.

    It still surprises me how many little details he manages to include. Every racer gets a handbook the size of a magazine mailed to them each year before the series. Don has also figured out how to get major sponsers on board and keep them involved.

    WORS is a great series and now that I'm no longer in Wisconsin I definitely miss it.

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    Wait...

    The August issue of MBA is already out?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerboyj17 View Post
    WORS is an awesome racing series. Don does a great job with the courses and the series as a whole is very organized. I wish every state could have a series as successful and developed as WORS is.

    The laps are around 5 miles and there are usually plenty of areas for spectators to view while still having a technical aspect.

    Since WORS has started Don has grown the series and has figured out how to run the series efficiently and in a way that keeps everyone happy.

    It still surprises me how many little details he manages to include. Every racer gets a handbook the size of a magazine mailed to them each year before the series. Don has also figured out how to get major sponsers on board and keep them involved.

    WORS is a great series and now that I'm no longer in Wisconsin I definitely miss it.
    Where are you living now?

    I agree with the success of the WORS series. I try to get in at least 2 or 3 of their races every season just to experience their "events". It's always worth the drive.

    A very similar success story is going on in the neighboring state of Minnesota where a typical Sunday race brings out 325-360+ racers (categories are Kid's Comp, Citizen, Sport, Comp, Expert, Pro). And Minnesota is starting up the high school mountain bike racing series in the fall of 2012 with the four race demo race program underway this summer (yesterday was the 2nd race in the demo series).

    In terms of spectators, you get a built in spectator group at a series race as large as WORS or Minnesota simply by way of family and friends that attend. It's hard to argue, that on any given weekend, there are about 1100 - 1200 XC racers having at it in just these 2 states combined. Each state has a population roughly around 5.5 M - so, compared to other sports, it is a very minute percentage of the population that partake. Having watched other categories before or after the race I participate in is completed, and turning into a spectator, I can't say mountain bike racing is the most spectator friendly and exciting sport to watch in the first place. Add music, beer, food, and visiting with other people while watching - it's still not high on the list of exciting to watch (at least compared to participating in it).

    As others have mentioned in above posts, I'd say the better approach is to focus on increasing the number of participants which will automatically increase the number of spectators (via family and friends). Now, that's an entirely separate issue with regard to the UCI and their quest to make professional races and courses more spectator friendly. Or is it? Participation at all levels may be the best way to grow interest in attending or watching an event.

    It might be a cold day in heck before the average US citizen places "attend a professional mountain bike race" on their list of possible weekend activities....(in no certain order)

    1. Catch a movie
    2. Hit the mall/shopping
    3. Go out to eat
    4. Do some exercise
    5. Hang out with friends
    6. House/Yard work
    7. Spend time with the family
    8. Catch a pro sporting event (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, etc...)
    9. Go to a wine, food, arts, music, concert, fair, festival/event
    10. Let's go stand on the side of a cow path on the side of a hill and watch a bunch of guys in Lycra whiz by all hot and dusty for a couple of hours.

    Unless you actually participate in the sport yourself (have vested interest), or have family/friends involved in mountain bike racing, I seriously doubt anyone is going to choose option #10 for a weekend activity. No matter how spectator friendly a course is, or how many sponsors are involved with the event.

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    I'm living in Washington now. There are some great rides here and it's nice to have a little more elevation change, but I definitely miss the WORS series.

    There are a couple racing series here but they are no where near as developed as WORS is.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    Participation at all levels may be the best way to grow interest in attending or watching an event.

    It might be a cold day in heck before the average US citizen places "attend a professional mountain bike race" on their list of possible weekend activities....(in no certain order)

    1. Catch a movie
    2. Hit the mall/shopping
    3. Go out to eat
    4. Do some exercise
    5. Hang out with friends
    6. House/Yard work
    7. Spend time with the family
    8. Catch a pro sporting event (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, etc...)
    9. Go to a wine, food, arts, music, concert, fair, festival/event
    10. Let's go stand on the side of a cow path on the side of a hill and watch a bunch of guys in Lycra whiz by all hot and dusty for a couple of hours.

    Unless you actually participate in the sport yourself (have vested interest), or have family/friends involved in mountain bike racing, I seriously doubt anyone is going to choose option #10 for a weekend activity. No matter how spectator friendly a course is, or how many sponsors are involved with the event.
    Thats a really good point. Even among the mtbers that don't race, its a small percentage that shows up for a race. It would take a full-on "lance effect" to get people really excited. Hate to admit it, but the wide open gravel roads in Race Across the Sky probably did more to help promote the sport in the US than WC races.

  26. #26
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    Back to the original topic, I think Freecaster.tv has been doing a pretty darn good job over the last few years, providing olympic-quality coverage. They ALMOST lost sponsorship and had to start charging to watch the races last season, but thankfully someone stepped up.

    I haven't seen any dumbing-down of WC courses. Now the American pro circuit courses look pretty lame and boring, but I don't think its directly the UCI's fault.

    I've been hoping that CyclingDirt would continue to grow and eventually reach a similar level to Freecaster, but it seems like they haven't gotten the bigtime support that is needed from sponsors and maybe from USAC.

  27. #27
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    Freecaster is up to 7-8 cameras for most Euro event coverage now, they've been using CBC TV's mobile unit for Mont Sainte Anne the past couple of years, so that is really stepping up to broadcast standards.

    Colt has been doing the Cyclingdirt.org event coverage with a single handheld camera which is pretty impressive. I've noticed his coverage still seems to depend on whether Emily Batty is racing

    On the one hand it really does help to have more TV coverage of all amateur sports to get more people interested in the events, just like the less common sports at the winter and summer Olympics get more attention for about a year after the TV coverage. I have been pestering CBC Radio/TV to carry more coverage of MTB racing, even if they aren't going to broadcast an event or even highlights, at least include results in the rundown of sports in the scores in the spoken summary of sports.
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    I'm definitely not bashing on Colt, he does a great job for what he is working with, and even gives a nice, relaxed personal/insider view that you can't get in many other sports. While I'd love to see more race footage, the interviews are always welcomed, and surely increases the fan base for the pros in our sport, who will sadly never reach superstar status no matter how much they win.

  29. #29
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    The shorter Laps allow for easy access to the course, for TV and spectators that is a good thing.

    Technically challenging descents are exciting and spectators and TV cluster around these sections...and that is a good thing.

    Anywhere there is a pile-up is interesting and drives interest...

    The only thing that pisses me off are the "groomed" tecnical sections...not saying they arn't hard, or challenging....just saying....

    lets find some terrain that looks like a "natural rough and rocky section" rather than some sculptured terrain....kinda likely the Brit Olympic course.

    I guess on the other hand you could build a total snythetic type course....for example down through a town and around etc....probably end up more like cyclo cross though.

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    I guess I would like to see a wider course maybe with some control gates like a giant salomon course as well, and more multiple line sections.

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    Oh yeah and nothing worng with a little bit of air time....

    From the right angle even a tiny jump can look big...

    and I know all the XCO riders have plenty of skills to do a jump.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Long boring courses with huge climbs and no technical difficulty has been a specialty of the US for years. The rest of the world has building tough, short courses that spectators pay to watch people race on. Consequently MTb racing has done well every where else but is on life support in the US.

    Except in Wisconson where the courses are very similar to your typical European courses. There race are extremely well attended and when a big show comes to town people come out to watch. The rest of the US (and Canada) needs to model after WORS.
    The racing up in Wi is top notch for sure. 12 race series, all on different courses (so you get a little bit of everything over the season), good competition, and they are VERY well attended. Hundreds of people in the sport class alone on a typical race. You've got some short lap courses and some long (7-8 mile laps, one 12 mile lap marathon style course). Keeps things fresh and different.

    The Pro XCT race at Mt. Morris has been really well received by the pros who travel to the race, as well as the normal WORS racer base. The crowds on hand for the Men's and Women's pro race were certainly impressive for a race in the USA. But, when you've already got hundreds of Cat1-3 racers at the event that love MTBing, they tend to stay around for the big show. Everyone wins.

    Don has gotten things figured out for sure. 20 years of the series up there. He was just nominated to the MTB hall of fame and likely deserves a shot at it for all he's done over the years.

  33. #33
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    I always find it amusing when someone complains about how "easy" World Cup courses are with NO actual experience racing them. I've read plenty of interviews with some of the top guys and they allude to some courses having some pretty sketchy sections on them. And to anybody that thinks that world cup pros can't handle a bike you are sadly mistaken and have no clue what it takes to compete at that level.
    To wit.
    http://www.whistlermountainbike.com/...mega-avalanche
    "Do not touch the trim"

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by briscoelab View Post
    The racing up in Wi is top notch for sure. 12 race series, all on different courses (so you get a little bit of everything over the season), good competition, and they are VERY well attended. Hundreds of people in the sport class alone on a typical race. You've got some short lap courses and some long (7-8 mile laps, one 12 mile lap marathon style course). Keeps things fresh and different.

    The Pro XCT race at Mt. Morris has been really well received by the pros who travel to the race, as well as the normal WORS racer base. The crowds on hand for the Men's and Women's pro race were certainly impressive for a race in the USA. But, when you've already got hundreds of Cat1-3 racers at the event that love MTBing, they tend to stay around for the big show. Everyone wins.

    Don has gotten things figured out for sure. 20 years of the series up there. He was just nominated to the MTB hall of fame and likely deserves a shot at it for all he's done over the years.
    You make a really good point. The pros always seem to love the Subaru Cup race. The course is fun and challenging and offers great spectator sections. Don really does a good job with complying with USA cycling rules in terms of course length and spectator visibility. I was actually having a conversation with Heather Irmiger this weekend about the course length topic that the OP had mentioned. She also seemed to think that the courses in many of the races have been changed too much to make them more spectator friendly which seemed to make them less fun as a racer. But she had nothing but good things to say about the Nordic Mountatin course. Even with a mangled thumb, she really loved it.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet View Post
    I always find it amusing when someone complains about how "easy" World Cup courses are with NO actual experience racing them. I've read plenty of interviews with some of the top guys and they allude to some courses having some pretty sketchy sections on them. And to anybody that thinks that world cup pros can't handle a bike you are sadly mistaken and have no clue what it takes to compete at that level.
    To wit.
    http://www.whistlermountainbike.com/...mega-avalanche
    Couldn't agree more. Mountain biking is weird in that it is the only sport I know of where the average rider assumes they have comparible skills to a world class rider (I know i was guilty of this in the past).

    Most people would be blown away on just how challenging and how fast technical sections are ridden on the modern world cup course. The best just make it look easy.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  36. #36
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    Tons of good discussion in this thread.

    I just moved from a state with a really well established race series (WVMBA) to an area with some racing, but no series. (Western NY) I guess I'm close enough to ontario to go and hit some of the o-cup races, but I won't drive more than an hour to race for less than 6.

    When I found out that I was going to move, I started thinking about what makes a successful series. I know there are others in the area thinking the same kind of things - John Roden, a total bad arse racer, is doing a kids/high school series this summer, and the local advocacy club is branching out into racing.

    From what I've observed, it seems like aspirational experts and/or sport class is what really drives race series, and make sponsoring the series worth it to bike shops and other businesses.

    The fast expert class guys, for the most part, are people who work at shops, or are sponsored by shops, and don't really spend a ton of money at shops. Fast guys never pay full price for stuff, and it doesn't seem like it really makes sense to sponsor those guys as a shop.

    On the other hand, if, as a shop, you "sponsor" 20-30 sport class racers who are nice guys (or girls), at 10% under retail, or something similar, it seems like you'd get more bang for your buck.

    As far as courses go - I think that courses matter a lot less than the community aspect of racing. Morgantown has a weeknight "series," Pedal for Pints, that is a short (>30 min), mostly singletrack, almost totally flat, no entry fee race. The course isn't epic, but people come out and race every week for the fun of racing and competing- and the community.

    I think that a well-run race series could thrive pretty much anywhere, but building the community is really time-intensive, and it takes year in, year out consistency that many race promoters struggle with.

  37. #37
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    Funny enough I sit here at mt. Saint Anne getting ready to ride and am more than a little bit nervous about the coming trips down the rock garden. AnD it usually takes a lot to make me nervous.







    r
    Quote Originally Posted by Rivet View Post
    I always find it amusing when someone complains about how " easy" World Cup courses are with NO actual experience racing them. I've read plenty of interviews with some of the top guys and they allude to some courses having some pretty sketchy sections on them. And to anybody that thinks that world cup pros can't handle a bike you are sadly mistaken and have no clue what it takes to compete at that level.
    To wit.
    http://www.whistlermountainbike.com/...mega-avalanche
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Funny enough I sit here at mt. Saint Anne getting ready to ride and am more than a little bit nervous about the coming trips down the rock garden. AnD it usually takes a lot to make me nervous.
    r
    That section makes me wonder if pros will ever consider running a dropper post, it would certainly make riding that easier.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by playpunk View Post
    but I won't drive more than an hour to race for less than 6.
    Had to giggle a little about that. We have a very successful Texas organization TMBRA with an eight race spring championship series, an eight race Fall Cup, and 6 or 7 race marathon series. All are decently attended, for instance in our just finished 2011 spring series, two races had over 700 racers and even the smallest over 400.
    Each race is put on independently but must heed the standards and guidelines of TMBRA to be part of the series. Each one has a little local flavor for that reason, but what they do all have in common is, someone in the state is going to have to drive a long way to get there.
    Texas is big. The main population centers for mountainbikers are Houston, Dallas-Ft Worth, and Austin-San Antonio. The races are spread all over the state, but the variety of terrain is one of our biggest pluses I think. It's just a fact of life here that if you want to contest a series, you'll be doing some travelling.

    On the original note of the post....I have very mixed feelings about the short course direction. Personally I prefer something with around an hour lap, however long the terrain makes that, but multiple laps of a shorter course IF IT'S FUN are okay too. Two of our spring races this year had special short courses for the Pro's, Mellow Johnny's and Rocky Hill, and I know of at least one more for next year. Like another poster said, unless you have a vested interest in cycling yourself, watching XC is not very exciting. The reason the Euro's do pack people in for their XC's is because their culture does have a vested interest in cycling.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbscott View Post
    Had to giggle a little about that. We have a very successful Texas organization TMBRA with an eight race spring championship series, an eight race Fall Cup, and 6 or 7 race marathon series. All are decently attended, for instance in our just finished 2011 spring series, two races had over 700 racers and even the smallest over 400.
    Each race is put on independently but must heed the standards and guidelines of TMBRA to be part of the series. Each one has a little local flavor for that reason, but what they do all have in common is, someone in the state is going to have to drive a long way to get there.
    Texas is big. The main population centers for mountainbikers are Houston, Dallas-Ft Worth, and Austin-San Antonio. The races are spread all over the state, but the variety of terrain is one of our biggest pluses I think. It's just a fact of life here that if you want to contest a series, you'll be doing some travelling.

    On the original note of the post....I have very mixed feelings about the short course direction. Personally I prefer something with around an hour lap, however long the terrain makes that, but multiple laps of a shorter course IF IT'S FUN are okay too. Two of our spring races this year had special short courses for the Pro's, Mellow Johnny's and Rocky Hill, and I know of at least one more for next year. Like another poster said, unless you have a vested interest in cycling yourself, watching XC is not very exciting. The reason the Euro's do pack people in for their XC's is because their culture does have a vested interest in cycling.
    That's awesome. I think my mentality is just different, as I grew up in the north east, and we don't regularly drive for hours and hours to get somewhere. I know that texas is different.

    How short is too short in your guys' opinion? I've raced on long, single loop enduro's, and I've also raced on 1.5 mile loops... I like racing (but not driving) and I've enjoyed both...

  41. #41
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    Some UCI sanctioned organizers are having problems with putting together loops that are long enough for Marathon racing. So Marathons are getting shorter. Shorter XC tracks and race times may be one way to maintain differentiation between XC and Marathon

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Funny enough I sit here at mt. Saint Anne getting ready to ride and am more than a little bit nervous about the coming trips down the rock garden. AnD it usually takes a lot to make me nervous.

    r
    I can't imagine why, just because the wet sandy soil at this end of the course makes everything feel likes it's covered with sand sized marbles

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-026.jpg

    Or because this end of the course has some of the greasiest mud on the roots and wet bridge decks

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-021.jpg
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  43. #43
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    I just did three laps of the Saint Ann course in the pouring rain.

    First the course is a lot of fun, for me at least it is what mountain biking is about. Wicked descents and wicked climbs.

    Second the course is hard, really hard. The climbs are so hard that it takes all the technical skills I have developed over 20 years of riding in BC to make them. The descents put a knot in your stomache every lap.

    To spectate the course is amazing. You can see the riders in 5 or 6 different places each lap. You actually get to watch the race instead of waiting 30 minutes for the racers to come through.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    LMN, what tires were you running in those conditions? Ignitors or Ikons?

    I've been really pleased with how well the Ikons do on wet roots and rocks. A little mud seems OK as well, but too much easily overwhelms them.

    Sorry for the sidebar!

  45. #45
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    I was on set of really bald Ikons today. On the wet rocks and roots they were decent but in the deeper mud struggled a bit.

    Catharine tried Ikons and a new mud tire today. both had there plus and minuses for her. I suspect that she will probably run Ikons on Saturday.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  46. #46
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    Interesting, thanks for the info. Good luck to Catharine, we'll be watching!

  47. #47
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    The women's race was fast but not quite as crazy as the 2010 World Champs, the top 10 were covered by 5 minutes this year instead of 2:40 (edit: I just looked back at the 2008 results, 12 minutes covered the top 10 riders, in 2009 it was 5 minutes for the top 10).

    There were quite a few crashes, this was definitely no cake walk. I think all of these gals crashed at least once, and many other gals came by looking dipped in dirt. Most of the course was drying up to the point of being dusty in places, but there would have been some muddy sections in the trees. With the bright sun it was hard to see with the big contrast between sunny and shady spots. Quite a few crashes at La Beatrice in the first lap, and that might have been the one that finally took Sabine Spitz out as she crashed quite hard just in front of MHP on that first descent. It was also quite warm and there seemed to be a lot of heat related DNF's in the XCO races.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails August MBA anti-UCI rant-msa-ew-race-061-2.jpg  

    Last edited by rockyuphill; 07-03-2011 at 05:11 AM.
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  48. #48
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    Here's one of the technical climb sections at MSA that LMN mentioned. Harder to see without the course tape but you can see the tape posts
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails August MBA anti-UCI rant-055.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-056.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-057.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-058.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-059.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-060.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-061.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-062.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-063.jpg  

    August MBA anti-UCI rant-065.jpg  

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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill View Post
    Here's one of the technical climb sections at MSA that LMN mentioned. Harder to see without the course tape but you can see the tape posts
    I think right after this...

    Er...


  50. #50
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    I walked some of the technical parts of the course last night just to take pics and there was a moment or two there where I couldn't even see where a trail might continue up, it looked like it dead ended into a rock pile. I bet if I looked close I could find some chainring teeth beside some of those rocks, lots of scrapes on the tops.

    No one ever shoots video or photos in these areas because there's not much "action" compared to the descents.

    The next section further west that runs down through the trees then exits across the bridge was another gnarly mess, and it was drier last night than on Saturday morning.
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