Coffee Talk Tuesday - Measuring Growth in the sport of Cycling

Today's Coffee Talk Tuesday Discussion deals with measuring the growth of the sport of cycling. This is a hot topic these days with all the categories and possible USAC merger.. Give us your 2 or 3 cents on this topic!

This weekend I had an awesome time of not driving 60 minutes to watch the USGP race but instead saw the live streaming from cyclingdirt.com. While watching, one of the commentators (not Peter Webber, but the other guy) mentioned something about how you can see how the sport is really growing when you see riders like Yannick Eckmann be such a successful rider at only the age of 18.

Yannick is a great rider, he finished 5th on Saturday beating big names in the field and coming back on Sunday to also do well. If Yannick continues to improve like he has then I very much believe he could be the next Ryan Trebon, J-Pow or Tim Johnson.

But does Yannick's success = growth?


USAC says yes! Here is a diagram I got from Steve Johnson, the CEO of USAC, a few years ago as he was explaining to me the value of USAC. At the top of the chart you have heroes like Lance Armstrong, Tim Johnson, Levi etc. These heroes inspire younger riders and they grow, compete and become the next set of heroes. These heroes not only get the youth involved but they get all ages and genders inspired to ride and race. I believe their pitch but not all the way

But what about the ever expanding 35+ & 35+ cat 4 fields? Obviously the sport is growing when you have 35+ cat 4 fields over 100 riders. And of the huge cat 4 and 35+ cat 4 fields how many got into the sport because of cycling heros? Or was it just for the love of the competing and the sport?

See where I'm going with this? Which group is more important to cater to, the current and future heroes of cycling or the new riders (regardless of age) who are just entering the sport?

Cast your vote and take our poll

Maybe growth isn't the metric we even need to be measuring, maybe it's that catching phrase everyone is using these days... "sustainability" Which growth can provide a sustainable future in the sport of cycling for say the next 5 years?

Lastly I would like to say Yannick is awesome! For me he does make me proud that some youth of today do value the sport of cycling... wish I had his drive at such a young age. Good Luck Yannick and hope to see you on the podium soon!

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Congrats Snowmass - NRC 2012

On the NRC for 2012
Aug. 21-23: Aspen/Snowmass Pro Women's Race (2.5.2), Aspen, CO – women only

2012 National Racing Calendar

March 22-25: Redlands Bicycle Classic (2.2), Redlands, CA – men and women
April 26-29: Joe Martin Stage Race p/b Nature Valley (2.3), Fayetteville, AR – men and women
May 2-6: SRAM Tour of the Gila (2.2), Silver City, NM – men and women
June 3: Liberty Classic (1.HC) – Philadelphia, PA - women
June 13-17: Nature Valley Grand Prix (2.1), MN - men and women
July 17-22: Cascade Classic Stage Race (2.2), Bend, OR – men and women
Aug. 3-5: Tour of Elk Grove (2.3), IL – women only
Aug. 21-23: Aspen/Snowmass Pro Women's Race (2.5.2), Aspen, CO – women only
Sept. 15: Univest Grand Prix (1.HC), Souderton, PA – men only

2012 National Criterium Calendar

March 31: Cigar City Brewing Criterium (1.4), Tampa, FL – men only
April 14: Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium (1.1), Charlotte, NC - men and women
April 21: Sunny King Criterium (1.3), Anniston, AL – men and women
May 4-6: USA CRITS Speedweek (2.5.2), SC and GA – men and women
May 6: Dana Point Grand Prix of Cycling (1.2), Dana Point, CA – men only
May 12: Tour de Grove (1.2), St. Louis, MO – men and women
May 19: Wilmington Grand Prix (1.3), Wilmington, DE – men and women
May 28: Tour of Somerville (1.2), Somerville, NJ – men only
May 31: Base Camp International p/b Verizon Wireless (1.3), Basking Ridge, NJ – men only
June 2: Glencoe Grand Prix (1.3), Glencoe, IL – men and women
June 8-10: Saint Francis Tulsa Tough (2.5.1), Tulsa, OK – men and women
June 9-10: Air Force Cycling Classic (2.5.1), Arlington, VA – men and women
June 17: Harlem Skyscraper Criterium (1.4), Manhattan, NY – men only
June 28-July 1: Tour of America's Dairyland (2.5.2), WI – men and women
July 8: Manhattan Beach Grand Prix (1.2), Manhattan Beach, CA – men only
July 14: Exergy Twilight Criterium (1.2), Boise, ID – men and women
July 28: Herman Miller Grand Cycling Classic (1.2), Grand Rapids, MI – women only
Aug. 25-26: Chris Thater Memorial (1.2), Binghampton, NY - men and women
Sept. 23: TD Bank Mayors Cup (1.4), Boston, MA – men and women

Let's not forget that Steve

Let's not forget that Steve Johnson "works" for Lance Armstrong as Armstrong is a Director of the USA Cycling Development Foundation which really controls cycling. So, he almost has to promote his "hero/boss."

Also, "Team USA" or whatever name, as a USAC Colorado "club" is the "club" used to "organize" the Livestrong rides (read "free insurance"). They are also "promoting" the Nov. 6th Colorado Sps cross race at USAC HQ with a $1,500 cash prize list for both Pro Men and Women. No sponsors, just USAC cash. The ACA/USAC Reciprocity Agreement concernig date conflcits and working on a schedule to avoid conflicts....nowhere to be seen.

Honestly we should be more

Honestly we should be more concerned about growing the sport of cycling and not necessarily growing the sport of 'competitive' cycling. Don't get me wrong, I love to compete for the personal challenge, but with less than 20% of Americans even getting on a bike last year for more than a week, it is going to take more than the heroes to grow the sport of cycling.

"39.3 million Americans age seven and older were estimated to have ridden a bicycle six times or more in 2010, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. This was up about 3% from 2009. The peak participation year was 1995, with 56.3 million participants. It should be noted that the age limit on this number eliminates millions of young people who ride bicycles with wheel sizes 19" and under."

From: http://nbda.com/articles/industry-overview-2010-pg34.htm

I didn't start riding and racing bikes 25 years ago because of any particular hero, but I started riding after seeing the 1984 Olympics. That was my inspiration for my parents to buy me a Columbia 10-speed, but heroes certainly are not the reason I stuck with the sport. Heroes come and go...frankly a lot of them are douche bags anyway.

For me, cycling is a passion - dirt or pavement, it does not matter just as long as it is a ride with friends or family. The racing I do is to give me a personal challenge and a goal to help me stay fit (heart disease runs in my family).

If each of us encouraged one non-cyclist to ride for fitness, fun or commuting, we would probably do a better job growing the sport of cycling than all of the racing organizations combined.

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