Larry's Blog Pages

August 5, 2009

Where did all the cyclists go?

I have recently competed in my second cycling road race. As with the first race (Good Friday Road Race in the spring of 2009), I was overwhelmed by the incredible, non-professional talent that showed up to the event but was puzzled by the lack of average to beginner riders?

I guess, coming from the world of triathlon and duathlon, I am use to seeing many athletes in all shapes, sizes, sexes and abilities. In my two adventures in strictly cycling events, I noticed a lack of hobbyists, first timers and a major shortage of women racers. I am not sure why these people do not come out for these races because I am positive that there are plenty of these cyclists in the region from my experiences in club and everyday riding.

What is it about the Ontario Cycling Association races that draw the top riders, usually associated with a competitive team, but not the “weekend warriors”? These participants make up a great deal of the fields in the running and triathlon contests that I frequent and they are the driving force allowing these competitions to strive, giving many of us older athletes a reason to stay active and healthy.

Is the lack of these racers a concern to the governing body in our Province? Will it affect the growth of the sport in the future? Are there plans to increase the numbers of participants at the races approved by the OCA? Are there other races out there that I have not seen that attract the regular cyclist, like myself?

If anyone has some thoughts on this topic it would be very interesting to hear your opinion!

Thank you,
Larry Bradley

1 comment:

Jason said...

I think for the most part those that participate in Tri/Duo events would be surprised to find out that there is a culture of elitism that starts in the top ranks of the Ontario peleton and trickles all the way to the bottom.

To say that Road racing in Ontario doesn't promote comradery is an understatment. For newcomers, it's tough to find a club that is willing to tutor younger/newer riders. The top teams are generally composed of people who have been racing for years and are uninterested in helping others -- rather they are more concerned with their own results (while our sport dies). To find a good team is a crapshoot at best.

As for the weekend warrior types that we see riding around the escarpment, etc on the weekend, I do not blame them for not joining in. The Ontario peleton knows who is new to the field and they constantly chastise and belittle newer riders about the smallest (inconsequential) infractions -- take a look at the Canadian cyclist forum for examples of such pettiness.

For whatever reason, the sport at the top ranks (M1, S1) and down has degenerated into a group of cynical, me-first riders who, at the sake of the sports future, are not giving back to the younger riders or helping those new to the sport.

Of course this does not blanket the entire group -- but the percentage of "nice guys" versus "not-nice guys" is skewed so far in the latter category that I would urge any kid to pick up a tri-bike before a road bike.