PDA

View Full Version : Future of the Sport


Brendan Quirk
07-10-2017, 06:17 PM
Hello all,

In my role at Rapha I'm working on a fun project that concerns the future of road racing and I've a couple of questions I'd love your thoughts on:

1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...

The best idea (as judged by me) will get a money-can't-buy piece of Rapha clothing. Thanks a million.

Brendan

texbike
07-10-2017, 06:29 PM
Hello all,

In my role at Rapha I'm working on a fun project that concerns the future of road racing and I've a couple of questions I'd love your thoughts on:

1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...

The best idea (as judged by me) will get a money-can't-buy piece of Rapha clothing. Thanks a million.

Brendan

Perhaps make it more affordable? Honestly, I think the cost of entry is what keeps the sport from gaining a mainstream level of participation. Clothing is a big portion of that. I recently sold one of my bikes to a new rider. He texted me a few days later and mentioned that he had already spent more on clothing, shoes, and helmet than he had on the bike itself.

Texbike

jasonification
07-10-2017, 06:52 PM
2. I'm uncertain if this is already being done, but with the trade-in program of Rapha (when one loses enough weight to go a size down), what is done with the now-oversized Jersey? I wonder if it is/could be refurbished and donated to local cycling clubs that are trying to get youths involved?

Uncertain if there is a downsize offer for bib, but possibly doing that, and replacing the chamois with a new one and selling it at a cheaper price for those just getting into racing as well?

Sent from my D6653 using Tapatalk

kevinvc
07-10-2017, 07:00 PM
I would say the perception of the sport needs to be less of a bro-culture. The advertising of many events is still buy and for males. Women's images are either for arousal or an afterthought. Emphasizing the women's field as being as much a part of the sport as the men's is a real mind-shift for a lot of folks. Even the announcers at many races use patronizing or dismissive language when calling the women's races.

Call me overly pc if you want, but I think there's a lot of room to grow the sport by making half of the population feel like they potentially have a place in it.

pncguy
07-10-2017, 07:10 PM
Get ride of The Rules. Or maybe just those who take them seriously.

1centaur
07-10-2017, 07:18 PM
Cricket has massively reinvented itself over 50 years with brighter clothes and snappier formats.

Cycling won't click with a fast-paced culture with races that feature 3 weeks of long, mostly dull, races. But short races need courses and tracks, not open roads, especially if the participants are kids, which is essential. Major grown-up sports are major kids sports; cycling does not pass that test. Mountain-bike circuits work; road circuits don't really exist like that. Short-closed-road circuits might work but good luck lobbying for those. Maybe scout for compelling short circuits outside neighborhoods (rural but near cities) that would look good on video and then set up a youth road series that feeds from the grassroots up.

Walter
07-10-2017, 07:26 PM
More user friendly and lower barriers to entry. Keep it fun.

Cheaper entry price as others have said.

More fun events like fondos and gravel rides.

Less drama and fewer over-zealous official guiding participants at events. You go to too many local races and you would think some of these folks are in charge of a country rather than a low-grade, local event.

Too many road riders take themselves way too seriously. Constant pouty, countenance, faux tough guy look and they would die rather than give a wave and a good morning to another rider on the road.

Look at the shop rides that grow: fun, lots of accepting smiling faces, a good time, with no bro attitude, no this is the ride ya gotta win to make it to the TdF, etc.

Did I say keep it fun...?

steveandbarb1
07-10-2017, 07:36 PM
I just moved to RI east bay and now spending lot of time the best, healthiest, and safest environment - the East Bay bike trail that connects Bristol with Providence. Neighbor, total "non rider", medical researcher bikes 9 miles most every day with probably 1 mile of on road. Finish the east coast bikeway, and do it right. The impact to the many will be huge for a large population. This will then draw more into general road riding, thus increasing market for such goods as Rapha. Right now Rapha is a tiny fish in a small pond. Being a tiny fish in much larger pool results in more $$$. Of course, serve your clientele

pdmtong
07-10-2017, 07:40 PM
BQ - thanks for asking and keep up the good work at Rapha.

So, road racing as a participant or road racing as a spectator?

If the latter, IMHO the sport that has most radically modernized is the America's Cup. Look at what Ellison did when he changed the format from large sail keel boats to 75 foot fixed wing foiling slot cars. Traditional course and tactics but re-incarnated into the digital era.

many aspects of surfing have been modernized as well...

tjk23
07-10-2017, 07:46 PM
I think the biggest issue facing the future of the sport is the cost. The price of bikes and clothing has gotten way out of hand, which I think has a direct impact on the sport growing. Tell most people what you spent on your bike and what is spent a year on clothing and other disposable items and most just drop their jaw in disbelief. There is no other non motorized sport that cost so much to be a part of.

rustychisel
07-10-2017, 07:48 PM
Promote grass roots children's 'come and try' cycling, perhaps through a schools programme.

Best would be outdoor velodrome riding as is done at Herne Hill. A dedicated Cycle Path would be second best.

- safe and supervised environment
- remove the 'dangerous and dorky' perception
- address the bro-culture issue (mentioned previously)
- gender neutral (kids of age 5 tend not to discriminate)

* my granddaughter is not quite 7, has 'raced' at Herne Hill half a dozen times, now participates in organised rides with her parents (hi Penge CC) and has been made 'ride marshal' with the fluro bib a couple of times.

FlashUNC
07-10-2017, 08:02 PM
In the US, I think you'd be hard pressed to top what the NBA has done in terms of re-inventing itself for a younger generation for a couple reasons:

1) The league invested heavily in its digital/online presence. I can watch essentially any game, any time I want through the NBA site, the mobile app, or league pass on my cable box. That's on top of digital-specific content they're delivering directly through mobile and web (highlights, analysis, recaps, interviews, etc) 24/7. Its basically what I've seen from Velon, but on steroids. Obviously the NBA has deeper pockets, but their commitment to reaching audiences through digital above other platforms is pretty unprecedented for a Big Four sport.

The rights landscape in cycling is obviously far more balkanized and, well, a mess, but the more content you can float out there, unique across platforms, the better you're going to engage with an audience.

2) In terms of what could be done to make the sport relevant again...one idea that comes to mind is track cycling used to be the most popular sport in the country. And now, arguably, the most popular US spectator sport is essentially the same thing, just in what are supposed to be "stock" cars. Why not a US track season with pros dedicated to it, real payouts and stars that fans can follow around the country? NASCAR has its growth issues, but I think it shows there's a market for closed-circuit pack racing with guys slathered in logos going really fast in a circle. The moon shot part of that is you need the venues. A Six Days of Madison Square Garden perhaps? Bring back what made the venue famous to begin with?

TheEnglish
07-10-2017, 08:03 PM
I always try and look at the issues that create the rift. As I see it there are a few:
1. All the companies use the pinnacle athlete as the spokes person/image for their company and product, this creates a barrier to entry for many people that don't want that or are intimidated about that level of competition.

2. The sport does take itself too seriously as well as many of the top companies that make up the industry. Again we see a high barrier to entry with people being intimidated by the culture

3. Many people view cycling as dangerous and scary and are hesitant to even try riding bikes as an adult

The options for addressing these issues would be to increase the fun, decrease the inherent expectations of the experienced cyclists, and create an event that had less exposure to injury.

The cyclocross scene in the NW is a great example of overcoming those barriers and making fun events.

Road cycling could look to fondos, charity rides, and even marathons for a similar all included, results don't matter vibe on what could appeal to a larger population for a road bike format. The goal being, a more inclusive atmosphere with the spirit of a grand tour, day race, or criterium. So you could have a multi-day ride that is smaller days and more about the party and atmosphere (2 75 mile days over a weekend for a 150 mile loop, a one day ride that is a 50 mile loop on closed streets, or a criterium with some better safety features or smaller categories are just a few thoughts).

I would love to see a ride that was a 50 mile loop on a closed course centered on fun and inclusion with a great after party. The key on an event like that would be to include people of all abilities and walks of life and invite them to join in the community of cycling rather than tell them they have the wrong bike, helmet, form, words, or don't follow the rules properly.

Hope this helps, would love to see more people involved. One of my favorite things is to get new people on bikes and see that joy we all know appear on their faces.

AngryScientist
07-10-2017, 08:08 PM
from what i can gather, the sports that become popular are the ones we play as a kid and can see our "heroes" play (much better than us) on TV.

Every elementary school in the country (probably?) has a baseball, soccer, football and basketball team. kids get into those sports young, are led along by coaches and mentors along the way, and get to compete in games where mom, dad and grandpa can come cheer them on. they learn victory and defeat on the field and a whole bunch of other life lessons. when they go home they can watch the pros play and see the lifestyle becoming a pro athlete can lead to.

even many elementary schools have golf, tennis, hockey teams, etc.

at least as far as where i grew up in north jersey in spitting distance to NYC, there were no cycling teams and clubs for younger people.

why is this?

bikinchris
07-10-2017, 08:09 PM
I agree with Rusty.
A series of races meant for school aged kids. MTB races, Crits, Velodrome races, CX, Time Trials, road races. No carbon bikes and no tubulars.

If USA Cycling was serious, they would require every club to put on a series for youth and help develop youth racing.

WHEN I won the Powerball, I will build a velodrome in every state capitol and do it myself. If there is already a velodrome there, I will build one in a large city in that state.

sfscott
07-10-2017, 08:14 PM
If you're asking about it from the spectators' point of view, look to F1.

Bernie the Terrible aside, he and now Liberty media have done a great job with their app and producing great content on a daily basis. Good interviews, video, explanations on tech and strategy. Easy to follow and learn on ones phone.

F1 also handles and concentrates its sport while working along side team owners and event promoters. One need not independently hunt down which race is on during a particular week, follow multiple twitter feeds or "work" to keep up.

They also have money to spend developing drivers at lower levels so fans can easily see up and comers just as they do in watching minor league baseball.

Riders also need to develop some personality and panache. Who would you rather follow? Chris Froome or Daniel Ricciardo? Peter Sagan or Kimi?

Drmojo
07-10-2017, 08:16 PM
Take a page from their playbook.
Inclusive, female positive
Classy
Not just for any one type of rider.
Plus they are in London.
But you knew that.
All the best
Mojo
(Owner of 3 Rapha pieces,8 Vulpine)

charliedid
07-10-2017, 08:16 PM
Rapha Race Camp

Learn on Friday/Saturday. Clinics, classroom, films. Pro and amature racers as instructors etc.

Race on Sunday. (attendees only)

Pick 6 markets and collaborate with groups and pro/local racers and clubs.

Gummee
07-10-2017, 08:24 PM
Get ride of The Rules. Or maybe just those who take them seriously.

Wait! There's people that take 'the rules' seriously?

Seriously?!

For the utes, ya gotta make cycling 'counter culture' and 'artisinal' and 'hip' and all the rest of the stuff that all y'all already know 'they' want.

I'm not your demographic so take these with a grain of (all natural, sea-) salt

M

numbskull
07-10-2017, 08:25 PM
Road Racing is a ridiculous sport for children. There is too much size variability for age to make it fair, too much risk of serious injury, too much expense for growing children, and too much suffering to be fun for young kids. There is also a lack of shared social experience with their friends...which is a huge part of youth sport.

What you want to do is expose kids (say 7-12) to the fun of riding and racing bikes in a shorter and safer format. Once interested some will naturally move into road racing as teenagers.

If I had to try and get young kids interested in cycling I'd look towards developing some sort of "little league" short track program that provided bicycles of various size. Ideally a lighted, outdoor, paved, and low banked oval of about 1/6 or 1/8th a mile and a stable of shared single speed freewheel drop bar bicycles with brakes and drop seat posts would allow kids to show up and race various distances (while minimizing parental expense and avoiding equipment arms races). Kids would be grouped into teams and compete in short races both on an individual and team level. They would hang around and watch/socialize between races. Each team would also be able to use the facility for training once or twice a week.

I'm pretty sure enough would find it fun to consider continuing the sport as adolescents. At that point some sort of regional crit style opportunity on closed courses would make sense......ideally a travel league of sorts to compete against other towns/districts, again in a team format (like a x-country track race). Involving high school racing clubs would be another option.

But again, since bike racing is hard and requires suffering, to create a pool of interested adolescents you need to start with big numbers of younger kids and to do so you will need something simple, safe, fun, and inexpensive.

steveandbarb1
07-10-2017, 08:27 PM
"3. Many people view cycling as dangerous and scary and are hesitant to even try riding bikes as an adult"

Face it - it IS dangerous. Motorists today are more insane, too busy with their cell phones and new "I" gadget in their car. This is MAJOR barrier that isn't going away without huge cultural change. (think about it, sure we all personally know more than one that have died in bike/bike car accident)

e-RICHIE
07-10-2017, 08:28 PM
2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant?

To extend the question back to the subject header (Future of the Sort), separate cycling from the sport. The two don'r have to commingle for either or both to move forward. The sport, particularly at the higher levels, is all that's wrong with cycling. In my estimation, it has nothing to do with cycling at all. I could go on, but that's the gist of it.

rousseau
07-10-2017, 08:53 PM
Get ride of The Rules.
Heresy!

EDS
07-10-2017, 08:59 PM
Hello all,

In my role at Rapha I'm working on a fun project that concerns the future of road racing and I've a couple of questions I'd love your thoughts on:

1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...

The best idea (as judged by me) will get a money-can't-buy piece of Rapha clothing. Thanks a million.

Brendan

Sports that "modernized well": Weight lifting. Change the name (Cross Fit), make it accessible to all (young, old, genders, etc.), add some leader boards and "competition" with self/others.

Cycling: Reinvent the LBS by combining it with a spin studio but utilizing social media platforms such as Zwift and Strava that also translate to real cyclists (and to home and riding on the road). Get them in the door with the classes, then sell them shoes/gear and eventually a bike and lifestyle where you get them to ride outside.

false_Aest
07-10-2017, 09:00 PM
2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...


Do you want to make bike riding more relevant or do you want to make a certain section of cycling more relevant (road, gravel, mtn, enduro, flat, polo, cx, xc, park, etc.)?

The former: Get experienced riders to be "ambassadors." Not in the IG sense. Not in the ride-with-a-pro/worst retirement ever sense. I mean something like "Hey, you think riding in Los Angeles is impossible? I'll ride with you, at your pace, and show you that it isn't. And we don't have to wear stupid clothing to do it."

There's a LBS near me that focuses on that. Every year a bunch new customers will end up doing the AIDS/Lifecycle or try their hand at racing because the store takes the time to show people that you CAN ride in a city that is bike UNfriendly.

If it's the latter . . . go the WWF/WWE route.

sg8357
07-10-2017, 09:12 PM
Pro road cycling is like F1 racing, a strange European parade
ritual having no relevance to the real world of cycling as
recreational, transport and social activity.

velomateo
07-10-2017, 09:25 PM
How about a Strava type app that's designed for younger users. They could open up other layers of the app by reaching goals or other accomplishments. It could have instructional videos on safe riding, nutrition and even tactics.

rnhood
07-10-2017, 09:27 PM
I think the focus should be on group riding (and activities, events, etc), as it brings more satisfaction as well as driving up fitness and skill levels. More camaraderie evolves which ushers in yet more opportunities and activities - any not necessarily sports activities. Nothing wrong with riding alone but, it's not where the growth is. Its a bit detached. Groups and/or team activities bring the real growth in the sport.

Lovetoclimb
07-10-2017, 09:57 PM
1) All of the young digitally fixated people I know are either cyclists or not into sports much at all. I grew up playing soccer, transitioned to rowing, and eventually to cycling. I have watched as the digital age has come into its own in the cycling sub-culture and tried to stay relevant without excess effort. To me this is both enjoyable while flirting the line of aggravating. I enjoy seeing pictures of rides, races, bikes, etc. But that same photoset is also often forced and difficult to NOT see. Think of the last time you were at an event (particularly a bike race, but any major public outing) and who was genuinely enjoying it without their phone trying to capture the perfect image or video ...

There used to be a sense of romanticism and pure enjoyment in cycling. I felt this much in the same way as rowing when I took that up. Pain, pleasure, defeat, all for the elusive victory. That victory did not have to involve the finish line either. During my formative cycling years, a young company named Rapha was producing and releasing some of the most captivating videos I had ever seen. 2-4 minutes of romantic, recreational cycling. It did not have to be about racing. It was about exploring. Is it any wonder that such a message resonated with people? All we have to do is examine the changing direction of the bike industry and amateur and unsanctioned racing to see the market responding to people's requests and demands. Could Rapha continue to capitalize on this in an innovative way much the same as they did with those early Continental videos? I sure hope so because at 32 years old, I am beginning to feel like the retro-grouch I have always known was lying dormant inside. Inspire me please!?


2) All of the above being said, I do still go about my daily life with a smart-phone by my side. And professional bike racing is just about the only sport I remotely care to engage in. A difficult task when you live in the SE USA surrounded by football, baseball, college football/basketball/insert other ball sport fans. However the concept of Fantasy Football would be an interesting one to expand into cycling, but if we're being honest, that scene is largely a late 20s to early 50s? male scene, so would it be any different for cycling? The answer lies in how those of us men who are cyclists continue to push for the development and equal opportunity of the women's side of the sport. I personally would enjoy a mobile app following all of the races, racers, and teams both engaging and educating me. Even expanding it to off-shoot leagues such the American criterium racing calendar or the European track racing for the avid fans of those series. Cyclocross would also be an obvious easy sell, as there is certainly a heavy amount of betting already occurring there. I can picture a virtual player card of Matthieu Van der Poel with stats, perhaps some quick snaps of his tail whips and power passes, and the amount of people who would try to build a winning fantasy team around such a rider. Copy and paste for Peter Sagan, Nino Schurter, etc etc.

msl819
07-10-2017, 10:08 PM
A large part of the problem as I see it is the simple fact that kids don't ride bikes like they used to and at least where I live, it really isn't safe to do so. Most people's first taste of the bike was that of freedom. Now cars drive fast, drivers are distracted, and parents won't let kids out of their sight, maybe for good reason. I can't remember the last time I saw an elementary school with bikes on the rack, if it even has one. All the other reason stated are valid, but kids begin to fall in love with most activities when it is fun and they are carefree. Turning youth racing into its own version of travel baseball is only good for parent's ego. I don't know if it is even possible for kids to ride bikes as carefree as they used to but my kids will likely be teenagers before they are able to ride the roads alone. That's a long time. I wish, for them, they were still sticking baseball cards in their rear wheel, jumping curbs, and riding their bike to friends houses more than 2 streets away. But that isn't reality where I live.

tv_vt
07-10-2017, 10:24 PM
See comments under each question:



1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

Sports that seem to be holding their own include soccer, tennis, track and field, and probably a bunch more. Most of these have their own playing field, and don't have nearly the equipment needs that cycling has, and there are more pressure points in the game compared to cycling. There is maybe a bigger emphasis on skill over simple aerobic/anaerobic capacity in many of these. Mastering all of the mechanical parts of cycling is a high bar for many people, and high cost too. Not having to deal with all of the equipment issues is a plus for many of the thriving sports: soccer-a ball, field and a couple of goals; tennis-racket, balls, and a court; basketball- a ball and hoops and a court; etc. Men and women both can be challenged by the mechanical aspect of cycling, and the associated costs, and the constantly changing standards. Simplicity and low cost entry are a good base for a sport, if you're trying to spread it out more to the masses. Not to mention that when the roads and highways are the playground for your sport, there are safety issues galore. Not so much when you're playing on a court or ballfield without cars and trucks whizzing by.

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure.

I even wonder if it's worth the effort, frankly. It is such a challenge these days to hold bike races on public roads. Safety, costs, elitism, you name it. Maybe there should be categories of race bikes like there are categories of car races. Stock car races - why not stock bike races? Companies can make bikes that meet certain requirements for racing in various categories, perhaps. Limit gears to 5 speeds, frames to aluminum, components to 105 level - just a thought. But you don't street legal GTI's racing against Porsche Factory Lemans cars, why should you have Pinarello F10/Campy EPS/Bora wheels steeds racing against an REI Novara Tiagra bike or whatever?

More grass courses, maybe. Not cyclocross, but courses for road-type bikes (yeah including cross bikes) but on courses not needing road closures like parks or whatever. Also makes the issue of crashes maybe less dangerous if they happen on grass/dirt instead of asphalt.

Look how popular the Little 500 bike race is - it has both of those features: simple stock bikes for all the teams with very little modification allowed, and a non-road closed course (a cinder oval track - also great for spectators).

And on and on. Sponsorship is a real challenge for the pros, and right on down. But at the very local level, it might be there - but you need teams on a very local level to get it.

shovelhd
07-10-2017, 10:50 PM
You specifically said road racing and not road riding, and it seems your focus is USA based.

The biggest, most celebrated events in the USA, like the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and the like, are just not spectator friendly. You have to either be a fan of the sport and fight for the best viewing position for the 15-30-60 seconds of the race that you get to see, or you just hang around and drink and cheer at the same intervals when the riders pass. That kind of fan interaction will not grow the sport. Look what the NBA and college basketball has done to enhance the fan experience. It doesn't involve standing around and waiting for hours for something to happen.

The core of American racing is the criterium. The cream of the crop criteriums are in a city atmosphere, downtown, and at night. The courses are strategically placed near bars and restaurants right on the course so that spectators have a free pass to the front row. Action happens on every lap, and the whole event, men's pro and women's pro, is done in 2.5 hours. This is a great core for expansion.

If you look back to the 1980's when road racing exploded around the 1984 Olympics, promoters were paying thousands of dollars each to import European pros to stack the field. This created intrigue for the average spectator. Can the Americans beat the best of Europe in a generally European sport? It was this angle that prompted crowds to offer up thousands of dollars of crowd primes. Whether there was betting going on behind the scenes, I don't know, but that's something that should be pursued. Why not? The technology is there to make it happen. Bring the keirin to the streets.

Make the top of the sport attractive, fun, interesting, easy to understand, exciting, and lucrative, and the rest will take care of itself.

peanutgallery
07-10-2017, 11:05 PM
Just to be a contrarian (and after reading many posts), I will argue that Rapha itself is a perfect example of what's wrong with the sport in the US. The sport can change if Rapha changes

Examples:
1) Men in their 40s and 50s obliviously chasing their youth on a bike while wrecking everything around them. Women, kids and younger folks are usually far and few between. Total middle aged sausage fest => check

2) Social media and B and W pics of "epic" rides consisting of the above-mentioned individuals looking real important and participating in stuff that no one knows about....but still having that "I may want to drop a duece soon" look on the face....without a lid => check

3) Designing "epic" clothes and paying a 13 year-old in China to make them pennies to produce them while charging a market premium for the end product => check

4) No representation in the LBS, but pretending you sort of do => check

I could go on, but I hope you get my point. If you want to develop racing in the US, Rapha could be the tip of the spear or an example of its demise. Currently, I feel its the latter

On another note, great job with Competitive Cyclist. In it's heyday, the modern equivalent of the the 1994 Quality catalog. Incredibly detailed and informative, great source of tidbits, factoid and compatibility things involving all things bike. An on-line shop for nice stuff that was like an LBS in a lot of ways, not many have pulled that off. Why you sold it to the current numb nuts I'll never know

beeatnik
07-10-2017, 11:41 PM
Brendan, the NFL is expanding in Mexico, where futbol and beisbol dominate. It was first embraced by middle class kids in the 80s, the demographic which had the most access to entertainment options.

The answer to question 2 is related to question 1. Brown. Next time you're in LA do some riding in Downtown and the San Gabriel Valley suburbs. You'll see what I mean.

Tandem Rider
07-10-2017, 11:53 PM
You specifically said road racing and not road riding, and it seems your focus is USA based.

The biggest, most celebrated events in the USA, like the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and the like, are just not spectator friendly. You have to either be a fan of the sport and fight for the best viewing position for the 15-30-60 seconds of the race that you get to see, or you just hang around and drink and cheer at the same intervals when the riders pass. That kind of fan interaction will not grow the sport. Look what the NBA and college basketball has done to enhance the fan experience. It doesn't involve standing around and waiting for hours for something to happen.

The core of American racing is the criterium. The cream of the crop criteriums are in a city atmosphere, downtown, and at night. The courses are strategically placed near bars and restaurants right on the course so that spectators have a free pass to the front row. Action happens on every lap, and the whole event, men's pro and women's pro, is done in 2.5 hours. This is a great core for expansion.

If you look back to the 1980's when road racing exploded around the 1984 Olympics, promoters were paying thousands of dollars each to import European pros to stack the field. This created intrigue for the average spectator. Can the Americans beat the best of Europe in a generally European sport? It was this angle that prompted crowds to offer up thousands of dollars of crowd primes. Whether there was betting going on behind the scenes, I don't know, but that's something that should be pursued. Why not? The technology is there to make it happen. Bring the keirin to the streets.

Make the top of the sport attractive, fun, interesting, easy to understand, exciting, and lucrative, and the rest will take care of itself.

Wheat Thins, Coors, Stupid Week, A to Z etc. The fields, crowds, and $ were bigger then than now, and that's WITHOUT accounting for inflation. Races were short, fast, and EXITING TO WATCH, Wheat Thins laps were under 1:10 for example. They were downtown in the evening, not in an office park on Sunday morning. Euro pros were there, podiums, stages, food, booze, restaurants, riders had nicknames, music and announcers who knew about the racers blasted through the speakers all around the course and then they interviewed the winner. It was both a show and an event, a little bit of NASCAR so to speak. :)

I helped out at Jinglecross last year and that was as close to what I'm talking about as I have seen years but it still was not quite there. I'm not sure that there is enough financial backing at this time to recreate that scene.

ceolwulf
07-11-2017, 12:31 AM
Cricket has massively reinvented itself over 50 years with brighter clothes and snappier formats.

Cycling won't click with a fast-paced culture with races that feature 3 weeks of long, mostly dull, races. But short races need courses and tracks, not open roads, especially if the participants are kids, which is essential. Major grown-up sports are major kids sports; cycling does not pass that test. Mountain-bike circuits work; road circuits don't really exist like that. Short-closed-road circuits might work but good luck lobbying for those. Maybe scout for compelling short circuits outside neighborhoods (rural but near cities) that would look good on video and then set up a youth road series that feeds from the grassroots up.

Track is the future.

I'm more than half convinced of this.

charliedid
07-11-2017, 01:37 AM
Track is the future.

I'm more than half convinced of this.

You may be right and have maybe uttered it myself before. Build velodromes in cities and teach people how to race track bikes. The city is chock full of kids on fixies that should or could probably learn a thing or two. Chicago has tried to pull off a new track and it super tough.

Seems a natural.

brockd15
07-11-2017, 02:45 AM
I think there are two things:

1) You absolutely have to have some name recognition/star power. People need to know at least some of the people out there racing. There are some now but they're really only known to those already into cycling. There's not much appeal in watching a bunch of random people competing, it's sooooo much more interesting when you have someone to cheer for (or against) and follow. Wasn't the last big surge of cycling popularity when Armstrong was the man? Non-cyclists know him, and that's the point. Artificially created or not, there need to be riders, teams, and rivalries that are well known. Introduce some stats, people love stats. How fast are these guys going (in mph)? How fast do they sprint, how steep are the climbs, etc?

2) For the love...it has to be made easier to follow. I like cycling and I don't keep up with it because it's too much work. If I want to keep up I have to go seek out the info and updates. Even if you get no. 1 going and people are pumped up after the TdF (for example) to see how some of these big hitters will do in the next race, they'll lose interest if they can't quickly and easily find out what the next race is, when it starts, who's racing it, who won last year, who are the favorites, a couple story lines to draw them in, etc.

cachagua
07-11-2017, 02:46 AM
Just to be a contrarian (and after reading many posts), I will argue that Rapha itself is a perfect example of what's wrong with the sport in the US. The sport can change if Rapha changes

Examples:
1) Men in their 40s and 50s obliviously chasing their youth on a bike while wrecking everything around them. Women, kids and younger folks are usually far and few between. Total middle aged sausage fest => check

2) Social media and B and W pics of "epic" rides consisting of the above-mentioned individuals looking real important and participating in stuff that no one knows about....but still having that "I may want to drop a duece soon" look on the face....without a lid => check

3) Designing "epic" clothes and paying a 13 year-old in China to make them pennies to produce them while charging a market premium for the end product => check

4) No representation in the LBS, but pretending you sort of do => check

I could go on, but I hope you get my point...



Thank you for posting that. There's a great deal more to say about these points and related ones, although it's probably out of place here. It's certainly well outside the scope of the original questions, a close reading of which reveals the narrow range of acceptable answers: what the questions ask for is not what you'd like to see Rapha sell, not how they present and project their brand, emphatically not what you'd like bike racing or biking look like in the future. What you're being asked for is free profit-maximizing strategy, nothing less and nothing more. You're gettin' played.

Moderators -- do you allow this? It is far more offensive than profanity. My vote is to delete this item.

verticaldoug
07-11-2017, 06:04 AM
If you don't target children, there is no long term future, so you can change the discussion to how best to manage the long term decline.

If you want teenagers,
I'd forget targeting road racing and even though NICA is MTB, I 'd focus on that. Trek, Shimano, SRAM are already putting some weight behind it.

We have a NICA team at my daughter's high school. It includes both teenage boys and teenage girls. (key future demographic for you) I'm pretty confident most of these kids will probably ride for life.

My daughter is a lacrosse player, and I see how much Under Armour targets the youth sports. By the time they are a senior, the coolest place to be is the UA All American game. Nike has the same with cross country. Coolest place to be is the Nike Cross Nationals.

By piggy backing with NICA, you end up partnering with people who are already passionate about a sport, plus you are focusing on youth who are already interested in the sport. Easier to build on success than start from scratch. Besides, even for something like UA All American game, Corrigan Sports does a lot of the leg work, and UA is essentially the supplier of the goodie bag. Rapha can do a pretty nice goodie bag, although somehow I know you'll end up calling it a musette.

Jgrooms
07-11-2017, 06:20 AM
Its simple for both participation & general interest. Sport needs a hero. One need not look back into the annals of history to see what that did.

But then you have PED issue & forget it. Its hard to see an era where anyone buys into a hero again.

So have at it Rapha, 'we don't need another hero' is your bridge too far.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

SlowPokePete
07-11-2017, 06:47 AM
I'm gonna jump on what vertical Doug said...take a look any what's happening with NICA.

SPP

ultraman6970
07-11-2017, 08:48 AM
Future of the sport? are we talking in the US or in the whole world???

There's a lot of stuff going on in the US compared with other countries that need to be addressed to help the future of the sport.

1 - lets face it, the sport is boring to watch compared with other sports. So there's not too much tv exposure of the sport in tv, meaning regular tv.

2 - here in the US there is a super competitive culture aswell, which somehow put people away from the sport, im talking about the 40 y/o cyclist or triathlete guy (and fairly new to the sport) that get pissed off when you get at their wheel because they are training? and going 16 mph in the flats. At that point clearly the dude did not make it in the sport (any sport IMO) and they get mad for no reason, that is scary. In europe and south america did not notice this at all, people is more realistic of what they can or cant do, and more friendly at any level aswell. Attitude of a large ammount of people has to change.

3 - Another problem here compared with Europe is that the americans if nothing is in writing or in a book or backed up by book is not valid at all, and IME usually are those 40 y/o dudes I mentioned in #3. So again you have a problem of attitude to see the reality of the things.

4 - The other problem I see and pretty much is all over the place tho, but seen it here more, marketing in cycling is way over loaded with BS, too many products, too many competitors and too much BS about their product all over the place and IMO this needs to change, some buyers and smart and those are the ones that need to be lured, the guy at #3 and #4 i do not count them too much because they dont last for too long and if they do they will buy a donkey with bike wheels if they are told in a magazine that is better and faster to ride at 20 mph. IMO it is time for manufacturers to just be straight forward honest with their claims about the product and probably that will bring them my hard earning money.

5 - Price, that your stuff is good doesnt mean I will spend zillions in getting them, in the case of rapha I cant pay even for used stuff being sold here. I know there's premium for the product but if the thing is for millionares only well... i think I wont buy it ever, so to me price is super important.

ltwtsculler91
07-11-2017, 08:55 AM
More user friendly and lower barriers to entry. Keep it fun.

Cheaper entry price as others have said.


Look at the shop rides that grow: fun, lots of accepting smiling faces, a good time, with no bro attitude, no this is the ride ya gotta win to make it to the TdF, etc.

Did I say keep it fun...?

To me this is especially key. Coming from rowing, cycling seemed cheap (well at least the bike itself, paying double/triple for spandex with a pad in it was a shocker) but what really got me hooked was our shop rides and the group there. Everyone was extremely friendly and willing to take the time to teach and encourage me along from cruising along with the B ride, to hammering at the front of our A ride, to now guiding me through my first season of racing. We all hang out after the rides at the shop, enjoying the wonderful night of riding, on the fast ride night it is celebrating everyone pushing themselves a bit further rather than who "won" a silly group ride.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:14 AM
Jason, thanks for your feedback. Patagonia is doing some interesting things exactly along these lines and it's provided a spark of conversation with cycling clothing. It's nice to hear outside validation that this could be a good idea. Thanks for your reply...Brendan

2. I'm uncertain if this is already being done, but with the trade-in program of Rapha (when one loses enough weight to go a size down), what is done with the now-oversized Jersey? I wonder if it is/could be refurbished and donated to local cycling clubs that are trying to get youths involved?

Uncertain if there is a downsize offer for bib, but possibly doing that, and replacing the chamois with a new one and selling it at a cheaper price for those just getting into racing as well?

Sent from my D6653 using Tapatalk

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:17 AM
Steve - I totally agree. Access to safe riding is critical for bringing new people into the sport, then making them interested in racing. According to People for Bikes there were 15 state level ballot initiatives that were passed for $5B in bike infrastructure spending. It was in states like TX, MI and GA. So there are encouraging signs. People for Bikes deserves a ton of credit for championing this. Thx, Brendan

I just moved to RI east bay and now spending lot of time the best, healthiest, and safest environment - the East Bay bike trail that connects Bristol with Providence. Neighbor, total "non rider", medical researcher bikes 9 miles most every day with probably 1 mile of on road. Finish the east coast bikeway, and do it right. The impact to the many will be huge for a large population. This will then draw more into general road riding, thus increasing market for such goods as Rapha. Right now Rapha is a tiny fish in a small pond. Being a tiny fish in much larger pool results in more $$$. Of course, serve your clientele

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:20 AM
Thx for your reply. It's interesting to see you stress "closed courses" which echoes what a lot of people mention -- there is a fundamental safety challenge in road cycling. Cars are scary! Investment in expanded cycling infrastructure is such an important piece to the participation challenge. Thx again, Brendan

I always try and look at the issues that create the rift. As I see it there are a few:
1. All the companies use the pinnacle athlete as the spokes person/image for their company and product, this creates a barrier to entry for many people that don't want that or are intimidated about that level of competition.

2. The sport does take itself too seriously as well as many of the top companies that make up the industry. Again we see a high barrier to entry with people being intimidated by the culture

3. Many people view cycling as dangerous and scary and are hesitant to even try riding bikes as an adult

The options for addressing these issues would be to increase the fun, decrease the inherent expectations of the experienced cyclists, and create an event that had less exposure to injury.

The cyclocross scene in the NW is a great example of overcoming those barriers and making fun events.

Road cycling could look to fondos, charity rides, and even marathons for a similar all included, results don't matter vibe on what could appeal to a larger population for a road bike format. The goal being, a more inclusive atmosphere with the spirit of a grand tour, day race, or criterium. So you could have a multi-day ride that is smaller days and more about the party and atmosphere (2 75 mile days over a weekend for a 150 mile loop, a one day ride that is a 50 mile loop on closed streets, or a criterium with some better safety features or smaller categories are just a few thoughts).

I would love to see a ride that was a 50 mile loop on a closed course centered on fun and inclusion with a great after party. The key on an event like that would be to include people of all abilities and walks of life and invite them to join in the community of cycling rather than tell them they have the wrong bike, helmet, form, words, or don't follow the rules properly.

Hope this helps, would love to see more people involved. One of my favorite things is to get new people on bikes and see that joy we all know appear on their faces.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:26 AM
I think the tide is turning here with NICA. It is a mind-bogglingly amazing organization. It has a well-built nationwide organization and a thorough cirriculum that's applicable to riders of all levels -- from brand-new to hardcore racers. It links directly into schools and school systems. To say it's brilliant is an understatement!

Interestingly, though, it's 100% MTB focused. I suspect it's because with MTB you get closed courses and NO CARS. There's nothing wrong with this approach, except that if your passion is road cycling it's painful to see the lack of a similar funnel for road.

One would think USA Cycling would lead the charge on this. But as an org it has a huge responsibility to cultivate Olympic athletes, which arguably leaves limited resources to introduce the sport to kids.

NICA is incredible, and I wonder if it will ever expand its reach to road -- or if another group will take the NICA model and apply it to road. Of course, without major enhancements in road safety (for bikes) I questions how many parents would be enthusiastic about their kids taking part in it...

from what i can gather, the sports that become popular are the ones we play as a kid and can see our "heroes" play (much better than us) on TV.

Every elementary school in the country (probably?) has a baseball, soccer, football and basketball team. kids get into those sports young, are led along by coaches and mentors along the way, and get to compete in games where mom, dad and grandpa can come cheer them on. they learn victory and defeat on the field and a whole bunch of other life lessons. when they go home they can watch the pros play and see the lifestyle becoming a pro athlete can lead to.

even many elementary schools have golf, tennis, hockey teams, etc.

at least as far as where i grew up in north jersey in spitting distance to NYC, there were no cycling teams and clubs for younger people.

why is this?

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:28 AM
I think the answer is....both! Road racing as a spectator faces obvious challenges: The utter lack of progress in terms of media coverage and racing formats in the face of digital upheaval, and this is where the greatest opportunity for change exists. Naturally, this will impact road racing as a participant.

If you have examples of how surfing has evolved in a way relevant to cycling, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks so much for replying...brendan

BQ - thanks for asking and keep up the good work at Rapha.

So, road racing as a participant or road racing as a spectator?

If the latter, IMHO the sport that has most radically modernized is the America's Cup. Look at what Ellison did when he changed the format from large sail keel boats to 75 foot fixed wing foiling slot cars. Traditional course and tactics but re-incarnated into the digital era.

many aspects of surfing have been modernized as well...

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:28 AM
To what extent do you think track racing is the answer, vs. getting kids out on (closed) roads?

I agree with Rusty.
A series of races meant for school aged kids. MTB races, Crits, Velodrome races, CX, Time Trials, road races. No carbon bikes and no tubulars.

If USA Cycling was serious, they would require every club to put on a series for youth and help develop youth racing.

WHEN I won the Powerball, I will build a velodrome in every state capitol and do it myself. If there is already a velodrome there, I will build one in a large city in that state.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:30 AM
One point here really resonates to me: There is no obligation of WorldTour teams to have developmental teams, or relationships with Women's teams. I remember when Rabobank was at its peak -- it had teams from junior level all the way up to ProTour. That seems really smart -- both in terms of developing talent and in terms of community engagement.

If you're asking about it from the spectators' point of view, look to F1.

Bernie the Terrible aside, he and now Liberty media have done a great job with their app and producing great content on a daily basis. Good interviews, video, explanations on tech and strategy. Easy to follow and learn on ones phone.

F1 also handles and concentrates its sport while working along side team owners and event promoters. One need not independently hunt down which race is on during a particular week, follow multiple twitter feeds or "work" to keep up.

They also have money to spend developing drivers at lower levels so fans can easily see up and comers just as they do in watching minor league baseball.

Riders also need to develop some personality and panache. Who would you rather follow? Chris Froome or Daniel Ricciardo? Peter Sagan or Kimi?

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:31 AM
It seems like NICA is doing exactly this. They are proving your point through and through. They are 100% focused on MTB and I get why that is (riding on trails is safer than roads.) I wonder if/when NICA (or someone else) will expand this approach to road racing.

Road Racing is a ridiculous sport for children. There is too much size variability for age to make it fair, too much risk of serious injury, too much expense for growing children, and too much suffering to be fun for young kids. There is also a lack of shared social experience with their friends...which is a huge part of youth sport.

What you want to do is expose kids (say 7-12) to the fun of riding and racing bikes in a shorter and safer format. Once interested some will naturally move into road racing as teenagers.

If I had to try and get young kids interested in cycling I'd look towards developing some sort of "little league" short track program that provided bicycles of various size. Ideally a lighted, outdoor, paved, and low banked oval of about 1/6 or 1/8th a mile and a stable of shared single speed freewheel drop bar bicycles with brakes and drop seat posts would allow kids to show up and race various distances (while minimizing parental expense and avoiding equipment arms races). Kids would be grouped into teams and compete in short races both on an individual and team level. They would hang around and watch/socialize between races. Each team would also be able to use the facility for training once or twice a week.

I'm pretty sure enough would find it fun to consider continuing the sport as adolescents. At that point some sort of regional crit style opportunity on closed courses would make sense......ideally a travel league of sorts to compete against other towns/districts, again in a team format (like a x-country track race). Involving high school racing clubs would be another option.

But again, since bike racing is hard and requires suffering, to create a pool of interested adolescents you need to start with big numbers of younger kids and to do so you will need something simple, safe, fun, and inexpensive.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:36 AM
The lack of a centralized, comprehensive, mobile-first digital application that serves as your resource for all bike racing activity (live & on-demand race coverage, up close & personal narratives, stats, etc) is madness! I totally agree. Imagine a world with no MLB or NFL apps.

But the well-documented difficulties in the relationship between the UCI and ASO seemingly make such a thing (for now) impossible for cycling. It feels short-sighted, but the potential prize is so big surely this tug of war can't go on forever...

1) All of the young digitally fixated people I know are either cyclists or not into sports much at all. I grew up playing soccer, transitioned to rowing, and eventually to cycling. I have watched as the digital age has come into its own in the cycling sub-culture and tried to stay relevant without excess effort. To me this is both enjoyable while flirting the line of aggravating. I enjoy seeing pictures of rides, races, bikes, etc. But that same photoset is also often forced and difficult to NOT see. Think of the last time you were at an event (particularly a bike race, but any major public outing) and who was genuinely enjoying it without their phone trying to capture the perfect image or video ...

There used to be a sense of romanticism and pure enjoyment in cycling. I felt this much in the same way as rowing when I took that up. Pain, pleasure, defeat, all for the elusive victory. That victory did not have to involve the finish line either. During my formative cycling years, a young company named Rapha was producing and releasing some of the most captivating videos I had ever seen. 2-4 minutes of romantic, recreational cycling. It did not have to be about racing. It was about exploring. Is it any wonder that such a message resonated with people? All we have to do is examine the changing direction of the bike industry and amateur and unsanctioned racing to see the market responding to people's requests and demands. Could Rapha continue to capitalize on this in an innovative way much the same as they did with those early Continental videos? I sure hope so because at 32 years old, I am beginning to feel like the retro-grouch I have always known was lying dormant inside. Inspire me please!?


2) All of the above being said, I do still go about my daily life with a smart-phone by my side. And professional bike racing is just about the only sport I remotely care to engage in. A difficult task when you live in the SE USA surrounded by football, baseball, college football/basketball/insert other ball sport fans. However the concept of Fantasy Football would be an interesting one to expand into cycling, but if we're being honest, that scene is largely a late 20s to early 50s? male scene, so would it be any different for cycling? The answer lies in how those of us men who are cyclists continue to push for the development and equal opportunity of the women's side of the sport. I personally would enjoy a mobile app following all of the races, racers, and teams both engaging and educating me. Even expanding it to off-shoot leagues such the American criterium racing calendar or the European track racing for the avid fans of those series. Cyclocross would also be an obvious easy sell, as there is certainly a heavy amount of betting already occurring there. I can picture a virtual player card of Matthieu Van der Poel with stats, perhaps some quick snaps of his tail whips and power passes, and the amount of people who would try to build a winning fantasy team around such a rider. Copy and paste for Peter Sagan, Nino Schurter, etc etc.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:40 AM
Please elaborate!!

Funny thing is that the Points Race at the 2016 Olympic Omnium is probably the most exciting race I watched in the last 5 years. I'm hardly a track fan, but I was completely entranced!

Track is the future.

I'm more than half convinced of this.

Brendan Quirk
07-11-2017, 09:44 AM
NICA is the most important thing to happen to American bike racing outside of the rise of Lemond and Armstrong. It is an incredible, incredible organization that is seemingly doing everything right. My awe of its accomplishments and growth are sky-high.

My only wish is that such an org existed for road cycling. The barriers are obvious: Roads (and cars) are terrifying for parents. Closed roads or velodromes far better cycling infrastructure seem to be necessary ingredients in order to create the mere possibility to advocate for kids to get out there. It's a long, long process...The only alternative is get kids hooked on MTBs with NICA, then hope once they get older they see the joys of road cycling. That feels like a risky path to grow the population of US road cyclists...

If you don't target children, there is no long term future, so you can change the discussion to how best to manage the long term decline.

If you want teenagers,
I'd forget targeting road racing and even though NICA is MTB, I 'd focus on that. Trek, Shimano, SRAM are already putting some weight behind it.

We have a NICA team at my daughter's high school. It includes both teenage boys and teenage girls. (key future demographic for you) I'm pretty confident most of these kids will probably ride for life.

My daughter is a lacrosse player, and I see how much Under Armour targets the youth sports. By the time they are a senior, the coolest place to be is the UA All American game. Nike has the same with cross country. Coolest place to be is the Nike Cross Nationals.

By piggy backing with NICA, you end up partnering with people who are already passionate about a sport, plus you are focusing on youth who are already interested in the sport. Easier to build on success than start from scratch. Besides, even for something like UA All American game, Corrigan Sports does a lot of the leg work, and UA is essentially the supplier of the goodie bag. Rapha can do a pretty nice goodie bag, although somehow I know you'll end up calling it a musette.

seanile
07-11-2017, 09:48 AM
haven't read much of this thread..but i'll recommend sponsoring a high school race team...or even assisting in developing a high school league in some area in which the high schools already have a large % of its students graduate to colleges that have bike racing teams.
probably going to have to look to private schools for this given the $, graduation rate, and volume needed, to which i would say look to the rowing networks and regattas in the philadelphia/central & northern nj areas for lists of potential schools.
be prepared for rich parents to want in on the politics of it all though.


edit: hell, getting the kids involved in the sport may lead to the parents driving more safely around all cyclists ;)
edit edit: rowing has some strong parallels to the spectator challenges as well; 6-8km head races with not much chance to follow along, and then 1.5-2km sprints on a straight away where the finish is a cluster.

KJMUNC
07-11-2017, 09:50 AM
Depends on if the focus is on pro cycling or just riding your bike, as others have mentioned. Improve the experience of the sport vs. experience of the fan?

I think someone like Rapha has to take a step back and look at the landscape and pick their spot.....so much of cycling's infrastructure is dominated by a few large sports organizations or fragmented to a degree that makes getting anything done collectively very challenging.

Some angles for existing cycling fans that could use modernizing:

-In Race Engagement: follow NASCAR/NFL's lead on putting the fan "into" the race via existing technology - why isn't race radio broadcast? why can't we hear or even talk to riders on their radios? NASCAR pioneered this, NFL does similar with radio/cameras.....not saying we should be able to quiz Froome while he jogs up a climb, but a fan's view of what goes on in the race is 100% filtered by whomever you happen to be listening too for race commentary. I'd love to see more real-time data on riders in the race, but I think teams will always limit how that information is used.

-Become a change agent: if you want a moon-shot; why not create a platform for unifying the riders. It doesn't have to be a full-frontal attack on the owners/organizers, but the riders never have a common voice and they're not going to get it from within their current structure. Why not organize/sponsor a rider's summit or something where they can come together to discuss current issues and options, outside of their teams/country affiliations. Rapha is involved in the sport but could also be seen as being an objective party since it's not like doing so helps them shill more clothing per se.

Just the first couple that come to mind.....

verticaldoug
07-11-2017, 09:55 AM
You are thinking like an adult. Put the little kid cap on .

I love to ride bikes. Why? When I was a kid, the bike was my freedom. During summer, ride to the pool with friends. We even built a BMX course in the local sand pits so we could all race each other in 5th and 6th grade. (of course, helmets were not mandatory)

Again, I look at youth lacrosse for girls. A huge number play in elementary school because they want to have fun and be with friends. As they continue to play and grow, many drop out, but a few really develop passion for the sport and go on to play D1, and coach later on.

I wouldn't spend a lot of time bemoaning no race equivalent when you have NICA. Work with NICA, help it grow. After MTB, at some point adding cyclocross seems like a no brainer. These kids may get their parents hooked. And chances are they will ride roadbikes as adults.




NICA is the most important thing to happen to American bike racing outside of the rise of Lemond and Armstrong. It is an incredible, incredible organization that is seemingly doing everything right. My awe of its accomplishments and growth are sky-high.

My only wish is that such an org existed for road cycling. The barriers are obvious: Roads (and cars) are terrifying for parents. Closed roads or velodromes far better cycling infrastructure seem to be necessary ingredients in order to create the mere possibility to advocate for kids to get out there. It's a long, long process...The only alternative is get kids hooked on MTBs with NICA, then hope once they get older they see the joys of road cycling. That feels like a risky path to grow the population of US road cyclists...

Mzilliox
07-11-2017, 10:10 AM
Sports that "modernized well": Weight lifting. Change the name (Cross Fit), make it accessible to all (young, old, genders, etc.), add some leader boards and "competition" with self/others.

Cycling: Reinvent the LBS by combining it with a spin studio but utilizing social media platforms such as Zwift and Strava that also translate to real cyclists (and to home and riding on the road). Get them in the door with the classes, then sell them shoes/gear and eventually a bike and lifestyle where you get them to ride outside.

WIN:banana:

roguedog
07-11-2017, 10:12 AM
Along the lines of those saying that it has to start with making it accessible to children.. but I think it goes beyond just that or perhaps I'm just elaborating on it.

I think it has to pierce through our culture. Cycling is rooted in Euro history and culture but not really here. For short time perhaps with the Coors Classic and then for a short time it actually caught the attention via Lance (as villified as he might be now).

I guess I'm saying it has to become part of our communities whether it been thru children's sports or even local teams that compete with other local teams. This creates emotional investment. Without emotional investment I don't think the sport (or any sport) will have staying power. I believe in someway the teams have to feel like "ours" or "mine" and cycling doesn't seem to have that.

Many of those on this forum are invested because of history with the sport, history with racing themselves or just weekend warriors who have accidentally discovered what the hell cycling racing is (me).

Right now, cycling as a sport in general is too much on the periphery of american culture. I think teams like Rabobank that invested in deve teams or HTC (I think they had something like this) were onto something that needs to be deepened.

2 cents.

MattTuck
07-11-2017, 10:16 AM
Ok, I just read this whole thread, so I'll try not to be too duplicitive. First off, my ideas are both on the participation and spectator side.

1. As has been pointed out, availability of actual racing content is atrocious. I love watching racing, and I have trouble finding top races to watch. I mean, whether it is pirate streams, getting a VPN and then a subscription to Eurosport, it is a joke. Lacrosse is the only sport I can think of that kids seem to be playing today that doesn't have main stream coverage that a kid could turn on and watch people doing it at the highest level.

2. Development: (I use development here to mean developing racers) Do what Nissan did with their GT Academy video game program, basically using video games to identify people with the requisite response time and hand eye coordination and giving them the chance to drive real race cars. Cycling, for all the romantic notions and history, is basically about VO2 Max and FTP. Can you get kids in schools or at events to get a on a computrainer set up for them, and start to identify young talent early?

3. Other sports? You're joking right? Do you know how much time it takes to follow cycling? One grand tour is more of a time commitment than an entire football season. I'm half joking of course, but I think many other sports can be distilled down to easily digestible (ie. in a twitter video) inflection points. Basketball comes down to 1 shot that decides the game, football has the great play, baseball has the episodic at bat. Cycling (I believe, and is the reason I enjoy it) is a much more nuanced competition. Some of the one day races have these kinds of inflection points, but even they can take minutes to unfold. Sprints? mountain stages in the grand tour... The race can rarely be distilled to a 10 second clip. Look at Cosmo Catalano's "How the race was won" videos to get a sense of what it takes to understand racing, and how it is difficult to condense it. Velon hammer series may do something that is a bit more digestible and shareable, but we'll see how that pans out.

4. Focus on broad access to the sport. Cost has been mentioned multiple times, as has the perception that the roads are unsafe. These barriers to trial are a real effect, and almost certainly lead to fewer kids and adults trying and/or sticking with cycling. Not sure Rapha can do anything with regard to this. Other sports that are quite expensive are golf and skiing. Both of those can be done with the family quite young, and both offer a way to mitigate costs once the kid gets a little older; Skiing offers the chance to be a ski instructor and make decent money, and golf offers kids the chance to caddy. I'm not sure that cycling has a similar role -- shop mechanic? maybe, but not quite.

Good luck.

TheEnglish
07-11-2017, 01:12 PM
Brendan,
Thanks for responding to these replies and starting a really interesting conversation. I have spent a large amount of my time trying to get people outdoors, whether that is riding a bike, climbing rocks, hiking, or camping, so I love to see this effort from others in the industry.

In my time working in the outdoor industry, I always tried to stress that our competition wasn't Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, etc., but X Box, Playstation, TV, and movies.

It's good to hear that Rapha may be heading in that similar direction.

Good luck and fight the good fight.
-e

Thx for your reply. It's interesting to see you stress "closed courses" which echoes what a lot of people mention -- there is a fundamental safety challenge in road cycling. Cars are scary! Investment in expanded cycling infrastructure is such an important piece to the participation challenge. Thx again, Brendan

Climb01742
07-11-2017, 02:56 PM
My take is a bit different.

First, something you know very well, Brendan: the question you ask, and Rapha's role in the answers, is hugely complicated. There are so many factors to account for to arrive at a good answer. It's why folks get paid a lot to do it.;)

Second, whatever ideas you pursue, they must pass this test: Is it on-brand for Rapha? Rapha has done an incredible job of brand-building. It's key, I think, to leverage that in new ways vs shifting or re-creating too much of the brand.

Which brings me, in a round about way, to three: What problem are you trying to solve? A) To build participation in cycling in America? Or B) build interest in cycling among a younger demographic? They may sound similar but they're vastly different. My two cents is: Forget A. Won't happen. Or the pay-off for your investment of budget, resources and time will be crap.

Four: Again, my two cents is be innovative about how you become a better, bigger, more immersive bridge to European cycling. That's who you are and should be: you're the bridge, the gateway to a deeply authentic, behind the scenes view of European cycling culture and sport. As a first step, I'd look at your 'brand ambassadors' or 'spokesmodels'. As an example, find a teenager who is working his way up through Euro racing and build content around him, in his voice. Have you seen the Taylor Phinney cellphone videos NBCSN has shown this Tour? His voice is what makes those awesome...and hugely relatable to a younger audience. I honestly don't think you need to change all that much in 'what' you do (broadly speaking) but more in 'how': the channels, the media, the voice, the length, the talent.

Five, if you're looking for examples to follow, I'd include Buddhism and yoga (no, really). Attempts to Americanize both have lost their essences. Each works best here when each is most authentic. Keep your Europeanness. European cycling is the pull and the grail. Own that better and more innovatively. I think there could be really interesting ways to build bridges between US kids who ride their bikes (but see that cycling leads nowhere here) and European kids who are on the road to where cycling leads in Europe.

Six, start a US cycling academy, modeled after the way Euro cycling and soccer develop talent. Give kids a way forward. With a goal of racing in Europe, not here.

Seven, lastly, if you do want to try (foolishly in my mind) to build participation here, focus on cyclecross. But re-invent it. And forge a deep, true bond between European xcross and the US.

I may be dead wrong, but I sincerely believe your focus should stay on bringing Europe here in cooler ways. Get kids to dream of Europe. That's the motherlode...and that's on-brand for you.

merckxman
07-11-2017, 04:47 PM
Get the "spinning" folks onto bikes; Road. Mtb, gravel, track. I'm always amazed at the % that actually don't ride.

pncguy
07-11-2017, 04:59 PM
... there were no cycling teams and clubs for younger people.

why is this?

I think one of the problems is that a lot of sports can be enjoyed by novices and there can be pretty good competition between folks of similar abilities - in a relatively safe environment. However, in cycling, especially with lower skill levels, if you're racing, there's always the specter of a crash. Nobody wants to crash, and I bet is scares off a lot of people.

I can easily imagine club softball, hockey, baseball - almost every sport - where people can have fun and be safe. But who wants to crash? Yeah, my son will run a 50 m dash and have a great time. He isn't really interested in racing his bike.

pncguy
07-11-2017, 05:03 PM
...Other sports that are quite expensive are golf and skiing. Both of those can be done with the family quite young, and both offer a way to mitigate costs once the kid gets a little older; Skiing offers the chance to be a ski instructor and make decent money, and golf offers kids the chance to caddy. I'm not sure that cycling has a similar role...

This is a great example that does a better job than I did just above. My son and I LOVE to ski. But we don't race and never will. But it is still a sport that we enjoy. It takes much more effort to get my family to bike than it does to ski.

Is there a way to get people into cycling WITHOUT an eye on racing? It seems that cycling isn't really a sport to casual folks, whereas skiing or golf can be.

ceolwulf
07-11-2017, 06:01 PM
Please elaborate!!

Funny thing is that the Points Race at the 2016 Olympic Omnium is probably the most exciting race I watched in the last 5 years. I'm hardly a track fan, but I was completely entranced!

OK, I will, a little.

As has been mentioned several times here, spectator access to cycling is awful. I guess people can watch local crits? Cross racing is good too. But in the early part of last century there were velodromes everywhere and people crowded in to watch. No reason this can't happen again; the sport is the same. Also, most of the races are short, which is worth a lot. Even people that will go to enough trouble to find grand tour racing to watch, or classics, very seldom will watch more than the last 50 or at most 100 km, and those are hard-core fans. Any sporting event lasting much more than an hour is frankly too long to be popular. A series of short events is even better; match sprints, or keirin, perfect. And, if you want to watch it in person, you can sit in a bleacher and not have to traipse all over the countryside.

So that's the spectator side. More important to me is getting people on bikes (but spectating and participating heavily influence each other of course). So here in Manitoba, there are extremely few road riders. A vanishingly rare species in fact. The biggest climb in Manitoba on Strava has been attempted by only 80 people (and a lot of those are out-of-province triathletes, because the local tri goes through there). There are a few reasons for this that no amount of overall popularity of the sport will cure. The roads are frankly awful. Not road surface, but terrain, environment, design. They are perfectly straight and perfectly flat for endless miles, surrounded by nothing but bleak farmer's fields. It's basically like living in a hundreds of square kilometre factory. So riding a road bike is not really any fun to begin with. Then, since there are so few roads for such a large area, traffic is usually relatively heavy, and a high percentage of those are rednecks in lifted trucks with nothing but contempt for anyone that wears Spandex in public. On top of all this, the riding season is short - Manitoba winters are infamous, and they last a long long time. And during the summer the winds are atrocious. (Thank heaven for Zwift.)

Considering all this I have often thought how perfect track racing would be here.
1. No traffic. Sure you can crash on the track but it won't kill you (the very rare freak accident excepted). This means that parents also would be dramatically more likely to involve their kids, and that's a huge point. 2. Riding season is 365 days a year, assuming you have an indoor velodrome (the one that did exist in Winnipeg was outdoor, which was stupid, but Manitobans are notoriously cheap and that extends to government. So of course it didn't get enough interest to survive, since you could only use it a few months a year. And it rapidly deteriorated from the elements). 3. It's social and competitive, and can be a team sport. Even if you only have a very few riders in an area they're all going to be in the same place. So, very different from most outdoor rides where I almost never see another road cyclist. Some of us like solitary activities of course, but the population at large and especially young people need the social and also the competitive aspect. 4. Okay there's no scenery indoors either, but it's indoors so no one expects it, so that point is a wash I guess? But the boredom you get outdoors wouldn't even cross your mind in a track race, or even training alongside other riders.

Track also has a great advantage over road in that it accommodates all sorts of body types. A 6 foot 240 lb bodybuilder type would never have a competitive place on the road, but he can sure do sprint races.

My very local take.

tl;dr -
No traffic - safe - parental approval easy
Not limited to short season
Social
Not boring

fuzzalow
07-11-2017, 06:38 PM
On face value, the locus of this exercise and analysis to be focused on road racing is Quixotic.

Its reliance on any aspect of open road makes it an unsafe and uncontrollable environment for use in participation by kids or young adults. Unless you can close the roads there is no school or organization that will involve themselves in a nurturing youth road racing program because the risks are off the charts and so will be the insurance expense and injury liabilities. This risk profile will be unacceptable to virtually any parent with a modern day sensibility towards risk.

Road racing IMO presents the worst of attitude, elitism and sub-culture of anything to do with the activity of bicycling or cycling. Some may squawk at this statement but if you're a racer you don't see from the inside what anyone from outside the race scene bubble sees. It ain't pretty. I guess every sport has its posturing and preening among some but I have rarely witnessed a more insecure lot than the serious cyclist/racer crowd. Sorry, that's what I see.

Good luck with the research. Most responses you'll get are likely to be superficial, including mine for what I wrote here. You want depth, you'll have to pay for it and be more focussed than tossing something over the transom as done here.

pdonk
07-11-2017, 07:09 PM
From my experience in Atlantic Canada,almost 20 years ago.

You need affordable high quality events for participants that attract high quality elite level athletes to draw in spectators. A series of Canada Cup mountain bike races in a middle of nowhere town ended up identifying a future grand tour rider and a future world champion.

With respect to tracks, if part of a regional or national focus they can be very good for talent id. The track in Dieppe nb has attracted new people in. The track in London on sane thing. It will be interesting to see what happens in Milton.

The last thing to think about is attitudes. Bmx and mtb seem more welcoming to newcomers. Plus newcomers can grow into racing at their own pace. Road racing you are thrown to the sharks from day one and it sucks to get dropped and pulled from a race.

shovelhd
07-11-2017, 07:50 PM
Road racing you are thrown to the sharks from day one and it sucks to get dropped and pulled from a race.

However, once one is good enough not to get dropped, they'll be the first ones bitching about not pulling dropped riders. It's a double edged sword.

Black Dog
07-11-2017, 09:33 PM
I will chime in as a rider with 30 years on the road, I am also a father of two (11 & 7). I love riding my bike, love it as much as when I was a kid. I am completely unsure about getting my kids on the road (trail, track, ramps...no problem).

It is simply a safety issue here in North America. Why would I want my kids on the road with drivers that are addicted to their devices and onboard screens to the point that they barely look at the road? Beyond this, we have such a deeply embedded car culture that totally absolves drivers of any real personal responsibility. Killing with a car is as close to legal killing as you can get.

It breaks my heart knowing that the sport I love might be too dangerous for my kids. I am not a bubble wrap parent, we rock climb (outdoors), white water canoe, take extended trips into wild and remote areas etc.... These activities have a risk profile that can be managed. A texting driver can not. Until we grow up and deal with our collective behaviour and attitudes about distracted driving things will get worse and our sport will continue to atrophy as the aging demographic of riders fades away never to replaced by a younger cohort.
I ride with them on the road, on the quietest roads at the least busy times and am lucky to live in an area where that is possible but I can not be with them forever; I do not push them in any way to take up road riding as I sit on the fence on this issue.

MattTuck
07-11-2017, 10:23 PM
Black Dog, I cannot argue with the perception of dangerous roads. At the same time, I think that there are just lots more cars out there than 20 years ago, and we have way more access to news of accidents. I don't have the data say whether the roads are safer on a miles ridden basis, or if the absolute number of accidents is up or down.

That said, I am quite confident about the future, and that 5-10 years from now, the autonomous driving technology will make the roads much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I don't think it is there yet, but there is a ton of energy and money going into this area and I think it will pay dividends in terms of road safety in due time.

Marc40a
07-11-2017, 10:29 PM
That said, I am quite confident about the future, and that 5-10 years from now, the autonomous driving technology will make the roads much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I don't think it is there yet, but there is a ton of energy and money going into this area and I think it will pay dividends in terms of road safety in due time.

Totally agree. The sooner, the better.

Black Dog
07-11-2017, 10:41 PM
Black Dog, I cannot argue with the perception of dangerous roads. At the same time, I think that there are just lots more cars out there than 20 years ago, and we have way more access to news of accidents. I don't have the data say whether the roads are safer on a miles ridden basis, or if the absolute number of accidents is up or down.

That said, I am quite confident about the future, and that 5-10 years from now, the autonomous driving technology will make the roads much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I don't think it is there yet, but there is a ton of energy and money going into this area and I think it will pay dividends in terms of road safety in due time.

Matt, I hear you. I know that road usage is up and reporting of "accidents" is also much higher than the past and this creates a false sense of risk that needs to be checked against the data. Much like the irrational fear of flying and child abductions. My science and stats background lead me to look into the numbers. Deaths and collisions due to distracted driving are at record highs even when adjusted for increased traffic volume. The use of devices while driving are also at record high levels and growing. We have yet to put the kids who have been on devices since birth behind the wheel. I suspect that we are still on the growth part of the curve here. Attitude shifts, legislation, and safer technology are all needed but not coming anytime soon. Trying to parse it all out and make the rational decision is not easy. Living in a fear bubble is so destructive and becoming pervasive in North America and I hope that I am outside the fear bubble on this issue.

bikinchris
07-11-2017, 11:03 PM
To what extent do you think track racing is the answer, vs. getting kids out on (closed) roads?

I see parents in the stands and cheerleaders on the infield. At least the ones who aren't racing. I see 10 to 15 events on the schedule is what I see. Kids being able to specialize. Tim trials, miss and out, scratch races, match sprints etc. There is no reason a 200 pound 6 foot kid should race against a 129 pound kid. Different events will work better for them.

If they ride the track a while, they might very well move onto road TT, crits etc.

rlanger
07-12-2017, 12:22 AM
1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

- Mixed Martial Arts (primarily the UFC) has grown up in the modern digital era and has fully embraced it to grow their sport.
- Examples are things like UFC Fight Pass, which is a subscription service that offers an incredible range of content outside of the regularly scheduled fights.
- Fighters are incentivized to grow their social media presence
- Regular Social media give-aways and contests
- Video games with the sports biggest stars
- YouTube promotions of upcoming fights and fighters (i.e. UFC Embedded)
- YouTube programs like "Looking for a Fight"

There is more, but even with these few examples, I am hard-pressed to think of another sport that has done more for its fan through digital content than the UFC.

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...

- I believe there is no end to the opportunities for cycling to become more relevant. IMO, the recent Hammer series shows just how exciting cycling can be outside of the Grand Tours. I think more of these types of events could generate a ton of excitement, fan involvement (in the form of activities surrounding the events e.g. youth races on the course etc).

I would love to see something like a Hammer Series type league that had 10 or 15 3-day events (Fri thru Sun) in a variety of locations, throughout the course of the cycling season.

If the series became popular and profitable enough, you might even see teams trade cyclists to shore up weaknesses or build for the future.

Then, of course, there would have to be a series championship, where the top 2 teams face off to determine which is the best team for that season.

This is something that would allow fans to follow and cheer on their favourite teams throughout the entire cycling season.

Finally, I would have both a men's and women's series and have them compete on the same day and in the same location - one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.

93KgBike
07-12-2017, 01:11 AM
1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well... What have they done and how have they done it?
This question is more fundamentally about which business models have succeeded in maintaining brand loyalty and promoting youth interest and adoption. Broadly, elevated icon-focused models dominate the profitability end of the spectrum at regional, national and international levels (including the olympics). And that worked out great for cycling during the Discovery/Tailwind era; until it didn't.

I think it would be healthy to build something that is based on quality goods and compassion and grattitude for people. Each of our bodies is the perfect vehicle for us in this lifetime. And our bikes help us to polish that vehicle. We don't all need to slay dragons or worship heroes, or be provoked into emoting. We need to celebrate each other and be together participating, rather than just spectating.

America is filled with small towns that might just close their streets for a Rapha 3-day event series to roll through. With a mobile velodrome bringing a Rapha track series, Rapha/local-municipality hosting a GF style event, locally sourced food court, local microbreweries, local bike shops... maybe a concert in the evening. All doing a lap around America. I would definitely drive the family to something like that. 100 years ago, six-day races were booked into Madison Square Gardens. Why not book them into all these little towns feeling so forgotten?

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...
Summer series Up North, Winter series Down South?

Put a bunch of smart trainers on mobile platforms partner with Zwift and get some Rapha riding camps for kids started. How about building a finance platform to support communities building those camps (like Rapha Grrls Race Camp!).

Ironman has really led the way forward when it comes to real gender inclusivity and parity in pro sports. ALL of cycling should be paying attention.

I rode the Rapha Three Sisters Route in Watopia a few nights ago. That was great fun! Get Zwift to selll you some real estate to build a shop in Watopia and start sponsoring riders. I have been wearing your kit in there for a while... the lap challenge-for-kit was a no brainer. Let us earn some real-world swag.

THANKS!

Climb01742
07-12-2017, 07:30 AM
It is simply a safety issue here in North America. Why would I want my kids on the road with drivers that are addicted to their devices and onboard screens to the point that they barely look at the road? Beyond this, we have such a deeply embedded car culture that totally absolves drivers of any real personal responsibility. Killing with a car is as close to legal killing as you can get.

You've really zeroed in on one of the key issues. If the goal is increased participation (particularly among the young) here's the crucial choice: open roads or some sort of closed course?

In America, riding on open roads is that last thing I'd ever encourage my kids to do. I'm so bummed I feel that way, but my daily experience of road riding leaves me despondent of it ever improving here until fully autonomous cars are a daily reality.

And why would any company put itself in a position to encourage youth road riding when the sad reality is, sooner rather than later, there will be fatalities at the hands of cars and those deaths would be associated with the brand?

America's culture simply isn't a fertile place for road riding. A single ride in Europe illustrates the difference and how hopeless our situation here is. Again, it bums me enormously to feel that way (and I still ride every day and I have my 5 YO daughter out on her little bike every weekend, but I shepard her every step of the way.)

Rapha's goal must be to grow the brand and increase sales. Enhancing a love for the sport is far different from enhancing participation. As noble on one level as growing participation is, the hurdles to doing it here are, IMO, unwise for a brand to tackle. The ROI simply wouldn't justify it.

There are so many other ways to celebrate and inspire a love for our sport.

David Tollefson
07-12-2017, 09:08 AM
That said, I am quite confident about the future, and that 5-10 years from now, the autonomous driving technology will make the roads much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. I don't think it is there yet, but there is a ton of energy and money going into this area and I think it will pay dividends in terms of road safety in due time.

My cynical thoughts are that the end-game of autonomous vehicles will be bikes banished from the roads, along with any human-piloted vehicle.

ntb1001
07-12-2017, 09:46 AM
I will chime in as a rider with 30 years on the road, I am also a father of two (11 & 7). I love riding my bike, love it as much as when I was a kid. I am completely unsure about getting my kids on the road (trail, track, ramps...no problem).

It is simply a safety issue here in North America. Why would I want my kids on the road with drivers that are addicted to their devices and onboard screens to the point that they barely look at the road? Beyond this, we have such a deeply embedded car culture that totally absolves drivers of any real personal responsibility. Killing with a car is as close to legal killing as you can get.

It breaks my heart knowing that the sport I love might be too dangerous for my kids. I am not a bubble wrap parent, we rock climb (outdoors), white water canoe, take extended trips into wild and remote areas etc.... These activities have a risk profile that can be managed. A texting driver can not. Until we grow up and deal with our collective behaviour and attitudes about distracted driving things will get worse and our sport will continue to atrophy as the aging demographic of riders fades away never to replaces by a younger cohort.
I ride with them on the road, on the quietest roads at the least busy times and am lucky to live in an area where that is possible but I can not be with them forever; I do not push them in any way to take up road riding as I sit on the fence on this issue.I have the same concerns as well...and as Black Dog, I also live close to rual roads with light traffic, so I have a place to ride with my kids.
The distracted, and really the bad drivers are the biggest hazard we have, and unfortunately I don't think this is going to change.
Aside from that issue though, is the fact that cycling, and racing culture around here does not really promote kids or developement. There are a couple of good clubs with developement programs, but unless you live close enough to take advantage...it's too few.
I had a club tell me one time to not to bring kids to a group ride...that they believed that it was up to the parents to develop...not the club.
This isn't everybody's attitude thankfully, but its a real problem.
The middle aged skinny white guys club needs to lighten up.

I have 4 kids...all have tried racing, and the only one still with any interest is my 12 year old daughter. My boys all have gotten away from it. They still will ride for fitness from time to time, but that's it. Even with my daughter's races...new this year is a blending of boys and girls and different ages...ablity based, but from what I've seen it's not really the answer. My daughter did a few races, but is getting discouraged from the results.

So....sorry, I feel a little hopeless about the future locally.

Sent from my SM-G935W8 using Tapatalk

shovelhd
07-12-2017, 09:54 AM
My cynical thoughts are that the end-game of autonomous vehicles will be bikes banished from the roads, along with any human-piloted vehicle.

I'm with you. I think these claims of autonomous vehicles solving the road's problems are way overblown. The primary decision point for the programming will have to be "protect the occupant". Everything else is secondary, including vulnerable road users. The driver experience has to be good as well.

But that's another thread.

seanile
07-12-2017, 10:29 AM
.... The primary decision point for the programming will have to be "protect the occupant". ....ohhhh boy.. that has potential

a lovely scene from rick & morty: "keep summer safe"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0PuqSMB8uU

Pastashop
07-12-2017, 11:33 AM
Televised sport vs. part of life? (The reason I think of it this way is that the sport draws from a pool of participants... so, it's gotta be part of people's daily lives.)



The issue of SAFETY is a big one and has three parts to it, I think: 1) facts, 2) perception / anecdotes, 3) fun-to-risk ratio.



1) Facts:



"In 2015, 5,376 pedestrians and 818 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts). These two modes accounted for 17.7 percent of the 35,092 total U.S. fatalities that year." (http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm)



"38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads, and 4.4 million were seriously injured, meaning 2015 likely was the deadliest driving year since 2008." (http://www.nsc.org/Connect/NSCNewsReleases/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?List=1f2e4535-5dc3-45d6-b190-9b49c7229931&ID=103&var=hppress&Web=36d1832e-7bc3-4029-98a1-317c5cd5c625)



It's also well known in transportation science that over 95% of all traffic fatalities are caused by human error. This is partly why 2015 was one of the deadliest years and fatalities have been rising lately – distracted driving is a big problem. (Yesterday it took me 4 times longer to drive home at the end of the day due to traffic. I took the center lane to make a left turn at an intersection and witnessed every other car leaving 3 car lengths-worth of space between it and the vehicle in front; looking into the cabin, I saw 80% of the drivers with the head down, on their cell phones. A cop car driving by... the cop clearly saw what was going on and did nothing.)



At any rate, looking at the facts, cyclist deaths represent ~2% of all traffic deaths, and about the same percentage of traffic injuries. You are, based on a whole-population average, 50 times LESS likely to get hurt or killed if you are a biker than if you're a driver. Sort of... Travel by bike is a tiny fraction of miles traveled by motor vehicles, and so the risk is very disproportionately distributed. According to this (https://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac-safety.html):



784 cyclists died in 2005 (p. 86). That would make the death rate 0.37 to 1.26 deaths per 10 million miles.



33,041 motorists/passengers died (p. 86) from 3 trillion miles traveled (p. 15), making their death rate 0.11 per 10 million miles traveled.



So cyclists are either 3.4x or 11.5x as likely to die as motorists, per passenger mile. Neither conclusion is very happy.



However, all these figures include people who ride dangerously, such as against traffic, at night without lights, on sidewalks, or through red lights/stop signs without adequately checking cross-traffic. A study in Washington State found that 11% cycling fatalities involved wrong-way riding. Subtracting out 11% of the nationwide deaths, we find that cyclists who don't ride against traffic are 3x to 10.2x more likely to get killed than motorists, which is better, but still bad.



More than 80% of fatalities for child bicyclists 14 and under were caused by unsafe riding (riding the wrong way, running signs, etc.) However, I can't subtract out those fatalities, because then I'd be counting some wrong-way fatalities twice, since I already subtracted out wrong-way riding for all cyclists above.



There are lots of other interesting statistics and studies here: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/statistics/category/participation-statistics



Some of which bring us to:



2) Perception:



My choice to ride or not depends a lot on how complicated or fraught I *perceive* it to be to ride my bike. Part of this is my awareness of facts, part of it is family pressure, part of it is lack of places to ride (by myself and with family), part of it is the difficulty of incorporating biking into everyday life. We all know of quotidian snags to participation. Did we know that 75% of cyclists are men? Did we know that women avoid bicycling because they are more sensitive to the risks, as this study (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15568318.2012.673694) seems to indicate?..



But perceived risk isn't the only factor. Smoking is notoriously bad for your health, yet millions of people still do it. Which brings us to:





3) Fun-to-risk ratio



The NFL has done a tremendously good job of hyping up the sport and growing viewership. (Which then drives advertising income to NFL... a "virtuous" cycle, eh?) I would like to think that despite this decade+ long, concerted effort by the organization, participation is declining... But I do also think that the decline in participation would have been much more drastic without this concerted advertising campaign.



With cycling, there is actually a hope, I think, that growing participation will make it proportionately safer for others, which has a compounding effect.



Anyhow, Rapha, I would advocate for advertising of biking as much as possible, increasing the safety aspects, as well as boosting the safety perception in the advertising.

Burnette
07-12-2017, 01:00 PM
Hello all,

In my role at Rapha I'm working on a fun project that concerns the future of road racing and I've a couple of questions I'd love your thoughts on:

1/ We're looking for examples of sports that have modernized well, taking into account a changing media landscape & the need to capture younger, impatient, digitally-fixated demographics. What have they done and how have they done it?

2/ What should cycling do to make itself more relevant? We're thinking about: the calendar, financing, media, team ownership, youth participation, racing forms & structure. Moon shots are also welcome...

The best idea (as judged by me) will get a money-can't-buy piece of Rapha clothing. Thanks a million.

Brendan

Hello Brendan,
Fear of riding on the road is, to me, the biggest hindrance for growth. Let’s be honest, riding on the road takes a certain type of person. We’re wired different than most. To get off the coach and ride sixty miles through city streets, narrow country roads and surrounded by faster moving vehicles. Much like motorcyclist we have a higher tolerance for danger and the enjoyment from the activity outweighs fears. Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated, the vast majority of my rides had been trouble free. Some horn blowing, a few middle fingers may be remembered but day after day of fun rides outnumber those by far. Since riding on the road since 2006 I’ve had only one accident with a vehicle (pulled put in front of me). I got a brace for my left hand the next day and was out riding with bandages on my arm and knee a few days later. Cycling on the road has potential for harm as does most any activity but the perception of risk is high among the general populous because a small accident on a bicycle on the road can have big consequences. And one story of a rider killed sends chills down many backs and generates conversations with family and spouse about why I do what I do, cycle on the road (can my brother and sister cyclist feel me on that one?).

My wife lost a dear friend just this past Sunday in Kernersville. She was riding her motorcycle and a drunk driver ran over her. She was a single with mom, two beautiful daughters, gone. I rationalize life and move forward but I know this coming Sunday morning, when I get up at sun up and put on my bibs, my wife, with love, emotion and still heavy heart is going to have much to say to me and will probably get me to ride the rollers downstairs for at least this time. I’ll be back out the following week. To be clear of my tolerance too, I can ride on the road in early morning week and weekends when traffic is low. I went out after 4 pm one day and would never, ever do that again, it was that bad. I can do three or four rides a week easily by riding early in the morning. If I could only ride during the pm hours, I myself would no longer be a cyclist on the road.

So, safety is one issue. The other is “pro cyclist syndrome”. I’m a gym rat, a cyclist, I run, I’m doing dragon flags, it is go, go, go. The sport focuses too much on me and others like me. Sports and performance is a huge draw, it’s important and should be exploited. What focusing too much on the racing end does though is leave out the meat of your market, the majority of people out there are never going to pin on a number or, like us, hammer on the road for forty five miles. *I asked one of my local bike shops a few years ago what his top selling bike was. He said it was $300 mountain bikes and hybrids. It’s average people wanting a better than a Walmart bike for local trails like the Salem Lake trail. That would be my focus first, the general population, us hammer heads will come if the chance to hammer is there but not in big a number as regular people.

What should you do? Well, you know, I would see these ads for indoor spin clubs with loud music, big screens and their flashing lights and thought, how cute. Checking local news today I find out they’re opening just such a in place downtown Winston-Salem and it hit me. I remembered this thread you started and this is where you should be. You get everybody with these clubs, average people, hammer heads, racing cyclist, moms and dads looking to lose a few pounds. And as you know, just like a gym, what you wear there to some is important. Tying in to a club with logo wear, having team wear, the fashion angle is fully exploited. Make it affordable too, keep high end stuff, sure, but average people, unlike us (Ha!), know better than to pay crazy prices for one outfit.

These clubs were funny at first but I see the good in them. It will get some people hooked who just may join us on the road. Even if not, it gets people active and cycling aware. You want people at the beginning of cycling because it is a bigger pool and you want to do it to develop brand loyalty early on. If they ride more and go upscale, you’re already there with that stuff now. I bet your money maker will be the lower line, were the mass is,* just like the majority of all bike sales.

I like to ride fast, watch and follow pro cycling. To make cycling more “relevant” you have to get more people on bikes. And the majority will never race. The Paceline Forum and most every other cycling forum has a majority of members who ride but never race , even though they may like it and may hammer with the guys/gals, they will never race. So race events aren’t the avenue to get the majority of cyclist involved and it surely is a turn off to the general public. When you sponsor and event that has a family out riding, you’ve won. I have been on two such rides and it was amazing to see and be a part of. I rode on for more miles and to get pummeled by faster friends, but that early segment was nice and it is what will keep cycling relevant. You have to get family and kids involved or it will remain the domain of A types with a high tolerance to risk only. My call to you is to go ahead with the race stuff, you’ve got that angle and should keep it. But be a part of cycling spin clubs to introduce cycling to new people. Then sponsor family rides to promote “cycling”, riding your bike for fun and fitness. The race stuff won’t, repeat, won’t get the family and thus children out there. You have to give them another reason, a time and a place to participate. Fun family rides centered around safety and advocacy is the answer. I've taken my daughter to a bike race. She enjoys riding her own a thousand times more.

*Sure, some high end bike shops sell mostly high end bikes, but my analogy speaks to total bike sales in the US and their average price. You can have both ends of the market and grow it too instead of just exsiting at the top and just for us overly enthusiastic enthusiasts.

Pastashop
07-12-2017, 04:36 PM
more on increasing the odds of ridership:

(from https://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/almanac.html):



Biking accounts for 0.2% of all road miles traveled, and 1% of all trips in the U.S. (2001, Bureau of Transportation Statistics) In 1998, 1% of Austin-area residents commuted by bike, and 3% walked. (Patrick Goetz reported this to us in 1998, citing a 1997 survey by the Austin Transportation Study)

...

Seven to twelve bicycles can park in one automobile parking space. (2)

It costs about $50 to build and maintain one space in a bike rack and $500 for a bike locker, yet one car parking space in a parking structure costs about $8,500. (2)

The easy availability of bike parking makes it twice as likely that people will bike to work.

The costs of subsidized car parking. "A Canadian study by Auto-Free Ottawa found that 86 percent of the American workforce commutes to work by car, and more than 90 percent of those commuters park for free. The average national value for a parking space is approximately $1,000, so that means $85 billion in annual subsidies. Ending these free subsidies would reduce the number of solo commuters by as much as 81 percent. And if ending the free ride is not a possibility, why can't we offer people who take public transit or bike to work a similar subsidy&emdash;payments in lieu of parking?" .(E Magazine, 2005)

93KgBike
07-13-2017, 01:10 AM
I'm with you. I think these claims of autonomous vehicles solving the road's problems are way overblown. The primary decision point for the programming will have to be "protect the occupant". Everything else is secondary, including vulnerable road users. The driver experience has to be good as well.

But that's another thread.

My cynical thoughts are that the end-game of autonomous vehicles will be bikes banished from the roads, along with any human-piloted vehicle.

I have had this same thought.

BobO
07-13-2017, 02:15 AM
I have had this same thought.

Automated cars will almost certainly be better than the rapidly growing cell phone using demographic of drivers. The reality is that a high percentage of licensed drivers are grossly incompetent and more often than not, negligent. Taking the controls out of their hands is going to be a net positive.

BTW, it was noted above that the police don't do anything about it,... They are often the very worst distracted driving offenders.

peanutgallery
07-13-2017, 08:47 AM
Road riding is dangerous

road racing is kinda boring and events take too long to develop in order to keep the eye of the average consumer

The above-mentioned, average consumer has to work awful hard to find ways to consume cycling in different formats

Participating in road riding/racing is a bit of a sausage fest

USAC is dysfunctional and missing the boat

Roadies are dysfunctional

Cost of road racing and events is way too high (no more freebies from municipalities)

NICA racing has seen enormous growth

Equipment cost has gone up...a lot. Even for run of the mill items, much less a fancy outfit that costs the better part of several hundred pieces of eight

Here's your road map to growth. Though each point has its drawbacks/roadblocks. Even the golden child...NICA

shovelhd
07-13-2017, 08:51 AM
Cost of road racing and events is way too high (no more freebies from municipalities)

Really? I think they're too low, on average, compared to other sports like triathlon, mudders, extreme, and even grand fondo. These events are easily 2x-3x the cost per participation hour.

holliscx
07-13-2017, 12:00 PM
Sports that have modernized well

Cricket has gone from standard multi-day matches to matches lasting a few hours to make the sport more amicable for television.

Kiwi Team New Zealand’s AC boat with 4 cyclists aboard, billionaire boys club, but definitely modernized when Airbus is designing foils.


What should road cycling do to stay relevant

Pro cycling should revamp the Grand Tour formula. More radically, ditch race radios and have shorter stages for aggressive racing more in tune with one-day classics than a long afternoon nap followed by a sprint. I believe part of the reason doping dominates the peloton is to aid recovery from the superhuman effort required from the 3 week races.

Also teams need to build brand equity and put sponsors underneath that. Instead of a rotating circus of sponsors have teams and sponsors beneath those umbrellas. A Belgian classics team, a gritty band of climbers from the Basque Country, the GC specialists, US development team, and so on. The roster of sponsors change like a football team's title sponsor.

Moon shot I would like to see the TdF one year make the riders use their regular road bicycle for an individual time trial.