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Does anyone really care about pro mountain biking anymore?(26 posts)

Does anyone really care about pro mountain biking anymore?eschelon
Apr 24, 2003 10:02 AM
Don't get me wrong, I have an mtb steed that I enjoy riding on the weekend once a week, twice unlikely...just to change things a bit. I just read in velonews that Norba's sponsorship budget has drastically shrunk to few thousand compared to the hundreds of thousands it had a few months back...sponsors are pulling out and not intrested...including OLN. OLN last year had tons of real MTB race coverage...but I was never interested in watching those races for longer than a few minutes because they were all boring. As far as racing MTB, it seems cool but all of the races were 5 plus hours away in some obscure rural areas...not very convenient as opposed to road racing. If I have to explain why, then you are not going to get it. Maybe it's just a matter of opinion...but watching road races is more exciting...the field is never split into several lone riders...they are in large or small groups constantly chasing each other and at the same time trying to destroy each other for the finish line...it's exciting...the speed that these guys are riding is apparent...take for example Paris Rubaix (sp?)...I could'nt believe myself when I got really excited watching those crazies going so fast on the cobbles...to see Tony Cruz in the break...then seeing Ekimov tearing it up on the front...then to see that badass Petegem soloing away to bridge to Ekimov...wow...I was at the edge of my couch.

Long time ago when MTB was all the rage and Lance Armstrong was just another obscure American roadie in Europe, Juliana Furtado and Mike King were my focus. I can't really put a finger on it...but something about professional MTB media intrest got lost between then and now. Maybe it's a cyclical thing and MTB is on its way of hitting rock bottom and Road cycling is on its way to the top and vice versa. I hope Lance Armstrong is going do to America what Eddie Merckx did for cycling in Belgium...holy sh@t, instead of NASCAR Sundays...we would have Roadie Sundays and the Domestic road cycling in America would be the place to be with all the money and sponsorhips...so much so that the important road teams in Europe would rather race here more often then there for the money.
I really enjoy watching the pros at Sea Otter.Lon Norder
Apr 24, 2003 10:16 AM
I've been attending the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA for 4 or 5 years now. It really amazes me how fast these guys are. From what I see pro mountain bike racing doesn't seem to be losing popularity.
It's at rock bottomRJF
Apr 24, 2003 10:37 AM
As a former MTB racer, and a guy who has a cat named "Ned Overend," I have to admit that to me a mountain bike race is a hell of a lot more exciting to watch than your average road race. I think very few people probably agree.

MTB racing in the U.S. might as well not exist right now. It has no prize money. It has no tv coverage, with the minor exception of a few minutes of highlights on OLN. It may end up with no UCI points. I agree with Allan that having races at remote locations makes it near impossible to go see. Not having a U.S. rider capable of winning an international race doesn't help either.

I hope it comes back, but for now it is definitely in dire straits.
Alison Dunlap - or don't women count?Lon Norder
Apr 24, 2003 10:59 AM
"Not having a U.S. rider capable of winning an international race doesn't help either."
No, they don't count.RJF
Apr 24, 2003 1:38 PM
Not to be sexist, but no -- women pro cyclists don't count. I put women's pro-cyling on par with the WNBA or women's pro soccer. Zzzzzzzzz. They may be tremendous athletes, but they offer little to no interest to spectators. I mean, the women in the WNBA are wonderful athletes, etc., etc., but the WNBA is stiffing big time. Why? The men's game is light-years ahead of it in terms of quality. Same thing in cycling. The worst male pro cyclist could trounce the best female cyclist. Why am I going to watch the women race? Because they are "good for girls"? Please.
OINK!!! busted...theBreeze
Apr 24, 2003 3:58 PM
"Not to be sexist???" Oh please. What he f**k century are you livin' in?

NBA is just a bunch of overgrown hormone cases knocking each other around. What game is in that?

What's this crap about the "worst make cyclist could trounce the best female cyclist"? You obviously weren't around to watch Jennie Longo LEAD a bunch of cat 1-2's into the finish at Tucson, and she's 43 years old and at the effective end of her career.

I would love to see YOU go against Genevieve Jenson someday. Put up or shut up.
OINK!!! busted...TJeanloz
Apr 25, 2003 6:25 AM
Um, I routinely raced against Jeanie Longo in the Cat 3 and 4 field in Colorado several years ago. She was nothing special - a substantially better bike handler than most Cat3's, but not much more than that. I don't think she ever finished in the top 10.

And keep in mind that you just said that Longo, who is probably the all-time greatest female cyclist (until Jenson takes that crown too), led a group of 1's and 2's - i.e. amatuers, to a finish. Let's see her ride a race like the First Union, or Tour of Georgia, with an actual pro field.

I'm not saying I don't respect her hard work, or that of other female cyclists. They're just not as fast, plain and simple.
OINK!!! busted...theBreeze
Apr 26, 2003 7:54 PM
OK, several years ago she still would have been over 35. Could you have stayed with her in her prime?

And so what if the women aren't exactly as fast as men. Is speed everything? In a more or less equal field it's team tactics, individual effort etc that make the difference. I would loved to have been in Idaho last summer to watch the Saturn women control the stage 4 (I think) and just shred the field. Why isn'that just as exciting as watching something similar in a men's race, even if the overall speed is less?

Look you guys like to watch guys compete because they are guys and you can relate, same for women. I can't tell you the thrill it is for me AS A WOMAN, to watch a competative women's team, in almost any sport, or and awesome individual effort by a women. We get so little of it. And all you can do is complain because "They aren't as good as the guys." What would you say if it was your wife, sister, or daughter competing? Would you say "I'm not going to watch or support you because your games /races are boring!"?
Too splintered?fracisco
Apr 24, 2003 10:46 AM
Who can keep track of the various disciplines of MTB racing? Cross country, short track, time trial, downhill variations, etc. Maybe MTB racing is too splintered and specialized these days for people to really want to follow it.

I agree that if they brought some of the MTB racing to cities, it might get a better following. I think a big MTB race could be done in any of the big West Coast cities (except for maybe the downhill stuff) and potentially gain more coverage.

I just gave my mountain bike (it was old and unridden anyway) to my father over the weekend.
Too splintered? - not MTBFender
Apr 24, 2003 11:04 AM
If you compared the variations of road vs. mtb, road has about the same. Consider the variations: road races (with long loops or point to point), circuit races, crits, TT, TTT, and HCTTT to name a few.

Personally I believe the lack of interest is mainly due to all the road hype. Before the road hype it was all MTB. It's all a cycle. A few years from now, MTB will have all the hype.

IMHO, road racing is a lot more interesting due to the dynamics of a race compared to TT in a mtb.
A problem with your analysis...Dwayne Barry
Apr 25, 2003 4:17 AM
I agree with all of your points except that this is a cyclical phenomena. Mountain biking racing has no history of cyclical popularity with sponsors!
It didn't exist, it came on the scene and got big with sales and racing (and still is for both), sponsors wanted in because it was the big thing, now they are leaving because at the top, no-one goes to watch pro-mountain biking for the most part, and it is not TV friendly because you can't cover a whole course with cameras (so TV coverage is just a bunch of meaningless pictures) and besides there are next to no tactics. Both of which are what make road cycling appealing to spectators. Even road TT's which are boring to watch from a tactics/action perspective contain some inherent interest because the outcome isn't a foregone conclusion until the last man (who is usually a player in the race) has crossed the finish line.

I think pro-mountain biking is on the outs for good, most of the top riders have already gone to the road (Evans, Martinez, Meirhaghre (sp?), Green (slowly but surely), Danielson).
If they ride UP the hills first, then I'll be impressed.Spunout
Apr 24, 2003 11:06 AM
Oh wait, roadies do that already!

I agree, there are too many variations. Too confusing. Too made for TV slaloms, and other stuff.

I think Europe has a different scene, and still successful with all of the road racing there.
re: Does anyone really care about pro mountain biking anymore?Beaver
Apr 24, 2003 11:16 AM
I think the main problem with mountain bike racing is that it has become too specialized. You have long cross country, short cross country, dual slalom, 4 cross and downhill. Back in MTB racing's heyday, some riders did both the cross country and downhill..Tomac and Herbold come to mind.

But what I find boring is that the riders are so spread out on the course that they are hard to follow and it's pretty rare when you have 2 guys sprinting for the win. Plus it's every man for himself. Nothing wrong with racing for yourself, but you have a team and teamates who do not help you like in road racing. That's what I like about road racing, if a team has a man up the road in a break, they will sit in on a chase and not work with the other riders. Thus making the breakaway stick...well at least most of the time.

And I think the influx of mountain bike pros into the peloton might give some hints about mountain bike racings future.
Isn't it harder to televise MTB races?Kristin
Apr 24, 2003 11:27 AM
It seems like it would be hard to provide good, comprehensive TV coverage of say, a race over wooded single-track.
Isn't it harder to televise MTB races?russw19
Apr 24, 2003 12:32 PM
Only if you plan to show it live. Otherwise you can simply tape it like normal and edit off site. Kinda like taping an episode of Survivor. And even to broadcast live is really not that bad, you just won't get shots from really tight sections of the course. That is also due to the logistics of safely putting in a camera as much as the uplink interference by trees and such. If people watched it, TV would find a way to solve the problem. Look at stuff like Downhill Skiing. People watch that so TV crews found a way to broadcast off the mountain.

I understand what you are saying about the trees and such, but if there's a will, there's a way... it's the will here that is lacking.

Russ
It's more than thatlaffeaux
Apr 24, 2003 1:00 PM
In the TDF you have helicopters and motorcycles following the racers. In skiing you have a short course with high visibility where a few cameras can capture a skiier for extended periods. How can a few cameras spread out over a 20+ mile course with the ability to photograph a rider for only a few brief seconds capture the race?

MTB racing is fun. Watching it is less so. Road racing is much easier to capture on TV. However, neither seem to be on TV in the US anyway so it's a bit of a moot point (I don't have OLN, so I get about 2 hours of cycling per year on TV).
Same in top mtn. bike races...KEN2
Apr 24, 2003 2:48 PM
I've been in Steamboat Springs when the (late) Mercury Tour Stage Race was held during August several seasons ago. There were helicopters all over the mountain following the race, OLN was there broadcasting live, etc. etc. Apparently it didn't make money, but it wasn't because the coverage sucked.
It's more than thatrussw19
Apr 25, 2003 2:47 PM
Dual Slalom and Downhill and what ever that 4 rider downhill matchup race is called are all easy to cover. And those are the 3 'big' races in MTB. They are the money makers. They draw more fans course side, and make more money in product for the shops. That's also where more manufacturers put their sponsor dollars. That said, all 3 of those races are run on skiing courses on the open face of a mountain. No issues with putting a camera in the middle of singletrack. Put cameras where ever you want, just like downhill skiing.

Now is the fact that downhill MTB more popular as a TV sport than cross country because it's easier to tape? The same question could be asked about cross country skiing compared to downhill. But I think the real answer is that people are addicted to speed. Downhill bikes go really fast and when they crash, it's pretty dramatic. Kinda like that good ol' boy southern sport that is taking over the world... NeckCar.

But I don't think I would ever go so far as to say Road Racing is easier to capture on TV. It's a logistical nightmare. But it's big money in Europe and so they have good expirience with doing it. But just because they do it well doesn't make it easy.

Just my opinions backed up by absolutely nothing but my own speculation and logic.

Russ
yawn. nmalansutton
Apr 24, 2003 11:54 AM
I do, I do!!!!dante
Apr 24, 2003 12:44 PM
My main belief is that OLN screwed the pooch on this one, 3 hour mtn. bike races cut down to about 7 min., 5-6 min. DH runs cut to about 11 sec. I don't know whether they were shortened in an effort to attract new non-mtb'ers, but DH could be the biggest draw out there, fast speeds, huge rocks, jumps, drops, etc. (Full disclosure, DH is my true passion, over XC and Road) What they needed was more than the 3 cameras out on the course, if they'd had 20 showing the different runs, split times, etc., it would've been amazing.

The only decent thing to watch (other than the snippets of DH that they showed) was the dual slalom, b/c they SHOWED THE WHOLE RACE. Beginning to end, crashes and all. *sigh* Then Cablevision took away my OLN so now I don't get any of it anymore... :(

dante

DH at Plattekill open this weekend!!!!!
Road racing exciting? Not to the general public.hrv
Apr 24, 2003 2:53 PM
Who would much rather watch bull riding then some pencil necks in lycra.

I'm interested in mtb. racing esp. since I'll be doing my first in a few weeks and I've only been on a mt. bike about a dozen times! Plus, compared to road racing, mtb. takes way more skill.

If it's done on a bicycle, at speed, it's all good to me.

hrv
Here's what would make xcountry MTB (and road) fun:sodade
Apr 24, 2003 3:12 PM
HELMET CAMS!!!!
Every rider should wear one. Take all the footage (digital of course) and edit together the good parts.

Also - screw OLN - broadcast it on the web and sell VCDs of every race for cheap.
They do that sometimes, just not in the prosgreg n
Apr 25, 2003 7:33 AM
Race promoters will occasionally get volunteers to wear helmet cams in races. Usually in the Sport and/or Expert categories. They'll pay the person's entry fee and usually put up an incentive for a podium finish.

I don't know about the latest and greatest technology, but the problem with the live feed helmet cams in the past was the weight of the battery pack, etc. No pro is going to strap 10 extra pounds to their waist for the love of live coverage.
Did they ever?peter1
Apr 24, 2003 7:36 PM
Actually, pro mtb racing never really had much of a following...it was mostly big because sponsors wanted to get in on the mountain biking boom and thought (rightly) that sponsorship would be a good way to sell more bikes. In contrast to road teams, it was only in the last few years that you had trade teams rather than manufacturers' teams. What happened was the C'dale and Specialized put companies like Yeti out of business by outspending them for the best riders.

Yet citizens' mtb racing is as big as ever, because while the mtb boom is over, the hard core people still race.

To me, mtb racing is like soccer...a blast to play but not much fun to watch! (and I used to watch Soccer Made in Germany religiously as a kid).

Pro mtb racing will stay small unless there's another boom in bike buying. The sport is just not telegenic and there's no way around it...
re: Does anyone really care about pro mountain biking anymore?mickey-mac
Apr 24, 2003 8:03 PM
I must admit I haven't watched a mtb race in at least a few years. Watching Miguel Martinez was always fun, but the sport is unlikely to recapture the fun that existed in the days of Overend and Tomac.
I lost the plot when Nedley Deadly and Johnny T.....Sintesi
Apr 26, 2003 7:05 AM
retired. Although I do think Roland Green is fanf***ingtastic.

Actually MTB races are almost always horribly edited and the commentators suck. Road cycling has better drama because the cameras are rolling along with the riders, the tension is a lot more palpable when you see it as it develops. I've never seen a MTB race as exciting as, say, the last P-R. And let's face it: Phil and Paul. What more can your say?