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Why is MTB racing dead?

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BroDeal said:
Because it turned into a freak show when it embraced the "extreme sports" image and started using stupid terms like "gravity racer." Crap like dual slalom and four cross did not help. Neither did rampant sandbagging.

Enduro//24 hour/100 mile events are where it's at now.

It was a fun Americana from the geety-up in the true "Far West" pioneer spirit, that started as an 80's granola crunch-hippy/dubbi-smokers' fad in the woods, earned real sport status through able US marketing and corporate power, even in Euroland, but however is ultimately destined for sporting oblivion.

Whereas the traditions of European road racing, against which mountain biking has tried to posture itself as a more hip usurper, have, in the end, prevailed. A victory for the anti-imperialists I suppose.

PS. Although, at the practical level, those reasons you mention above would also be a noteworthy contributing factor to the sport's decline of late.
 
Sep 27, 2009
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XC Events replaced by?

Anyone tried Mountain Bike Orienteering - heaps of fun, requiring you to think and ride. Certainly growing here in Australia!:)
 
Oct 29, 2009
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Simply put...the problem with Mountain Bike Racing is that it isn't spectator friendly. You see the race start, they hit the trail head and you don't see them until they come in for their next lap. Spectators can't see the stuff that goes on in the woods.

I've raced regionally for a few years now, and there was always one race in the series that would bring out triple the spectators of any other race. The trail weaves in and out of the woods with long open descents and climbs. It was in a nice family park with picnic tables basically in the middle of the race course. People would spend the day out there with the kids playing on the playground, walking dogs, throwing frisbees, and watching the racers ride by. At the most gnarly descents and toughest climbs, people line the trail like you would see on a climb in a major road race. One year, there were so many people at the rock garden, police were used as course officials to assure they didn't spill out onto the trail. The trail builders really worked toward that adding quick drops, jumps, and a section where the trail drops into this large half-pipe and you ride side to side, at times going almost completely horizontal. The racers also really threw in some stuff for a show and some spectacle. The spectators love it. There wasn't much going on in this town, to say the least, but if you saw that race, you wouldn't think MTB racing was dead. There just isn't much to see.

With DH, BMX and free-ride considered in vogue, XC racers need to do a little something extra because by comparison it's boring to watch.
 
A

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I think with all sports, for there to remain a level of professionalism, then there needs to be sponsors willing to invest money AND they need a return on their investment. Arguably, the biggest return (in cycing) on your investment will be road racing. The TV coverage, the high profile riders, the 'traditional' way of racing a bike all lead to a sponsor going, 'well, if we want to invest in cycling, the road is where to go' because of the larger fanbase.

Clearly, specific MTB, cycloX, Track, Downhill, BMX manufacturers and niche sponsors will find a return from investing in these events becoz they are aiming at a particular consumer, whereas in mens road cycling, the sponsors come from all industries becoz of the enormous TV coverage.

The same argument goes for women's cycling. The money is not as high as the mens version becoz the fans aren't as high. Sponsors respond to fans, and the fans will vote with their feet.

All that said, I'm a big fan of MTB racing. It's a bit different, it's ridiculously hard work and I think it is the basis of a 'fun' sport.

Is MTB racing dead? Hell no. Racing is racing. The basis of the sport and sporting philisophy will never disappear, but just because some sponsors leave, this will not kill a sport at grass roots level.
 
Jul 3, 2009
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As a one time casual MTB racer and long time roadie I would imagine that a lot of it has to do with (1)Not very TV friendly,(2) an extremely hard sport,(3) expensive start up costs.
 
Sep 27, 2009
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MTB on TV

Whilst I love doing it, most of the footage I've watched of MTB racing is dull. Let's be honest, watching footage of someone doing 5kmh or less as they struggle up a hill, well is a yawn.

What I don't understand is that those doing the shooting haven't set cameras up low down on (for example shocks) on bikes. Being closer to the ground and capturing the movement of the shocks, and the ground rushing past, surely would be a more interesting shot than one taken from a helmet? It's all about perspective.

And while I'm on it, where pro-photographers have been out on courses I've raced, they seem to pick boring spots - you're not going to capture much action at the top of an ascent. Why not find a fast hairpin bend or a technical descent, and shoot (again) from the ground?

Anyway, I'd rather be doing than watching.
 
Dec 14, 2009
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There is no money in it, for sponsors and for athletes.
I think a large contributor was when doping issues began to dominate headlines, many of the sponsors and a lot of the money left mountain biking, namely XC.
I remember NORBA folding and Felipe Merhagie (I looked for a Google spelling and couldn't find him -ouch!) getting sacked and being striped of his title. Sponsers couldn't pull out of the sport fast enough.
Fans quickly became jaded and went back to watching NASCAR...or the most pure form of sport in the world F1:D Oh the drama!
I love mountain bikes and mountain biking - there are still events to be had, it's just not like the good ole days.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Lots of good points here...but I don't think dead is the right word. Unpopular (at the moment?) not spectator friendly, sure...but not dead.

I agree with Kiwi's input that this may be more US oriented...as it is basically huge here. BroDeal hit on endurance MTB and we have two here that would probably boggle the minds of most US riders. Birkebeinerittet and Grenserittet.

Both 80ish KM (Birken is in fact about 94KM) mid-distance endurance races.

Birken has 15,000 racer cap and sells out the day it opens for registration. Grense has a 6,000 racer cap and sells out too (in a couple of months).

The birken race has gotten so big that they now have a "pre-race" the day before for those that "don't want to compete" and it sells out too...around 5000 participants I believe...

I have never witnessed a race of this magnitude before participating in one here.

So no, I don't think it's dead...just a bit boring to watch on TV :D
 
Mar 2, 2009
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Where I live, here on the East Coast of the US, there do seem to be fewer total MTB races over the course of a given season. I think the demise of many of the super-fun MTB races we used to have in the autumn is due to the timing overlap with the burgeoning cyclo-cross scene. 10-15 years ago, there were almost no cyclo-cross races in the fall - now there are several every weekend throughout it. From a (biased) mountain biker perspective, I think it's a little sad to see the demise of so many great races - esp. as Sept. and Oct. are two excellent months weather-wise for mountain bike racing. The leaves are brilliant and there are no bugs! :)

Those of us who haven't switched over to the 'cross circuit are still enjoying plenty of long rides in the woods then!

On another note, with the surge in popularity of mountain bike races like 24-hours, 12-hours, 6-hours and 100-milers and stage races, I think people are racing bigger, but less often. After all, those races are a ton of fun, but the entries can be steep and add up quickly.
 
Jul 17, 2009
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how about an endurance race and the first one out and back with a 12 point buck downed with a Bow and arrow takes the prize
 
Jun 16, 2009
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A few posts ago on this thread I made the comment that I believed that claims of the death of MTB racing outside of the US were greatly over-rated and premature ...

Yesterday I found an interview with Julien Absalon on the site for French newspaper Le Figaro. He says in there that MTB is the second most popular sport (in terms of participants) in France. True, he does talk of the most popular being "marche a pied" (which I translate as that funny sort of power walking that people do - but am happy to be corrected by any French forum members, as I have learned over the last year that Quebec French ain't always French French ...), so it is possible that they are also counting recreational riders who don't race. However, when you add this statistic to the calendar of MTB races in France, I'd say it points to a very healthy state of the sport - and again, would say that "claims of the death of MTB are greatly over rated"! :)

Oh, and I'd suggest that the fact that MTB is the number 2 sport in France also answers the question in an earlier thread (that I can't find now) which suggested that there was something dodgy in the way that the French are dominating MTB these days ... :)

Here's the link to the interview if anyone's interested:
http://www.lefigaro.fr/cyclisme/200...0330-le-vtt-une-discipline-a-part-entiere.php
 
kiwirider said:
A few posts ago on this thread I made the comment that I believed that claims of the death of MTB racing outside of the US were greatly over-rated and premature ...

Yesterday I found an interview with Julien Absalon on the site for French newspaper Le Figaro. He says in there that MTB is the second most popular sport (in terms of participants) in France. True, he does talk of the most popular being "marche a pied" (which I translate as that funny sort of power walking that people do - but am happy to be corrected by any French forum members, as I have learned over the last year that Quebec French ain't always French French ...), so it is possible that they are also counting recreational riders who don't race. However, when you add this statistic to the calendar of MTB races in France, I'd say it points to a very healthy state of the sport - and again, would say that "claims of the death of MTB are greatly over rated"! :)

Oh, and I'd suggest that the fact that MTB is the number 2 sport in France also answers the question in an earlier thread (that I can't find now) which suggested that there was something dodgy in the way that the French are dominating MTB these days ... :)

Here's the link to the interview if anyone's interested:
http://www.lefigaro.fr/cyclisme/200...0330-le-vtt-une-discipline-a-part-entiere.php

Well that is good news. But it's not all that great for ME, racing in the USA. :D
 
Apr 9, 2009
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Mountain biking racing is dead in the US if you are a pro searching for UCI points. That is because there aren't to many people who want to fly all over the county with a bike (gets expensive real fast) for a 30 mile race that has average single-track. The experiance is not worth the effort unless you and elite racer who can win. If a bunch of amateurs don't show up the race director will never cover their costs to put on the race.

However, if your not searching for UCI stuff there are some great races going on. There are a lot of really well run state series that are a lot of fun. The endurance races and the epics are awesome and are getting great turnout. Some people are racing for the win others just to see if they can make it before the cut off and afterwards everybody has a couple beers. Nothing better.
 
Feb 4, 2010
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I'll agree that it's only national pro racing that's not doing so well right now. Regional and local race series are doing well. People still love to race their bikes at the grass roots level, but money for big time pro races has really dried up.
 
Jul 24, 2009
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MB racing just seems like one of those gimmicky sports thats destined to be a craze for a short while until people decide that something else is better.
 

DAOTEC

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Jun 16, 2009
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First Rock now Mafia what's next

Not anymore cause the mob is involved >Felt re-up with Mafia Racing for 2010

1268339696234-1r54pwks4lr8d-798-75.jpg
Get me that girly on the left holding the saddle please
spook.gif


Felt also the bike suplier of Garmin said:
“We’re excited to be continuing our support of the Mafia Racing programme in 2010,” said Jim Felt, the company namesake of Felt Bicycles. “It’s a unique programme that accomplishes a lot with both its racing results and its community outreach efforts. Felt share those same values, and this continues to be a great partnership.” More: bikeradar.com
 
Jul 17, 2009
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maybe they could chase a fox with dogs or some $hit on singlespeeds

the last time I saw mtn biking on TV it was one of those lame mass start things last one down is a rotten egg. Lift assist to the top btw

MTB is a dirt nap
 
Apr 21, 2010
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Not enough money.

You get more money, you get more depth, more depth more competition, more competition more passion, more conflict, better stories, more compelling sport.
 
BroDeal said:
Personally I think one of the problems is that people found out that mountain biking is hard. It is a lot more difficult than road cycling.

Be sure you tell John Tomac that. :rolleyes:

He won the US Criterium championship, and then switched over to road racing full time. Unfortunately for him, he then learned it was much harder to ride up mountains on the road in Europe than to fly down them on the trail.

Anyway, the level of competition in MTB has never been anywhere close to road racing. It is as simple as money. Everybody wants to earn as much as they can, so they try to get to Europe as a pro road racer. That is where the money is, and always has been.

Like somebody else said, watching a mountain bike race is boring as hell. It is like watching a time trial in the woods.
 
SlantParallelogram said:
Be sure you tell John Tomac that. :rolleyes:

He won the US Criterium championship, and then switched over to road racing full time. Unfortunately for him, he then learned it was much harder to ride up mountains on the road in Europe than to fly down them on the trail.

Anyway, the level of competition in MTB has never been anywhere close to road racing. It is as simple as money. Everybody wants to earn as much as they can, so they try to get to Europe as a pro road racer. That is where the money is, and always has been.

Like somebody else said, watching a mountain bike race is boring as hell. It is like watching a time trial in the woods.

You are missing the point. The competition levels of pro road and mountain bike racing make no difference to low level amateur racing. Lots of people bought MTBs during the height of the MTB fad. Companies poured money into the sport because of its apparent popularity. Lots of those wouldbe mountain bikers found out that mountain biking is pretty dang hard. The images shown in TV commericals and magazine ads do not match up with the reality unless you are in good shape, and most people are unwilling to ride enough to get in that kind of shape..
 
Apr 29, 2009
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SlantParallelogram said:
He won the US Criterium championship, and then switched over to road racing full time. Unfortunately for him, he then learned it was much harder to ride up mountains on the road in Europe than to fly down them on the trail.

That's not quite true. Tomac started in the dirt, going from BMX to MTB...then ran a couple of seasons in tandem; doing both Road and MTB schedules. Having more success on the dirt, he eventually made that his singular focus.
 
elperrito said:
That's not quite true. Tomac started in the dirt, going from BMX to MTB...then ran a couple of seasons in tandem; doing both Road and MTB schedules. Having more success on the dirt, he eventually made that his singular focus.

You are right, he did race on the road and the dirt for the two years after he won the US Criterium championship. However, during those two years he moved to Belgium and was essentially a full time road racer who would occasionally contest the really big mountain bike races.

My point is that he didn't do much of anything in his 2 seasons in Europe as a pro road racer. He was fast enough to beat a field of Category 1 racers in the USA, but not nearly fast enough to win in Europe against the best pro road racers in the world.

So I think the real reason he chose to stay with mountain bikes is because he wasn't all that fast compared to the top Euro road racers. Even in the mountain bike world, the thing he was really known for was his downhill skill. He was never the best cross country racer.

The other thing is - he should really stop bragging about his BMX national championship. He won the BMX Cruiser championship when he was 16, except nobody cares about the cruiser (24" wheel) class. The only reason that class is around is so the younger kids (under 12) have an easier time getting over the jumps. So he won the BMX cruiser championship at the age when the only thing that was important was real (20" wheel) BMX championship.

I know it seems like I am bashing Tomac, which I'm not. He is way faster than I ever was. I am only using this to illustrate how one of the fastest mountain bike riders in the world was only an average rider among the pro road racers.
 
kiwirider said:
A few posts ago on this thread I made the comment that I believed that claims of the death of MTB racing outside of the US were greatly over-rated and premature ...

Yesterday I found an interview with Julien Absalon on the site for French newspaper Le Figaro. He says in there that MTB is the second most popular sport (in terms of participants) in France. True, he does talk of the most popular being "marche a pied" (which I translate as that funny sort of power walking that people do - but am happy to be corrected by any French forum members, as I have learned over the last year that Quebec French ain't always French French ...), so it is possible that they are also counting recreational riders who don't race. Here's the link to the interview if anyone's interested:
http://www.lefigaro.fr/cyclisme/200...0330-le-vtt-une-discipline-a-part-entiere.php

Bonjour aux antipodes.
Here is the relevant excerpt of that interview:
Tout le monde connaît le VTT. C'est le deuxième sport en termes de pratiquants en France derrière la marche à pied

The "olympic funny walk" is called in French "Marche athlétique". I believe Absalon is referring to Marche as just walking with friends or alone in the woods, on paths, etc which is so popular because there are so many places, trails, etc near where people live in a country like France : people don't shoot at you if you walk across their property, there are few obstacles - other than natural - to prevent you from going practically anywhere you want to.

So far mountain bikes have been tolerated on many trails normally dedicated to walking and from what I gather conflicts remain pretty limited. Around here, as soon as the weather is favorable you see an incredible number of cars, going in particular to the mountains, with one or several VTT (mountain bike) in the back.

It's great that you read French papers out there in kiwiland, hope to visit some day (my daughter loved it).