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Why is MTB racing dead?

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Oct 18, 2009
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BroDeal said:
The crotch chafing from armor would make this a sport for true hard men of the sport.

That perfectly answers the first question of this forum. mountainbiking exploded in the 80s/90s cos tough types went out riding hard tail pieces of **** in jeans and shoes:) and bombing them off sick drops and stuff. And that created the legend that mtnbiking would live on through the decade.

so why is mtnbiking dead today? : Easy, the riders have all become pussies with their chamois creams and their chocolate protein bars. MTNbiking used to be epic thats what made it imo x
 
May 27, 2010
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Getting old....

There were a lot of good, and fun, answers, but I don't think they got to the real reason.

Back in '90 when I did MTB worlds in Durango in the Expert category and the Iron Horse road race in the Pro,I,II field, at 25 I was older than most of the people there. Kent already had the nickname Bostisaourous because he was over 30! I raced against the biggest pro names of today when they were 17ish year old juniors. Now they're all approaching retirement. There is some talent coming up, but not with the depth we had.

By the time I got to my 30's I was younger than the average USCF rider. Master fields are the biggest out there now. Many people, as mentioned, are doing ultra's, team ultra's, centuries, and DD's. There are hardly any juniors.

My take is that by the early 90's the home PC, followed by the Internet, were just coming into their own. As such, the kids were home playing video games instead of out racing their BMX bikes (where I started).

On top of that, did you know that kids cover less than 10% of the area around their homes than kids did 30 years ago? And it's shrinking. So on top of being preoccupied with video games and the Internet, their parents don't want them to go far from the house. Heck, in my neighborhood I see kids shooting hoops in front of their houses even though there is a park with BB courts at the end of the street. In my day the kids in the neighborhood all went to the park to have pick-up games. In this context you can understand X type riding. The parents can bring their kids to the park and keep an eye on them.
 
Apolitical said:
There were a lot of good, and fun, answers, but I don't think they got to the real reason.

Back in '90 when I did MTB worlds in Durango in the Expert category and the Iron Horse road race in the Pro,I,II field, at 25 I was older than most of the people there. Kent already had the nickname Bostisaourous because he was over 30! I raced against the biggest pro names of today when they were 17ish year old juniors. Now they're all approaching retirement. There is some talent coming up, but not with the depth we had.

By the time I got to my 30's I was younger than the average USCF rider. Master fields are the biggest out there now. Many people, as mentioned, are doing ultra's, team ultra's, centuries, and DD's. There are hardly any juniors.

My take is that by the early 90's the home PC, followed by the Internet, were just coming into their own. As such, the kids were home playing video games instead of out racing their BMX bikes (where I started).

On top of that, did you know that kids cover less than 10% of the area around their homes than kids did 30 years ago? And it's shrinking. So on top of being preoccupied with video games and the Internet, their parents don't want them to go far from the house. Heck, in my neighborhood I see kids shooting hoops in front of their houses even though there is a park with BB courts at the end of the street. In my day the kids in the neighborhood all went to the park to have pick-up games. In this context you can understand X type riding. The parents can bring their kids to the park and keep an eye on them.

This could be the answer. Kids today are fat bastards who would not walk around the block if you promised them a lifetime supply of Cheesy Poofs to do it. And the biggest group of cyclists are trendy middle agers who are desperately trying to erase the effects of surviving on Cheesy Poofs for the previous fifeen years. Clearly we need to hope that the kids survive their obesity long enough to make it to middle age when they will figure out that exercising might not be a bad idea.
 
Feb 4, 2010
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Apolitical said:
There were a lot of good, and fun, answers, but I don't think they got to the real reason.

Back in '90 when I did MTB worlds in Durango in the Expert category and the Iron Horse road race in the Pro,I,II field, at 25 I was older than most of the people there. Kent already had the nickname Bostisaourous because he was over 30! I raced against the biggest pro names of today when they were 17ish year old juniors. Now they're all approaching retirement. There is some talent coming up, but not with the depth we had.

By the time I got to my 30's I was younger than the average USCF rider. Master fields are the biggest out there now. Many people, as mentioned, are doing ultra's, team ultra's, centuries, and DD's. There are hardly any juniors.

My take is that by the early 90's the home PC, followed by the Internet, were just coming into their own. As such, the kids were home playing video games instead of out racing their BMX bikes (where I started).

On top of that, did you know that kids cover less than 10% of the area around their homes than kids did 30 years ago? And it's shrinking. So on top of being preoccupied with video games and the Internet, their parents don't want them to go far from the house. Heck, in my neighborhood I see kids shooting hoops in front of their houses even though there is a park with BB courts at the end of the street. In my day the kids in the neighborhood all went to the park to have pick-up games. In this context you can understand X type riding. The parents can bring their kids to the park and keep an eye on them.

I think this is an answer but not maybe the answer. (I don't know if there is a single answer). I think everything you say about kids in the last 15-20 years in general vs how all us old farts grew up in the 50s-60s -70s. XC mtn bike racing is hard and it doesn't lend itself well to the internet/video game generations.
That said, as many people have mentioned, grass roots racing is for the most part doing quite well. Where I live there is a MTB little league that has been going strong for 10+ years. Kids between 8 and 17 race and the fields are well attended. The kids ride together, do trail projects and stuff like that. Everyone gets medals and jerseys for something like $75 for the whole 6 race season. A few of the kids have turned pro (of course turning pro doesn't mean you make a living racing) and in the least, the rest of them have learned what it's like to be in good shape and I'm a firm believer in the theory that once you integrate fitness into your lifestyle, you are a lot less likely to ever be satisfied being fat and lazy.

So anyway, there are pockets of hope out there.
 
Apr 29, 2010
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9000ft said:
XC mtn bike racing is hard and it doesn't lend itself well to the internet/video game generations.

Growing up in the video game generation (80s/90s) one of the reasons I initially got hooked on MTN BIKING, was that the experience of riding single track was like being in video game or movie to me--only better. But yes, obvious difference in aerobic demands between the two. Nowadays, I never play videogames, but I like to shoot helmet cam footage while I ride, and watching it later totally plays into my digital addiction.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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There is a road in front of my house. I have to drive to the nearest MTB trail. If you get serious about mountain bike racing you will ultimately end up on a road bike for some of your training. Eventually the mountain bike starts to gather dust (not from the trail). So personally convenience has alot to do with it. Three hours out of the house for 1.5 hours of cycling or, 3 hours of cycling. In addition, people that came up during the mountain bike boom are older now and mountain biking hurts. A good portion of the masters I ride with started out mountain bike racing.
 
Jul 15, 2010
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Mountain bike XC racing got hijacked by roadies who trained on road bikes, warmed up on road bikes and influenced the UCI to create MTB XC tracks that you could ride on a road bike. What we then end up with is a boring 2 hour TT around a smooth mountain course. No good for TV, no good for spectators, no good for MTB.
 
Oct 28, 2009
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Hangdog98 said:
Mountain bike XC racing got hijacked by roadies who trained on road bikes, warmed up on road bikes and influenced the UCI to create MTB XC tracks that you could ride on a road bike. What we then end up with is a boring 2 hour TT around a smooth mountain course. No good for TV, no good for spectators, no good for MTB.

I really dont think this is what happened. At least, not in my area (Northeast, USA). It's just a lot of us who started to get serious about racing, realized the training benefits of road cycling over mountain biking.

I started racing when I was 16. Got to sport, and raced that cat until I was 19. From an endurance perspective, I was seeing little improvement. Then I became a part time roadie along with some friends (using our mtb's of course!). By the end of the next season I had realized very large gains in my endurance. Upgraded to expert in the middle of the following season.

MTB (with the exception of downhill) is not made for TV. It simply doesnt play well. You cant get film crews into the woods to follow the race leaders. Viewers want to watch the leaders on TV and see whats going on up front.

Also, more often than not, MTB racing is a TT. In the 90's most of my races were more like a TT than anything else. And it remains that way to this day. Sometimes it may be different, but more often than not its a TT. Your usually not going fast enough to realize any drafting benefits. And save the first couple laps, the width of courses and terrain break up any packs of riders that would form.

I dont think MTB racing is by any means dead. My local scene is alive and well. It just doesnt have a TdF. And bear in mind the TdF is only what it is today because of the revenue it can generate on national and local levels. You cant do that (or at least we havent figured it out yet) with a MTB race.
 
Feb 4, 2010
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fuggles said:
I really dont think this is what happened. At least, not in my area (Northeast, USA). It's just a lot of us who started to get serious about racing, realized the training benefits of road cycling over mountain biking.

I started racing when I was 16. Got to sport, and raced that cat until I was 19. From an endurance perspective, I was seeing little improvement. Then I became a part time roadie along with some friends (using our mtb's of course!). By the end of the next season I had realized very large gains in my endurance. Upgraded to expert in the middle of the following season.

MTB (with the exception of downhill) is not made for TV. It simply doesnt play well. You cant get film crews into the woods to follow the race leaders. Viewers want to watch the leaders on TV and see whats going on up front.

Also, more often than not, MTB racing is a TT. In the 90's most of my races were more like a TT than anything else. And it remains that way to this day. Sometimes it may be different, but more often than not its a TT. Your usually not going fast enough to realize any drafting benefits. And save the first couple laps, the width of courses and terrain break up any packs of riders that would form.

I dont think MTB racing is by any means dead. My local scene is alive and well. It just doesn't have a TdF. And bear in mind the TdF is only what it is today because of the revenue it can generate on national and local levels. You cant do that (or at least we havent figured it out yet) with a MTB race.

I don't totally agree that XC MTB racing has to play poorly on TV. Using last years worlds course and coverage as an example, I think you can design a good product when you have good planning and execution. You can have a good mix of types of terrain that provide thrills and spill while still having something that challenges the fitness and skills of the riders. Of course the kicker is that doesn't come cheaply.

While MTB racing is a lot like a TT there can be and often is close racing. Look at road racing. It's pretty predictable. The group rides in a pack, there are a couple breakaway attempts, the breaks get reeled in and a five hour race comes down to a 20 second sprint. Mtn top finishes are a lot like TTs with riders on their own with the occasional wheel to wheel dual - MTB races aren't much different than that.

I also don't think the road riding as a training tool has much to do with it. I have raced both skinny and fa tires and while off road is my first and best love, I consider myself a cyclist, and at 50, still get 2500ish miles a year on my MTB. I don't think I'm that unusual. I see lots of old farts such as myself out there on MTBs but we also have a road bike or two in the quiver. I did a 34 mile MTB ride with around 7000ft of climbing, plenty of gnarly technical terrain with about 10 friends the other day and not one of them was under 40.

What I do see however, is more of the younger crowd is attracted to the whole gravity/shuttle scene (remember the flashes and explosions?) and Mountain biking, which used to be almost completely about what is now called XC, is now broken into about a dozen sub sets so that dilutes the talent pool. Like I said above, XC mountain biking is hard and while on a local level there are still plenty of kids who race, in the wider population, most kids of the MTV/video game/ATV generation simply can't relate.

Everything is cyclical though. Fitness will come back into vogue and it will be hip to be an endurance athlete
 
Oct 28, 2009
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9000ft said:
What I do see however, is more of the younger crowd is attracted to the whole gravity/shuttle scene (remember the flashes and explosions?) and Mountain biking, which used to be almost completely about what is now called XC, is now broken into about a dozen sub sets so that dilutes the talent pool.

That's an interesting point. As obvious as it seems now, never occurred to me. Maybe I'll go start another thread about it :)
 
Jul 17, 2009
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Xgames are watchable. XC is not. heck DH mtb riding isnt even watchable. Slope Style yes

As good as the Collective movies are it is the air that sells them not the trail riding
 
Old Dude Warning

I was a very peripheral part of the early rise of Mountain Biking, so I have the luxury of having been there and ignoring the factors others might consider important.

-Bikes. The early bikes practically rode themselves and were simple machines. This was the most infectious aspect of the sport for casual riders. Riding a whole lot was easier and cheaper. That's mostly gone now. If I ever was tempted to re-enter the bike business, I'd sell slack-angled cross-country style bikes.

-Dedication. There weren't many people riding waay back when. I knew them all by site or first name basis. They, like me, were out a whole lot. Now? I don't see as many on (what's still open) trail during the week. That dedicated core who didn't need racing success doesn't exist in my area. Weekends are very busy with casual riders though.

-USAC vs. NORBA. NORBA days the federation really focused on members and giving members what they wanted. USAC? Still trying to force UCI formats down the membership's throat when no members have any interest in it. The organizers that understand this do their interesting, non-uci-compliant events and generally ignore USAC and vice versa.

-Cross now vs 10 yrs ago. I think it's flourishing because USAC ignored it until very recently. I think USAC will get to destroying that very soon. It's just what they do in their (doomed) 10+ year quest to find the next Lance Armstrong.

The good news is there are viable alternatives to the USAC now and their presence will grow because USAC is so awful at their job. My vote is for track racing to come back under other federations when the bloom comes off 'cross in a few years.

http://www.fiac.us/
 
Feb 4, 2010
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Boeing said:
Xgames are watchable. XC is not. heck DH mtb riding isnt even watchable. Slope Style yes

As good as the Collective movies are it is the air that sells them not the trail riding

The funny thing is, I get bored quickly watching X games slope style etc. To me all that kind of stuff is merely stunts, not racing. Of course, I understand that these days of short attention span and total lack of subtlety, I'm not typical.
 
Dec 29, 2009
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I don't think MTB is "dead".... just splintered. We have DH, XC, marathons, freeride, dirt jump, 24 HR, 12HR, 8HR, Enduros, multiday events (BC Bike/Transrockies/Cape Epic) and more. Something for everyone.
 
Jul 17, 2009
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9000ft said:
The funny thing is, I get bored quickly watching X games slope style etc. To me all that kind of stuff is merely stunts, not racing. Of course, I understand that these days of short attention span and total lack of subtlety, I'm not typical.

true but double front to double whip is pretty sick...


DOnt get me wrong. As a Clyde I loved XC because it was the only way I could ever podium :)

I think the duel slalom and mass start stuff hurt XC

I think an xc courses should be adapted and include pump track type sections with dirt jumps along with climbing and endurance. not for stunts bot for handling skill.
 
Jun 29, 2010
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Cost.

For me its about cost, and not simply the bike. Driving to trailheads (if you dont live close), and or races takes a lot of money, usually more than road riding/racing.

With a road bike I can simply ride from my door and there are several races series that are within a very reasonable driving distance from my house. I will always enjoy MTB riding, but its just too much of a hassle compared to road riding. Simple as that for most people I believe.
 
Jul 17, 2009
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dj1979 said:
Cost.

For me its about cost, and not simply the bike. Driving to trailheads (if you dont live close), and or races takes a lot of money, usually more than road riding/racing.

With a road bike I can simply ride from my door and there are several races series that are within a very reasonable driving distance from my house. I will always enjoy MTB riding, but its just too much of a hassle compared to road riding. Simple as that for most people I believe.


amen and xc racing is more standing around all day in your kit waiting for 3 laps to place which is buzz kill.

xc racing is long drives and hanging out all day telling each other how great we all are more than it is riding
 
Jul 17, 2009
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Jesus H Criminal I just tried to watch a Cyclocross race on Universal. fell asleep and drooled all over the new couch. reminded me of how dead XC is
 
Jun 29, 2010
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Having not raced XC mountain bikes since the 90's I am amazed by the change in the dynamics of mountain bike riding/racing. At the moment I'm thinking of getting back into it and I'm looking for an update to my 90's XC bike. Looking around at used bikes on EBay it seems the whole world has gone out and brought a Down hill style bike in the last 15 years !
This is a huge surprise to me as in the 90's XC was by far more popular on the ground. Although the DH style of bikes the kids ride today do look kinda fun, the are only really practical for what they are designed for and would be useless for my needs. So, yeah it does seem XC has lost it's appeal.:eek:
 
Jun 29, 2010
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Actually after thinking about my last post a bit tonight, maybe there is another reason there are so many DH style bikes on the used market. Maybe people bought the image and realized that what they really needed was a more practical XC style bike and the people who own XC bikes don't feel the need to sell them as quickly :cool:
 
2beeDammed said:
Having not raced XC mountain bikes since the 90's I am amazed by the change in the dynamics of mountain bike riding/racing. At the moment I'm thinking of getting back into it and I'm looking for an update to my 90's XC bike. Looking around at used bikes on EBay it seems the whole world has gone out and brought a Down hill style bike in the last 15 years !
This is a huge surprise to me as in the 90's XC was by far more popular on the ground. Although the DH style of bikes the kids ride today do look kinda fun, the are only really practical for what they are designed for and would be useless for my needs. So, yeah it does seem XC has lost it's appeal.:eek:

If I were you I'd try one of the newish carbon hardtails:

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1085711_-1_1512507_20000_400308

You will be absolutely amazed at how light some of the XC race bikes are now, almost like road bikes. You can probably spend half the price of the top of the line one I linked and have a bike 90% as fast.
 
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.

Have you ever raced mtn bikes? You apparently do not know what you are talking about. Ever hear of Cadel Evans, Ryder Hesjedal, Michael Rasmussen?
 
Jul 17, 2009
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veganrob said:
Have you ever raced mtn bikes? You apparently do not know what you are talking about. Ever hear of Cadel Evans, Ryder Hesjedal, Michael Rasmussen?

yea but his food craps on your food ;)