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The Mail bag: Ride for the love, not the money

How about if people quit whining about cycling on TV and just goride their bikes? Isn't that what the sport's all about? Why waste a beautifulday sitting on the couch watching someone else do what you could be outsidedoing yourself? If it's nice hit the road, if it's not hit the trail, or vice versa.There's a whole world out there to be enjoyed and a bicycle is a greatway to do it. You know, cycling doesn't need people making $2 million ayear to validate it. Whether anyone ever gets paid to ride a bikeagain or not, there will still be more people on bikes on a

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How about if people quit whining about cycling on TV and just goride their bikes? Isn’t that what the sport’s all about? Why waste a beautifulday sitting on the couch watching someone else do what you could be outsidedoing yourself?

If it’s nice hit the road, if it’s not hit the trail, or vice versa.There’s a whole world out there to be enjoyed and a bicycle is a greatway to do it. You know, cycling doesn’t need people making $2 million ayear to validate it. Whether anyone ever gets paid to ride a bikeagain or not, there will still be more people on bikes on a Saturday thanthere are playing football, baseball or other sports more suited to couchpotato viewing.

If you need competition to enjoy the sport, you can always find someonein the local shop ride to go at it with. In the last 15 years, I’ve livedin six states all over the country (the southeast, Midwest and Rocky Mountains)without experiencing a shortage of races to participate in.

So fill the bottles, pump up the tires and get out there and ride. Thatway I won’t have to put up with anymore of your pouting and I can havesomething interesting to read while I’m sitting at my desk dreaming ofthe ride home.

C.B. Bechtel
Morrison, Colorado

We always thought that “whining” and “pouting” were an integral partof the American sports scene, no matter what the activity. Do you meanthis stuff is actually supposed to be fun?!? – Editor

Cycling and yacht racing do have a lot in common
Editors;
I just wanted to add an “attaboy” to Jeff Johnson’s letter regardingtechnology and sports (See “Technologycan make even yacht racing interesting“). Well said! In the pastI had suffered through terrible coverage of multiple America’s Cup racesas well as Tours de France, Giri d’Italia etc. But, this year, I enjoyedthe coverage of the America’s Cup with all its high-tech support.

You would think cyclists would enjoy yacht racing – all the high techequipment, colorful boats/uniforms and impressive team work – and realizethat “Hey, there is another pretty cool sport out there where one mistakecan lose it all!” If we could get OLN/ESPN etc. to put as much effort intocovering NORBA, UCI etc., Americans would be digging the “fringe” sportsat a pace to make NASCAR quake in its Budweisers.

Anyway, damn the torpedoes and let’s get someone, anyone, to realizethat hey, cycling is high tech, colorful and cool, let’s provide it somecoverage!

By the way, congrats to Tyler Hamilton. Your time has come. Well done,indeed!

Burton Hathaway

Can we still have the U-boat? Can we? Can we? – Editor

That negative spin?
Editor:
I find it disheartening that nothing ever seems to change for the goodin the eyes of one VeloNews contributor (see “Dogbreath: Hard times” and “Theincredible shrinking NORBA NCS“). Cyclists and VeloNewsreaders wonder why NORBA, USCF, and USA Cycling have problems annually.Could it only be that the readers of your magazine come to doubt our sportsgoverning bodies ability and desire to provide a good product, becauseall they ever read are the negatives that VeloNews reports? Whatabout the good news?

As the event director of the FirestoneWalker AMBC XC here in Santa Barbara, now in its fourth year, I haveworked hand-in-hand with those in Colorado Springs, and let me tell yousomething: They bust their asses to help promoters, big and small,in many ways.

The current demise of sponsorship dollars in regard to the NCS is notnecessarily only the fault of USA Cycling. The situation was caused byeconomic factors that are affecting all sports marketing properties. Severalpeople on several different fronts put many hours into an effort that turnedout to be financially unfeasible.

Now, mountain biking faces yet another crossroads here in the U.S. Thissport does need some help. One way to help would be to address whythere are not more race promoters. There are several reasons. First, potentially talented people, who would make great race promoters, haveother jobs. Two, riders compete not understanding the full scope of howthey fit into the race process and the efforts that promoters put forthto give them a racing platform. I know, because I was one of those whowould complain. Number three, people are self-absorbed and just don’t careall that much about anything unless it is what they are doing. Finally,it’s not all that rewarding to most people.

Now is the time to stand up and support the governing body of competitivecycling, not shame it. VeloNews could stand up and help event promotersby lowering advertising rates. Over the previous three years I paid dearly,a lot for a one-man show, for advertising space in VeloNews andthe Sea Otter Program. This year I took a pass on that expense, and guesswhat, the Firestone Walker XC grew again. Go figure. Another way to helpmountain biking is to create more of the High School Leagues like the onein Northern California (see “FastTimes at Mountain Bike High“).

In addition to promoting races I sit on the Boards of the Santa BarbaraBicycle Coalition, the Central Coast Velodrome Movement, and hold the positionof President of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Club. I do all this because Ilove this sport, and with the hope that someone will discover whatI did, that racing bicycles is fun, healthy, and something that they cando forever. I’m glad to be of service to my sport, it’s an honor, and afterall that this sport has given me it’s the least I can do.

It is a shame that VeloNews doesn’t subscribe to those same ideals.Perhaps it’s time for that to change, and in the process create more racepromoters, racers, and great memories? Let’s all help USA Cycling and thesport of bicycle racing move forward.
Enjoy the ride,

Michael E. Hecker
Santa Barbara, CA
www.ridesb.com

The sport “owes” you a good time and that’s all
Editor;
Once again Mr. O’Grady tells it like it is. I’m sure it will rufflea few feathers in the mountain bike world but sometimes there is nothingmore painful than the plain old truth. I have been riding and racing bothon and off road for over twenty years and one thing hasn’t changed, theopinion of many elite riders that their sport “owes” them something. Thissense of “entitlement” will never be fulfilled so get on with your dayand ride for the fun of it or find another sport that will support yourego.

Charles O. Jones
Orange County, Ca.

’twas the message or the medium?
Editor;
In regards to “Stikman’s” commentary on O’Grady’s columns (see Craig”Stikman” Glaspel’s letter “Cluelessclown keeps rambling on” May 7, 2003): Didn’t Chevy et.al. sponsorthe National Championship Series before there was any televisioncoverage at all? How you can you blame TV coverage for ruining a sportthat had previously gotten no TV coverage at all? Any is better than none,is it not? It seems that NORBA has been around longer than OLN and I seriouslydoubt sponsors are pulling there endorsement checks because of the crappyOLN commentators.

And as for O’Grady’s column, don’t take it personally. He was merelystating the facts as provided by the NSGA. It’s not his fault that morepeople are into mall walking than mountain biking. And as far as corporatesponsorships are concerned, O’Grady’s right: corporate sponsors didn’tsponsor mountain bike races because their CEO’s like to ride bikes. Theydid it because they felt they could make money and gain more customers.So if half as many people are interested in mountain biking as are interestedin fly fishing, well… it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where themoney’s going to go.

I think O’Grady’s columns are great. They make me laugh and think. Twoof my favorite things to do. And if one thinks that we are living in “desperatetimes” because NORBA doesn’t have money to pay its’ race winners, I thinkthat one should re-evaluate the importance of professional sports. Or atthe very least, put a little more thought into making the situation better.Calling an opinion columnist a jackass isn’t going to get the job done.

Sean Matthews
Seattle, WA

Of coattails and messengers
Editor;
Just curious if Craig Glaspel’s latest dose of intemperate invectivemeans that he’s given up his second career as a self-styled “PR agent.”Or did he fold that tent when his wife retired and left him with no coattailsto ride?

Wise up, Stik, and quit blaming the messenger for your sport’s problems.

Dan Wildhirt
Longmont, CO
 
Strength and experience don’t always translate
Editor;
In his letter of May 7, Thomas Grant (see “NORBAneeds a five-step program“) points out the following

1. No coordination between NORBA and USCF racing categories.It is challenging for an amateur racer to move up the ranks in either roador off-road racing – that is why we do it. However, there should be coordinationbetween road- and off-road-racing categories. For example, a Cat. 2 roadieshould not be an “expert” mountain bike – he or she has way more fitnessand time in the saddle for that. Meanwhile, there is semi-pro mountainracers entered in Cat 4-5 road races.
While I agree with most of his views, this one is just plain wrong. I have been racing for 14 years now and I can tell you flat out. Just becausesomeone is a Cat. 2 does not mean they should be racing expert, or evensport on a mountain bike. The same goes for the reverse. I have seen plentyof strong Expert/Semi-Pro mountain bikers not last two laps in a localCat. 3 race.

I’m not looking to start a war here or anything, but every rider shouldmove up through the categories one step at a time. Just because you raceroad as a Cat. 2 for 6 years and finally decide to try a mountain bikeevent doesn’t qualify you as an expert level racer.

It gets even more blurred in the cyclo-cross races.

That is just my 2 cents.

Peter Rhodes
Manchester, NH
 
Everything gets blurred in cyclo-cross races, Pete. — Editor

Zach’s sticky situation
Dear Editor;
Regarding Zach’s odd choice of chain lube (see “SaladDays” by Andrew Juskaitis, May 7, 2003), 3M makes an adhesive remover.You may have to purchase it from an automotive paint shop, because youwon’t find it at Target or Sam’s, but it works great on most glues.

Brian Uchida
 
We hear that the mechanic called “Zach” (last name withheld forprofessional reasons) actually solved his problem with diesel fuel. Butfor those who may want to take Brian’s approach, just hit 3M’swebsite for details on the adhesive remover. — Editor



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