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The Mail bag: TV critics and critic critics

Editor:As an avid cyclist, and an avid sports fan, I am dismayed at the mediacoverage that is given to cycling in general, not just mountain biking. Tyler Hamilton won a huge race not too long ago, and this accomplishmentgot not one second of coverage here in Southern California. And I listento sports talk radio all day long at work. Granted, Lance Armstrong getshis play after he wins the Tour de France, but during last year’s Tour,the 20-second blurb that came across the radio waves was pessimistic abouthis chances of winning until he actually had the maillot jaune on his shoulders.This

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Editor:
As an avid cyclist, and an avid sports fan, I am dismayed at the mediacoverage that is given to cycling in general, not just mountain biking.

Tyler Hamilton won a huge race not too long ago, and this accomplishmentgot not one second of coverage here in Southern California. And I listento sports talk radio all day long at work. Granted, Lance Armstrong getshis play after he wins the Tour de France, but during last year’s Tour,the 20-second blurb that came across the radio waves was pessimistic abouthis chances of winning until he actually had the maillot jaune on his shoulders.This just denotes the lack of knowledge on a local and national level ofpro racing here in America.

I mean, L-B-L is a serious classic and Tyler should have gotten somethingin the media, right? ESPN didn’t even out it on the ticker on the bottomof the Deuce.

Randy Bitts

Coming soon (we hope) to a TV near you
Editor:
I read the letters from May 5 about poor television coverage of cyclingevents in America. I couldn’t agree more. That is a very timely conversation,as I was involved in the filming of a new cycling show this past Sunday.It is called “America’s Cycling Classic,” and will focus on professionalAmerican road cycling.

We filmed the pro race at the Historic Roswell Criterium in Atlanta,Georgia, with eight cameras, including a helmet cam (worn by one of theriders from Jittery Joe’s). The tapes will be used to edit a pilot show,hosted by Cat. 1 rider Chris Guidry. Most of the guys on the film creware cyclists as well.

So wish us luck as we try to sell this to networks and sponsors!

James Klotz

Keep us posted, James. We can’t bear another episode of “Survivor:The NORBA NCS.” – Editor

Louis who?
Editor:
Rodeo? How soon we all forget the Louis Vuitton Cup.
 
Larry Von Moss
Woodstock, MD

Technology can make even yacht racing interesting
Editor:
Dog Breath is a shared syndrome. Besides my dog, yacht racing had big-timedog breath. Watching the 1989 Americas Cup was painful, even for a formeryacht racer. But yacht cams, sound, 3D course layout and real-time computer-generated positioning (with GPS) made the 2003 series pretty cool. Yeah, I’m a yacht geek but my buddies (who are not) even got into the AC campaign spirit.

I don’t race to get on TV – I do it for fun. Most of my sports don’thave big sponsors, are not on TV, and guess what? I still have more funthan should be legally allowed. No TV, no big deal.

So let’s say it’s a big deal. Technology makes good TV, and if NORBAwants spectators, then make racing interesting to the viewers. I personallywould love a speed-sensor cam (stabilized, of course) view of Cedric Graciadecending the NORBA Mount Snow course with rocks, roots and trees whizzingby. That, with the sound of Roland Green’s heartbeat drowning out the screamsof fans at the top of Big Bear might liven it up a bit. Computer-generatedmaps with real-time location, elevation profiles and times for the podiumspots. Oh, and get Bob Roll for play-by-play.

Now you might have a chance to win the ratings sweeps over mall walking.

Jeff Johnson
White Salmon, WA

Nothing personal, Jeff, but we still think the only way tomake yacht racing interesting to spectators is to add a U-boat to the mix.- Editor

Oh, for the good old days of racing on TV
Editor:
All this coverage on the fish, the guns, the bulls, the horses, MountEverest, camo’ outfits – how dare OLN waste my precious TV time! And tothink just a few years ago I was engulfed in 30 minutes of ESPN Tour deFrance coverage (an hour on good climbing days) for three weeks a year;how I long for those days. Even better, I miss the ABC highlights mixedin with “Wide World of Sports.”

Now all I get is nine weeks of live grand-tour coverage (and two re-runsduring the day), an hour of race coverage each Thursday during the summer,a show each Thursday highlighting the week in racing, and Tour previewshows, race routes and team announcements. This sucks! Thanks, OLN.

And thanks to all the race promoters who attempt to put on a race, itprovides me yet another opportunity to complain about how bad it is. Andalso VeloNews, how dare anyone provide me a place to offer my opinion,because what I think rarely takes into consideration all the facts andis usually correct.

Reading all this whining, it’s a miracle anyone would want to put anymoney into this sport. OLN has a feedback button on their website – maybethey would be intersted in hearing productive ways they can provide bettercoverage for their viewing market. And try promoting a race yourself, sponsorship sounds easy to me.

Daniel Page
Golden, CO

Clueless clown keeps rambling on
Editor:
The old fossil strikes again – can someone lay to rest this played-out,sandal-wearing, shaved-head, goatee-sportin’, dinosaur from the web waves?(We think this time he means “Dogbreath: Hard times“)

VeloNews, you guys must know that this O’Grady clown is so clueless.I could ramble on much like he did in his 81st edition of the “boring times,”but all I will say in regards to his lame article, is this: Mountain bikingowes its latest downfall to the crap coverage of mountain biking. It hasbeen done wrong so many times, and OLN’s coverage has made it look likemy local high school’s coverage of football with its bad commentating,lack of knowledge and interest from its commentators, lack of knowledgefrom the cameramen, producers, etc. It was a half-assed job that made us(mountain bikers) look bad. Blame OLN, don’t blame the sport, you twit.

My favorite part is his big suck-up at the end: “Mountain biking needsall the help it can get.” Then there are jackasses like him trying to pullthe plug. Yeah, I have resorted to name-calling – that’s about all youare worth. Desperate times call for desperate measures – hence the reasonVeloNews keeps you around.

My oh my, what people will do to sell a newspaper.

Craig “Stikman” Glaspell
Team Hyundai-GT Pitboss

NORBA needs a five-step program
Editor:
As O’Grady points out, mountain-bike racing and mountain biking ingeneral is not dead in the U.S. However, as many of the web letters pointout, NORBA does more to hurt mountain-bike racing than help. That is whythere are many independent racing events and organizations, the so-calledgrass roots.

Here are five problems that contribute to this stagnation and degenerationof mountain-bike racing in the U.S.:

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 are semi-pro mountainracers entered in Cat 4-5 road races.

2. NORBA races are few and far between which makes them hardto get to and expensive. What do they offer that the non-NORBA races don’t?Extra hassle and higher insurance. So why do it? NORBA should encourageand foster local races over than national events.

3. Development and incentives for new riders and racers. Howoften do we see new top-tier pros from Canada, Australia and Europe? Aboutevery two years. Meanwhile, in the good ol’ USA, we still have pros atthe top from 10 years ago. I admire their determination but I think itdemonstrates the limited development of new mountain pros and new ridersin general.

4. Too much resort-race emphasis. In lean economic times resortsand sponsors will provide less. Why not have more NORBA races on publicland – national forests, BLM, state lands, parks – and fewer at resorts?There are excellent road races that start, race through and end in themiddle of nowhere. They attract racers because of the race, not due tothe cool factor associated with the start-finish location.

5. Keep it fun. Nothing will turn off amateurs like bad attitudes.Even a weekend warrior likes to think that being a racer is different thanjust being a mountain biker.

Thomas Grant
Boise, ID

Fun races will outlast the greedheads
Editor:
I hate to say it, but a lot of little yuppie clichés startedthese race series to make a quick buck on a sport that was going gangbustersfor a while. In the Midwest alone, two states’ series folded due to thefact they didn’t make enough cash for the work output.

Now instead of bull riding, look at fishing tournaments. They pay outabout 90 percent of what they take in and you spend a good day on the lake,compared to a mountain-bike race that maybe pays 5 percent. We are justa bunch of greedy slobs who want to ride carbon on everyone else’s dime.

The races that are held for fun, not greed and corporate shilling, willlast. Two Wisconsin series are alive and growing. TheWEMS series is a 12-hourevent that gives a bunch of money to the land managers to keep the trailsopen. The WORS series is, of course, the country’s largest.

Kenny Dretzka
Milwaukee, WI
 

Bring on the Tour de Mall
Editor:
I’d have to say that Patrick O’Grady hit the nail on the head. I likewatching cycling but only if I’m doing it. I don’t blame OLN for reducingits coverage of the sport Stateside, and I’m not losing anything by itbecause I don’t get OLN anyway.

Maybe we can get O’Grady to convince NORBA to hold the races at theregional mega-malls. Imagine the instant fan base! Pros and amateurs canchallenge themselves in the mazelike courses set up among the clothes racksand food-court tables. I can see it now, a triple crown: the escalatordownhill and slalom, planter-box free-ride expo, and anchor-store-to-anchor-storecross-country course. Throw in some mall-walking expositions and you’vegot it made.

This could be the next stage in professonal sports. The Luna Chix teamcan give workshops to soccer moms on shaving without nicks, and the Trek-VWmen’s team can show those portly, Dale Earnhardt-loving, Bud Light-drinking,huntin’-and-fishin’ fans how to look really manly in a two-piece stretchsuit instead of the sponsor-patched unitards those redneck wonders wearin their tricked-out Monte Carlos.

Alas, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. Maybe we just face factsand realize that the sport, the peloton and its fans are relegated to theonce-a-year news worthiness deemed by the rest of the U.S. citizenry whenthe Tour de Lance happens. At least we don’t have to wait every four yearslike those World Cup soccer fans.
Now it’s time to get my pro bowling updates.
 
Bill Petersen
Alexandria, VA



VeloNews.com welcomes your letters. Send your comments to WebLetters@7Dogs.com,but be sure to sign them with your full name and home town, or they’lljust get sent into that nifty little trash bin the folks at MicroSoft copiedfrom the Apple operating system.