Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday News And Views

The roads are free....
USA Cycling Losing Money- Eyeing "Non-Traditional Events":

Yesterday a big topic on some Facebook timelines was the Velo News article about USA Cyling and how they are losing money. The interview with USA Cycling CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall casts a rather bleak outlook for revenues for the business. In the piece, "non-traditional" cycling events are said to be partly the blame for a "market share shift" which is causing a massive drop in revenues for USA Cycling. Bouchard-Hall then states that USA Cycling wants to become a player in these sorts of events.

One thing that should be noted is that USA Cyclings budget is about $15 million dollars. (This figure is from the Velo News article linked above.) The short fall is said to amount to 2.5 million dollars.

  Okay, hold on a minute. USA Cycling is blaming "non-traditional" cycling events for its shortfall? Well, I am not seeing this level of money being generated by gravel road events. Not where I am going. Perhaps there are other ways money is being shifted from USA Cycling, but coming to look for it from the gravel racing/riding community is going to yield little to nothing for their business. First and foremost, USA Cycling obviously misunderstands why gravel racing/riding took route in the first place. They don't know the riders, most of which would never consider a "license" to ride in an event, nor want the multi-level caste system, or desire the intense, person-to-person competition. Rather, I believe most of the gravel road riders are there for an experience, personal satisfaction in overcoming a challenge, and competition in a broader sense of the word. They don't want to have a thicket of rules and regulations governing their equipment, or their bodies, (drug testing), and don't desire sanctioning of their events.

I don't begrudge USA Cycling's mission, or their existence. I don't think a world without crit racing, cyclo cross, or XC mtb events is a good one. However; I also don't feel that USA Cycling's "product" or "benefits" are following where their market's needs have gone. Gravel racing isn't taking anything away from them. Certainly, most folks I see at gravel events wouldn't consider doing a USA Cycling event, although a few will and do.  Heck, most competitive, road racing types feel gravel racing isn't "real racing" at all.  I believe it is a different sub-set of folks altogether, for the most part, that are into gravel events. Obviously looking for dollars to fill USA Cycling's coffers isn't being taken away by gravel races in any significant way.

But maybe what money gravel racing does generate is looking attractive to them. They want a piece of that pie. That's more truth than the other way around, I believe.

This fatty fit fine
Project 1X1 Tire Update:

Well, I was able to get my mitts on these Surly Extraterrestrial tires and have them mounted already. I also have commuted back and forth to work on them. To say I am pretty pleased with them would be an understatement.

I'll spare the details for a blog post next week on the whole bike, but suffice it to say that Surly is well on their way to redeeming themselves with regard to (finally!) getting tubeless ready tires to market. The Extraterrestrial tires are doing really well tubeless, and the bead they have is well formed for tubeless applications. What is more, the Velocity Cliffhangar rims I used on the wheel build fit these tires so snugly I had to use a tire lever to mount the tires on. Needless to say, I could use a simple floor pump to seat the beads and the tires have not leaked down one iota since intial inflation. I am using a new sealant in these, which I also will talk about in my next report on the 1X1.

The tires are doing exactly what I expected, and that is that they are nice rolling, have a cushy ride, and are tubeless, so flats will be much less of a concern. Since they are 61mm wide, I may have trouble fitting a wide enough fender though!

In the cross hairs? It looks that way....
First Snow of Winter:

It looks as though the tubeless Extraterrestrials will be getting a work out this afternoon if the forecasters are correct in their analysis of the data. We are in the cross hairs this time to possibly get quite a dumping of snow right out of the gate here.

Obviously, that band of snow is pretty narrow, and a shift in any of the weather's major influences could drive that band  of snow further North or South with an effect on total accumulations as well. Either way, it is the beginning of the next season and will spell quite a shift in my cycling style here. Fat bikes, single speeds, fenders, and layers of clothing will be required staples of my cycling and commuting to come for a few months, most likely.

Okay, that's a wrap for this week. Keep the rubber side down. FATBIKE!!


Travis Butler said...

I find your comment about, "a thicket of rules" interesting. Your event has quite a thicket of rules. From registration to completion.

I agree though. USA Cycling has lost its power of the cycling community as a whole.

Guitar Ted said...

@Travis Butler: really? Check out this page:

Trans Iowa has 23 rules. Pretty big difference there, I would say. YMMV

Unknown said...

I will be interested to hear how the tires perform in the snow. I am looking for a fat tire that will fit my bike that will let me get out in the snow.

Tom Scott said...

Absolutely agree that the overwhelming majority of folks I've met on the gravel would never even consider a "sanctioned" event.
On a local note, I've got the fat bike and woolies ready for the commute home tonight. (and lights and lobster mitts) Bring it on winter!

Matt B. said...

What'd your ETs weigh? Thanks!

Smithhammer said...

News Flash - most people couldn't care less about whether an event is 'sanctioned' or not. They just want to go race and have fun with like-minded people. If USA Cycling is seeing their market share decline, then it's probably for the usual reasons - a failure to adapt and increasing irrelevancy. And, as usual when this happens, said entity starts casting around for external things to blame, rather than looking inward. So be it.

Guitar Ted said...

@Matt B: 930/940 grams each.

unclechet said...

I have no interest what so ever in being a member of USA Cycling. If somehow they worm their way into gravel racing I'll quit going to events they are involved with. I spent years donating money to the different cycling organizations and never felt like I was getting anything in return. No thanks.

shiggy person said...

Wald steel fenders are ~70mm wide

Guitar Ted said...

@shiggy Person_ Yep, and they don't fit a '99 Surly without some major mods. I found something that "barely" worked, but it works. Post up tomorrow on that and more.