I’m not ashamed to identify myself as a mountain bike racer. That’s ok, a lot of good things come out of racing. Carbon frames and components, wide diameter fork stantions, 29-er wheels, and stable platform rigs have all gotten their starts in the pits of the world cups. Companies pay the racer, the racer breaks shit, and sends it back to R+D. Repeat. Eventually: Cool shit ends up on your bike. It might make your bike cost more, but what the hell, it rides way better than the Trek Y-bike you had in 1997. Like to night ride? Tinker and Eatough and all those psychos are the ones making your light lighter, burn brighter, and run longer.
So consider this: American mountain biking is in critical shape. I’ve written this kind of sob story before, but it deserves a new look, given our international financial crisis. Since 2002, when Chevy pulled out of NORBA, elite-level races have been generally declining in numbers, participation, and payout. Don’t ride in lycra? That still means less cool stuff on your 6-inch bike.
A serious shoutout goes to the CEO of Sho-Air, Scott Tedro, who is trying to be a bulwark against the erosion of sweet events. Sho-Air has sponsored a team, promoted the American Mountain Classic, and is currently holding the ball for UCI mountain bike events in the US next year. So you don’t race? Don’t need UCI points? Consider this: No UCI points = fewer US mtb’ers in the olympics. Poor starting positions for those who do venture across the pond = less sponsorship. Less sponsorship = less sweet stuff trickling down onto your Pugsly.
And get this: USA Cycling is about to pay the bill for its idiocy in 2004. Sue Haywood handled it delicately here; the full story is summarized here. In my opinion, USAC got what it deserved – it fucked up and it should pay up. Sue’s a wonderful person and has been a stalwart contributor to mtb racing. Good for her.
But she just took home 4% of USAC’s books. And that’s more than they’ve been investing in mtb racing at a national level? WTF? Where are they spending their money? And now they’re trying to solve the racing mess by doing away with the semi-pro category and making the ranking system like road racing?
We just sent a black man to the white house. and we did it cause we believe something better can come after a dark 8 years. Well, after 8 dark years of racing, lets get behind dudes like Tedro and support our scene a little bit. And USAC could do their part by recognizing that mountain bike events not associated with them have been steadily increasing in attendance. Why? That’s what they can use the other 96% of their budget to figure out.
Now that this election’s over, I’m gonna do my part and login here every once in awhile and provide a product review of some random bike-related gadget I liked or loathed.