Sunday, April 15, 2012

How do you make cycling better?

There are many people that spend a lot of time and money trying to do just this. Everyday people make headway in this endeavor, and others make it worse. There are places in the US where cycling is the way of life, even a town in South Carolina that is made for bikes only! Other places, and I think this is more the norm, cyclists are looked at as a rodent. Climbing on a bike makes you sub-human, worthy of being hit by a car. This isn't about how terrible people are to cyclists though, it is how am I going to try and make things better. I was recently elected to the position of VP of MOBRA. It's not a big deal, I was the only one that volunteered. The role of the VP is to try and make some type of improvement to bike racing in Missouri.

I have an idea of what to do, but it is going to take a lot of work and is going to take a lot of help and luck. One area that I might need help is from bike companies. But since my goal is to improve bike racing my first question is, do bike companies really see a benefit supporting bike racing? I know that many big brands sponsor pro teams, but is it because they want to be involved in pro cycling, or does that partnership really translate into dollar signs somewhere down the road? In gymnastics the profitable part of the industry is in the recreational side of the sport. Teaching little Bobby and Cindy how to do forward roles and cartwheels pays the bills. Training Mary Lou Retton to win the Olympics helps the ego. In the US it is really only the big 3 sports where an owner can make money off competitive sports. And it is mostly because there is a closed environment, and arena where the athletic event happens. Maybe that is the major reason that people don't look at cycling as a sport, and more as a child's game? How many parents out there think about putting their kid into cycling, unless they were or are cyclists?

So how do you change the perception of cycling into a sport? A long time ago cycling was the number one sport in the US. I'm not joking. And the biggest super athlete was a black man named Marshall Walter "Major" Taylor. The Amateur Bicycle League of America had hundreds of thousands of members that competed in major competitions at local bike tracks called Velodromes. What happened? Henry Ford, the Great Depression, a couple World Wars, and perhaps the American way of big, more power, is god. You change perceptions by changing the way a new generation thinks. You have to start with the kids. Those kids can change their parents, and when they grow up, they will teach the benefits of the bike to their kids......maybe. All good in theory, but bikes isn't racial inequality, women's suffrage, or gay rights.

I have the beginnings of a plan, but there are a lot of parts that have to come together in a perfect storm of awesome. I don't want to really put out much of what I am thinking though because I don't want to get any hopes up. But I want to build from the bottom up. We will see how it goes.

No comments:

Post a Comment