Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Gateway Cup Runneth Over

So, brother Moses has returned from his journey up the stormy mountain with the stone tablets and the word is---no masters races at Gateway this year. The old folks have been shoved aside. Jettisoned. Some people are really pissed off at race director Tim Ranek. But I'm not one of them.

Sure, I'll miss doing battle with all the St. Louis teams and even helping them chase down Doering and his team Mack hired guns. And I'll offer a couple of valid reasons that including masters classes makes local races more vibrant and in fact are important for the future of the sport. But the people who made this decision are the people who assume the risks and responsibilities of putting on this race and that gives them every right to do things as they see fit. They are privy to information, considerations and constraints that none of the rest of us will ever know about or have to deal with. Plus, as I said, it's their money. It's their race.

But let me say this about Tim Ranek: I have never known of any race director anywhere who has ever risked more, or worked harder, to stage a race than has this man for this race. Most sane people would never, ever have risked as much to stage a race as I personally know he has done on numerous occasions. I won't go into details about how much this guy has done, but suffice it to say that he made the Gateway Cup what it is. This race is his baby. So you can bet the farm that any, and every, move he makes with this race truly represents what he sees as making it a better event. Period.

And here's the thing. Although saying this is gonna piss off some people, masters racers really can be a bunch of cherry pickin', sandbaggin' prima donnas. We love our smaller packs of guys who, for the most part, ride nice straight lines and don't dive into corners, mostly cause they don't desperately need either the money or the upgrade. Here's the classic masters race tactic: Make the first five laps the hardest of the race, thereby blowing at least half the field completely off the back---and if this sounds like a pro 1-2 tactic, guess what?

I mean, really, the fuckin' USCF actually print up a comprehensive list of riders who can't race masters races. I know some guys who gave up a pro license just so's they could keep their names off that list and do a little cherry pickin' whenever the opportunity presented itself. And I can't tell you how many times I've raced against a guy who won the masters race then jumped in the pro 1-2 and hit the fuckin' podium in that one as well.

But in my opinion there are two valid reasons to always include masters classes at races, and especially at the larger events such as the Gateway Cup.

One reason to include masters classes is purely economic. If the masters classes are set up properly, they will attract enough entry fees to provide a net gain in revenue---this year regional races both north and south of St. Louis proved that. Quad Cities and Tulsa Tough both saw50-60-rider masters fields this year. Doing the math on those numbers demonstrates that a one-hour investment in schedule time can net an event somewhere between $1,000 to $2,000 per day. That's cash money.

The other, and actually the best, reason to include masters races has to do with the vibrancy, and the future, of the sport. Having champions and fast guys at the peak of their physicality will always be the feature of any athletic event. But cycling is not like the mainstream sports such as B-ball, football, baseball or even soccer. Cycling is a participation sport such as running, golf, or even tennis. The future and viability of cycling as a sport (and by association all its grand events such as the Gateway Cup) depends on its heterogeneity.

That being said, the future of any cycling event is probably directly proportional to the extent to which the participants of said event mirror the general population.

Now my good buddy Butthead believes that spectators only come out to watch the fastest guys race. He believes that spectators don't care about the old guys, the women, the fours, or even the threes. Like a lot of cyclists, however, Butthead is self-absorbed when it comes to cycling. He thinks only of his race and only of his part in it. That's understandable and it's probably a requirement of racing well, and it also totally makes my point. So the problem with Butthead's theory is that it ignores reality and demonstrates the thought process that can occur when a head gets wedged up an anal orifice.

Like other participation sports, the people who watch them are the people who participate in them. So, let's have a show of hands here---how many of you believe that most of the people who participate in bicycle riding are fast twenty something dudes with tattoos and ear-rings? So, have you ever rode on the KATY trail? Have you ever worked in a bike shop (Butthead, et. al.) ?

When racing a bike looks like it can only be done by strapping young dudes, that would be terrible for the bike business. And that would be terrible for bike racing. Later.


Blogger Butthead said...


Nothing like twisting what I said...........

Here are my thoughts.

1)Most people don't care about bike racing.

2)However if they were to go to race and watch it.......they are probably going to enjoy the "PRO" race.

3)Why you ask? Because guys like Brad Huff, Dan S, Steve Tilford..ect make it entertaining to somebody who has no idea what they are watching. They guys show up in the paper before and after the race, the announcer talks about them, and all the hype that goes with it.

4)I would imagine most people don't enjoy watching a bunch of 40 to 50 year olds ride around at 21.5mph and bitch at each other.

In my defense. I enjoy watching 40 to 50 year olds ride around at 21.5mph. I also enjoy walking my dog and picking up his shit. What I am saying is I don't require excitement to be entertained.

So do this for me Jimmiez...when all of you Masters are having your drinking contest on Labor Day weekend go walk around the course during each race and look and see when the most people show up to watch.

I hope this response puts a bur in your saddle! I want to see a Jimmiez win here soon!

Could you give me some warning this time before you punch me?

9:18 AM  
Blogger JimmyMc said...

Butthead, brother, I know you can't possibly realize this, but most of the people are there to watch the last race because they were there for one of the earlier races, not because they knew when the pro 1-2's were going off. The only people at the race who have a clue who Brad Huff is are the people who were there to race earlier. Think about it!!!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Butthead said...

Well numbers never lie........

Setup a survey for labor day weekend and ask people when and why they showed up.

Get the numbers and I will agree to the answers they give.

11:21 AM  
Blogger porkchop said...

I have to agree with Butticus on this one. It's fun racing in a masters but quite boring to watch. The bigger masters events are fun to watch as they are really trimmed down cat 1/2 events. As a racer, the only reason I'd watch the masters (or any other event) is that I know people in the race and enjoy watching them race but as far as the John Doe public is concerned? They would have a better time watching the Cat 1/2's.

From a promoters/econmic view point, I'd include every category I could and I think Tim did this for quite some time. Maybe he has finally molded this race into an event that no longer requires many categories to make the race a financial success?

If a person only had one hour to spend spectating, I'd surely recommend watching the cat 1/2's

11:33 AM  
Blogger Beefcakes said...

You're both wrong. The reason there's not going to be any masters races is because those race times are going to be used for a reenactment of the Tour de Doughnut race that was won by the promoter of the Gateway Cup, Tim Ranek. His race, his time, his reenactment.

11:40 AM  
Blogger porkchop said...

I was only talking about cat 1/2's - not pros.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

Holy cow, did he say heterogeneity?

He must be right if he can write down big words like dat.

Just kidding, I think Jimmyz is completely correct on this one. Nobody knows who Brad Huff is. They know Lance Armstrong and maybe Floyd Landis now but not much more than that.

12:25 PM  
Blogger ProPam said...

Beefcake's explanation for the missing masters' categories is plausible, but incorrect. The real reason they've been eliminated is that masters' races resemble knitting circles. We already have one of those. The spectators can only take watching one knitting circle per day. And it belongs to the angry women.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Brady said...

John Q. Public doesn't care about bike racing. We can all accept this. People that go to regional or local bike races are all racers or the friend of a racer. (sure this changes at a highly publicized national event... but Gateway to Wachovia is apples to oranges)

I've got some news for you butthead. In the races you are in, people just don't care about the 1-2s race that didn't race earlier that day. (The exception at gateway cup will be the master's riders who do not race but still come to watch). These people don't only care about the 1-2s race. They care about all of the races above their own class.

The only argument I can offer is that you rarely see cat 5s leave during 4s and 3s then come back for 1s 2s. You also don't see many 3s show up to watch the 5s race. And you rarely see 1s 2s roll up an earlier than they need to register and warm up. Young riders (non-masters) care about their race and the categories above them.

So butthead, I will go ahead an answer your questions and save jimmy from the monotony of a survey. People show up just before their race or before the race of their friend. They leave after that race or stay until the end.

This fully explains the number of people at the event as the day goes on. I know you understand this and just don't agree, but you're wrong.

Methinks butthead has been racing bikes for so long he's forgotten what it's like to not race, or to not be a 1-2. No offense meant, you've just been so immersed in it for so long the psyche of people not fully dedicated to cycling eludes you.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Butthead said...

You are a jackass! When you actually start going to road races then you can express your thoughts but until then do us a favor and shut the fuck up.

We are talking about The Gateway Cup......not the Apple Cup, Tour of KC or some shitty college race.

The Gateway Cup 1,2 Pro Events will be packed.........just like they are every year. You wouldn't know this since you never have been.

Prove me wrong and go to all 4 races this year and see what the crowds look like and if they change as each day goes on.

Like I said........Shut the Fuck up or when in doubt refer to Rule #1

Better yet for a guy who knows so much how in the world are you such a fuck up? I mean really how? Maybe you should apply your knowledge to getting your shit together.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Beefcakes said...

Butthead is right. Shut the fuck up Brady. When you've been to Gateway no less than five years and watched pros race who later got banned for doping, your comments will be considered. And if you would like to retort, talk to the hand of the 30+ masters champ. I'm so fast I made time go backwards and got a medal from 2005!

8:39 PM  
Blogger Brady said...

sorry guys I can't go to gateway cup... I'm busy promoting 3 races in two days.. but thanks for the invite.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Fingerbang said...

Goddamnit, I hate the Gateway cup and all that it entails. In the last race I participated in, Butthead was the reason that I dropped out. I hate the Mother Fucker! This is what training 200 miles per week will get you. You asshole, I tried to get a breakaway two laps into the race but you just wouldn't let it happen. You're some kind of a 12k dreamer sonofabitch. Fuck!

Beefcakes you're awesome! I cannot deny the bright yellow skinsuit. Hell no! You're the future of 30 plus masters!

Brady Beckham, you're full of shit and you know it! Recognize!

11:05 PM  
Blogger phil said...

Gotta love rule #1.

3:52 AM  
Blogger JimmyMc said...

Brady, I knew you were an insightful young man. Bike races are like Little League baseball games--the only people in the stands are the masters, er, I mean, the parents.

7:01 AM  
Blogger porkchop said...

The assumption seems to be the only people in the crowd watching the Cat 1-2’s are the previous racers and the racers friends and family. It’s true enough that they make up a percentage of the spectators but I don't think this is entirely true - especially for the gateway cup. I was amazed at the number of casual citizens who came to watch our crit downtown. I had more than one John Q Public person lament they missed the down town races as they enjoy watching. They may not know Brad Huff, Steve Tilford or Josh Johnson, but they are able to recognize speed, action and excitement. All categories share these traits but no where to the level of a Cat 1 -2 race.

Anyone who thinks it's as exciting to watch a master’s race compared to a cat 1/2 race simply has their head in the sand. Masters, Juniors, Women, Cat 5’s, Cat3’s and Cat 4’s are only the Christmas parade floats prior to the arrival of Santa Claus.

This is not masters race bashing. I have respect for anyone who lines up and gives it a go. I’m both a masters and a Cat 1 -2 racer. Given the choice to race a highly dynamic, fast cat 1 - 2's race which I have little chance of winning vs a Masters event where my chances are better – I’ll take the Cat 1 - 2's event. I assume the spectators can appreciate this as well.

8:24 AM  
Blogger JimmyMc said...

Too late to be careful what you wish for--you already got it.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Brady Beckham said...

speed action and excitment...

that's why I like watching a large cat 5s races... 100+ sketchy dudes, all screaming at eachother... they lack speed, but other than that it's fantastic! Not that 1-2s aren't great, they're just different.

I honestly enjoy watching the largest pack, they're so visibly dynamic... but I won't claim to be the majority.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

a) If the Cat5 race was the race race of the day/night, it would be the best attended event (duh).

b) Joe Public will only recognize the Juniors and Women4 races as slow...all others will seem "fast as heck" and will provide entertainment. Therefore a Brad Huff appearance (choppers and all) will provide no allure to Joe Public than that of Fred Ciclo's pony tail dangling in the wind in the Cat5 race. To the general public, nearly races are equally fast and exciting.

6:25 PM  
Blogger JimmyMc said...

So true. To the uninitiated 28 mph doesn't look different than 25.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Butthead said...

I give up. You guys all matter and it is just wrong that you guys are being left out.

As far as I am concerned cycling should take a schooling approach. I will make it my passion to start a new program called "No Cyclist Left Behind".

My new program will make sure that all fields are given their due. Plus equal prize money will be spread through the land no matter how small or slow the field is that particular day. I will even push to make sure that Masters are given courses that they can excel on. Say if their is a master who climbs poorly I will make sure someone there to help them up the climbs. All racers no matter what their ability will be given their own blog so they can write about their greatness. With "No cyclist left behind" road racing finally make the step the rest of world refuses to make. (Equal treatement for everyone!) WE WILL ALL BE WINNERS!

It will be great and in the end everyone will feel like they are "the man".

Shut up and race your fucking category already.

8:31 AM  
Blogger idropoldpeople said...

I’ve heard the tour de france will run masters only next year. Not only are they an exciting, vibrant group to watch but the amount of viewer time will be increased. What used to take a pack only 4 hours to race will now take 14 hours! The spectators will be very happy with the hard core master’s action. There may even be chat sessions with the crowds where the masters pull over and have meaningful discourse with the huge crowds. They’ll show the crowds their goiters and half full colostomy bags!

The fans will never know the difference.

Remember old timer, no more Viagra! Check your other meds too.

8:56 AM  
Blogger ProPam said...

Butthead, what a brilliant idea. You can neve go wrong catering to the lowest common demoninator. Does this mean that you'll stop screaming at me on Tuesday nights? No more scolding when I complain? Just pats on the back and positive reinforcement? Somehow I think this is in conflict with the alpha dog philosophy of leadership.

10:03 AM  
Blogger FattyM said...

Butthead why are you so angry? Let Skelator have his fun!

1:56 PM  

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