Figures lie, and. …

The 2011 prologue in Bibleburg

Last year saw crowds in the Garden of the Gods and crowds downtown, but not much in between. This year the city is hoping for 50,000 spectators.

The USA Pro Challenge, a.k.a. The Race of Many Names®, is under way, and so are the rumors that early attendance is not quite what organizers had expected.

In Telluride, The Daily Planet says that the hoped-for 20,000 spectators failed to materialize for the finish to stage one. And in Durango, where the race kicked off, The Durango Herald reported that “the number of tourists in town appeared to be far fewer than the 25,000 city officials had predicted,” adding that there was definitely room at the town’s many inns. The Montrose Daily Press seemed content with a thousand or so folks for the start of stage two. I’ve not looked into the stats for Crested Butte or Aspen*, having my back up against a number of paying chores.

Here in Bibleburg, the city fathers are hoping for 50,000 people to pack the downtown drinking-and-fighting ghetto for Friday’s conclusion to stage five. That would be about half of the throng organizers initially claimed they drew for last year’s prologue, and about five times the size of the crowd that actually showed up, based on estimates by a certain Irish-American cycling scribe of your acquaintance and the usually reliable sources.

Based on recent developments, I’d say they’re whistling past the graveyard. USA Cycling had to cancel a planned “Fun Ride” this past weekend (due to lack of interest, according to one source), and two other supporting events — the SRM Ride with Mario Cipollini and the Ride Stage 5 Criterium are said to be pulling disappointing numbers.

This is not surprising, as most folks who’ve promoted bike races in Bibleburg can tell you. Getting the Boulder-Denver crowd to cross the Palmer Divide is as easy as persuading Mitt Romney to speak the truth. They’re afraid we’ll make ’em go to church and then scrape the Obama stickers off their Subarus while they’re bubbling in the dunk tank, getting right with Jeebus.

When Team Mad Dog Media-Dogs At Large Velo was still running local cyclo-crosses, it took years to even approach the kind of numbers routinely seen at events up north. We eventually settled into a role of providing what amounted to an easy, early-season, transitional sort of event that let roadies ease back into the notion of getting off the bike now and then. Dudes are worse than cowboys in that regard, always wanting to stay on that horse.

And if you found yourself up against a competing event up north, well, then it was time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs, Hoss. That’s like bringing an old banana to a gunfight.

So, good luck to the grunts shoveling madly away behind the folks with the figures, working stiffs who as always have a tough row to hoe. It’d be nice if this town got a rep’ for something other than GOP asshats, junior-varsity Elmer Gantrys and dark streetlights.

* Late update: The Aspen Times reports fewer fun-lovers on Independence Pass, possibly thanks to an ill-considered ban on camping.

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30 Responses to “Figures lie, and. …”

  1. John Says:

    We considered once again heading up to Independence Pass to camp out for many hours to watch a few minutes of bike racing, just like we did last year, but after hearing about camping restrictions on the pass we decided to stay home (my hunch is that the local CoC wanted us to stay in an expensive hotel instead). And from what I saw of today’s stage going over Independence, we weren’t the only ones that stayed away. There was hardly anyone there! Seriously. Corners that were packed with campers and fans last year were virtually vacant. Where last year there was a tunnel of people five or more deep this year there was, as best, just a few fans standing side by side and no worries about blocking anyone’s view. I could see our camp site from last year: the spot where I once had carefully squeezed my truck between a Subaru and a porta-john, was today just a vacant pull-out. No road art, no yell

    It may have been the camping restrictions on the pass, but it looked like there were plenty of vacant camping spots lower down toward Twin Lakes. And Cottonwood Pass, where I don’t think there was any such camping restrictions, looked to have far fewer spectators than last year too. Even Phil Liggit’s exclamations of “massive crowds!” couldn’t hide the fact.

    Too bad, it was a really good race today.

    From what I hear from friends in California, ATOC had the same lackluster turn out. Seems to be a trend: ever since what’s-his-name retired (again) and Americans aren’t winning, Americans no longer care.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I keep hearing the same thing — not just about spectators, but about racers, at least here in Colorado. Numbers seem down; whether that’s masters dying off, juniors too busy with PT for texting-related carpal tunnel, or lingering bad blood from the Rebellion’s surrender to the Empire, I have no idea.

  2. Jeff Cozad Says:

    RMoney was in town today… I manged to miss it for some reason or another. At least it was further away than the last time he was in town. A friend of mine down in Texas alerted me to this little gem:

    I also managed to stumble into this:

    Man… George C must of been a fortune teller.

  3. Andy Bohlmann Says:

    I can’t comment because I’m being, “Nice” now.

  4. Karen Says:

    It is the loss of jobs,disposable income, homes, and savings for many of us in USA over the past 5yrs, and so now can’t afford to take vacations, or afford the gas, RV or the motel/hotel anymore. The American dream is dead.

    • Steve O Says:

      Not the American dream, per se. We’re competing as employees and consumers with 1 billion each Indians and Chinese. Folks are talking about a recession and a slow recovery, but the smart money says what we’re looking at is the new normal.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Its the new normal because with the current batch of tea baggers in control of the House, we will never have the resources or the smarts to figure out how to compete more favorably with the overseas folks.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    Looks like the race has turned into more of a pissing contest?
    THAT can be followed pretty easily without the efforts of going out there. As I wrote earlier, anyone with real ambitions left this year is over in SPAIN while this is a “Colorado vacation” for most of the pros. I have no doubt the casual race fan, those who enjoyed watching BigTex beat up on the euros no longer care much about bike racing nowadays – but CO likes to call itself a hotbed of cycling interest – so where ARE all these fans?

    • John Says:

      I can only speak for myself, but whoever it was who decided that camping on Independence Pass, in the true cycling fan tradition, was suddenly a verbotin was who encouraged me to stay home. In Velonews the fans who camped last year were described as “rowdy”, but I was there and I saw nothing rowdy. In fact, everyone seemed courteous to me and a Colorado State Patrol officer I spoke with later agreed.

      While it looks like fans are staying away in droves elsewhere for other reasons, to me they just took too much of the fun out of it and replaced it pain-in-the-ass hassles. Shame too, we had a really good time last year.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, that little polemica is pretty silly. The road season is nearly over and people are getting cranky, especially those who aren’t winning much.

      As to turnout, I wonder whether the easy availability of TV coverage — both online and cable — is hurting spectatorship so far. NBC is doing, what, an hour or so every day? And anyone with a decent Innertubes hookup can watch the thing via Adobe TourTracker.

      So why dress up like a giant hypo and drive for six hours to run alongside the break for six seconds? Hell, I may not even go watch the stage-five finale here in Bibleburg.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Since we’ll be in “LA@5000 ft.” this weekend for some family obligations we thought about seeing the race in-person. But time trials are BORING even when they decide the overall GC! I’ll admit to going into Rome a few years ago for the chrono finale of the Giro…but it was…ROME and…the GIRO rather than Denver and the “formally toasted sandwich classic.” so call me spoiled…and a snob. But who knows..if it’s a nice day and we’ve got nothing better to do….?

      • Steve O Says:

        NBC is doing 2 hours, and you get pert’n-near the full thing on the iPad app.

    • Steve O Says:

      Larry, you have got to learn not to bottle everything up, how to speak your mind. :^)

  6. khal spencer Says:

    Gosh, I thought it would have been impossible to find a room in Durango this week. Silly me.

  7. Steve O Says:

    But good news: Jens Voigt is un- retiring!

    Shut up, Legs!!

  8. GJ John Says:

    Change of subject here, but hey PO’G, what is up with (or whatever the web site is called these days)? I just read that the last reason I had for visiting your former virtual haunts, Nick Legan, is jumping ship. Have you heard any more scandalous stories since you also abandoned ship? If not, care to start some juicy and slanderous rumors? (I figure you gotta have a lawyer or three on retainer by now, and you can always count on Charles to bail you out of jail if it comes to that, so why not fabricat a story or two? Works for Romney.)

  9. Downhill Bill Says:

    Are all you west-of-the-Mississippi guys asleep, or what? The UCI/WADA chickens are raising hell on the roost right now, and nobody has an opinion??


    • Steve O Says:

      Not fighting is a smart move. Keeps him out of jail for purgery, but his chamois sniffers can still claim (falsely) that he never failed a doping test.

    • Jeff Cozad Says:

      While I really wanted to see what the USADA had, I kinda of expected LA to fold. It was LA’s best way out. He now can add “Most Persecuted” to his “Most Tested” tag line.

      We may yet get a glimpse of the USADA case give that Johan Bruyneel has elected to fight the charges.

      I’d also like to congradulate Mr. Greg Lemond for being the only American to have won the Tour de France.

      • GJ John Says:

        Yea, if my math is right, that make eight Tour de France victories by Americans that have been stripped. I think we hold the record in that department! Whoo-hoo!

      • khal spencer Says:

        Ok, the next question, now that TCWSNBN has folded his cards. Which of the other dopers from that era will be declared the winner? I think the seven years run where Tex won Le Tour should be declared to have no winner.

  10. Charley Says:

    Everything said; he has never failed a test, to our knowledge, in or out of competition!! If they don’t count, why do them? This is a perfect addition to our election cycle. Absolutely fucking crazy!

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