Once upon a time, in the deep, dark past, I was a bike racing fan. A FAN, not just a participant. That seems to have changed in the last few years. On a Lunch ride just the other day, someone asked if I had watched some stage of the Giro. My answer was "What's a Giro". While I DO know what the Giro is, I did not really know it was underway, nor had ANY idea of what was going on in that race. Apparently there was some big race out in California lately too. Don't know what happened there, either.
What happened? Road racing is still an amazing sport, with great potential for drama & great stories. Mountain Bike arcing is insanely hard and even photogenic. I used to follow Pro road racing, Pro Mountain Biking, even a bit of Downhill. In the last few years, I really only "follow" Pro Cyclocross, and think that is more driven by my obsessive participation than pure fandom.
The end of following Pro/World Cup XC Mountain bike racing came about after the Euro bunch and the UCI got ahold of the format, changing it from big mountain, big loop courses into the glorified, many lapped, extra bumpy manufactured for TV courses they run on now. Way back, courses were big loops, big long climbs. Courses like 1990 Durango and 1994 Vail world Championships appealed to me. They were representative of what kind of mountain bike rides we really did. While not that spectator or TV friendly, they were MOUNTAIN BIKING. It was also cool that worthless wanna-be racers like me got to ride the SAME courses as the Pros. Now, loops around some euro town or manufactured course (like the London Olympics...) are the Euro-ized, TV-friendly norm, and it just don't resonate with me.
Downhill? Pretty cool, modern courses are just insane, and the skill and athleticism needed to ride down one is unbelievable. Makes for more entertainment than XC racing, but gets a bit repetitive. Gained a lot of interest and respect for the discipline after having the opportunity to get to know some of the best female downhillers in the world back in that early 90s era. Without the "personal connection" I've drifted slowly away from "following" the riders & races there too.
Road Races - Not sure if it was the doping, the mostly predictable domination that the Armstrong teams controlled the Tour De France with, or what, but I just can't get into watching road races anymore. Even with the modern option of DVRs and Internet streaming to jump thru to the "good parts" (usually the last 10K of a pro tour race...) I find myself deleting unwatched races off the box, or falling asleep trolling thru the footage. Just can't get excited about it anymore. I do not think that it helps that for most of the years I watched and was "into it", more riders than not were juiced to the hilt. Kinda disappointing.
Not Sure why, but when I was not able to participate myself last year, I still had a lot of fun coming out & watching the local old guys race. Is it more real? More familiar, knowing the "actors"? The personal connection of participation? Don't know, but I do know that while I may not be a PRO Bike race fan anymore, I am a HUGE fan of bike racing. How does that work? Not sure, but I know It's what I want to be around, see and do.
And with that, I can report that my own journey back from a Cancer patient to being a bike racing PARTICIPANT again is going well. After my Post-treatment Bone Marrow Biopsy, There was NO detectable Hairy Cell Leukemia in my blood or Marrow. The new Mutant Mouse Antibody treatments did what they were supposed to do. Killed off ALL the little bastards. Now it's just time to wait & see when the hairy little buggers build back up. (IF they do...) Feels good to have nuked their little asses. That mess is over for now, and now I'm riding hard, putting in the work, and hope to rejoin the sport as a participant soon. A very long way to go to get back where I was, but I'm motivated and on the path. It feels good.
Quit watching races, get out and go ride. It's what a REAL fan would do.