Longstanding readers of this blog, of whom there are three, my wife and mother notwithstanding, may recall various posts in which i question the sportive ‘juggernaut’. It’s one of the dominant tropes of the current bike boom; in short, a commercial reaction to the legions of new consumers. I’ve highlighted the consequences of the exponential growth in an unregulated sector; both in terms of the cultural effects of overwhelming country lanes with thousands of cyclists, and the way some events have ridden roughshod (no pun intended) over longstanding bike races which happened to be on the same roads many years previously. I’ve also mentioned the positive effects; namely more people cycling is a good thing, but ultimately it’s not hard to see where I’m leaning. The sportive market is one symptom of the voracious consumerism of cycling. Sometimes I even find myself feeling sympathy for the New Forest dwellers. This doesn’t last that long though.
Few things in life are certain, death and taxes being the hoary cliché (is hoary cliché a cliché?). You can be assured that the current bike boom will peak and then subside, and with it the waves of neo-choppers will ebb and flow back out with the tide to resume other sports and pursuits. What lies beneath this ephemeral world is a dedicated amateur racing scene; led, developed and fostered by cycling clubs. I am fearful of the damage being done to the bedrock of cycling by the rapacious sportive market, something encapsulated by the current problems being faced by the Bec hill climb. Speaking from experience, club events are designed to break even, there is no profit or loss, no-one takes a cut and everything is voluntary. This is in marked contrast to most sportives. There is a salutary article by Garry Beckett here that is well worth ten minutes of your time.