From the Bottom Up

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the state of cycling as a sport.

HTC-Highroad — the most successful team of the last three years — folded after failing to round up a title sponsor. Leopard Trek, which was hailed as a superteam less than a year ago, was wrapped into Team Radio Shack. Debate rages on about which team saved which.

And on Thursday, TMC-Geox, which was home to three Grand Tour winners (Juan Jose Cobo, Carlos Sastre and Dennis Menchov) bit the dust, too.

If teams like HTC-Highroad, which didn’t win a Grant Tour but won about everything else, can’t find sponsorship dollars, things are not looking so great for the sport in general.

That said, a vast majority of cyclists in the U.S. really don’t care about pro cycling. Sure, they like the bikes and gear and technology and all, but in terms of the endless procession of Classics and semi-classics and week-long stage races, most of them could take it or leave it. It really just doesn’t matter to them.

Look at the world of running. Can you name any professional runners? And I don’t mean sprinters — they’re too easy. I mean milers, 5K specialists and marathoners. And running is doing just fine where it matters most — on the local, grassroots level.

As long as there are organized century rides and charity events and tours, cycling will be fine. As long as there are events like RAGBRAI, cycling will be fine.

And as long as there are riders out there turning the cranks for the fun of it — because riding a bike is pure, simple joy — cycling has nothing to worry about.

The pros will find jobs. If they’re fast enough, they’ll find a ride for next season.

As for the rest of us, it’s nice to just think about going out for a nice, long ride, isn’t it?

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