posted Mar 29, 2010, 7:50 AM by Donald Vescio
updated Sep 12, 2011, 8:11 AM
The World Track Championships are over and UCI's president Pat McQuaid is worried about the economics of competition:
In one of the major discussion board forums, there was an active thread that talked about economic disparity and the cost of equipment to compete successfully. I read this commentary with a good amount of interest; what struck me, though, is that the most important economic factor associated with competition is not related to the cost of equipment. My thoughts:
I've been following the conversation of fairness and find it
interesting. My reading so far of the
threads is that fairness is being argued on two points: to ensure that
technology doesn't overshadow the athletic component of competition (I like the idea of being able to roughly
compare generations of performances); that economics should not be a deciding
factor in determining the results of competition.
It is the economic argument that I find most intriguing--while the
cost of hardware can be significant, in all truth the real economic cost
actually is associated with time available for training and competition. It takes money (or student status!) to have
adequate time to compete at the top of one's category; those who are working
fifty-sixty plus hour weeks don't necessarily have the luxury of training time
(and more importantly, recovery time) that many of the top performers
So--what I'm saying is that there always are going to be
inequities and that focusing on frame design really is a relatively minor
component of the overall equation, provided that some general design standards
(ie, UCI, for instance) are in place.
Personally, I find it more challenging to optimize aerodynamics under
the UCI guidelines than I did pre-UCI restrictions. This probably is one of the main reasons
that I was drawn to cycling in the first place--one has to consider both
technology and physiology to do well.
Even if we standardized bicycles, there still will be enough opportunity
for variance, which always will drive up costs to compete. See the reqs for the Athlete's Hour, for
instance. The equipment for such an
endeavor would run more than my Cervelo P3C. But what I can't obtain is the available time which would optimize my recovery; this is, in a small sense, part of a larger problem for riders who compete in federations that do not have adequate athlete support.