Over the past year I have been paying more and more attention to the world of professional road racing. Don’t worry, I still primarily consider myself a mountain bike racer, but I like to immerse myself into different aspects of the sport. Road racing is hard sport to watch because on the surface it is very mountainous and boring. However, I believe that mountain biking is the exact opposite. This subject of whether or not mountain biking is fit for the masses – via avenues such as television – has been addressed numerous times. Here is my take on it.
Currently, road cycling gets much more television coverage than mountain biking. In the United States only a few major races are broadcasted, however. Even this small amount of coverage is more than the amount of mountain biking that you see on TV. Le Tour de France is 3 weeks long. NBCSN covers the tour every day for 3 weeks, yet mountain biking is lucky to get a few days out of the whole year. To be fair, road cycling has been around for a heck of a lot more time, and they also have figured out the infrastructure required to televise races.
Even though road cycling gets more TV time, that does not mean that it is more exciting to the average person. Road racing is a complex thing to understand, so someone who does not understand may not find the race quite as exciting. This is why I think that mountain biking would be perfect for TV.
Mountain biking has the excitement factor, unlike a peleton of road racers aimlessly riding down the road. I think that riding a bicycle down a steep, dirt hill with rocks and roots will catch the attention of just about everyone. People like to watch other people do stupid things, and while mountain biking does not seem extremely risky to those involved, who knows what the average people sees us as.
The multiple disciplines of mountain biking would also do well for television, keeping things fresh and exciting. Cross country, downhill, slope style, and other contests such as red bull rampage. The Olympic cross country event is televised, so it is possible. Why not televise a whole world cup weekend?
We are seeing increased coverage a time goes by. Redbull Rampage was covered, but it was not live. In Germany there was a slope style event at the X Games, but that will not be happening again this year. There has also been viral clips from the Redbull Rampage contest which inspired athlete interviews on major news networks. As I see it, any coverage is good coverage, and the sport is definitely heading in the right direction.