The Cost of Sport

This is the second installment of my Most Important Elements series, that is, this is the 7th most important element, just above the Specific Choice of Training Philosophy.

Bear in mind that these are the 8 important elements I could identify that aid in the success of important to success (none are unimportant).

The graph below is how you all answered the question in the center of the donut. Only 7 percent of you think the sport is just fine now, pricewise. I tend to agree with the other 93 percent of you, though I know how hard it is on the other side, as an event, product or service provider.

In my 40 or so years spectating triathlon at close quarters I’ve seen the cost of sport be an annoyance, but not a disqualifier.

Of course you can’t see what you can’t see. How many world beaters never made it because of cost? Still, at the risk of sounding the grumpy old man, I recall my own experiences as a young bike racer. Tubular tires (sew-ups) were the only viable option, and I bought flatted tubies from the local bike shop for $5 each, and with my needle, thread and repair kit I patched every latex tube I rode. All my tires had a bit of bump, bump, bump because the repaired area had a little more volume than the rest.

My first race bike I bought used. My second bike was a used frame, and I swapped the parts over and sold the old frame. I raced that new/used frame in the Ironman in 1981. I didn’t buy my first new race bike until I’d been a committed racer in cycling and triathlon for 6 years.

I swam with the University of Nevada (Reno) girls swim team. I scrambled for whatever deals I could get. When aero wheels started showing up on the scene, in about 1984, I found a manufacturer with a couple of sets of demo wheels, and they’d loan them out like a library, just for the race. I never had a second set of wheels until entering the bike business proper, more than a decade after being in the sport of cycling.

At that time there was a program called “casual courier”, where I would husband large sacks of parcels through customs in a foreign country in exchange for discounted air fares. I don’t think I realized how broke I was. I had a lot of fun.

As I think back to those who were racing, and excelling, or not, during my formative years I don’t get the sense that many of the good ones were much better off than I. The cost of sport is just a mother. But necessity was the mother of invention. There was a pathway, if you wanted it.

There are 6 more elements left to rank.