I've been working on a meta-analysis for a freelance article. 20% is super good compared to some regions of the country, where we are talking year-over-year decreases in the order of 40%/year or in some cases 80% net in a 5 year period. I've also surveyed hundreds of riders and waiting for more respondents so I can get a decent cohort of both active and inactive riders, but so far most people feel that the category system makes racing pointless, self involved, and doesn't promote actual in race dynamics. The majority also feel that calendars are oversaturated with races that are too similar and that over time the challenge of racing becomes redundant.
Fondos are pretty damn expensive too. I think my Belgian Waffle Ride entry was $125 or $150. Pretty sweet course, but let's be real I could just ride it on the weekend with friends if I wanted to.
One of the problems here in VA is that the race organizers can't seem to avoid conflicts with each other.
I won't speak for 2017, but in years past, there were multiple weekends with two or three races within a few hours of here (Blacksburg, VA), and then nothing for a few weeks. While I realize that there are forces I may not know about that govern when promoters decide to put on races, if they have competition for a race weekend, they aren't going to get as many participants as they might have wanted.
Given that we are in an era where it's relatively easy to put an event on a calendar of otherwise non-affiliated events, observe the scheduled dates for other events, and resolve conflicts before they arise, it seems like organizers are either ignorant or stubborn. Neither of which is a recipe for success, in my opinion.
It's the same in CA. There are a few big for-profit promoters and almost every weekend has multiple conflicting events. Red Kite basically runs the same series of office park crits, circuit races and a few TTs every year. They get pretty solid attendance since they used to have a cheap 2nd race feature so you could race 2 races in a day in a short drive/train ride/ride from home as opposed to driving far away. But what if you don't like crits that much?
Well VeloPromo puts on a ton of races, a redundant amount. Lots of the courses use parts of each other. Some of their coolest races were gone for overlap, distance, or logistic reasons. So, most of the races are basically just reallllllly long crits. Not only is there schedule conflicts, it's like requiring one to choose between the 60min 4 corner crit, or the longer crit that has a few small hills or shitty pave-ment.
Tons of redundancy and for what reward? What does being a cat 1 mean vs. being a 3? Lots of cat 1s aren't any faster. Some are just good at always being 4th in a sprint. Even then they get bored of the repetition and often the lack of teamwork that is honestly required. Then they do a race with real pros and get shit on. Meanwhile they sacrifice lots of their life for what? What's the end? There has to be variation and excitement.
I don't think it's post-Lance at all. If anything the boom from 2009-2013/14 I'd say largely came from better organization and, in a way, things like message boards and social media. I started riding because of a local fixed gear forum where we organized group rides and later all transitioned into road racing from alleycats. It also became easier to find the local group ride or link up with people that rode than before.
Don't take me too seriously. The only person that doesn't hate
Froome.GramzFailed Custom Bike