Friday, August 5, 2011

It's the last road for Highroad

I saw on the local news this morning that Bob Stapleton announced to his team on Sunday they are free to look for work because he has failed to find a new sponsor. Then I saw at least 2 articles on Velo News today about it, I guess the story just broke today. How utterly sad that the winning-est team in cycling can't get a sponsor. It's big news here as they are based just 30 miles up the road in San Luis Obisbo (I do most of my Mt biking up in the SLO area). I've been into Arts Cycling (they are the closest Cannondale dealer around) a few times, and they are the official 'Highroad' shop if you order team gear online. There's always lots of excitement in the shop due to their involvement with such an awesome team.

Obviously Cav and 3 or 4 of the leadout guys will no doubt find an awesome new home... hopefully they can stay together as they've been the premier 'sprinters' team for a few years now. Of course it will have to be a good Cav can't really go to a team that has a GC stake in the Tour..cuz the entire team will be dedicated to that (such as BMC and Leopard Trek). Garmin has a split personality with no 'top' GC contender, so they can afford to split the team and have a few guys take care of Tyler. I don't see him going to a team that already has a good sprinter...and Griepel is looking for a team thing you can say here is the trading/moving season will be VERY interesting! I have no idea how large the entire Highroad team is, but don't they sponsor a womens team too? I haven't heard but I'd assume that will be lost also. When you take into account ALL the people who work for a team, letalone all the unknown riders who are either new to the pro's or just the domestiques who do the work day in and day out for little to no glory, that's a lot of people looking for work in a field that is pretty small.

It's just so very depressing that we (the US) are losing one of our teams. It's been just incredible having all these teams the last few years...and I have to believe that the demise of one that is SUCH a powerhouse spells bad news down the road for all the others. I'd be VERY afraid when their current contracts are up.

And so....what's next for Stapleton? What does he do now?? He's a native of SLO...but I have no idea if he actually lives there when he's not managing a top pro cycling team. But he's obviously got the smarts and the contacts....maybe he can pull something together and start Highroad up again sometime in the future. But with the state of our economy I wouldn't hold my breath. We have lots of problems in the world and pro cycling might very well be a luxury if things continue to decline. Seems everybody is cutting back still, I wouldn't be surprised if we slip right into ANOTHER recession the way things are going. I'll keep riding MY bikes, tho I have to admit that I'm feeling the crunch too...just buying parts is getting hard....things are so expensive (the good parts I mean, not the chinsey stuff)....and my dollars just aren't going very far anymore. I'm maxed out on my retirement savings, but that doesn't leave much left after paying my share of the bills. Life is tough right now...our belts are tightened...and I can only hope we (I mean the entire WORLD) will pull out of this slump in the near future.

But for now...all we can do is hang in there. Cycling will go on, and next years season will be exciting if for no other reason than the huge shakeup that has teams will be stepping up with serious players and it will be SO very exciting! In the meantime, I can only wish good luck to all of Team Highroad...they've been an inspiration for many years now.

Thanks for the memories. It's been a great ride!

Oh...and speaking of the last road, .I found the link to the video of the launch pad deconstruction I talked about yesterday...the one where they cut-away the hammerhead and it crashes to the's a VERY short video...and it has audio..I can only imagine how it must have sounded anywhere nearby. It makes me sad to watch cuz I've spent a LOT of time up in that tower in the last 3 years of it's useful life (we shut it down after the LAST Titan IV launch in 2005) really served the country well for a lot of years and was home to many many BILLIONS of dollars of our finest spacecraft before they were sent into orbit. I drove by today and the pad-deck is just a pile of steel rubble...they've got some work to do just to clear that pile before they can continue. Anyway, here is the link if you are interested:

Vandenberg AFB SLC-4 hammerhead comes down


  1. I am so very sad over this (Highroad's demise).

    I have to wonder how much had to do with Cav deciding to move to another team--if he had (he surely made it sound like he had, he never said that he would stay with Highroad) Actually, I think he's been signalling for 2 years that he wanted to leave once his contract was up, seems to me that he didn't like Stapleton regardless of having the BEST teammates and coaches there for HIM. What a difference from Thomas Voeckler's loyalty to his team last year --which enabled it to survive with a new sponsor. Of course, this is just speculation on my part, it could be that he WAS willing to stay if the contract was rich enough, and maybe Stapleton was not pleasant to work for.

    It is difficult to see how the way teams are financed can continue to balance with the expenses. It must be a hard sell to a sponsor that our little sport (in the USA market) will pay back in sales revenue or brand recognition as well as or better than other advertising (I was completely unaware of HTC as a brand before they sponsored the team, but you can't go by me!) And, the expenses keep going up--the riders surely earn their pay, are paid far less than other US pro atheletes, but still, the team can't really make much money --prize money just isn't adequate.

    I wish I could come up with a solution. Until there is a great demand to view cycling on TV (here in the USA), there really won't ever be a revenue stream for the sport as far as I can see.

    Yes, I fear a continued recession too. I am getting close to retirement (really I can't see myself being able to physically or emotionally do the job past age 60, the patients are getting so big and the care so taxing!) and am really heavily depending on the stock market--which is teetering on a bubble, I think.


  2. I had typed up a long comment on the last post, but came back a day or two later and saw that it didn't "take". Hmmmmmm.

    Sad day for cycling with the loss of one of (if not the) best team in the world. I really thought that a sponsor would come through for them. Dang. Cav had some really classy things to say about his time on the team and his appreciation for everyone involved, which is nice. I think he really is growing up.

    I'm headed out on a little camping trip with my folks and the kids tomorrow. Just staying in the state and hitting a small zoo and some lakes, but should be fun. The "last hurrah" of the summer I guess.

    OH, but since my last comment didn't actually post......I'm heading to Colorado in a couple of weeks for the race!! Wooo Hooooo! Matt, do you have any more great pics for me?? I absolutely love that state. How nice of them to put a pro race right smack in the middle of it for me. Now......if I could just find a way to get there without driving through the dreaded Nebraska. (sorry Nebraska - its true) So I'm super excited about that and have been online trying to make sure we have places to stay when we get there. Sounds like a great field!

    In other news...
    Last week we had 14 (!!!) inches of rain overnight one night. This is more than we get (by 2 inches) for the entire months of June, July, and August usually. I live among the bluffs along the Mississippi and the streets were like white water rapids. The river rose 5 feet in 8 hours -- which is unheard of for a large river like that. It washed away many of the parks, camping areas, and trails in the area which often run through these beautiful valleys. Unfortunately my bike trail (yes mine) was also washed out - all 26 miles is closed *sniff*. We were personally lucky. We only had an inch or two of water in the basement, where some people lost their houses and cars, not to mention a few lives. So, counting our blessings, but sad to see the destruction around us. If we could only send it downn to Texas!

    Do you all have the cicadas in late summer where you live? I know you must Rae. They are deafening around here!! Wow. Fascinating insects though. My daughter likes to search for their shells on the tree bark.

    Glad this is the Inane Asylum, as this comment truly qualifies I think ;)

  3. I read somewhere that Cav held off on his decision until it was final the team had no sponsor. But we have now way of knowing if that is true or just politics. I like to think it is true.

    JD, I have various pics of riders from the Tour of Cali TT and then the finish in Thousand you have any names in particular? I was just looking thru my pics, and have a nice sprint shot of the guys with Matt Goss (HTC)'s just a few yards from the finish line and they were directly across from me. During the TT I have clear shots of Taylor Phinney in his Stars n Stripes, a decent shot of Geroge Hincapie, Levi, Matt Goss again, and DZ (not as good as the one I got 2 years ago, and he is no longer in the Capt America outfit). The top guys near the end my camera died and I switched to my backup cam and they are all a bit didn't focus like my new cam did. If you want any of the 'lesser known' guys who rode the TT earlier in the day, I have almost every single one and they are in focus pretty good. I kept track of the order they passed and have labeled my pictures I can quickly find any that you want. My blurry ones started with TJ Van Garderen and went to the end (the last 10 or so riders it seems). The blurry ones include Ryder Hesjedal, Andy Schleck, Rory Sutherland, CVV, Tommy D, and of course the ONE I really wanted Chris Horner...somehow my Levi shot is less fuzzy and in a 5x7 pic it would be fine. Just let me know.

    We don't get Cicada's here in Cali that I've ever seen...I remember them from other places...the evening roar can be just amazing! We have snails, tho they are very quiet. Gecko's too. I'll take them over cicada's any day!

  4. Oh, JD, I also have the podium shots from Thousand Oaks (the finale)...though they are all taken from the side, I have the one with all the jersey winners, and the crazy ones of Garmin up there getting the team award and then CVV hosing the podium girl down, and Tommy D was involved in that too...and the final podium with Horner, Levi and Tommy D (with his son)..also a nice shot of Ben King in his Stars n Stripes after the race (he exited the course right in front of us).

  5. Cicadas, yes, they are in full sing--but this is not one of those massive years for them. It was during the Memorial golf tourney a few years ago when we had the biggest--disrupted the tournament--and the broadcasts-- a little with the noise!

    Does anyone know of a good site to post up my photos from the ToCs? I was trying Photobucket, but it was taking forever, and I can't really zoom in or crop there well.

    I've got a great pic of Popovich cresting Mt. Palomar in 2009, and some other good random shots here and there that I'd like to let you guys see, or Janann can use if she likes.

    Well, Cav did say on Saturday that he had made his decision, and the sponsorship allegedly fell through on Sunday -- so who knows (WE won't, that's for sure!) I don't think badly of Cav, he should do what is best for himself; I have just had the strong impression since 2009 that he wasn't going to stay with HTC -- because of the management. And I don't like thinking that a team like HTC can survive or not depending on ONE rider. Which is why I was pleased, (and a bit surprised), that Radioshack has stayed on without LA.

    SUSIEB! What do you think of the big story yesterday about the new testing for PEDS in the NFL!!! They will be contractually limited in how often they can be tested during the off season to only 6 (however long that is? something about 7 months or so?)!!


  6. Wow..looks like I CAN comment from work today...big brother must be snoozin!

    Rae, I use shutterfly (I think Barbara does too...she posted pics a year or more back from a vacation and I liked it). Easy to use, FREE (free is good). Here is my link back from my LiveSTRONG Davis you can see what it looks like:

    prob have to do a copy/past to use this...I can't get it to go as a 'hyperlink' for some reason in the comment section like I can up in the post.

    I didn't know about the football testing..will have to read up on that. WOW would be what I think..but who is doing the testing, and what are the penalties for failed tests? (and what threshholds are they using?) Surely it won't be anything akin to the Olympic / WADA testing...otherwise there'd be nobody left to play the game!

  7. Hey Matt! I just linked through to your site by way of Fat Cyclist. I spent two fantastic years at Space And Missle Test Center at Vandenberg in the Mid-Seventies. I really miss those dusty hills and being a teenaged Airman in Lompoc. SAMTEC didn't have Airman Housing on Base at the time so I spent the whole time living in Lompoc and riding my new 750 Honda all over the area, and What An Area...

    Just a little trip down memory lane for me. I've been everywhere, man and you are lucky to live where you do. But I suspect you already know that.

  8. Yo TPC...welcome! I can my early Navy years, my first duty station was San Nicolas Island (based/flew out of Pt Mugu, down Camarillo way). I had a BLAST! bought my first road motorcycle: a 1980 Suzuki GS450S...had an appt in Oxnard (for when I wasn't on the island..typically weekends).

    And YES, all in all it's a GREAT area here...tho I'd give a lot to have an extra 5 - 10 degrees most of the time...we've been just BURIED in the marine layer lately...worse than usual I mean. And windy. Oh, I mean WINDY. But I have my mind right..when it's chilly/windy I go mt biking..when it's nice I go road riding. Take THAT Mother Nature! About the only thing she can fling at me that I can't handle riding in is wet. I said, welcome...stop by anytime...inane is the word here. Anything goes.