Monday, November 8, 2010

Criticism & Attitude

A trend I've been noticing, and been a part of, during this cyclocross season is criticism from racers. They criticize other racers, they criticize promoters, they criticize the UCI, they criticize race officials, they criticize USA Cycling and occasionally they offer up solutions. But, and I know this is a large assumption, how many of this cavalcade of clamorous 'crossers are in fact DOING something about the system? Very few.

Adam Myerson said something very interesting during his podium insight interview the other day "we can fight about it on twitter all day long" but at some point somebody has to act.

Now, I can wave my "I help run collegiate cycling" flag all day, and I'm involved in the discussion for where collegiate is going across all disciplines, but aside from that I'm just another person who will go on twitter on Monday and whine about this, that, or the other thing that happened over the weekend or during the season.

The problem, as I see it, is that so many of us bike racers are consumers, few people are willing to spend hours, if not days and weeks of their lives to help run a race or to help improve cycling in general. Have you ever voted in the USA cycling referendums? Probably not according to the statistics. But it is easy to go on to your blog, facebook, twitter, tumblr or whatever form of social media you choose to bitch, but it is hard to do something.

Additionally, many of these people who complain about larger organizational issues of cycling look at it only from between their own handlebars. Everyone needs to take a step back, look at that issue and see the big picture. Yes, I moan that masters get paid too much, but that is because I think women and the back end of the men's elite races should get that money. Yes, I complain that guys are sandbagging in amateur categories, because I think it is better for them to be moved to the elite race , so the race can have 100 person fields to justify the large payouts, and teach our riders how to ride in large groups to prepare them for European racing, and by moving that the top 30 dudes in the cat 3 and cat 4 race upwards, you've just opened up another 50 spots at the bottom for more growth.

The point I'm trying to make fellow bike racers, is stop being selfish, and think about how the things you bitch about are in fact good for USA Cycling as a whole. Growth is good, large fields are good, larger women's fields are good, all of these are things that given enough time will deliver gold medals at the highest levels of the sport.

I've long been a believer that bike racing is fun and not important enough to get really mad over. This past weekend I heard about several incidents that resulted in a disqualification for unsportsmanlike conduct, and unsportsmanlike conduct warning for an entire team. Now, I'm not going to talk about the details of what happened in both cases, but some shit happened and the reactions from the people involved was deplorable and disgraceful.

I don't know how people got to the point that racing for 75th is worth getting irate over, but it isn't, have you ever watched an elite race? They are cutthroat, but not stupid and angry. Yes, they cut each other off into turns, but hey, if you give someone the space, it is your fault for letting them through and if they try and squeeze in between you and a tree, then you better close that hole, because running that guy into a tree is dangerous.

Basically, bike racing is fun, it is hard, but it should never be overtly dangerous, or malicious. You know who is doing it right by the way (aside from elites), amateur women! They race hard, they fall down, they get up, but do you ever, ever see them get into an altercation? NO. Why? Because they have enough common sense to realize that even when racing at the front end of the race the choice shouldn't be between getting on the podium and going (or sending someone to) the hospital. What I'm trying to say is, chill out.


  1. I've been running a race and a collegiate team for the past 5 years. I can tell you that some of the amateur women are atrocious to each other - just as the men are. They tend to attack one another in a mental/emotional way. It's harder to see because there is no physical display like there tends to be with the men. But it is just as damaging and counter-productive for our sport.

  2. Yeah, we know that your just shitting on uvm cycling but trying to do it while try to look better than everyone else and giving a lecture.

  3. Rob, that is an interesting point that I had not considered.

    mattm, 1) I like UVM cycling, always have. 2) If was going to single out UVM I would have mentioned the team name. I was simply citing that there were several incidents, where people let their emotions get the best of them when cooler heads could have prevailed.