Over the last few years there has been an awkward phenomenon that I’ve encountered with increasing frequency at social events.
There I am, going through the normal process of trying to tolerate small talk with someone who is about as interesting as fingering a box of weetbix, nodding and faking some active listening while trying to keep an eye on the latest explosion of Whatsapp messages about the new colour range of Santa Cruz bikes or a debate about which power meter sucks the most… I’m minding my own business and just working out when I can go and hide in the bathroom until the people in front of me disappear, when someone goes and ruins it.
Yes, you know the drill, there is always someone at these things, usually someone’s nervous GF that feels compelled to force everyone into having, by their definition, a ‘good time’. Yes, they feel the need to try and find common ground between people or drop into the conversation like a turd shaped depth charge something awkward like:
“Oh Rueben/Alastair, did you know Dirty Nomad likes to ride mountain bicycles?!”
Sigh… You can see my head dip at the same time as Rueben-slash-Alastair’s eyes light up… “Oh, me too! I just brought a bike, it’s made of carbon fibre!”. Like a Gerbil on meth, Rueben/Alastair quickly starts to outline to me what average speed he rides at, a meaningless number in any real discussion, but exacerbated by the fact the speed quoted was no doubt the last number he saw when going down a 10% downhill, extrapolated out to be shared with innocent bystanders who give zero fucks. This is just foreplay though before they then proceed to outline to me why paying $16,875, (AKA FULL Retail) for a Pinarello Dogma is actually a good deal, by the way, have I heard of Team Sky?!
At this point, I’m looking for any exit from the circle of people I shall never be friends with, as I know what’s coming next and I can feel the bottle of conversational lighter fluid already in my hand and that little voice inside my head calling out “Let’s light this fucker up”. However, before I can move and almost at the same time as Rueben/Alastair rams another overly moist hors d’oeuvre down his throat, the line comes out that I had been dreading since being herded into this foul smelling ‘common ground’… No, its not “Have you heard of a website called Strava?!“, no, its much worse than that and before I can fake an epileptic fit, its out:
“Did you know that cycling is the new golf?!”
The first thing that makes me want to lose my mind and commence Ruebenicide is not so much the fact that its possibly the worst concept ever, I shall come to that. No, instead it’s the fact that its put out there like the person saying it has delivered it as an original thought that they just came up with and shared it unrequited with me like some sort of sporting Einstein, as opposed to reading it on a million websites set up to cater to the new crowd that are ramming themselves into the sport with the same ferocity that they use when stretching a new Rapha jersey over their corporate chassis.
The use of the words “Did you know” also indicate to anyone having their ears assaulted by this drivel that its being presented as a fact… So, its time to get real on this shit.
So – first of all, am I anti ‘new people’ entering the sport? Generally no… Unless they’re cunts of course, but overall its good for the sport blah blah, growth blah blah, more advocacy blah blah and on it goes. But there is one thing that we need to get sorted out pretty quickly, especially for those in some way connected to a corporate organisation who are taking up cycling, in any form:
Cycling is NOT the new golf
Before I elaborate on my rant laden position, lets explore how we got here in the first place. Where did this fallacy first start to appear? Who gave birth to this nonsense? Not even science really knows its origins, but it started to appear on cycling related websites, who proclaimed that cycling was taking over from golf for corporate
mutual bum licking schmoozing activity and, sigh, networking.
Quicker than you could say “Its not what you know, its who you blow“, this virus mutated into mainstream media, where it was reported in an ever increasingly painful fashion, by now it sounded like the only people riding bikes were executives and middle management, lying to clients about what they could do and buying them a coffee after 30 minutes of low speed riding.
But who was behind it all? Who would benefit from droves of high income people with bad taste flooding into the cycling world? You don’t need to be a hairy, tight assed accountant to work through this mini conspiracy theory do you. Yup, the Industry (minus Santa Cruz – Respect). Yup, this is about CASH!
Somewhere, hidden in the depths of a server at Group HQ of any of the big brands will be a CuntPoint presentation and on slide 58 will be the data that suggests that as kids are now addicted to Call of Duty (fair enough too), there was the need to harvest a new and more mature group that not only mucho disposable income, but also have the right blend of gullible mixed with poor taste to purchase any product peddled at them… Yes, corporate golfers! Meanwhile, at Dorel HQ while they were busy ignoring the Exec update slide titled “Warranty Rates”, they even went a step further to trick their new prey:
So, whilst a horde of cookie cutter middle and senior managers flood out of their golf carts to buy every Specialized product that matches their full retail priced Tarmac SL4, lets prepare our defences and outline just the dirty tip of the sword that deserves to be plunged deep into the heart of this foul beast of a concept… Why Cycling is NOT the new Golf:
I rode past a golf course the other day and there were 4 dudes on the fairway, hacking their way embarrassingly down it in outfits that made even the Rapha Retro jersey range look good. They were strolling, spaced out and nowhere near each other… On grass… Did I mention strolling?
Were they sprinting down the fairway at 45kph, inches from one another wearing a thin layer of material on an unforgiving surface that could possibly have a number of obstacles appear at any moment with trucks passing them at 100kph whilst managing a cross wind, fatigue and lactic acid?
What’s the worst that can happen? You trip getting out of a bunker you’ve hacked your way into and get a grass stain on your premium priced white Nike golf pants? Fuck that’s a hassle… Or perhaps your swing is a bit off, so you get a sore back for the rest of the weekend. Fuck, its pretty crazy out there on the golf front innit…
Yeah… So, I haven’t even really talked about Mountain Biking and dropping in on gnar that wants to fuck you up, but do I really need to elaborate? From a risk perspective, clearly this ain’t muthafucken golf.
It was once said to me by a mysterious enigma who had wrapped himself up in a riddle: “There are two types of cyclists, those that have broken their collarbones… And those that are going to…” Does golf have a similar line that relates to blisters? Or indigestion from the clubhouse lunch? Damn those lobster sandwiches to hell. Hard out.
Fat dudes don’t win bike races
But they sure can win a game of Golf… Right Johno?
When Davide Formolo emptied his soul and 62kg chassis out over the final part of an awesome stage 4 of the Giro this week, it was a combination of race craft, timing, ambition, form and passion that helped him hold off the raging remnants of what resembled the peloton to the finish. Would he have done it if he was overweight? Carlos Betancur would probably agree with me that the answer is NO. Yes, power to weight is an essential equation in cycling, even if most people don’t realise that simple base line fact.
Ok, so not everyone is PRO obviously, but I always raise an eyebrow in a cuntish manner when ‘cuddly’ people exclaim with surprise that they can’t understand why they keep getting dropped on hills… Yes, I’m not big on Science, we outsource that to Perth, but even I have a basic grasp on physics.
Am I being unreasonable? Who cares, bottom line is this: You can let your mouth make sweet love to Big Macs all you like and still probably beat your mates/co-workers around 18 holes… But that shit ain’t happening when you head out for the Saturday 120km ride that has 3 hill top points on offer that everyone wants to win. To be done correctly, this is a sport that demands discipline if you want to do well or master it.
You play golf, you don’t fucking play cycling
“I’m heading out on Saturday morning to play some cycling with the chaps from work dear” said no one… EVER.
That would probably be because there are almost no limits to how fucking hard it can get out there, road or MTB. Think about it in terms of variables alone:
Speed, distance, terrain, elevation, wind, rain, other riders, your mental state, equipment, nutrition…
It goes on and on, but the point being is that you can make benign looking pieces of road as hard as you can possibly manage. Road Racing is about hardship, its about being the person that can tolerate the most suffering and pain and still attack, still sprint or just plain outlast the other motherfucker in your break away. Its combat, but with wheels and gels…
I’m sorry, I’m sorry… Terrible of me. Yes, it can rain on the golf course, of course it can… Thank fuck then that the buggy has a roof to get back to the clubhouse! Massive save.
Equipment & Locations
Golf clubs… Meh… Aside some some PRO’s, how many riders want to get their bikes and snap them in half over their knee because a climb didn’t go well? Hmmm…. Not many! How about people gagging to throw, snap or smash their golf clubs? Suspect that segment does cracking trade.
Lets face it – Bikes are fucking cool… Yes, i’m trapped here by being a hypocrite given my opening industry related remarks, but bikes now are not only technologically awesome, but also fucking hot. We love new parts, we love black wheels and we love fresh kit, especially when the socks match the rest of your strip. Even for people that don’t like to buy kit, their love for biking equipment would still outstrip the passion that can be evoked for a set of clubs which can go whole ‘games’ (quaint) without use.
But that’s only half the story… Last time I went out for a road ride or a shred on Coronet Peak, I didn’t need to pay any fees. Yeah, thats the one, I’m free to ride pretty much anywhere my imagination and legs can take me, on or off road. Sometimes into scenery that has to be rammed on to Instagram to be believed.
Ok, so there are some beautiful golf courses around the world that I am sure are fun to drive to in a Merc and pay green fees for after you’ve booked in a few weeks in advance… Fuck, just thinking about it makes me yawn. Clearly, one of these things is not like the other one.
Also, please, do something like this with your golf clubs… Please:
Yeah…. You know it: #notgolf
Working hard Vs Talking work
And finally… This one is quite important… Many cyclists will nod their heads in agreement that most of the time there is something quietly sacred about their rides. This is especially true if they haven’t been able to get their normal volume in for some reason, or they’re on a ride in an area or around a loop that has special meaning. Its about you, the bike and what’s around you… As Zen as fuck… Just imagine the Hawk out there solo putting down a PR effort on the Nimi Onsen climb… Its art.
So, with this in mind, here is the race car in the muthafucken red part that we hate… There is nothing worse than someone rolling up next to you and instead of starting to work together to smash it, they turn and start with:
“Hey there Mr Man, you know that meeting we had on Friday, well what do you think of the synergistic integrated road map with the 4 pillars that we need to expedite to transform our business and exponentially grow our revenue generating capabilities?”
Yes, they’ve left the golf course, infiltrated rides and want to talk about WORK. If you’re a riding snob (why did everyone just look at me?), you may not have to worry about this, but let me tell you, thousands of rides are being ruined globally with work talk making its way into the space that should be occupied by a pace line, an appreciation for the scenery or just a mental break from the grind of the matrix.
If you’re an offender here, do us all a favour – Sell your bike to someone who races, pay up your green fees and resume normal drone service of sidling up to someone you consider to be ‘influential’ on the green to roll out the yawn inducing work talk.
Hey – Golf converts, WORD:
If you’ve read this and you feel that pang of deep down realisation that you got into cycling as it was a fad or you felt that it would assist you with delivering corporate fellatio because some Exec’s were also doing it and it was a great platform to get some work related anal tongue dart action rolling out of work hours, then don’t worry – All may not be lost.
There is still the chance for you to redeem yourself and actually embrace cycling for the beautiful, brutal and awesome sport that it is. It won’t be easy, but if you can last longer than 18 holes and a snobby lunch with people who really don’t like each other, then you may just come out ahead. But you have to work for it:
You’ll need to watch EVERY Giro stage, as a starter and then spend some time not buying more kit, but by just riding. Ride in the fucking rain… Ride until you actually can’t turn the pedals any more or until you cramp. Climb the hill you have been avoiding as its too hard or you don’t like sweating. Ride with people who are way too strong for you and hang the fuck on. Ride until you wear out a chain and cassette and then replace it with the next model down in the product line. Ride until you almost hate your bike. Ride until you’re so hungry that a Powerbar almost seems like a good idea. Ride solo… Ride with people who don’t talk about work. Ride to the point where not even a can of coke will help you. Learn the names of the domestiques in an obscure PRO tour team. Ride until you start to wear your kit out or it goes faded from the sun…
And then… And finally then… Scale the biggest climb you can find… Sprint to the summit… Come to a sweating heaving stop… Look around and come to the realisation:
Yeah, this isn’t fucking golf