Id like to share with you a few things Ive observed at amateur bike races recently. A club member refusing to ride with his teammates because he felt that he needed “more structure” A rider loudly complaining that he had been “ripped off after a promoter was forced to shorten a race because a fellow riderwas lyingfacedown in a pool of his own blood Two power meters on one bike.
Theyre all signs of Excessive Seriousness Syndrome. The enormity of this problem was d riven home for me when yet another amateur in my area was caught doping. Doping! Like,withdrugs!
Some racers will say that taking competition seriously is the point. Maybe it is, but once people are doping to win $19, a tube, and a half – drunk can of En – ervit at a criterium, Id argue that weve collectively broken the yellow – line rule of life. Theres already enough to take seriously: our health, our families, our jobs. Cycling should be a respite from this. We should all be able to enjoy it, even if we never win. And if we do win, we should be able to place that open can of Enervit on our mantle and gaze upon it guilt – free. Thus, to restore the fun and integrity to the sport, I suggest implementing the following rules.
NO CATEGORIES The current system offers too many opportunities to win, and opportunity fosters delusion and ruthlessness. Why must we reward the fastest Cat 5 and the fastest Cat 4 and so forth? Ideally the the fastest riders in each group move to the next level, but in practice people like to stay put and keep winning.
Instead, racing should be an uncategorized, gran fondo – meets – Thunderdome, cage – match free – for – all: Thousands of Freds enter, one Fred wins. That way, more people would resign themselves to losing, and its hard to take yourself too seriously when youre at the back of a peloton the size of the St. Patricks Day parade.
NO OFFICIALS This may seem counterintuitive, as it will promote cheating. However, the kind of lawlessness it will encourage is the quaint, old – timey kind once seen in the Tour de France —you know, silent – movie – villain types with capes and handlebar mustaches taking shortcuts and and tying their rivals to train tracks. Thats still less disturbing than getting dropped by someone who has a patch soaked in Secretariats DNA plastered to his perineum.
NO TEAMS Part of what causes ESS is the illusion thatwere like the pros, and a crucial aspect of this misunderstanding arises from being on a team with matching kits and bikes. Never mind that in most cases were paying our so – called sponsors for all this stuff. Its only a matter of time before the soigneur for Team Awesome gets busted at the training crit with a trunk full of expired asthma inhalers.
NO PHOTOGRAPHERS Most crashes in my races are caused by riders leaping out of the pack as they pass the photographer, so they can go home and spend the afternoon hitting “refresh” until their face appears on the local race blog, WetHotCat4s. blogspot.wordpress.tumblr.com. Unfortunately, this tends to result in much crossing of $2,000 wheels. Racing is not only getting more dangerous, its also becoming eerily like making a sex tape.
NO CARBON Carbon fiber is a great material: Its laterally stiff, its vertically compliant, and its expensive in every direction. However, just as rust spots may herald the demise of your steel frame, the omnipresence of carbon in your racing field could signal ESS. Remember when cyclocross was 14 people drinking Duvel and schlepping their touring bikes around a bog? If we ban carbon maybe that fun – loving spirit will return —especially to cross, where the priciest equipment should be the beer.