Monday, January 30, 2012

Why has cycling, especially racing, become so elitist?

In 1987, when I started riding, and was getting into racing, finding a club and team to ride with was not a problem. I was living in Albuquerque at the time, and had no less than a dozen teams to choose from. I contacted them by snail mail of land line (hard to remember those days) and got the same response from every one “Sure, we would really like to have you on our team”

Fast forward to 2012.

Okay, I admit, I’m an unknown in the cycling community here. I got back in to racing in 2007, put out a few inquiries, but could not find a team to ride with. Really no big deal, I could deal with it. My work schedule was some what prohibitive, not really allowing me to time to “join them in a group ride to see if they would be a good fit”. (How many times do you see that? Why don’t the say “to see if you're a good fit for us”.) And I didn’t really have the opportunity to race more than two or three times a season. I just opted to ride with an out of town club who welcomed me, I had a team kit, and didn’t have unattached on my license.

Now things have changed. I know have a better work schedule, which will allow more time to do the  “check you out” team rides, weekend group ride, and racing. I’ve sent out I don’t know how many emails… and did not get ONE response.

I’m not a podium contender. I’m a cat 4, 54 years old, with few opportunities to race masters. I’m not looking for a free ride. I’m not looking for any freebies or reimbursements. I would like to  look at it this way. It’s not what you can do for me, but what can I do for you. I love cycling, I love to race, and only want to have the opportunity to ride with a local team and hopefully, in the process, get more people involved. One reason I was so excited to be selected as a Strava Ambassador.

Cycling has always been elitist, there is no denying that. Have someone come out to a a group ride on an old bike, or steel frame, and hairy legs, and immediate judgments were made. And I have been guilty as charged. And I will also admit something that others would not, those some of those we were judging as Fred’s could beat my ass in a New York minute. And after getting back into racing after 7 years off, I know how it feels to be the one judged. I was riding a 10 year old Giant aluminum. It was a sweet ride for me. Oh sure, I would have like newer and better, but it was out of my budget. And I saw the sneers, I know I was being judged.

I’m not a high budget racer. I don’t have a gold card, I’m not independently wealthy. I’m not a social butterfly. I just love to ride my bike, and ride and or race as hard as I can on any given day. But, it seems we have come to the point where it all comes down to who we know, how new and expensive our ride is, the gadgets we have, and what our power tap readings say.

Me. I ride and race a two old year BMC SLT01. No power meter ( I don’t have to drive myself crazy over analyzing the stats). I just depend on my outdated Garmin 305.  And my legs.

1 comment:

Jez Andrews said...

well put and nicely written post.