Sir Bradley Wiggins is right: most cyclists are tossers.
OK, he didn’t quite say that, but what he’s been saying out loud is what a lot of people have been thinking about the boom in cycling – there’s too many Strava-obsessed, over-competitive, achievement whores who think cycling is all about flogging yourself to death to get past the rider in front.
Of course, there are a lot of riders out there with the right idea, but there’s so much of it going on now: access to the kind of kit only the pros could dream of, entry to ever-tougher ‘sportives’ where the only measure of success is how much pain you went through and an over-reliance on stats to detail every aspect of your suffering.
“What ever happened to just going out on your bike?” Quite.
Sir Brad was speaking at the launch of a new, shorter, Prudential RideLondon sportive designed to appeal to younger riders or people who are new to the bike and want a challenge they can complete without killing themself. In short, IT’S NOT A RACE!
He went on to say this when speaking to the Daily Telegraph: “You only have to look to Surrey on a Sunday morning, on the old Olympic routes, and you’ll see that even though people just cycle as a hobby, they’re not riding – they’re racing.
“This competitive edge has developed with cyclists – certainly amongst the men. It’s the new golf. You not only go out and race each other, but you also have to have the best equipment. So I think that sometimes does get a little carried away, and can actually take a lot away from the simply enjoyment of participation.”
Couldn’t agree more. In fact, it’s the reason we started Pedal of Honour in the first place. Five years ago we thought about putting together a sportive, but quickly realised we didn’t want to create yet another sufferfest for the hordes of wankers those events attract. That’s why PoH is small, perfectly formed and very, very civilised. It’s also why we made it a charity ride. Sure, we could have charged £30 for a map and some funny water at a ‘feed’station, but instead tried to get our riders invested in what they were doing. We also tried to make the route as scenic as we could and the atmosphere around the ride as ‘feel-good’ as possible.
This ethos infuses our local ride group too. Leaving Berkhamsted for a jaunt into the Chilterns is an opportunity to just ride your bike for pleasure. A chance to get out in the open air, enjoy the scenery, eat cake and relax with a beer afterwards. We’re a bunch of mates who like to go riding, not a group of sociopathic misery sluts who just want to beat everyone in front of them.
That doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge or the riding is piss easy. Not a bit of it. We challenge ourselves all the time, head for the hardest hills when the mood hits and take on longer distances. But it’s still all about the joy of being on the bike with your mates in a beautiful part of the world. And you don’t need an obssessive compulsion disorder to enjoy it.
So thanks Sir Brad.
Thanks for the gold medals, thanks for the Yellow Jersey and thanks for being the modfather of British cycling.
But thanks most of all for for putting it out there: It’s about riding your bike.