Much like nature, at this time of year the road cycling scene is in a state of pre-bloom. It's not quite spring but we all know it's just around the corner, and with spring comes the start of the race season!
I've noticed a few subtle changes at look mum no hands! recently that confirm this. Alongside the year-round commuters and hobby cyclists gracing us with their bikes we are starting to get the chiselled, fat-stripped club riders wheeling in their F1-style race machines for their preseason pimping sessions. Power meters are going on new bikes, tubs are getting glued onto race wheels and group sets are getting updated. For the racing cycling enthusiast like myself it's a bit like the build up to Christmas for a child – except rather than the end result being family meltdowns and ruined bank balances it's podiums and people taking bodies and bikes to places thought impossible.
I must admit I have no plans to stand on any podiums this year but the inspiration that competition brings hobby cyclists like myself is huge – and you can't help but get swept up in the excitement!
In the First World we are extremely lucky in the way we can emulate our heroes. With the UCI's rulings we can buy the actual bikes these pros are riding, their kit is also available, and with the rise of the sportive we can even ride the same courses that their tyres have rolled along. It's a really exciting time to be involved in cycling: with so much of the professional scene becoming accessible to the average Joe there really is no excuse not to get out there and try it yourself.
However, over the past few years I have witnessed a lot of negativity pointed in the direction of the guys and girls that want to have a go at cycling as a sport, and it really bums me out. The middle-aged man has been hit worst, with people ousting them from the scene as MAMILs (middle aged men in Lycra). I can see why someone of my generation might be a bit peeved – after all, seeing an overweight middle-aged man astride his brand new Pinarello in full Team Sky kit when you’re figuring out whether to buy a new rear tyre for your fixie or a week’s worth of pasta is going to annoy you, especially since you’re young and skinny and could definitely win a race with them, even on your fixie.
But why express these feelings of envy as hate? Hate won't buy you a new Pinarello, that's for sure – and as for the fact you’re skinnier and fitter than them, well, that's just a result of the highly-paid, sat-behind-a-desk business job they've been working in for 20 years in order to buy that bike and kit.
As a community we should be embracing anyone who wants to ride, and if someone who has money wants to spend it on the best cycling kit on the planet then why not encourage it? Surely that money is better off in the bicycle industry than the gambling, alcohol or fashion industries? The money they spend will help companies develop their products faster, making the trickle-down effect of technological advancement even better. I mean, has anyone used the new Shimano Sora? It's cheap and awesome! This will enable people with less money to have radder bikes and in turn do more on their bikes than ever before.
I truly think this is a golden age of opportunity for everyone in the cycling industry and we should all embrace it in the same way these so called MAMILs have, leaving no stone unturned in our search for pedal-powered stoke!
So before you launch into a hate tirade about people having 'all the gear and no idea' just stop and think about the real implications of what's going on and how this is all a good thing. Money being spent on a positive thing and above all people enjoying themselves – and that's why we ride and race bikes isn't it? For fun?
So let's approach this coming season with a fresh perspective. Let's all get in the peloton together, forget about who's riding what and whether they bought it with capitalist money, 0% finance or on eBay and pretend we are our favourite rider in the Tour de France - but having more fun of course!!!