There were five key moments that defined the 2014 road cycling scene for Al Hinds. You may or may not agree.
For those that have followed cycling this past decade, the love affair, borne in naive adulation has certainly been strained. Many fair weather fans will have turned off their televisions long by now, pulled down their L.A. posters, clipped off their Livestrong bracelets, and packed up, gone home.
But like a good marriage; read robust; others have kept on. Braving the tension of simultaneously trying to suspend, and retain our disbelief, in a sport that’s looked no less broken than ever. The railed-on have had to come to terms with the idea that the object of our affections is not what we thought, and it is, and it wasn’t; a polemic peace. Evidenced by the news of the last week, and the drips and drabs from throughout this year, nobody could rightly say the sport has truly turned a corner, or detached itself from crisis. Maybe it never will.
As the cycling world falls into its umpteenth doping crisis this year, month, day, err, hour, fuelled by fresh allegations over the advice that banned doctor Michele Ferrari did or didn’t give to nearly 40 cyclists a few moons ago, Michael Clarke, Australia’s cricket captain was injected with, well who knows what exactly, “legally” to miraculously recover from a innings-ending back injury, score a hundred, and be an all-out hero.
'Course, old Clarkey was doing all he could do, under the rules governing cricket to be fit. But, as pointed out by Garmin-Sharp professional Nathan Haas on twitter; there’s a bizarre hypocrisy inherent in sport when legal injections that quite literally bring people back from the dead (okay, more figuratively), are allowed, and lauded, and others, oh, let’s say Ben Hill, are read the riot act for mistakenly taking a low-grade supplement.. @NathanPeterHaas was thinking the same thing.
— Al Hinds (@al_hinds) December 11, 2014Which isn’t to say that the revelations coming out of Padua aren’t shocking - they are - but to bring attention to the way, as a society, we just blindly accept some performance enhancers as legitimate aids, and deny others. If you ask me, it can, and often does, seem a little arbitrary. Why do we draw a line in the sand in our minds, that differentiates between where legitimate performance enhancement ends, and cheating begins, and how?
The root of Sydney's attitude problem with cyclists is in forgetting that cyclists are people too, writes Al Hinds.
Back in March, on an otherwise forgettable day in Sydney, Thomas Kerr drove his Nissan SUV into a bunch of cyclists from the Eastern Suburbs Cycling Club. The impact, which came from behind and at speed, ploughed so heavily into the cyclists that the trail of bike debris left behind stretched more than a hundred metres. Seven cyclists, out on what had been a pleasant Sunday morning ride, were left with serious injuries. One is facing two years of rehabilitation. The only stroke of fortune was that none lost their lives.
The incident hit me hard at the time. Shaking me up enough to write a piece that resounded with many of you; Spooked. It could’ve been me. It could’ve been people I knew.
Jensie, Tony, Fabs, Matthias, Jacky Bobby, maybe Thomas. Off the back of the UCI rule changes that have completely overhauled what was, ‘the hour’, the hour record has captured the imagination of a number of the sport’s big hitters. It hasn’t, however, captured mine.
It’s just that I don’t get it. I don’t get it, and I don’t love it. There was a romance to the notion of the hour that existed because of its timelessness. That timelessness was anchored in the strict rules riders had to abide by to undertake it; a Merckx-era bike, limits on rider position and equipment, and a rawness to the whole event that stripped down athletes to the bare essentials.
A bike. A man (or woman). An hour.
You know all those issues we cyclists had with safety. Like being run off roads. Like being treated like second-class citizens. Well, I can say now that fear no more comrades, divine intervention has given us deliverance.
I present to you, the Smart Hat.
From Sydney designer, Toby King, this aesthetically pleasing wonder helmet, provides a full suite of safety features including: