Editor’s note: Guest author Nick Hussey (@aslongasicycle on Twitter) is the founder and head honcho over at one of our very favorite cycling clothing companies – Vulpine.cc. This piece originally appeared on Nick’s bloggy at Vulpine, and we thought it so timely, pure and heartfelt that we promptly stole it. With Nick’s full
coercioncooperation, mind you.
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Cycling is wonderful. But it is growing, morphing and falling in on itself at extreme speed. We must stop it blowing apart. Suddenly cycling is both the hero and the villain. Its like an uncontrollable reaction. We don’t know what will happen next.
For a few years now I’ve used the phrase The New Cycling, mainly to describe where Vulpine sits. Its a pretty handy catch-all for what I think should happen in an immensely complicated maelstrom.
We’ve been talking, us friends at the centre of fan’s cycling, and we agree. We need, want, demand a New Cycling. This is a blueprint of sorts.
A Manifesto in the kindest, least political way. Here’s what the New Cycling means, from every corner of cycling. Every one of us can help Cycling (deliberate capital letter) as a whole, and therefore ourselves.
The New Cycling is friendly
No snobbery. No sneering sub-genre cliques. Whether you’re gently creaking an old late eighties MTB or whooshing as a carbon disk TT pain-freak, we’re all cyclists and we share so much common ground that we can use to further our causes. There are so many people coming to cycling in all forms. Extraordinary times. Its amazing. Absolutely amazing.
Lets not bicker amongst ourselves or look down upon the wobbling 1st-time commuter or the deep-rim aero weekend warrior. Each to their own. Welcome.
The New Cycling loves womens’s racing
This isn’t about equality. Though it should be. This is about damned fine racing neglected by old fools in bad suits with worse attitudes.
Women’s racing ROCKS. Women’s racing is tough, tactically less political, cleaner, and far more exciting. This is no sympathy vote. This is getting some of that good, good dope-free racing we love. We want more and bigger races and we want to see them. Lets get better support, TV & media coverage, sponsorship and respect. Women’s racing is an antidote.
How to help? Back #FANBACKEDWOMENSCYCLING, an idea started by Stef Wyman, directeur sportif of Matrix-Prendas. Stef and a team of hundreds of cycling supporters, including Vulpine and Cyclismas, are putting money and/or resources of any kind into creating a better British cycling’s racing scene, from the ground up, based around the purity and excitement of women’s racing, so long neglected by the bad suits. Make a noise, lets drive it forward together, a new racing for New Cycling. We own it, ‘they’ can’t touch it.
The New Cycling hates the UCI
I hate hating. But boy do I hate the current Union Cycliste Internationale heads of state (the ‘they’ above). And you should do too. Why? Because these clowns (see this extraordinary link for proof) are the role models for every dodgery bad-suited sneering joyless jobs-for-the-boys plutocrat holding Cycling back. These are the men who must have hid doping, who take sneaky payments, deny everything, do nothing or indeed make jaw-droppingly stupid decisions and generally seem to do their best to disrespect cycling and protect their piece of what they don’t own.
They don’t like any other kind of cycling that isn’t pro men’s. They like money a lot. They are more obsessed by getting seat angles right and putting expensive stickers on frames, shutting out the little guys, than driving doping out of sport, being leaders to look up to, and encouraging cycling where money doesn’t change hands. They cannot react to the doping crisis because THEY ARE THE DOPING CRISIS and their lawsuits against whistle-blowers prove it.
They don’t speak for us and they don’t help us, whether trackie, 4X racer, woman, commuter, top pro or 4th cat newbie.
How to help? Good question. I need your help to know. How can we get good, honest, imperfect but lion-hearted passionate people like Jonathan Vaughters and David Millar to be making decisions, instead of Hein Verbruggen and his puppetry of Pat McQuaid? Surely now is the time. The momentum is there to oust these fools while all these horrible UCI corruption and see-no-evil (at best) management horror stories are coming out.
Help. What do we do next?
The New Cycling wants a new culture
Lance Armstrong is history. So are the dopers.
Except they’re not. The news is just getting worse. It probably needs to before it gets better. But many of the pros are still doing it and you know it, I know it, the clean pros know it, and everyone else knows it. The culture has to change. The Omertà must fall down, its foundations eaten away. And the momentum is there.
Why culture? Rules will always be broken. But not in a culture where the Omertà isn’t tolerated or even exists. The Omertà needs total control to work. In a culture where the penalty for doping is a slapped wrist, the team management don’t feel the heat, the sponsors are agnostic at best, and many of the old cycling country riders say nothing, nothing will change. But as attitudes and social norms change within the rarified world of the professional peloton, so it trickles down the neck of cycling. To be ostracised is a terrible thing. Social exile is oft-quoted as a most terrible punishment. It’ll take time. And commitment. And pressure. Pressure. Pressure. At all levels.
How to help? Lance is done. Now support the journalists like Paul Kimmage who helped break down the Omertà. Support him to say the truth. Make noise. Demand a better culture in bike racing and call people out. But in turn, give pros respect. This is a terrible time for them. The clean riders deserve our support. And the outed and admitting riders need to be contrite, then get our support too. We don’t need another Pantani tragedy.
Lets make sure the truths keep coming and that nobody is allowed to turn away and whistle self-consciously until this all goes away. It won’t.
The New Cycling needs Truth & Reconciliation
Bike racing (and that includes MTB and track too) is so mired in its own filth right now, that odd confessionals here and odd positive tests there just prolong the pain and change things in tiny increments. There needs to be a grand blood-letting. Weirdly, I believe that if you admit what you have done you should NOT be sacked. The risk needs to be taken away. We shouldn’t be out to destroy everyone involved, because it involves such an enormous chunk of time. It’s an impossible, sport-crushing process to slowly pick at the problem. Let’s put elite bike racing under the knife and cut out the badness.
A huge proportion of the current pro cycling caravan have doped. Let them speak, and they must not be scared to. I don’t believe anyone is perfect, especially under immense financial and sociological strain, when you are told accept to the norm or get out. So let’s hear it all. The truth. Then reconciliation. Then draw a line.
How to help? Forget the sacrificial lambs. Let’s get it ALL out. Squeeze the massive pus-filled wound dry with amnesty and change the culture, starting of course – and most importantly – with the UCI. And that means we the fans have to support The New Riders. It’s hard to name them, just ‘in case,’ but Taylor Phinney is surely a man for our times.
The heroes right now are the vocal anti-dopers and admitters, not the winners. Because did that rider really win? Like, really? It’s all so corrosive.
The New Cycling is creative
Let’s read, watch, look, and appreciate. Let’s celebrate a wider cycling culture. A growing hive of everything we could want. And ask for what you’d like but can’t get, whether it’s a pair pink rubber cycling galoshes, a bike that can carry a laptop, or a portrait of Steve Peat made out of Spaghetti Hoops. Joking apart, creativity brings new scents to the stench of everything that’s going wrong right now.
The New Cycling is cool once people stop saying it is
Everyone wants a bit of cycling right now. All the non-cycling fashion brands have made their own bike and put bikes in their photo shoots.
There is much talk of hipsters and bandwagon-jumpers. Soon things will settle down. But cycling will always be cool, just not in that NEON SIGNED way as the style guides tell you.
My personal definition of cool is that that it’s confidently different and ground-breaking. Cycling is free-spirited and creative. Tough and sexy. Stylish and individual.
How to help? Support true cycling companies and individuals who love it wholly and always.
The New Cycling has cyclists plan cycling infrastructure
I was called up by the local paper the other day. They wanted to know if the council rolling out roundabouts instead of traffic lights as a cycling safety measure really was good for cyclists. Which it isn’t. Nobody from the council seems to have ever cycled, or asked cyclists if this was the case. It’s typical of a governing culture where something must be seen to be done, as long as its seen to be done. Met quotas. Five metre random bike lanes on pavements, with lampposts bisecting them. Occasional painted bike signs in the middle of busy roads. ‘Dismount here’ and cycle lanes full of glass. There seems to be a positive move forward in terms of creating infrastructure (even though it’s not nearly enough), it’s just not been thought out with cyclists in mind.
How to help? Write to your MP, council, or equivalent in your country. Letters are not ignored. They carry a lot of weight. Be fair, clear and calm. Lets get what we need. Don’t ask, don’t get.
The New Cycling helps itself
We can’t ignore the minority of scumbag dangerous drivers and the pathetic laws that fail to protect us. But we can make positive steps to represent cycling in front of other road users.
Red Light Jumping is an insidious enemy to cycling. Why? Who does it hurt? Drivers remember the bad stuff and colour the rest of us with it.
People generalise. Drivers think we’re arrogant and above the law. If drivers don’t like or respect us, they are more likely to drive accordingly. Red light Jumping causes inconsiderate driving. It may even cause deaths. It is brought up against us when planning cities. It is a constant weapon against us. Respect breeds respect.
It’s not really fair on drivers to be expected to see you in the dark without lights. Fair? Well, almost all drivers are like you and me, in fact, they probably are you and me! Almost all of us drive too…and we get really scared when we nearly hurt other human beings. Fear becomes anger. Anger becomes hatred. Like RLJ-ing, riding without lights is used as a weapon against us.
What can I do? Lights that work and aren’t obscured by flappy coats! Almost every Vulpine garment has a light loop on it, and all have subtle reflective features. But reflectivity won’t help if you’re riding across a junction, unlit by car lamps. Be fair to other raod users and we will get fairness back. Eventually.
Lastly, we must take the higher ground. Having our lives threatened by bad driving sends our adrenalin levels sky high. It’s hard not to go ballistic. But again, anger breeds hate. Help them to understand your fear and that you have a family. Make them think, and not want to ‘get’ the next cyclist they see. It’s hard, but Gandhi and Rev.Martin Luther King had the right idea. Love thy enemy. Make them our friends.
What can we do? Let’s be the change we want to see. How we act now will affect the cyclist behind each and every one of us.
The New Cycling is a force for good
It’s about feeling great about helping, knowing that it helps ourselves. Collective responsibility in a driven, intelligent, non-sappy way.There are so many things to do, but the New Cycling is about morals and ultimately about enjoyment. It’s not a hair shirt.
If people think we’re self-righteous, let’s prove it by all actually being righteous!
Cycle sport is rotting from the top down. Let’s cut out the poisonous decay that oversees it.
If people think we’re dopers, let’s become the cleanest, the toughest, and the most morally-advanced sport.
Cycling creates such intense passions in those that discover it. Let’s channel our passion into the New Cycling.
The New Cycling is better, it is fun and it is Good.