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Is cycling the domain of the white middle class?

bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
edited May 2010 in The bottom bracket
I have been thinking more and more of late how I only ever seem to see young to middle aged white men out on push bikes. I say this from an interesting point of view in that a riding buddy and long term friend is Asian. He is a superb climber, like the preverbal whippet.

But, it made me think about the lack of other creeds/races/nationalities out on road bikes. What could be the reason?

I then started to mull over running and the fact that the African continents excel. Kenya, Ethiopia etc. It got me thinking, if a pro team came out of the African continent, based on the natural athleticism of the said indigenous people, would or could they be world class cyclists on all levels - sprint, climbing, TT etc.

Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?
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  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    I wouldn't include the "middle class" bit (I am a low paid retail worker). But cycling does seem to be more of a passtime for white people. It's a question of culture I suppose. For instance.... how many Asian people do you see playing football competitively in Britain? I know when I played as a child/young adult there was not a single Asian in our team or even at trials.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    guilliano wrote:
    I wouldn't include the "middle class" bit (I am a low paid retail worker). But cycling does seem to be more of a passtime for white people. It's a question of culture I suppose. For instance.... how many Asian people do you see playing football competitively in Britain? I know when I played as a child/young adult there was not a single Asian in our team or even at trials.

    I agree, but felt middle class was the most succinct description - aside from 'chav scum bike thieves' for the other lot !
  • verylonglegsverylonglegs Posts: 3,416
    Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

    Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?

    Bikes? I think they'd need political stability and infrastructure first tbh.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

    Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?

    Bikes? I think they'd need political stability and infrastructure first tbh.

    Well, perhaps the paradox is that cycling might help. Seems to get a lot of us out of the odd down spell...!
  • verylonglegsverylonglegs Posts: 3,416
    I appreciate what you are saying, I didn't mean to disparage your sentinment but as you say its all about accessability. I'm sure any country could produce a top quality sporting team if enough resources were thrown at it, the transformation our cycling team has gone through due to lottery funding is the most obvious example.
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    I appreciate what you are saying, I didn't mean to disparage your sentinment but as you say its all about accessability. I'm sure any country could produce a top quality sporting team if enough resources were thrown at it, the transformation our cycling team has gone through due to lottery funding is the most obvious example.

    Sure, totally agree. Just makes my heart sad that people cant enjoy the stuff we do.
  • Homer JHomer J Posts: 932
    It's only middle class when your car cost more than your bike :wink:
  • softladsoftlad Posts: 3,587
    there were several black riders racing in the west London division back in the early & mid 90s when - incidentally - a lot of south american riders were dominating the mountain stages in the big tours...

    African and Asian nations also put up teams for the worlds or the olympics. Pro cycle sport is pretty class-less, on the whole...
  • bristolpetebristolpete Posts: 2,255
    softlad wrote:
    there were several black riders racing in the west London division back in the early & mid 90s when - incidentally - a lot of south american riders were dominating the mountain stages in the big tours...

    African and Asian nations also put up teams for the worlds or the olympics. Pro cycle sport is pretty class-less, on the whole...

    Cool thats good to hear....
  • not so, check out the scrapper bike scene:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geIsWq5xOSE

    8)

  • I then started to mull over running and the fact that the African continents excel. Kenya, Ethiopia etc. It got me thinking, if a pro team came out of the African continent, based on the natural athleticism of the said indigenous people, would or could they be world class cyclists on all levels - sprint, climbing, TT etc.

    I read about these guys last year.
    http://projectrwanda.org/welcome
  • shouldbeinbedshouldbeinbed Posts: 2,732
    I live in a well mixed area with a high asian poplation and you do see young kids and teens on bikes quite regularly but once people, particularly the asian boys, get to driving age it seems to be mandatory to buy a car. I don't see asian's of driving age on bikes at all or on the bus in anywhere near the same number as any other ethnic grouping.

    But for the %age of the population there are an inordinate number of young asian lads whizzing round in corsas and saxo's etc compared to white lads of the same age range.
  • CrackFoxCrackFox Posts: 287
    Not sure about natural athleticism. I'm part Ethiopian and I never inherited any athletic ability from my mum. Maybe I'm just unlucky, but isn't it more about nurture than nature? Very admirable that the OP would like to go to Africa with a load of bikes, but I doubt they'd last long on the roads there (just been reading Alastair Humphrey's account of his ride down through Africa). As someone said, you need the infrastructure. Not just the roads, but the parts and maintenance. Besides, what's wrong with the old idiom 'charity begins at home'?
  • OlliedaOllieda Posts: 1,010
    It does sound like a good idea, with the right enthusiasm a good team could appear from a lesser known (in the biking world) country even if it doesn't have the same level of funding.....Look at bobsleigh and Jamacia for an example.

    I have to agree though that it is a white dominanted sport with the occasonal coloured cyclist making a break through, for instance Gregory Bauge on the track.

    Personally I think its partly an issue to do with coloured people avoiding their colour being a problem, now I don't mean this in a racist way but I've grown up being very aware of my colour and have always avoided doing things that would cause problems.

    If parents have a child who is showing signs of athletisism then it would make sence to push them into a sport where they can develop and the best way to do this is to push them into sports with a "track record" i.e. if the child became a footballer it would be less about his colour and more about his skill. However if he went into cycling there would be a big thing about his colour so it would be just about how good he is. What it needs is for someone to break the mold.

    Look at how Tiger Woods struggled in his younger years. Not only was he fighting to be the best golfer but he had was fighting to be accepted and had to put up with a barage of hate, but now he has broken through that hate is reduced and more coloured people are coming into golf as that barrier is partly broken down
  • richkrichk Posts: 583
    Homer J wrote:
    It's only middle class when your car cost more than your bike :wink:

    Ah, but if I sold my bike, I'd get more for it than if I sold the car... :?
    There is no secret ingredient...
  • POHBPOHB Posts: 40
    Rich countries do well in sports where you sit down and use expensive carbon-fibre kit. Poor countries excel in sports you can do barefoot with no equipment.

    To some extent this also applies to groups within a country too.
  • edited April 2010
    Bikes to Africa:

    http://www.re-cycle.org/
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,609
    Sport is part of of culture. We live in a multi-cultural society, so different cultural groups will have different attitudes towards different indivual sports and sport more generally. It's not just about race either eg Rugby League in the NW of England. It's also worth saying that the classes are associated with their own culture e.g. football was seen as a working class sport in Industrial Britain.

    I certainly think that barriers to sport should be minimised, but to be honest I don't see many of these barriers anyway - at least within the UK. If cost really is keeping people out of the sport, then it's keeping them out of most other sports. Even been a travelling football fan isn't cheap these days.

    In short, there may be some observations to be made but I don't see this as a big issue at all in most cases.

    A much bigger issue is getting our nation of fatties to do some exercise in any form.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • PorgyPorgy Posts: 4,558
    Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

    Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?

    Bikes? I think they'd need political stability and infrastructure first tbh.

    yes - because you can't ride a bike until you have a stable government and proper roads. :lol: :roll:
  • Stewie GriffinStewie Griffin Posts: 4,374
    One of my Colleagues here raced for Jamaica and will only ride Campag shod Bianchis.
  • beverickbeverick Posts: 3,461
    Homer J wrote:
    It's only middle class when your car cost more than your bike :wink:

    It's the other way around.....

    Bob
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    ASO have been promoting the Tour of Burkina Fasso for a number of years.
    There were black riders in the Tour de France back in the late-40s - primarily from Tunisia and Morroco with the French influence.
    I think that the popularity of any particular sport is down to social norms and cultural influences - the fact that global media is obsessed with the likes of football and that for many Africans, playing football in Europe is the ultimate accolade. On a basis of effort vs reward, the appeal of learning to kick a pig's bladder around a field with your mates has more influence than spending many hours in solitude riding on roads of dubious quality..
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • DaSyDaSy Posts: 599
    There was the two Kenyans that turned to cycling, and recorded a 42 min TT up the Alpe D'Huez within their first year.

    That was all pretty much an experiment based on the OP's idea, back in 2008.

    Article in Cycling Weekly
    Complicating matters since 1965
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    There are a few Colombians who ride with Dulwich Paragon, however for the most part, cycling seems to be dominated by white males, not sure if all of them are middle class, don't always get the chance to stop and ask them about their socio economic leanings
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    There are a few Colombians who ride with Dulwich Paragon, however for the most part, cycling seems to be dominated by white males, not sure if all of them are middle class, don't always get the chance to stop and ask them about their socio economic leanings
    Do not write below this line. Office use only.
  • verylonglegsverylonglegs Posts: 3,416
    Porgy wrote:
    Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

    Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?

    Bikes? I think they'd need political stability and infrastructure first tbh.

    yes - because you can't ride a bike until you have a stable government and proper roads. :lol: :roll:

    Er, yes you are right in so far as it doesnt stop them physically riding a bike I was referring more to what their list of priorities may be. Do you think people travel thousands of miles across continents to get here for the chance to work, eat well and enjoy decent healthcare and education for their families or because they find themselves thinking one day 'well food is scarce, there are no jobs and malaria is tearing my family to pieces but what I really fancy right now is being part of cliquey bike club and testing myself out on a 25TT.' What do you think?
  • PorgyPorgy Posts: 4,558
    Porgy wrote:
    Any opinions on this? Seriously, I have decided if I win the lottery I would love to go to Africa with a bundle of bikes to give to people. Sometimes I feel really privileged with what I have and perhaps take it for granted.

    Anyone want to create a Pro Team with me. Sponsorship required...?

    Bikes? I think they'd need political stability and infrastructure first tbh.

    yes - because you can't ride a bike until you have a stable government and proper roads. :lol: :roll:

    Er, yes you are right in so far as it doesnt stop them physically riding a bike I was referring more to what their list of priorities may be. Do you think people travel thousands of miles across continents to get here for the chance to work, eat well and enjoy decent healthcare and education for their families or because they find themselves thinking one day 'well food is scarce, there are no jobs and malaria is tearing my family to pieces but what I really fancy right now is being part of cliquey bike club and testing myself out on a 25TT.' What do you think?

    I don't think it's for you to decide their priorities. those people still need to get on with their lives despite the day to day problems going on around them. If they decide they wish to ride a bike, and it makes them happy then it would be good for them to have that opportunity. If not - then bristol pete will have wasted his time and money. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    I suspect that for a few - the opportunity to cycle will make their lives richer and more fullfilled - just like any other sporting opportunity - football and athletics, that they currently may or may not have access to at the moment.

    Plus any success at that sport will bring in money and other opportunities.

    On a non-sporting level - more bikes = more mobility - better access to services, jobs, etc. Especially if it's people who cannot afford any other form of transport. Plus health benefits, etc etc.

    I really don;t understand what your objection is.

    If bristol pete doesn't take bikes to africa then presumably this will not stop the bigger problems from being worked on anyway - unless bristol pete is some sort of superhero who is going to save africa singlehandedly. :lol:
  • Frank the tankFrank the tank Posts: 6,806
    I don't think cycling is the domain of the white middle class but a certain amount of disposable income is required.

    It is interesting though how different types/groups of people for one reason or another gravitate towards different sports. This could be for any number of reasons.

    I took to cycling when I hung my football boots up, to remain active.

    You could count on one hand the number of black top class swimmers there are in the world. Whereas black runners dominate athletics and heavier weight divisions in boxing. Very few black gymnasts also, black footballers though have all the right attributes for the sport (curiously though, they don't make very good 'keepers).

    I suppose it's all about physical attributes and the opportunity to try various sports.

    I'm not trying to turn this into a race issue it's just an observation. I'm sure most pro basketball players are well above average height whatever there colour.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • paul.kpaul.k Posts: 90
    middle class : how many of you have seen a hoodie on a mountain bike ,on the pavement and thought to yourself he must have nicked it ?
  • PorgyPorgy Posts: 4,558
    I don't think cycling is the domain of the white middle class but a certain amount of disposable income is required. .

    Not if you don;t own a car. For many years I kept with the cycling because I couldn't afford the rail fair and didn't want to be impoverished by having to own a car.


    And my experience of the south east London LCC groups is that they are pretty much firmly working class to a man and woman.

    I also lived in Lambeth for years and cycling was a godsend to many on low wages - I've known people who have set up projects to renovate old bikes and give them out to those who need them. So - I can't see how cycling is especially middle class - not from where i am - unless you just mean the majority of idtiots with all the gear and no idea i see every year when the weather gets a bit warm. :lol:
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