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Non-cycling cycling fans

AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
edited April 2014 in Pro race
Bit of a random one, but in between not working and waiting for some racing, I think i noted that there are some people here who don't really cycle at all.

Purely for curiosity's sake, what is it that attracts you?

Before I rode a bike I didn't have a clue about bike racing (remember skipping through it on tv years ago) and thought t was dull as dishwater. Lance Armstrong was a famous-ish face who I knew nothing really about and I remember the stick he got in the press, but I still didn't know anything about TdF or even the cycling in the olympics.

After a drunken night out 2 1/2 years ago I bought a bike, got hooked on the cycling then started to take an interest in pro racing, but only because I have a bit of experience of riding a bike, know how much I suffer on box hill in the granny ring and suck okgo's wheel for 30 seconds on my commute to work before he rides off into the distance and I blow up in a pool of sweat and heart palpitations.

I might have misread something, but if some of you out there don't really cycle, what's the allure, and how did you get into it?
Thanks for any responses. Just wondering.
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  • JackPozziJackPozzi Posts: 1,191
    Used to work with a bloke who watched the TdF every year despite never having ridden a bicycle. He did go motorbike touring round Europe every year though and basically used the race to find routes he liked the look of for his next holiday.
  • cescocesco Posts: 252
    For me it was the other way around. I've been watching the TdF since I was like 12. I'm 31 now and only started cycling about 4 years ago. Obviously I rode my bike (duh, I'm Dutch), but that a 50km loop from home to home would be enjoyable, rather than the necessary A-to-B transport, just never occurred to me before.

    The allure? It's just the greatest sport to watch. People who say it is dull probably think that racing is about cycling fast (adopted from The Rider).
  • + 1 to cesto. this is simply the best sport in the world to watch. Riding is bloody hard work, and a thorough pain in the censored .Best avoided altogether. But the occasional ride to work makes me feel like Geraint. Go Geraint!
    Ecrasez l’infame
  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    The only thing that irks me as a cycling fan is the relentless faux adrenalin sensationalising commentary offered by some of the pillock commentators. Watching a race you hear things like 'and it looks like Belkin are taking the front to set up their man....' and you just know by the time they've finished saying it another team will be on the front and another team a minute after that.

    It must be difficult to understand for people getting into it sometimes as the commentary one minute will be talking about tactics and trying to explain them to newcomers, and the next minute saying something is happening when it plainly isn't, they can't be reading the race wrong so consistently and relentlessly, they just try to over-sensationalise some things and as a side-effect will confuse people who aren't familiar with what usually will happen.

    It also can't help when half the personalities involved are so crushingly dull as in interview, people like Froome, Contador and EBH should be available as podcasts to aid people with sleeping disorders. Some of them come across like zombies with the personality taken out. I think this is why eurosport seem to cut the coverage straight after the race finish so people don't have to listen to these dullards, that way the final ending part of the viewing experience doesn't have the effect of a few tamazepam and quetiapine crushed and dropped into a slug of whisky.

    All that said, watching cycling just takes a little while more to get hooked and to get the most enjoyment out of, once you get it, it's brilliant!
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,044
    Er, well I suppose I'm half and half. I was a cyclocommunter and then an MTBer and I used to dip in and out of the Tour when I was a student mainly becasue I'm a francophile and used to like seeing the Alps. I watched Sastre on AdH all those years ago and started to think there was something in this. One day I was back from a ride and stumbled on a feed of Paris-Roubaix (One of Boonen's wins I think) and then it was just a question of catching more and more races, more and more often (and then finding this place!)
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,553 Lives Here
    Every summer my parents dumped me at my Dutch grandparents to have a week to themselves.

    It was always during the Tour, and my grandfather who had been following professional cycling since the '40s, would just be permanently in front of the TV. Basically by osmosis I picked it up as a 10 year old.

    I genuinely don't associate my riding much with me watching professional cycling, rather like most footballs fans I know don't really link that to the Sunday league they play in.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 52,553 Lives Here
    Also, for me, knowing what the 'suffering' and riding a bike feels like doesn't really add all that much value to my watching of cycling.

    I enjoy cycling (mainly one day racing) because I love how the tactics and strategies work. I like how the dilemma all racing cyclists face (more efficient to work together than not) shapes the way the races play out. I like that it's cynical and professional and a sport where you need to be able to understand and navigate the 'society' of the peloton.

    I also like how ridiculously Euro it is.
  • mm1mm1 Posts: 1,101
    Basically by osmosis I picked it up...

    My Father was born in 1934 in Northern Italy, so he grew up when Coppi and Bartali were the great national heroes. He never rode and was not interested in sport, but he understood cycling and some of this rubbed off on me. An abiding memory is of watching the Tour with him when Bruno Chenghalta won a stage, Dad's comment was that he was a "poor boy" who hadn't had much schooling. For Italians of a certain age, cycling is associated with hardship and a sense of pride over how the nation recovered from fascism and the war (read Italy's Sorrow by James Holland, or Naples 1944 by Norman Lewis for a real sense of what that means).

    I'm not sure that the sport has such a hold on younger Italians, certainly not outside its heartlands in the Veneto and Tuscany.
  • napoleondnapoleond Posts: 18,633
    I loved watching the TdF on channel 4 when it started on there in 1986 when I was 11. I wanted a road bike for Christmas but I got an (amazing) mountain bike- muddy fox courier which I still ride now.
    My parents/friends had no interest in it.
    This interest increased when we got Eurosport in 1990. In 1992 it was boardman at the Olympics and then I was hooked.

    However, it wasn't until 2002 I eventually got a road bike. Glad I did :)
    Twitter - @NapD
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  • CrankbrotherCrankbrother Posts: 1,695
    Started watching TdF highlights on c4 in 1997 ... Mainly as a couple of buddies had gone on a cycling trip in the Pyrenees and were gonna do some of the climbs in the race ...

    I knew very little about it but still managed to write 50 words each day for a national newspaper as my flatmate was a sports writer there and the sports desk needed to have some form of report in the paper (yes that's how much the press cared about cycling back then) ... We used the name of the French girl that had been staying with us for 'authenticity' ...

    Got a road bike in 1999 (Spesh Allez) and have been hooked ever since ... I didn't drive (still don't) so the sense of freedom was amazing ...

    A friend left the very first copy of ProCycling in the flat and from there my knowledge grew until I moved into my own place in 2000 and had Eurosport ... and have watched almost everything they've shown since ... Initially the Kits/Bikes/Scenery were a big draw but now it's more about the actual racing ...
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,782
    I got into following cycling after the 1986 TdF. My dad would always keep up with the Tour, and I went to see a stage of the Tour de Suisse zoom by in 1979 or 80 (I think)

    But I sometimes cycle, sometimes not. Rode in the late 80's, packed it in during the 90's, a few years in the early to mid 00's and started a bit again recently.

    But like a lot of other here, I don't really see what following pro cycling has to do with riding a bike. If you look at the fans on the side of the road in Flanders, most of them probably never touch a bike, yet they're passionate about the sport. I reckon if we want cycling to move out of being a niche sport we really need to decouple the doing vs watching thing in people's minds.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,322
    I had a passing interest, used to share an office with a cycling fan, but I used to ride a road bike a bit as a youth, not in a club but I would go out for a few hours just for fun. My real interest in cycling started with taking up the sport in my early 30s though, just around the time Pantani's career was coming to a close anyway, then I got into watching it and buying the cycling press, it just wasn't on TV enough prior to that or maybe I'd have got into it sooner.

    I do think riding and racing adds to your understanding of it, my other half is a keen watcher but there are things she doesn't really see because she has never ridden a bike competitively, I'm sure having ridden at a higher level would give a better understanding again. Same in football, Sunday league may be a world away from the pros but there are things that are common.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
  • inseineinseine Posts: 5,772
    To be honest I got into cycling, and then racing, before I got into following the sport. Even now I'd rather ride than watch though I'm getting close to thinking my racing days are over. I've never had Eurosport or the like so went from following it a bit through the pages of Cycling Weekly, Winning and now on here and hardly ever actually watch it :oops:
    Saw the TdF live first in 1980, I think, and got Kellys autograph and went to see the Worlds at Goodwood in 1982. Still see a couple or races a year especially since I've lived in France.
    Now I work in the industry I feel like I should pay more attention.
  • lc1981lc1981 Posts: 820
    cesco wrote:
    For me it was the other way around. I've been watching the TdF since I was like 12. I'm 31 now and only started cycling about 4 years ago. Obviously I rode my bike (duh, I'm Dutch), but that a 50km loop from home to home would be enjoyable, rather than the necessary A-to-B transport, just never occurred to me before.

    Same here. I've always been a fan of pro cycling, but was just a recreational cyclist myself (mainly MTB) until a few years ago, when I decided to try road cycling myself. Now I'm hooked on riding as well as watching.
  • Paul 8vPaul 8v Posts: 5,458
    For me the two go hand in hand but I can understand why some people wouldn't want to do both. Just because you watch tennis doesn't mean you play it too. My Dad is nuts on cycling and I got in to racing through reading his cycling weeklies (Known as "The comic" if you are old) I watched it in the Boardman era but then got in to mountain biking when I was a teenager and stopped watching the tour (We only had channel 4)
    Started back on a fixie a few years ago and then got back in to the pro racing with the 2012 tour.

    I know a few people who are super quick racers/TTers but don't watch the racing.
  • LightningLightning Posts: 360
    Note that I do cycle (a lot), but I'd like to comment on a couple of things.

    While it does seem to me like most people who watch cycling do cycle themselves, I don't think the order is doing it -> watching it. In fact, I think most people start cycling because they watch it and eventually want to try it (I used to watch all GTs as a kid and it took years for me to actually pick up a bike).

    I think cycling is a spectacular sport (my favorite to watch, by far), but it is hard to pick up. The truth is most people don't understand the sport and when they do try to watch it, odds are they will just watch some random sprint stage and stare at it for some time until they got bored or see the final sprint ("what's the point in riding for so long to end in a sprint?"). Naturally, those people tend to never watch it again, even if a cycling fan tries to explain what they watched and whatnot.

    I believe the reason why I ever gave cycling a chance was because the first time I watched it (as a kid) was during the final climb of a TDF stage (I don't remember which stage or who was riding) and someone attacked out of the favorites group and climbed all the way to the finish solo, in heat, with his shirt open, while all the favorites were suffering to try to hold on (and getting dropped). I thought that was awesome and started learning about it. Note that I just watched this because I was bored zapping through the TV (I didn't even know the sport existed in this form).

    As for starting to ride after watching, I think the idea that "road bikes are for racers" is too common. I have a few friends who watch cycling for a while now (some just watch the GTs, but some also watch the classics and some other races). However, it never even occurred to them that they could buy a road bike and try it out. When they feel the urge to ride, they just grab their MTB (everyone seems to have one) and go out for a ride. Since they don't usually like riding it that much (seriously, anyway), they never even try a road bike (everyone seems to assume riding a road bike is the same as riding an MTB, just faster). I actually hate MTBs (I've always been a road rider), so I managed to convince a couple of them to try out a road bike, and they're now road riders and love it. This was only possible because they liked to watch the sport in the first place, though.

    So, to sum it up, my experience is that it's quite difficult to get someone to start riding a road bike without watching pro cycling first, and it's still hard to do it when they already watch it (plus, not everyone will like to do it, even if most do like it). As such, I find it much more common to find cycling fans than actual riders (and I understand it). Even if I were to stop riding, I would keep watching (like I have in the past), and I'm sure most riders would do the same. I think the hard thing is to actually find a road rider who isn't a cycling fan.
  • No_Ta_DoctorNo_Ta_Doctor Posts: 10,095
    I may have over-egged the pudding in my claim to not cycle...
    I've been a cycle commuter and leisure cyclist all my life, on and off. I've never had any interest in joining a club or racing though. If I ride it's because it's the easiest, healthiest, cheapest way of getting somewhere, or because I want to get out and see a bit of the countryside - at a nice leisurely pace, but faster than walking. I have no real desire to ride up mountains, or to see how fast I can ride 10 miles, or to ride elbow to elbow in a peloton, or to try and outsprint someone after a couple of hundred km.

    My dad followed the Tour in the papers, and when it eventually arrived on Channel 4 we'd watch it together - the City Centre cycling as well when that was on.
    “Road racing was over and the UCI had banned my riding positions on the track, so it was like ‘Jings, crivvens, help ma Boab, what do I do now? I know, I’ll go away and be depressed for 10 years’.”

    @DrHeadgear

    The Vikings are coming!
  • mm1mm1 Posts: 1,101
    [quote= cycling weekly (Known as "The comic" if you are old) .[/quote]

    So called because of the "accuracy" of its race reports; problem solved by becoming fatty poseur sportive weekly.
  • cescocesco Posts: 252
    Every summer my parents dumped me at my Dutch grandparents to have a week to themselves.

    It was always during the Tour, and my grandfather who had been following professional cycling since the '40s, would just be permanently in front of the TV. Basically by osmosis I picked it up as a 10 year old.

    I genuinely don't associate my riding much with me watching professional cycling, rather like most footballs fans I know don't really link that to the Sunday league they play in.

    Your story is so similar to mine, my grampa loved the TdF and my nana watched along, as she enjoyed the scenery. They took me to one of the post-Tour crits (Chaam). I remember Theunisse being one of the main attractions; he had just won the KOM-jersey.

    Even far into my twenties, up until he passed away, I made a point of visiting them and watching at least one of the main stages, as well as the final stage. He loathed Armstrong (and obviously things weren't like they used to be) haha.
  • cescocesco Posts: 252
    mfin wrote:
    The only thing that irks me as a cycling fan is the relentless faux adrenalin sensationalising commentary offered by some of the pillock commentators. Watching a race you hear things like 'and it looks like Belkin are taking the front to set up their man....' and you just know by the time they've finished saying it another team will be on the front and another team a minute after that.

    I'm so grateful for:
    - Speaking Dutch
    - Sporza
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,692
    I'm half Dutch yet sadly can't speak a word...other than niet doen which preceded a bollocking. It took a few thick ears to realise it means "don't do that"
  • Paul 8vPaul 8v Posts: 5,458
    mm1 wrote:
    [quote= cycling weekly (Known as "The comic" if you are old) .

    So called because of the "accuracy" of its race reports; problem solved by becoming fatty poseur sportive weekly.[/quote]
    Ah thanks, I never knew why he calls it that! Before the days of eBay and the internet him and his mates would always start at the back looking at the bikes for sale! I still get all of them when he's finished with them :D
  • Lanterne_RogueLanterne_Rogue Posts: 2,553
    I cycle to work, but rarely get out that often on longer rides (today was the first time I've done fifty miles for at least a couple of years, probably more) - I'm not fit enough to go as quickly as I want and I'm too lazy to work on my fitness - the ensuing Catch-22 ensures that essentially, I'm a non-cycling cycle fan (four miles to work doesn't count).

    The reason I follow cycling is because it's one of those sports that lends itself to decent writing - it takes ages to unfold, nothing might happen for long periods, and journalists have been an intimate part of the sport since its inception. Cricket and (although not really a sport, as such) mountaineering have a similar thing going on. Sport is really a way of generating narrative, so the best sports (for me) are the ones that tell the best stories.
  • One of my biggest gripes with this forum is the retort "Well why don't you go for a ride and then have that opinion"

    It's the same as saying on a football forum "I didn't see you scoring a screamer last week"

    I watch cycling because I fell in love with the TDF in the late 90s. I watch football because I was born 10 minutes from Bramall Lane and have grown up with it.

    I ride my bike and play football as a way to enjoy myself, relax and keep fit. I'm not Tom Boonen and I'm not David Beckham, I also couldn't commentate to save my life.

    I just like bike racing, and I like football, and I've got a load of people to thank for that.
    My Men 2020 - Mark Cavendish, Ben Swift, Fernando Gaviria, Alejandro Valverde, Edvald Boassen Hagen, Zdenek Stybar, Vincenzo Nibali, Geraint Thomas.
  • FJSFJS Posts: 4,820
    You wouldn't get this question with football, would you, or tennis, or formula 1. And you wouldn't get asked this question in Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain or France.
  • FJS wrote:
    You wouldn't get this question with football, would you, or tennis, or formula 1. And you wouldn't get asked this question in Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain or France.

    It's a curious phenomenon, I guess the days when virtually everyone interested in the (then) niche sport of cycling raced themselves are a fairly recent memory.

    I came to cycle sport via the 'traditional' route - I started racing in 1986 and really followed the Tour for the first time that year, although I did see some mythical footage of the wet 1985 Paris-Roubaix before that. I used to watch the First Cats racing close-up and be in awe of what they could do. The continental pros were therefore like gods to me and most of the club guys I knew.

    The football writer Brian Glanville used to say 'If you haven't played the game, you don't know what it's about', I still believe there is truth in that adage. Even if it's only trying to better your commute time, it gives you an insight into what the pros go through.
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,044
    FJS wrote:
    You wouldn't get this question with football, would you, or tennis, or formula 1. And you wouldn't get asked this question in Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain or France.

    well yes and if my autie had balls she'd be....

    Even now Pro-Cycling is a niche sport in the UK wheras those you mention are not. You actively have to seek out cycling, buy the channel that it's on and buy a magazine (or find a website these days) to find out when the races are on. Not so in the countries you mention.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,836
    FJS wrote:
    You wouldn't get this question with football, would you, or tennis, or formula 1. And you wouldn't get asked this question in Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain or France.

    This is true, but there are very different levels of cycling i.e. most people in the UK can ride a bike, but most have never ridden competitively. That distinction is not really true for football as most people will have played a vaguely competitive match at school. I therefore feel better equipped to imagine myself on a premier league football pitch than I do in a high speed pro sprint finish - although obviously I'm a million miles away from either.

    But basically we're all armchair fans, so out of armchair time is mostly irrelevant.
  • artstanartstan Posts: 27
    Unless you can have climbed the Cols of France, unless you have the skill and fitness to ride and push yourself to your limits then I don't think you can be a good armchair critic.

    If you have no idea of the physicality of the sport and you don't if your a fat bloke riding a bike slowly for fun then your opinion is worth less I'm afraid.

    I don't see how you can criticize an athlete having a bad day when your watching the racing wearing your Jacamo clothes and eating a doughnut.
  • iainf72iainf72 Posts: 15,782
    artstan wrote:
    Unless you can have climbed the Cols of France, unless you have the skill and fitness to ride and push yourself to your limits then I don't think you can be a good armchair critic.

    If you have no idea of the physicality of the sport and you don't if your a fat bloke riding a bike slowly for fun then your opinion is worth less I'm afraid.

    I don't see how you can criticize an athlete having a bad day when your watching the racing wearing your Jacamo clothes and eating a doughnut.

    So extending that logic, unless you have worked in a Michelin starred restaurant, you can't judge food, if you've not won an Oscar you can't judge films etc etc

    I'm sure that position would also go down well with the folks who like watching cycling but can't ride a bike.
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
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