Friday, March 13, 2009

Forget the Masters, It’s all about the Tour

We’ve all known this for some time, but cycling is displacing golf as the recreational activity of choice for nerdy, middle-aged men trying desperately to find an activity that will help them stave off the uglier manifestations of a midlife crisis.

While on the surface, the two sports are unrelated, in reality, they’re quite similar. First of all, both have origins in Europe but have recently been dominated by Americans whom the sponsors love, but none of the other competitors even come close to tolerating.

Second, both require a huge investment in highly technical equipment that allows the users to really get their geek on and read, talk, and lust endlessly without ever actually using or even owning said item. And no matter the size of the investment, participants are still always held back from performing to their true ability for lack of the latest component made out of some space-aged material none of us knew existed 20 years ago but that the Soviets had been making shovels out of for decades.

Both sports are also individual in nature, so one can measure one’s self against one’s own past performance and enjoy competition without ever actually competing against someone else.

Of course, even in the absence of governing bodies, actual rules, or even fellow competitors, there’s a code that everyone follows. In golf, if you don’t shoot from the back tees, everyone thinks your a tulip. In cycling, using your granny gear (or even having one if you’re on a road bike) is the equivalent of shooting from the ladies’ tees or calling it a gimme from four feet out. (Thank goodness for compact cranks, so I can have all the benefits of a granny gear without the embarrassment of actually having one.)

The real question, though, is how much momentum the cycling revolution actually has. I mean, it’s not like you can actually negotiate a business deal in a 25 mph paceline or on the way up technical singletrack. And I don’t see former NBA superstars buying road bikes after they retire, going to Moab in the offseason, or placing $50,000 bets on who will do better in the Clark’s TT. But you never know. The titans of industry could already be shaving their legs.

5 comments:

  1. Mark, Athletes aren't just buying bikes, they are buying bike companies. http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?id=tech/2007/news/03-28

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  2. Do some quick research on the BOD of the LAF. You'll find at least one titan that is *really* into cycling.

    I read an article about CEO cyclists within the last year...couldn't find it. But found this one that's a bit older: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_42/b3955104.htm

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  3. i shoot from the ladies tees. and i'm happy to do it.

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