by Kate Smart
Once again, the off-season has crept upon us and crashed our cycling loving lives with a thick blanket of that dark and heavy fog, otherwise known as boredom.
For those of us watching on the sidelines it’s all a bit like being a kid, stuck inside on a wet and miserable winter’s day, complaining to mum of a never ending and physically painful boredom that cannot be quelled.
This is the time of year that Aussie cycling fans are doing their best Jason Bourne impersonations. We’re down in the blue lit vaults of some swanky Swiss bank, cashing in on our sleep accounts. If you’re reading this from the other side of the world, you try staying up every night for a three week grand tour, living on less than four hours sleep and trying to remain a functioning human being. Let me tell you, it isn’t pretty.
Usually I would be busy at this time of year, making up for all of the sleep that’s been lost over the last ten months, but some genius invented twitter, and even better still, the genius that is Adam Hansen has an account.
Thanks to the peloton’s resident tech-head and twitter supremo, Adam Hansen, who had me nearly choking on my glass of wine, I’ve caught up on what is surely the highlight of the season, the Pro Tour Pins-Up Calendar.
Where to begin?
Once I got over my horror and revulsion at images of stick men, with wicked tan lines that should never see the light of day, the very funny and, pardon the pun, cheeky side, of this little venture became apparent.
This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in an age. It’s hard to spot a favourite.
Could it be Mr January, Alex Dowsett, the Essex native that he is, applying fake tan to those already highly tanned legs?
Or what about Mr June, Taylor Phinney. I love Taylor Phinney’s homoerotic appeal. He’s so 80s chic in a 21st century, retro kind of way.
This calendar is at once a sad and sorry state of affairs, and yet, a joyous celebration of the not terribly macho physiques of professional cyclists. What we have here is our cycling heroes, reduced to torsos of hideous fluoro-white skin and fabulously tanned extremities.
To be serious, this calendar has been produced as a fundraiser for the 2014 women’s Tour of Britain and is associated with a couple of other charities [and can be purchased exclusively online right here].
It also suggests something I doubt the creators or participants could have imagined. These images of two-toned men in many ways act as a metaphor for the whole sport of cycling.
On the outside, cycling is a sport of healthy, tanned bodies competing in one of the toughest endurance sports around. But underneath, is the evil of corruption, of drug taking and allegations of officials being involved in covering-up the once rampant cheating.
I want to be quite clear from the outset, I’m not about to sling mud at anyone. I do, however, believe that speculation is healthy, as long as it is clearly labeled as speculation.
It is this speculation that will lead to what we all hope to be a positive change in the sport. Our speculation need not defame, but it serves an important function in opening up debate on the events of the professional sport we all follow.
If you come to think of it, whether we are reading Crankpunk or writing on Crankpunk, we are all playing an important role in the democratic function of journalism.
Long gone are the days of sports writing being the retelling of results with perhaps a line or two about the weather thrown in for atmosphere.
Today, sports writing performs the same democratic functions as any other field of journalism.
If Tim Berners-Lee envisioned the Internet as a meeting place to enhance democratic participation, then it is sporting websites such as this that are closest to that function.
That’s why we are all here.
That’s why it’s important that we all stay.
Corruption, drugs and cheating are not particular to cycling, although there are plenty who will try to tell you this is the case.
Any sport can easily and quickly descend into the kind of chaos that beset the peloton of days past.
But what is it that breaks that chaos down?
Sure, it’s drug testing, it’s an attitude from amongst the professionals that this is unacceptable, but it’s also about us on the sidelines speculating on the comings and goings of the riders, teams and officials.
This is where the Internet in all its glory unites voices that previously would never be heard.
This is where we speculate on the actions of those who have ridden in the past and where we make it clear our expectations for the riders of the future.
I’m really excited to be here…
all opinions stated by writers are those held by the writer individually, and in no way reflect the opinion of crankpunk himself nor any other contributor to the site. however, we probably do all agree on most things, if that helps any…