22 October, 2013

You know what really grinds my gears?

Two words: armchair critics.

A lot of people seem to have a lot to say but not a lot of knowledge, and they love to have opinions. Opinions on politics, on Nationalities, on Countries, based very loosely on a Chinese-whisper of a rumour that they heard off a friend of a friend once.

Why is this? Maybe it’s human nature, or pride that means that they feel they must appear informed, but for me I’m not cool with it. If I don’t know about something I will say ‘I don’t know…’ and as a friend pointed out recently I don’t seem to know very much!! But I would rather be simple and honest than a complicated liar.

Something recently which really touched a nerve with me was all the criticism for the British team at the World Championships. Yes, it was disappointing that we didn't do better and I can understand the management debriefing afterwards and being a bit peeved. What I can’t bear, though, is generic club cyclist insinuating that ‘Froome-dog’ let himself down, is a wimp, can’t hack the tough conditions. I mean really, the guy won the toughest stage race in the world two months ago. How many of these critics are ex-professionals? How many of these critics have ridden 270km races in torrential rain, against the World’s finest? I would estimate zero, and this is because of one thing: respect. Riders respect other riders and know that we’re all human, sport is tough and luck is fickle. In my opinion Joe Public needs to learn some respect.

An issue which I haven’t really talked about before is doping because, honestly, it hasn't affected me. I think we should have a zero tolerance policy and am looking forward to the day when all the doping era relics in the sport have retired, but I won’t go into that today. The problem with the rising popularity of cycling in Britain is that everyone wants to summarise it so they can look knowledgeable when they’re in the pub: “Cyclists are druggies!”… “That Barney Wiggins is too thin to be a time triallist!” (Genuine quotes).

Mostly I just respond neutrally, or change the subject, but when people start up conversations with: “Yeah, that was an awesome result, but what’s he ever done before?” and then knowingly wink at me, I falter. You cannot judge a riders progression on what you read in the Daily Mail (other papers are available) because unsurprisingly you don’t get the full picture!

I understand that people have been let down in the past and as Brits we can be pretty cynical, but calling into question a rider’s credibility, and subsequently his career, because you’re misinformed (or rather uninformed) is grossly unfair. The justice system in this country is innocent until proven guilty and it must be the same in cycling.

Rant over.

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