Wheels and the written word

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. Well, so said [this chap](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells). I can’t quite claim anything so grandiose, so I’ll amend it to ‘Every time I see articles and photos about cycling, I no longer despair for the future of my afternoon.”

The cycling blogosphere is as healthy (and far less partisan) as football’s. From the tongue-in-cheek ridiculousness of Big Ring Riding’s [Tumblr](http://www.bigringriding.com/) to the sober pondering of (now defunct) [Cycling Fans Anonymous](http://cyclingfansanonymous.blogspot.com/), all tastes are catered for. A list is provided at the bottom. Browse, browse until the deadlines die.

The plethora of independently minded cycling sites can be seen as a reaction to the absolute banality of mainstream cycling media. Cyclingnews.com, oozing the repellent ideals of ‘cross-platform integration’ and ‘brand-presence maximisation’ between its sister sites, uses less than 10% of its screen space to display 85% of its clickable content. Why? Advertising. Garish and under-thought advertising.

It used to be that Cyclingnews released a twice daily news digest. Anything of importance could be browsed in headline form, tabbed if necessary, and discarded. This was a fantastic and efficient way of finding one’s way around the world of PRO cycling. But it is no more. In its stead we now have inch-deep screen segments devoted to even the most insignificant piece of minutiae. From the page of April 22nd: Random Frenchman has [knee issues](http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/sicard-affected-by-knee-problems)? INCH DEEP LINK WITH ADVERTS. Cycling team [wants to win a race](http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/katusha-vows-to-put-up-a-fight-in-liege-bastogne-liege)? INCH DEEP LINK WITH ADVERTS.

The consequence of this layout is that the stories with even a modicum of relevance easily become confused with the dross. Mildly more annoying than this, though, is the increasing ‘press release-ification’ of the whole website. I am [not the only one](http://twitter.com/#!/MI_Cycling_Fan/status/61030657970814976) to notice this recently. Unless the name [James Huang](http://twitter.com/#!/angryasian) byline is at the top of the page, consume the article with the proverbial salt. That, or head to velonation.com.

The true delights of cycling’s media lay in the idiosyncrasies (and occasional absolute nuttiness) of cycling’s bloggers. Fewer economic imperatives and a loyal readership allow for the creation of character, narratives, debate, scandal, and much else. Today’s focus: [Competitive Cyclist’s What’s New](http://www.competitivecyclist.com/whats-new.html).

What’s New manages to compress every great aspect (and a couple of the malicious ones) of the internets into one almost-weekly column that never fails to illuminate some aspect of cycling’s ever murkier philosophy.

An appreciation of history? [Tick](http://www.competitivecyclist.com/whats-new/the-two-best-bike-racing-articles-you-ve-never-read.284.html). Teasing Titles? [Always](http://www.competitivecyclist.com/whats-new/a-little-ditty-about-jacky-durand.392.html). Business analysis? [When necessary](http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CCY?PAGE=WHATS_NEW&WHATS_NEW.ID=230&PRSET_VERSION=1&RSS=TRUE). Most importantly: An undying appreciation of the convoluted world of cycling snobbery? Without fail.

It is through the What’s New column that I first noticed the accidental poetry of Google Translate. An entry, now lost to an unsearchable archive, noted the aesthetic of minute-by-minute commentary when plugged through Google’s ubiquitous babel fish:

Sanchez starts attack.

Rider behind, face of hurts. Why

camera bike too close?

It is strange that a person in the most commercialised sector of the cycling world (Competitive Cyclist is an American store) is given such a rarified position within its media? Absolutely, but with prose like this (about doping, of all things) any manner of sins can be forgiven:

“Concupiscence is a ferocious thing in all of its manifestations — shaved-down Russian hottie, craning before the Nikon, you’re no different from the needle-stuck Belorussian neo-pro readying for the GP Plouay. Both take dark pleasure in their acts of rule-bending; both are brainwashed by the infallibility of youth; and both are terrified of what dismal future awaits back home if this doesn’t work out.”

Read What’s New, your life will be better for it.

A short, google-able list of cycling sites (because hyperlinks would take up too much of my afternoon): Competitive Cyclist’s What’s New /// Embrocation Cycling Journal /// Bianchista /// Big Ring Riding /// Cycle EXIF Update /// Cyclocosm /// El cyclista /// Luxe Wheelworks /// Speedbloggen /// Velogogo ///

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