Monday, April 1, 2013

Fantasy Cycling

I read recently that sports bookies are preparing to start taking bets on "fantasy" football teams.  I didn't care enough about it to read the article to understand how that would work, but it is clear evidence that "fantasy" sports are a very real part of American sports culture.  You can put together fantasy teams with football and baseball, but also basketball, hockey and probably in Iceland on curling teams.

It has not, however, caught on within cycling for one very good reason.  Cyclists in America are too busy living out the fantasy that they themselves are professional riders to take the time to invest in pretending that they are managers of other professionals.  If you don't take this idea seriously, consider the time, energy and money devoted by a very real percentage of racers.  Hell, even rank amateurs have been hit with doping scandals, where the most a rider wins is likely to be their entry fee back along with a water bottle and an energy bar.  Why would any rational person spend several thousand dollars on performance enhancing drugs in order to win $10 of schwag? Here is the answer - no rational person would, but a person deeply invested in a fantasy world might.

As a result, this article in VeloNews came as no surprise at all to me - Pro Bike Express gives amateurs the professional treatment.  This is a service running in Colorado that will serve as your professional team mechanic, but just for YOU - transporting your bike(s) to races, setting them up, providing tents with food/drink, cleaning them during cyclocross races, doing the hand-up and then cleaning them up, servicing/repairing them and hauling them to your next event.  Sounds suspiciously like being a professional bike rider - with the key difference that in one scenario you are getting a paycheck along with this service based on your skill at the sport and in the other you are writing a check for this based purely on your checkbook and the delusion that this is what you need.

Now, I want to be clear that I have no problem with the company providing this service.  Where there is a willing customer, there will be a willing supplier.  Just like I don't blame Snooki or the folks who produce Jersey Shore.  No, instead, I blame you.  You shouldn't turn on your TV and watch bloated idiots drunkenly stagger around trading sexually transmitted diseases and you shouldn't pay someone to treat you like a professional, when you are, in reality, not one.

If you can't wrench your own bike and don't have a buddy, a significant other, a team or someone who you collaboratively work with to deal with bike transitions during a cyclocross race, then you aren't the type of person who should be there at all.  You shouldn't be welcome there and the fact that you can pay someone to wash your bike and do a hand-up during a lap shouldn't mean that it is acceptable.

Apparently we have reached a point where money easily replaces commitment and sense.  I suppose the examples of that are too numerous to be worthwhile to list, but this is the logical extreme while stores stock $15,000 bikes that are IDENTICAL, if not actually lighter, than the bikes ridden by the pros.  Quick reminder - this is supposed to be a hobby and some fun, not a way-stop on your mid-life crisis.  You aren't a pro.  You are very, very unlikely to have had the chops to be one even if you had traded in business school or a job for racing when you were young.  Just accept it.  And, if you do, find a buddy to do your next hand-up, or learn to live without it.  Except in your fantasy world.

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