Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sensory Depravation: Eyes Wide Open, Ears Wide Shut

Many of us have an uncomfortable relationship with advertising. This is because, most of the time, we simply do not know what to make of its approach. Either it comes off as too sneaky (the "product placement" that hovers somewhere between paid mention and genuine endorsement) or too overt (the ubiquitous multi-million dollar campaign, the overly quirky spokesperson, or the tacky fast food tie-in), and the result is that you feel like the conventioneer in the hotel bar who isn't quite sure if the woman he's talking to is a prostitute.

Sometimes, though, advertising is relatively straightforward, and this can be refreshing. One example of straightforward advertisement is professional cycling team sponsorship. It's simple: A company gives a bunch of riders some money, and in return the riders put the company's name on the jerseys. There's very little pretense, and the company doesn't even really have to have anything to do with cycling. The company gets exposure, the riders get paid, and everybody wins. (Unless of course the team doesn't win, in which case everybody loses.)

When cycling team sponsorship does get funny though is when the team and the sponsor try to fabricate a connection between the product and cycling that isn't really there, or else embellish one that is. This is generally done in the archaic medium known as the "press release." One would think that in this age of blogs and social networking and seemingly infinite information outlets that the press release would have gone the way of the newsboy shouting "Read all about it!" and yielded to something more organic, but the fact is it's still with us and the quotes are just as stilted as ever. Take this recent quote from Jonathan Vaughters concerning Garmin-Slipstream's acquisition of Transitions Optical as a co-sponsor:

“Our riders are constantly going through different lighting conditions while training and racing. If we can increase visual acuity and reduce visual fatigue, that gives us a big advantage on the road,” said Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of Slipstream Sports, the sports management company that owns the team. “Like the team, Transitions is driven by innovation and a commitment to excellence. We are thrilled to work with them.”

Obviously, there is a pretty strong connection between eyewear and cycling, since eye protection is important, and even more crucially you need to be able to see. However, the pitch goes from sincere to hotel bar come-on when Vaughters says that, "If we can increase visual acuity and reduce visual fatigue, that gives us a big advantage on the road." Are other teams so hampered by their eyewear that the 2010 Tour de France is all going to come down to who can see best? Or have Transitions Optical pioneered lenses that become rose-tinted when the team is sucking?

Even more far-fetched is the part about "visual fatigue." Is squinting really siphoning that much energy from the peloton? Do most teams not already have hats and glasses to combat this? If anything, I thought visual fatigue was a problem for people who sit in front of computers all day, which would mean that following the Tour de France is actually more visually fatiguing than riding it. Also, does "visual fatigue" just mean the eyes, or does it extend to the entire face? Sure, your expression can either hide from or broadcast to your competitors certain clues about your condition, but when Thomas Voeckler screws up his face like Mavic screwed up the R-Sys, could it also be costing him precious race-winning watts? Is expressionless the new aerodynamic?

If so then better eyewear is really just the beginning, and teams will soon find new ways to induce that energy-saving bored look. Riders will listen to Garrison Keillor audiobooks during team time trials. They'll dispense with adrenaline-charged pre-race music and instead listen to the Flaming Lips. Maybe they'll even stop swallowing their own saliva, and will instead employ those suction devices from the dentist, or else develop aerodynamic drool cups specially designed for faces totally flaccid and in repose.

"We are thrilled to work with them," Vaughters says of Transitions. I'm certainly glad to see more companies sponsoring cycling, but I do hope the thrill wears off before the 2010 season, since that look of excitement could cost the team a lot of races. Either way, though, Vaughters and his riders will at least be "palping" some serious visual acuity:

But it's not just the cycling teams that like to give their sponsors too much credit for providing them with a race-winning edge. Sponsors also like to invoke the team to show how they're similarly infused with the spirit of teamwork. "We share similar goals rooted in innovation and ethics," says the president of Transitions. Certainly there's nothing wrong with this; after all, it's partly what they're paying for. But they should also keep in mind that not everybody follows professional cycling for the same reasons. Some people watch it for the sporting drama and some watch it for, well, other things. For example, there's plenty of interest in Liz Hatch, but it has little to do with her palmarès:


And lest I be accused of sexism, male cyclists are similarly objectified, as you can see in this video entitled "Hot cycling butt part 6:"

While I lacked the temerity to view parts 1-5, I'm operating under the assumption that the subject matter is similar. In any case, it's certainly ironic that the Crédit Agricole team should travel all the way from France for the 2008 Tour of California (a race which included some riders' worst-ever day on a bike) only to have their posteriors surreptitiously videotaped by someone called "Lycraperv." I'm sure that, way back when CA started sponsoring the team, the words "toned asses" appeared nowhere in the press release. (Though I'm also sure that, before they ended their sponsorship, they would have placed this video in the "Any publicity is good publicity" file.)

And if "visual acuity" is the future of cycling, then auditory impairment may very well be its demise--at least according to this article which was forwarded to me by a reader:

I agree that listening to music on an iPod or similar device while cycling is a bad idea. (Notice that I said "similar device"--I will not impugn the reputation of the Discman, as this is the Lone Wolf's player of choice and it would insult him by association.) However, I also think it's important to look at the broader context. As you can see from the high-locked bike in the photo, many of the people who ride while listening to iPods also ride brakeless fixed-gears. (They ride with iPods because their understanding of cycling comes entirely from watching fixed-gear videos, and so they believe that you can't ride a bike without a constant soundtrack.) So isn't it just as reasonable to say that brakeless fixed-gears are the problem? Or, conversely, if you narrow the context down you can say that what they're listening to is the problem. These so-called "zombies" are probably listening to soporific music like the Flaming Lips. While this may be good for reducing "facial fatigue," it's also not good for awareness, and might explain the zombie-like expressions. Either way, "zombies" is a bad name for these iPod-wearing fixed-gear riders, since "zombies" eat the brains of others but the "zombie cyclists" seem mostly to be hurting themselves. I think what the article really means is "conformists."

Still, as I said, riding while listening to headphones is a bad idea. The exception, of course, is if you're riding on a stationary trainer, as you might do if you're powering a Christmas tree in Copenhagen:

Another reader forwarded me this article, and it proves once again that Copenhagen burns with the smugness of a thousand Portlands. And if Portland can't compete with Copenhagen, what hope does New York have? If only I wasn't so visually fatigued maybe I'd recruit some helpers, borrow a few Segals, and fire up a menorah:


102 comments:

Anonymous said...

The winner?


Dave

Anonymous said...

podium

Anonymous said...

top ten

adamfajardo said...

third?

Anonymous said...

podium!

Malcolm said...

top ten?

grog said...

got your nipple wrench ready?

streepo said...

Net pot!!!

Luck E. Seven said...

iPod Zombies taste like chicken.


A

leroy said...

It is so like really, really hard to keep the candles lit on the menorah as you ride. I speak from experience.

Anonymous said...

10th

erik k said...

mmm zombie chicken

shortshifter said...

Top 10....

Lindsay said...

Top 10!

Lindsay said...

aww got swooped on.

Dog Shot said...

Top 10. Nice.

mander said...

Pack fill...Sigh

Dog Shot said...

Uh, one of the 15 in the top 10? (Kind of like one of the 30 universities in the best 20 in the country).

Anonymous said...

not today

kale said...

Someone needs to get the Lone Wolf a Minidisc for Kwanzaa. I hear they're the next big thing.

bike locks said...

The next step in sabotaging your opponent will be to equip one's bike with tons of knogs blinking at different intervals in order to cause riders behind visual fatigue at a faster rate.

Anonymous said...

Bike Burrito fell off into spokes...given same time?

streepo said...

Do my brains taste like chicken to the zombie?

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the cycling butts, Snob!

kale said...

People still listen to Slipknot?

leroy said...

And don't get me started about how hard it is to hold a lit menorah while riding in the drops.

I think that's where Flaming Lips got their name.

mikeweb said...

Happy 12/1 everybody!!

ringcycles said...

Thank you snob, I have a new training goal for 2010 now, total facial flacidness.

rezado said...

hi-rez

Anonymous Coward said...

A knog menorah! I smell a lucrative sponsorship deal!

frilly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rural 14 said...

premature ant 2nd!

rural 14 said...

premature ant 2nd!

mikeweb said...

I sense that the search term 'Liz Hatch' is seeing a lot of traffic on the innernets right now.

Slappy said...

good to see some advertising on the side of snobbbys site for honda steering dampening, man that would be a sweet addition to someones fixxee

CommieCanuck said...

the top 25 comments can be ignored.

spiff1 said...

History lesson:
http://www.brooklyncycling.com/

Astroluc said...

I <3 Liz Hatch...

...that being said; I H8 "iPod Zombie Cyclists". For that matter, I hate "iPod Zombie joggers""iPod Zombie Rollerbladers" and "iPod Zombie dog walkers" just about as much!

For the love of GOD people... if you are going to take up the entire path, at least leave your ears unblocked so you can hear someone calling out to pass!

/rant

DEAF RIDE

Anonymous said...

liz hatch gave me a creeper, think i will google her.

Astroluc said...

how could any of you not know the most well know of the Vanderkittens?

FORS HAME

CommieCanuck said...

Do iPod Zombie Cyclists listen to Rob Zombie?

I listen to podcasts of Sir Laurence Olivier reading classic Penthouse letters .

Anonymous said...

I love that Liz Hatch's images page includes photos of Richard Hatch and Orrin Hatch.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't blinking Knogs cause the Garmin riders' Transition lenses to alternately lighten and darken at inappropriate times and places? I smell peloton sabotage in Garmin's future.

hillbilly said...

I'll take this finish, I am still recovering from the end of cyclocross season, not that I raced, but...

right back atcha mikeweb!

astro - the 'having said that' made me spit coffee, kudos.

christian said...

I don't always read blogs, but when I do, I read BikesnobNYC.

He is the most interesting cyclist in the world.

Cogitoergosum said...

Faces totally flacid and in repose = the new non-plussed look

mikeweb said...

CC:

Ipod Zombies may or may not listen to Rob Zombie, but tonight I'll be seeing him live:

http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/theaters/hammersteinballroom/theater.php

OnTheDick said...

a+

mikeweb said...

So I guess that makes me a "Zombie" zombie as opposed to a conformist zombie.

esau bin necker said...

aw fuck liz hatch has been pedaling her titties for as long as she bin pedaling

jolene has better tits and they aint bolt ons neither

ed said...

MMMM BRNZ

Aaron said...

That cleavage must create a lot of drag. But on the other hand by ventilating the twins' surface area she's radiating some of her extra body heat, helping her to maintain a lower body temperature while she's cycling. I wonder if this very question comes up in training often?

Anonymous said...

The photo of Liz Hatch should be titled "Nice Bike Rack."

Anonymous said...

you're missing the shamash, Snob.

Nathan said...

I think somebody has a Lips crush.

Sprocketboy said...

Be nice to Liz Hatch, the Anna Kournikova of Cycling. Except, of course, Anna was always ahead of Lance Armstrong in earnings and Liz might be somewhat further behind.

Udder said...

Jonathan Vaughters gives me visual and auditory fatigue.

Also, I remember reading about some nutty professor-type father who hooked up the TV in his house to a stationary bike so his kids would either watch less TV or become super fit. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I would love to be Liz Hatch's seatpost sans the seat.

d. fofonov said...

Are you getting it yet? Rim jobs?

Huy americanyetzchi.

realtits rachel said...

Only fake-o cleavage does that. Gross. But thanks for the nice bahootah shot.

I miss my hometown, sitting on the porch, watching the cyclists go by, shouting like a dirty old man... except at dirty young men.

cornhole said...

Speaking of Liz Hatch's seatpost:

A man found a lamp and the therin disclosed genie who granted him one wish.

Said the man: I want to be uptight, out of sight and in the groove.

Said the genie: Poof. You're a tampon.

Anonymous said...

at least one lone wolf has upgraded to the minidisk:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaeeMh7qFhY

(2:50)

Anonymous said...

One of Cadel "don't step on my dog" Evan's main sponsor is a pharmaceuticals company.

Of all sponsors, they probably had the hardest time tying together their products to cycling, as pro cycling and pharmaceuticals couldn't be further apart. Really...

bikesgonewild said...

...to be fair, anna kournikova started playing tennis (like most tennis pros) at a very young age...she was eventually seduced by the fame, money & bright lights that go along w/ that sport & ultimately decided to just be a "personality"...

...liz hatch, i guarantee you, like all women that race bikes is under no illusion about the "grandeur & glamor" of women's bicycle racing...much harder sport, relatively no money, constantly under the pressure of serious injury & little acclaim...

...liz is relatively new to the sport, she's a gamer & rather than sit back & be comfortable w/ the domestic scene (which is understandable for a lot of racers, both men & women), she's one of the women who's willing to step outside the box (don't even say it, you fucks) & try & cut it by racing on a european team...

...so, props to the effort & dedication...i hope she totally succeeds...

...& while lizzer hatch is a "personality" in our sport, she's also a extremely cool chick...besides, she does have a nice rack (hey, shaddup...one of you fucks were gonna rip me if i didn't state the obvious !!!)...

Anonymous said...

Liz Hatch > Kara Goucher

Daddo said...

i took a serious detour into liz hatch territory

Christian Side Hug said...

Mediocrity can be made up for with good looks.

Anonymous said...

I don't want the Christian Side Hug meme to get entwined with bike culture.

jolene said...

tammy thomas is way hotter than that skinny bitch with them knockers

Anonymous said...

From the Tiwtter Oracle of lance:


Just finished a chilly ride in Central Park w/ BSNYC.
40 minutes ago from UberTwitter

ant1 said...

Liz Hatch is a yankees fan.

JUST SAYN

other than that, i agree with bgw. but then again, i don't see anything wrong with the anatomy-focused comments. bike racks and flower boxes become fair topics of conversation when you post half naked pictures of yourself on the internet. and yes, i would love to put my beefy downtube in her flower box.

bikesgonewild said...

...dammit, ant1...can't you see i'm trying to foster a relationship here...you know, so i can "...put my beefy downtube in her flower box."...

...actually, lizzer is safe w/ me...i've even met her folks & while i guarantee you i can ride faster than her dad, he's from texas & so i can also guarantee that he can shoot a lot faster & straighter than i can ride...

...just sayin'...

ant1 said...

sorry for the cock block bgw. trust me, i know how it feels. i got cock blocked on another one of my cycling related internet hangouts last week. my target was Emilia Fahlin. for those of you who don't know, Emilia is like kara goucher but twenty times hotter, and a badass cyclist instead of a runner.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of sketchy advertising, look what the OC is up to nowadays:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Solvang-Century-Silver-Anniversary-baseball-cap_W0QQitemZ320456317782QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUS_SM_Fan_Shop?hash=item4a9caf5b56

tom said...

"I thought visual fatigue was a problem for people who sit in front of computers all day..." Haven't you always said that road racers spend lots of money on cycling computers. And, when not climbing or sprinting, is it not true that cyclists spend a sizable portion of their time with their derrieres in a saddle? I think this could be a break through. Next, we need to get them orthopedic grips to combat carpel tunnel. I would also recommend that the peloton pull over and walk around for 10-15 minutes every hour or so. This sport just got way more interesting.

Sam said...

Dude. "Deprivation". To be deprived.

Sam said...

Dude. "Deprivation". To be deprived.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Sam,

"Depravation." To be depraved. It was a bad pun alluding to the Liz Hatch photo and the CA video. As Pee Wee Herman once said, "I meant to do that."

--BSNYC

Reed Enwright said...

LIZH ATCH

heath said...

one, and two, and three, kick!

Salty Seattle said...

For the record, riding with 36C/D or larger should earn bonus points at the pro-level. You'd never know the extra equipment it actually requires!

Unfortunately, a lot of female cyclists in the pro peleton, are really best described as smaller-sized men--No offense intended, if you're not! And they give the wrong impression to the various OEMs.--Damnit! Liz's opinion's on 'Women's Specific Design' marketing is one of the few I would trust.

She may seem mediocre in the 'recorded' standings, but UCI doesn't grade on a 'curve', just yet. If they did, ...shit.. I'm missing out on bank!

Makes down-hilling more interesting too.

Anonymous said...

Antoine, beefy downtube my ass. You are, after all, French.

Anonymous said...

Zombies? How about Phonies?

kerry said...

I think that there should be more hetero women/gay men riding in the pelaton. If I had all those CA buns in front of me I doubt Id achieve any sort of 'visual fatigue'. Indeed many a non-motivated ride was enhanced by trying to catch up to a pair of shorts, speeding ahead of me.
I love cycling. When your sick of of tactics, there's lycra..

Anonymous said...

lemy sideburn

Anonymous said...

I bet that guy is listening to tips about how to be bachelor of the month. Or Creed....

Love Booby Julie

bikesgonewild said...

...as we used to say "may the baby jesus open your eyes & shut your mouth"...

...still not a bad thought...

Coastiedouche said...

YESSS! Now that would "make cycling sexier".Not taking away the pursuit in track racing as heard lately from the geniuses at the U.C.I.Keep the pursuit and other races off the chpping block and have uci regulations dictate women racers have low cut cleavage enhancing jerseys and or those rubberized skinsuits for team USA olympics circa 84.Speaking of which.. you old school road racers remember Marienne Burglund? She was a pro cyclist was from Sweden and VERY HOT.

coastiedouche said...

Oh yeah.Although riding w an IPOD is pretty good for training,I do think this IPOD zombie phenomenon is a great tool in the natural selection of hipster douchbags.Just think, the combination of ears being deaf to oncoming traffic and 'hoodie' sweatshirts and no brakes makes for a great accident waiting to happen.Cars will thin out the heard of poseurs and leave the roads open to real riders.

Harold Solomon said...

Though not a professional ad this guy has something going on here: http://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/bik/1490745898.html

Den 8e Kaptenen said...

I must say, that some riders also get more attention because of their attitude. Most roadrats tend to be really boring and have the same haircuts etc, that´s why some tend to make favourites of liz hatch, shaun palmer,steve peat, kabush etc. Who doesn´t fit into that boring image of cycling.


We all try to be good rolemodels bla bla but these people who seem a bit more human, are in my mind healthier.

Santa Clara domestic violence lawyer said...

Who's going to make the video for Hipster Hanukkah video?

ant1 said...

anon 9:41 - sorry, i'm not interested in beefy downtubing your ass.

Anonymous said...

i'm pretty sure that Liz Hatchs "enhancements" probably don't "enhance" her "results" in a bicycle "race".

Anonymous said...

best entertainment in awhile thanks. no she doesn't race all that well --miss hatch, but she is hot no doubt. as she is even quoted as saying something like..."whats wrong with being a product? i see no shame in that"
as for going euro ---Lotto is a 2nd tier euro team most u.s. women with talent wouldn't bother with, and most u.s. teams wouldn't bother with Liz...
the real deal:
Mari Holden- retired and kickin ass
Odessa Gunn-retired. all about Levi
Lynn Gaggioli-- left racing. hot.
Alison Starnes --now she makes Liz look like chump change.

and of course Emilia Fahlin. the golden girl of cycling...who doesnt have to flaunt it. she has results that speak for themselves.

Granny's 30 said...

BSNYC...you'll love this one...

http://www.examiner.com/x-2429-Bicycle-Transportation-Examiner~y2009m12d1-Naked-cyclists-star-in-new-Flaming-Lips-video

NonFabricSpecificPerv said...

I like that the poster of Hot Cycling Butt Parts 1-7 over at You Tube has the screen name "Lycraperv". NICE!

Pennsylvania workers compensation lawyer said...

Ohh, my eyes, I can only see in front of me to the left right and the range in which i can swivel my neck. I need new glasses.

electric bikes said...

wonderfull~~

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