At least as far as middle-aged men are concerned:
However, these nine-to-five road racers have been changing lanes of late. In fact, they've veered off-course so dramatically that they've left the carriageway altogether. For the mild-mannered middle-aged rider is increasingly eschewing the flat tarmac for off-road trails and cross-country courses. In other words, the MAMIL has gone muddy.
One reason for this is that these so-called MAMILs are finding road riding boring:
"After several years on the road," says Bradley, "I found that I enjoyed riding downhill on dirt tracks much more than I did riding uphill on roads. For me, road cycling feels like something you only do for fitness – there isn’t much excitement or thrill.
What? No excitement or thrill?!? Bradley must be doing it wrong, because there's nothing quite like tickling the undercarriage of Fred "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" speed on a well-tuned Fred sled.
In fact it's so exhilarating that the original video warrants another viewing:
The "Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" comes in at about 52 seconds in case you're wondering.
Another reason middle-aged men are heeding the call of the mountain bike trails is that there's a whole bunch of new expensive crap for them to buy:
"But mountain biking is the complete opposite," the 44-year old continues, "and, because good quality mountain bikes can cost a fortune – up to £7,000 in some cases – it’s increasingly becoming a sport for the middle-aged man.
I'm not quite sure it's fair to imply mountain bikes are any more expensive than road bikes, and in fact I'd argue that the bicycle industry has done a fantastic job of making it equally easy to spend ridiculous amounts of money on stupid stuff you don't need whether you're a road weenie or a mountain dork.
Certainly though it's true that once a middle-aged man has gone all the way down the rabbit hole of carbon wheels and electronic shifting and aero bars and power meters and coaching and all the rest of it, eventually he's going to dig clear through to the other side of the earth and emerge blinking in the daylight again. At this point he'll have only two choices:
1) Wait around for the next must-have technological development while his bankroll burns a hole in the pocket of his Rapha jersey;
2) Start digging a completely new rabbit hole by picking up mountain biking and all the full-suspension #whapressureyourunning wankery that comes with it.
Plus, what's not being said here is that mountain biking will also allow them to spend money on their cars, or even provide them with excuses to buy new cars, since undoubtedly they'll be driving to all their rides now and they'll need an appropriate sport utility vehicle in order to park on that small dirt patch by the trailhead. Then they'll need a new racking system, and coolers for their lunch, of course an air compressor because you can't use a floor pump for a mountain bike, everybody knows that.
And then there's the safety gear:
"And it's not only the bike," says Bradley. "I wear a full face helmet, body armour and specialist heavy duty clothing when I ride downhill – which also costs a fortune! But it’s worth spending the money for good quality kit because, as fun as the sport is, it does take its toll on your body – I’ve had four operations in the last four years that attest to that!"
Okay, if you need surgery every year because you keep crashing your bike you need to consider three (3) possibilities:
1) Your safety equipment sucks;
2) You suck;
3) Maybe you'd be able to control your bike better if you weren't clad in all that armor.
Most likely though it's due to a combination of the three, with 75% attributable to #2 and the remaining 25% split more or less evenly between #1 and #3.
Then again, it would appear that these middle-aged men like having surgery, because here's another one who can't seem to ride a bike without destroying a part of himself:
"I've seen massive changes in health and safety in this country," continues Briggs. "And, in a progressively more sanitised and safety-conscious society, I find that off-road biking provides a genuine physical challenge and real risks: I’ve shattered my ankle in the past, and other injuries are common.
"And I think this danger is what attracts middle-aged men to the sport. There are technical challenges as you ride over difficult, rough and steep terrain and obstacles. It's one of the last remaining hold-outs of real bravery. And that, coupled with it being more fun than exercising in a gym, is why I think older men are benefitting from the adrenaline rush."
Wow, really? Rushing into a burning building to rescue a child is brave. Riding a £7,000 mountain bike into a tree and heading to the ER on an annual basis is just stupid.
But what if you're a middle-aged man with lots of money to spend who's pining cycling adventures in the woods, yet you're still weirdly averse to having reconstructive surgery on a regular basis? Well, fortunately for you there's the ultimate foraging bike:
It comes complete with all the tools you need for a day of bike-based foraging in the countryside, followed by consumption of the fruits of your labour. In other words, it's equipped with ample storage space and a selection of pots, pans, utensils and even a barbecue so you can find and eat your food while travelling through the countryside on two wheels.
Yes, if you've ever stood in a Williams-Sonoma and thought, "Boy, I wish I could ride this whole store into forest!" then this is the bike for you:
The bike is of course only one part of the equation here. It comes equipped with all the tools of the trade the adept forager could ever need, plus all the equipment a dedicated outdoor chef could need to prepare and eat the foraged treasures. This includes:
A fire-pit BBQ
Upcycled pots and pans
Plates and utensils made from pine tree fibres
Stainless steel water bottle and thermos
Chopping board, made of recycled boat decking no less
Assorted Opinel knives including a mushroom knife, sharpening stone, foraging hook
Detachable wicker basket
What, no wine fridge?
It says something about our profound stupidity as a species that we go through all this trouble to have urbane dining experiences in the woods, yet when we're in the city we spend a fortune to eat at quasi-rustic farm-to-table restaurants designed to make us feel like we're eating on top of an upended crate in a barn.
Yes, it's our constant desire to do exactly the opposite of whatever we're doing at a given moment that drives all human innovation, and it's this relentless dissatisfaction that will ultimately cause us to completely destroy both the planet and ourselves.
Speaking of middle-aged men, Chris Horner has found a new team:
After months of uncertainty, Chris Horner has finally found a team for the 2016 season, signing on with the Lupus Racing Team. The news comes days after Slovenian Jure Kocjan, who had been slated to lead the up and coming squad, was provisionally suspended by the UCI after one of his 2012 doping control samples was re-analysed and found positive for EPO. The team fired Kocjan upon hearing the news.
Okay, this guy wins the 2013 Vuelta a España at 41 years old in what was one of the most audacious displays of doping in the recent history of the sport. You'd think he'd recognize his luck and cash out of the sport, but instead he apparently wants to be cycling's equivalent of this guy:
Indeed, it's not hard to imagine the vibe at the training camp:
("That's what I like about these bike racers; I get older, they stay the same age.")
Then again, Horner was probably inspired by Jens Voigt, another old doper who milked it for as long as he could--though Voigt was far more savvy and enjoyed enduring popularity due to his endearing German accent and his shrewd method of riding aggressively while not actually winning anything. (Cycling fans love nothing more than futility.)
Now a reader informs me that Jens has released his own line of clothing named after his most annoying catch phrase:
You know, there's a big difference between the completely voluntary pain Voigt experienced while riding his bike for money and actual debilitating physical emotional pain, which is why any t-shirt logo should pass the hospital test. It's simple: before buying any t-shirt, ask yourself, "Would I feel like an asshole wearing this in a hospital?" In the case of this particular shirt the answer is a clear "Yes," since it would clearly be offensive to people who are suffering (injured MAMILs making their annual trip to the ER excluded).
Lastly, Specialized is laying off three percent of its workforce:
“We are tightening up our structure and focusing it on three key areas: innovation, marketing, and supply chain,” said Mike Sinyard, Specialized founder and CEO. “We are investing in new R&D space in Switzerland, Taiwan, and Morgan Hill that will keep us at the forefront of cycling innovation. We are focusing on marketing that will expand the global market for our brand and help our retailers drive traffic and sales. And finally, we are investing in our supply chain to ensure we are delivering the best product at the best price to riders and our retailers. All of this is an investment in our future.”
So basically they're reducing weight while increasing performance?
How very "meta."