watching cycling is a joke

Photo: © CJ Farquharson

I say this with the kindest of hearts*, and the most hopeful of wishes. Really I do. But it is.

Yesterday/night/in the past recent, there was Stage 2 of the Giro Donne in Italy and Stage 1/Prologue thingy of the Tour de France in Belgium.

Let’s start with the Donne. Marianne Vos is dominating early on. She is in the Pink and not even complaining about having had her bike nicked right before the race. And Clara Hughes (my newly/arbitrarily selected rider that I am supporting in the team with the least ugly kit) was bringing in second place, proving that she’s well-deserving of her umpteenth place in the Canadian Olympic team.

But it’s rather hard to feel connected to the race. Pietro gave it a good hard crack but at one point he thought I was looking for a JOB at Rai Sports 2, like it was my childhood dream or something, not actually a position that would require two very new and unobtainium-level skill sets – speaking Italian and knowing squat about sport. And Rai Sport 2 TV streaming thing was at a weird time and I couldn’t watch it or work out the time difference. Again, no speaka italiano. There are a couple of stories out there about it, but it’s hard to get the flavour.

In contrast, even though I was in the perilous weird position of falling asleep while watching the Tour, doing my radio assignment thingy, paying my bills on the internet, and having a bath with a beer, then simply leaving the TV on while fitfully dozing,** I still know what happened in the prologue and actually found it rather exciting. Which is saying a LOT for a time trial, which is basically as boring as it sounds when someone explains to you what that is.

I can safely say that I have opinions on what took place, that I love the way Chavanel rides, that he corners better than Julia Roberts in a Lotus Esprit, that Bradley Wiggins did lay down some serious bookie territory, that I was bummed for Tony Martin, that I have begun to find Cadel’s riding style curiously emotive*** and I Was Asleep For Most Of It.

Fabian Cancellera is so impressive.

This is because of the Media. Because you cover this event like a rash. I can see it blogged, podcasted, replayed, extended replayed, remixed and rehashed. This is a good thing – and from your perspective, Media, I am now keenly aware of the Vitamins, although less so of the Skoda. Because I have now seen a few years of the Tour, and I speak French (not ITALIAN), I would one day like to come and stand alongside the road and wave the moving advertisements along, I would like to see the castles, paying the admission fee, eat the Gabriel Gate suggested items, pump money into the global economy, increase my carbon debt and generally have a good time. Then I will ride my bike more, reduce my risk of heart disease, minimise my burden on the public health purse, contribute to a more productive and connected society and generally comply with the compact of statehood.

See, how horrible it is when we have to admit what this is really about?

But back to the joke bit.

What I meant was that, it’s not all about the punchline – I want to more than just the fact than Marianne Vos won and that Clara Hughes came second. It’s the build up – the knock knock needs to come before the “No, but I’d like some peanuts”. We need to know that the three rabbis walk into a bar, so that we can leave before you say something irritating. I have said it before, cycling was named as one of the few sports that my father considered inherently stupid. So, the fact that I adore cycling as much as I do, is that I watched cycling beside people who loved it. I sat with friends and lovers, and lovers and friends, and endured bizarre races that eventually began to make sense, I got into the story behind the lycra, the drugs, the drama, the damage, the delusion and the great, silly excitement that is cycling. Like an audience member at a stand-up night, I began to feel like an insider joke was becoming genuinely enjoyable to me, I laughed along. Not “at”, but along with the spectacle and sport. AND, if I am as honest about this issue as I think I ever will be, I prefer watching cycling because, although the mainstream coverage is dominated by men at least they just seem to take ridiculous drugs rather than getting together in seasonal bouts of gang rape.

Oops. This post just got funny ha ha. I see.

ANYWAY. I’m just asking, could someone please pod cast the Giro Donne? I would like to know what is going on. I think Clara Hughes may have Jam Tart and Marianne is a boss. And I would absolutely go and eat pasta in ITALY, while taking my vitamins.

*and a giant glass of white wine, frickin ABC jazz TV radio thingy and Filipino foodies, so potentially what will follow is spawned by pretension and high sugar content edibles.

**worst move ever, I was TRYING to go to sleep, but leaving the TV on was a moronic way to do it.

*** this is saying much

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

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