Off-the-bike Thoughts

This is the second Saturday I’ve decided to stay off the bike for the majority of the day. Hope I’m not coming down with something….

I’ve been pondering a bit about cycling. Particularly, the marketability. While every amateur cyclist here in SoCal is willing to praise and promote any sponsor on the market, I have indifferent opinions towards this concept. Full disclosure: the race team I ride for has many sponsors and while I am thankful for their contributions to products, it is not in my character to saturate my being and most of my social interactions as one big commercial for (insert brand of choice.) Perhaps it’s because I’m less affectionate towards most people. There has got to be some way to have my reclusive cake and eat it too.

One of the examples that first comes to mind is Mario Cipollini. Second disclosure: I am in no way, shape, or form an expert of any degree when it comes to this talented rider and his background or upbringing. On face value, I am clearly aware of his success when he was in his prime. He was known not only for this sprinting talents, but an attitude all his own that wasn’t always friendly. Any Youtube search will bring up a scene of him either winning a race, or showing a more frustrated, less PR friendly behavior. I can only imagine he has been fined multiple times for these types of acts, but I never once recalled him jumping from team to team for his behavior. I’m not suggesting we all go on rampages and let the wild, and more emotional side out during every bike race. I’m providing an example of an alternative approach to a marketing campaign.

Since his times racing in the pro peloton, “Super Mario” now sells boutique bikes catered to the 1% who have a fetish for all things Italian. Be that as it may, he has cleaned up his act and has sponsored a women’s team as seen here. Shifting from one end of the marketing spectrum to the other has shown that both options have the potential for success. Insert Star Wars dark side, light side analogy¬†somewhere in this paragraph.

It seems like most sponsors are afraid to show such bold opinions in the world of cycling (at least from a road cyclist’s perspective.) I’m not saying we should saturate the market with a bunch of sassy divas, but perhaps show that more humble and slightly humorous approaches to marketing grab another type of target market’s attention much like yours truly. I for one am getting a little tired of the pretentious brands that cater to the has-beens and never-weres of the world. Insert slow-mo of a road cyclist in muggy, rainy weather, riding without a helmet, out of saddle with a five o’clock shadow, looking away from the slightly dim-lit camera on some windy road. Much like the light show at Disneyland, it was fun when you saw it the first few times as a kid, but has now lost it’s magic.

I could be the only one who feels this way. Perhaps I’m letting my inner grumpy old man get the best of me. Or maybe it’s the cynic finally voicing how tired it is from seeing everyone conform to this repetitive approach to marketing the world of (I’m gonna narrow things down here) road cycling. The reason I do this is because other disciplines seem to have a better balance of humble, less stuck-up and ultra competitive at their disposal. Part of me hopes I’m not the only one who feels this way about the slowly changing world of bikes. I think I’m done for now. Time to get back on the bike and back on my routine.



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