I know a person who spent £135 on an empty book (otherwise known as the now-discontinued leather-bound Rapha training diary). I also know someone who, before the Nespresso and similar kitchen appliances became commonplace, would ride from his home to the nearest Starbucks every time he fancied a brew rather than subject himself to the indignity of a cafetiere or instant coffee. And I know two grown men who are not the least bit embarrassed about the top tube of their Colnagos bearing the phrase “Extreme Power”, even though such a name would even be too naff to grace the packaging of a disposable razor. (“You don’t want five blades, you don’t want six, seven or eight blades – you want the closer-than-ever-before 22-blade shaving system that only the Wilkinson Extreme Power Titanium Edition With Aloe Vera Lubricating Strip can deliver…”).
Yet despite witnessing a range of unusual and frowned-upon behaviours among a variety of cyclepeople, there is one eyebrow-raising purchase that has seemingly eluded my peers: the Cyclepassion calendar. For I do not know a single person who has ever bought one.
Which, of course, isn’t to say that nobody buys the annual collection of professional female cyclists in their underwear and various other states of undress. The 2012 edition marks the seventh year of its existence, so presumably there are quite a few men interested in this sort of thing; I just don’t know any of them. What I do know, or suspect, given my extensive observations of male cycling fans over a decade-long period, is that Cyclepassion’s punters have probably all enjoyed watching fast, strong women racing in addition to watching fast, strong men. And in any case, the lack of money and exposure currently besetting women’s cycling wouldn’t be ameliorated if a very small minority chose not to display their physiques in glamour shots. So I shall not denounce or blame these men for damaging the perception of women’s cycling, although I remain open to such arguments.
What fascinates me is this: why, when the photographs are freely available on the internet, would anyone need to purchase a Cyclepassion calendar? Isn’t your interest sated, like mine is, by a quick online gawp? I would also be very interested to know what your wife or partner thinks. Do you have to hang it up in the bike shed so she doesn’t see it?
So it is in the spirit of understanding and sheer nosiness that I am now opening The Great Cyclepassion Amnesty. If you’ve purchased a Cyclepassion calendar – the 2012 edition or any other of the previous years – then get in touch. Tell me why. Your anonymity, should you request it, is assured, gentlemen.