Women and elephants

March 16, 2012

Here are some intriguing questions which I have been pondering this week: If a Strava user bags enough King Of The Mountain segments that aren’t actually mountains, does he become King Of The Hill? If you expose a fox to huge amounts of radiation, will its russet coat turn into “Vulpine Green” (“Don’t make Mr Fox angry. You wouldn’t want to see Mr Fox when he’s angry…”)? And what, exactly, are the local sights that pop star Alexandra Burke and her friends discovered while riding their bicycles?

That last question originally popped into my head when the Bad Boys chanteuse was promoting the Sky Rides initiative last summer. Then, like an X Factor winner, the thought vanished for months, forgotten and unmissed, only to reappear a few days ago after I heard her new single Elephant. The title of the song comes from the common phrase identifying an obvious yet previously unexpressed concern, “there’s an elephant in the room” – and in the case of a clip featuring the Hallelujah hitmaker talking about her love of cycling, the proverbial pachyderm in the immediate vicinity is that she may not actually ride a bike.

You can take a look at the clip above and decide for yourselves. What raised my eyebrow is the absence of any footage featuring Alexandra on a bike. Then my other eyebrow also went northwards when I heard her say, with all the sincerity of a practiced autocue reader: “When I can, I love to get out on my bike with my friends. It’s amazing how far we can go and see all the local sights that we never knew [weird pause] existed!” Like myself, Alexandra hails from London, the home of St Paul’s, Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge. It is unclear which, if any, of these world-famous landmarks she never knew existed, or why she apparently had to ride a bike to discover them.

But let’s be fair. The recent boom in cycling has attracted disproportionately fewer young women compared to middle-aged men, so it made sense to employ a youthful, recognisable female celebrity to encourage more of them to cycle. Good on you, Sky! You tried, at least, to do a good thing. Now if you could just deliver a gentle nudge to the organisers of the London Nocturne – the event your team won last year – and ask them to make sure they run a women’s race again, you’d be doing a good deed for many young women who already ride bikes. Cheers!

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