Posts Tagged ‘UCI’

‘Beginnerism’? It’s ‘expertism’ that we don’t need

March 28, 2014

Update, April 17: Collyn has now taken her post down, but you can still read it here.

Update, March 31, 2015: It’s been a year since I wrote this post, and it looks like Collyn is still so mad about it that she’s had to make up a load of nonsense in an attempt to shoot the messenger. The simple reason why she can’t convince the world I’m a troll is because, er, I’m not. And the allegation I harass women is, of course, desperate old cobblers. Full disclosure: I blocked Collyn on Twitter years ago and have never made any attempt to contact or interact with her in any way. Also, I love the fact that the berk who offers her solidarity once bragged about carrying out an unprovoked physical assault. Be careful how you choose your friends, Col!

Collyn Ahart, the Siobhan Sharpe of women’s cycling, wrote a blogpost that has been doing the rounds recently, and there is a great deal I find odd about it. In case you are one of the few people who hasn’t come across her promotional spiel masquerading as a feminist cri-de-coeur, her key observation is this: brands and the media tend to address women cyclists as if they are all beginners, which comes across as patronising and diverts everyone’s attention away from the higher end of the spectrum. She calls this state of affairs “beginnerism” and it’s the reason why her nascent company won’t be making cycling clothing.

I would’ve thought any aspiring businessperson, if they really had spotted how badly other companies are serving their customers, would consider this an opportunity rather than a reason to retreat before they have even begun. It’s as if Collyn has come up with an elaborate, face-saving excuse because she doesn’t want to enter a crowded market and fail. Or this could be a setup for a self-regarding return to the fray at some point in the future (Hey girls! I couldn’t turn my back on you! I shall be your saviour from patronising pink lycra! And I’ll do it in, like, a totally non-patronising way!). Whatever the reason, it seems clear from Collyn’s tone – apparently “everyone” is surprised by her announcement – that we are meant to consider this a decision of great moment and import. You can decide for yourself whether or not this is the case.

Targeting entry-level riders is probably a useful strategy from a business perspective. Far fewer women than men ride bicycles, but their number is increasing as cycling generally becomes more popular, so it seems sensible that manufacturers and magazine editors would focus on what appears to be a growing part of the market. And contrary to what Collyn suggests, wasn’t targeting newcomers how her exemplar Rapha started out? As I recall, it was initially the post-Armstrong crowd who rode around with ‘PEYRESOURDE’ and ‘VENTOUX’ emblazoned in bold type beneath their manboobs, not the fanatics who had been following cycling since the days of downtube shifters and Phil Liggett’s voice crackling over a dodgy phone line. Get them when they first venture into cycling, at the very point when they’re at their most enthusiastically receptive, and you’ve got yourself a loyal customer base who will tell their mates how great you are – which in Rapha’s case helped them widen their appeal to all kinds of road cyclists, thus generating a revenue of £28million last year alone.

But instead of following the money, Collyn is following the writing of Jacques Derrida – although I think the quote she used, “the success of feminism will be its demise”, may be incorrect. I wonder if she meant, “The risk of failure of women’s studies is the risk of its very own success,” which means something else entirely. In any case, I doubt whether any successful CEO has wandered down the path of postmodern philosophy to reach a business decision, so perhaps we should wish her the best of luck with that one.

More importantly, what are we to make of her key assertion – and it is just that: an assertion, offered without any evidence at all – that focusing on beginners has a detrimental effect on encouraging women to “reach up to the next level”? I think the competitive female cyclists I’ve known over the years are smart enough and determined enough to be unaffected by what companies in the cycling industry may or may not think they ought to wear or enjoy. Moreover, it’s a bizarre statement to make so soon after the successful launch of the South East Women’s Time Trial Series, Lizzie Armitstead winning the biggest race of her career and the UCI commencing the broadcast of women’s world cup races. Of course women’s cycling needs more success to breed future inspirational successes like these, but the enemy here is lack of money and investment, not a preponderance of fuchsia jerseys in Evans and too many magazines recycling lists of 10 Top Cycling Tips For Gals.

Collyn’s major clanger, which she hastily amended, was including Jeannie Longo in her list of inspirational women, apparently not realising that the Frenchwoman has been linked to a string of doping allegations. And in what might charitably be called a brave move, she has a pop at a women’s clothing brand. It’s done in a way that makes me wonder where professional opinion ends and passive-aggressive point-scoring begins. I’m not going to get into whether their apparel is appealing or not – that’s for each woman to decide, and as Collyn mentions in her addendum, “women are hard to please,” which I think is putting it mildly. But I would say two things. Firstly, I reiterate my earlier point: if an established company really is getting things wrong, then a newcomer should show them how to do it right and reap the rewards. (Incidentally, I can’t recall Simon Mottram having a dig at, say, Endura or any other specific sportswear brand when Rapha started out, and Collyn may like to reflect why this was the case.) Secondly, I think it’s a bit rich for Collyn to write: “This ‘girl power’ thing is all a bit too much protestation. Empowered people don’t have to tell people they’re empowered.” Surely, for any company, spelling out your philosophy in broad terms to your potential customers is just part and parcel of the language of marketing. Those who are outsiders and brave, for example, don’t need to say they are brave and outsiders either, yet those are the words which are plastered over the website for Collyn’s yet-to-be-launched clothing brand.

I suppose if you are prone to coining Siobhan Sharpe-style catchwords, you could call this mixture of cluelessness and assertiveness ‘expertism’ – a sort of evidence-free, self-promoting, faux-expertise. Women will think what they like, but I find it draining and cynical. Give me the imperfect idealism of beginners any day.

Advertisements

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #19

September 30, 2011

5 UP Tim Vine
“See these Icebreakers? Don’t work. Tried to use one to start a conversation and the guy just walked away.” Boom, and indeed, tish! And so, with a chortlesome quip about a high-end brand of merino base layer, comedian Tim Vine began a short routine at the Pearson Performance store on Friday evening which united the two aspects of life most precious to this blog: cycling and light-hearted wordplay. Hurrah! The one-liner wonderman, who is a childhood chum of owners Will and Guy, made our week with his puntastic appearance in East Sheen, although we’re not going to quote the rest of his routine: this is our blog, and we make the jokes around here (even though they are sub-standard by comparison).

4 UP Newreaders
Staying at the launch of the excellent new Pearson store, one interesting nugget that we picked up which may already be common knowledge among the bikerati is that ITV’s Dermot Murnaghan and Matt Barbet of Channel 5 fame regularly go out riding together. Two TV anchormen, sat next to each other on their bikes, talking away for hours: you know what they probably get up to, don’t you? The pair of them (in The DYNAMITE! Files’ head, anyway) chat to each other as if they’re doing a news broadcast, live from the hills of Surrey. Let’s turn on the vivid HDTV of our imagination and watch… “Good afternoon and thanks for joining us. Coming up: a tight left-hander. Over now to Matt Barbet. Matt, tell us what’s happening.” “Thanks, Dermot. We’re getting unconfirmed reports of a major pothole. Oof! Yes, I can now confirm a pothole has been encountered. Back to you, Dermot.” And so on, for the course of 70 to 100 miles. Possibly.

3 DOWN David Harmon
Still at the launch night of Pearson Performance (can you tell this blog doesn’t get out much?) we were disappointed that the World Championships prevented Eurosport commentator and Richmond Park regular David Harmon from attending. One Pearson partygoer reckons the man behind the mic sounds a little different when off-air and isn’t immediately recognisable, so we had a great way to identify him should he have turned up: “accidentally” drop a glass of bubbly and wait for the one person in the room to say: “Oh no! There’s been a crash! Oh, disaster! This is terrible!” Would’ve worked a treat. Maybe next time, eh?

2 UP Pat McQuaid
The Dalai Lama. Barack Obama. Nelson Mandela. Men of character and wisdom, whose achievements are so great that they truly deserve to have an in-depth 15,000-word feature written about them in a publication of record. And now you can add, er, Pat McQuaid to that august list, because the UCI president is the subject of a Grand Tour-sized question-and-answer session in the forthcoming issue of (what else?) Rouleur. It’s all in there: the Armstrong donations, the accusations of nepotism and why, despite what any of us may think, it’s apparently quite important to have a WorldTour race in China. But perhaps the most intriguing revelation is that Uncle Pat used to lurk on internet forums to see what cycling fans have been saying about him. BikeRadar: your hotline to Aigle. Who would have thought?


1 UP Mark Cavendish, Champion Of The World
It’s something you probably never thought you’d see: “Peta, 24, from Essex”, purportedly quoting Goethe on page three of The Sun as she analyses the euro bailout (“Everything in the world may be endured, except continued prosperity,” apparently). Meanwhile, tucked away on page 62 of the same newspaper, there was a brief report on her boyfriend – someone called Mark Cavendish – being crowned cycling’s world road race champion, making him the first Brit to win the men’s title in 46 years. So judging by the difference in column inches between Cav and his girlfriend in Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, it would appear that the giddy dream posited by an excitable question from the BBC – “Could cycling become the UK’s second-favourite sport?” – is a long way from becoming a reality. But let’s look at it another way: how, you may ask, is the question in any way relevant? Does the popularity of a sport automatically make it more successful or interesting? Because anyone who saw Sunday’s thrilling race in Copenhagen or read Richard Williams’ analysis in the Guardian would realise that British riders are now officially amazing – super-strong, tactically astute and ruddy fast – and they became brilliant while the majority of the British public wasn’t paying any attention. Which makes their achievement all the more special, doesn’t it?

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #5

May 6, 2011

5 UP Triathlon
Cycling purists who steadfastly believe that riding a bike when combined with a swim and a run does not constitute proper racing may want to avoid visiting their local Virgin Active this weekend, because the gym chain is making the multi-sport world even less competitive with an innovation called “Indoor TRYathlon”. Worn out by five kilometres on an exercise bike? Then take a breather in the pool, as demonstrated in the promotional video below. Actually, it looks quite fun – but of course that’s what they want you to believe. All bizarre cults seem enjoyable and harmless at the beginning. You won’t be laughing a few months later when you’re running barefoot through the East End while wearing a wetsuit. Resist, chums, resist!

4 DOWN Jim Ochowicz
Responding to an ongoing Italian investigation, BMC announced the suspension of former world champion Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio on Monday by issuing a disappointingly responsible statement. “Jim Ochowicz said new information received, along with consideration of the team’s anti-doping policy and the UCI’s Code of Conduct, means the two will be held out of competition pending further details.” Which doesn’t sound at all like the words of a man who issued the most brilliantly unconcerned “no-comment” when it first emerged that Ballan could be facing charges: “I know what’s been in the newspaper but I can’t read Italian anyway so I’ve got to wait for a translation anyway and blah blah blah.” The DYNAMITE! Files reckons the BMC boss’s reaction this time was something like: “Ah, whatever. Those two are screwed.”

3 UP The Thunderdrome
Attention thrill-seekers! Forget the Cape Epic or the Norseman Xtreme Tri – Detroit should be your next international destination for seat-of-your-pants racing now that a group of “renegade landscapers” has unearthed a lost velodrome buried beneath 30 years of overgrown weeds. Despite the surface having more cracks than a 42-page theory about doping on the Bikeradar forum, the organisers have bravely included a “Geared Road Bike class” in their motorsport-centred racing programme. You know what that means, don’t you? Book those plane tickets – we’ve found a temporary replacement for Crystal Palace!

2 DOWN Bont
UCI officials banned the Bont Crono on Wednesday, purportedly because the time trial-specific shoe “influences the performance of a rider” by, er, being more aerodynamic. Noting that TT helmets perform a similar job, sniggering fashionistas have argued that the Swiss spoilsports took issue with the Australian company’s latest innovation simply because it was aesthetically displeasing – and they’re probably right. At last: a decision by cycling’s governing body we can all agree makes perfect sense.

1 UP Boris Johnson
The staff at Condor had a pleasant surprise on Wednesday when Boris Johnson bumbled through the shop’s electronically-activated doors with his Marin hybrid – the very same bike he had bought from the famous Gray’s Inn Road store some years ago. This photo of Boris, pictured alongside Condor’s Claire Beaumont, pleases The DYNAMITE! Files in many ways. For a start, the London Mayor is in our favourite cycling emporium. Then there’s the suit – a big tip-o-the-hat to anyone who refuses to compromise the integrity of high office by wearing Lycra. But most of all, it’s the shagged-out look on his face. Apparently the pedalling politico cycled all the way from City Hall – a distance of almost three-and-a-quarter miles. Who says politicians don’t know the meaning of hard work?

Dynamightgiveitamiss No.5: La Gazzetta Della Bolshie

March 14, 2011

UPDATE 19/05/11: It’s taken almost two months, but the Lambsters have finally found this post, and The Berk himself has responded on his blog and Twitter. Apparently I’ve accused him of exploiting his illness for financial gains, I’m a stalker, I want him to shut up and, er, I’m fat (ooh, you BITCH). Of course, none of these statements is even remotely true. Especially the stalker bit – I couldn’t think of anything worse than having to meet The Berk. But this is what angry, slightly dim people do: they make stuff up because they want a fight. And I don’t. Which is why, as I said in my original post, I’ve left the whole pointless world of Dynamoaning behind…

Simon Lamb is a berk. It’s an insult to anyone who is bipolar to dismiss them as simply mad or argue that they are never capable of behaving rationally, or that they have lost the ability to reflect on their actions and own up to their mistakes, so Simon Lamb’s berkishness has absolutely nothing to do with his well-documented condition. (Having said that, the charity Mind might want to consider the wisdom of promoting him in the press as an ambassador for the tolerance and understanding of mental health issues when he demonstrates so little of those two qualities towards those whose unhappiness differs from his own.) But he is unquestionably a berk, and he is a berk for many, many reasons. So if you don’t know or care who Lamb is, now is the moment to bail out of what is going to be a very long post…

For a start, Lamb is a berk because he earned himself a legal warning for branding a blameless journalist a racist without offering any evidence whatsoever to back up his claim. The British writer, he alleged, didn’t give Lamb’s banned hero Alexander Vinokourov a chance to explain himself – a bizarre claim in light of the Kazakh’s unwillingness to offer any sort of credible explanation for his positive doping test. And while I wouldn’t call Lamb a racist, I think he’s a massive berk for not considering that in comparison with the argument about Vino, most people are more likely to raise an eyebrow when a bloke casually uses the phrase “fucking Jews” while tweeting one of his mates.

There’s more, of course. Lots more. Lamb is a berk because he made an unfunny remark about how he would like to see Pat McQuaid die and didn’t apologise when the UCI president’s son politely complained. He’s a berk because his appropriation of a cancer foundation’s logo for his own glorification and, as it appeared to at least one casual observer, seemingly for his own financial gain, was spun into a sentimental story of little-guy-hits-back-at-humourless-legal-bad-guys with, preposterously, none other than Lance Armstrong lurking in the background. He’s a berk for casually mentioning that sales of his massage oils, while perfectly in line with the benefits system he relies on, have funded his sports massage course after originally claiming his website is “purely for my interest in cycling”. He’s a berk when you consider his lofty motto of “calm is the virtue of the strong” is hilariously at odds with the size of his hate list, which includes David Millar, a number of specialist sports magazines, a certain member of Kingston Wheelers cycling club, the Daily Mail and the BBC (surely a unique double-whammy), and, of course, his bete noir Armstrong. And he’s a berk for attacking Shutt Velo Rapide when the fledgling clothing manufacturer allegedly suffered quality control problems with his jerseys and he didn’t get his way on pricing and copyright issues. (Incidentally, Lamb’s beloved Rapha also had quality control issues in its early days which it resolved, and the company now occasionally sends him free gear to review. And the now-defunct website Lamb used to attack Shutt was Velocast, who seemed to be quite happy with their jerseys, which were made by none other than… Shutt Velo Rapide!)

Simon Lamb is a hopeless, floundering, fulminating berk for all of these reasons, and that is enough in itself for La Gazzetta Della Bici, a landfill site for his petty vendettas, cycling-based trivia and uncaptioned photos of dead sportsmen to make my list of things that are the absolute antithesis of this blog. (Incidentally, what kind of egotistical berk appropriates the name of a famous newspaper just to get a few more hits?) But for me, his biggest act of berkishness was when he found out where a complete stranger worked, sent him an abusive message, and accused him of saying something he didn’t. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? Because I was that stranger who stumbled unwittingly into the weird world of Simon Lamb, an angry man perpetually on the lookout for a fight, and in doing so falling far short of the high standards he sets for others.

In May last year, Lamb discovered I was a member of a cycling club he irrationally despises and used this as the flimsy basis to wrongly claim on Twitter that I wanted him to “shout” (sic) his mouth. (A lovely, prophetic irony: I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to shut his mouth – if I had a worst enemy – but I would love him to shout, and shout his mouth off for as long and as loudly as he could, just so he can prove to as many people as possible what a gigantic idiot he actually is.) The previous night, Lamb had blogged in characteristically intemperate and exaggerated terms about a friend of his who he claimed was bullied by a group of London Dynamo riders on the Parkride, the club’s regular Saturday morning outing in Richmond Park. At the time, Lamb had more than a thousand followers, and the link was retweeted at least a dozen times; understandably, then, there was much anger about the incident, particularly as Lamb’s friend and her mate were female and novices, while the Dynamo riders who were said to be shouting at them to move as they went past (which is what the alleged bullying amounted to) were apparently experienced riders and male.

There were just two problems: the specifics of the incident, in the terms Lamb described them, in all likelihood didn’t take place, and he wasn’t there at the time (to this day, no one seems to know who those Dynamos were). The woman, perhaps realising what had actually happened during those fraught moments at that particular road’s busiest time, or maybe concerned at Lamb’s disproportionate anger, apparently got him to call off the dogs after a few days of his unedifying swear-packed tweets, which he had used to propose a ludicrous theory that the majority of Dynamos let the minority get away with pushing around other riders – in other words, fostering a culture of bullying. Behind the scenes, a number of reasonably well-known London-based cycling bloggers were distancing themselves from Lamb’s remarks, and a respected journalist from a bike magazine (not the one he would later brand a racist) expressed his concerns, prompting Lamb to award him the sobriquet of… well, it begins with a “c” and he uses it a lot, so you can probably guess. But it was some subtle diplomacy from the guys who run the club that really did the trick – and so, without his friend to publicly back up his dramatic claims, Lamb turned down an offer to meet the Dynamo committee and removed all the relevant posts from his blog before tweeting a lame warning to the “cowards” in Richmond Park. Ironically, given his readiness to brand other people cowards, that tweet was also later deleted – a common occurrence in the world of Lamb, and the reason I began screengrabbing so many of them. Unfortunately, his deleted blog posts weren’t quite as perishable: they were picked up by another blog, which you can still find with a bit of googling.

London needs Dynamo, despite all its imperfections. Before it began, club cycling in the capital was a closed-off world to anyone who wanted to join the sport (I know because I was one of them), and its club rides still attract scores of cyclists of all abilities throughout the year. But to internet-dwelling wingnuts such as simple Simon, it matters little that Dynamo has welcomed hundreds of people into the sport he supposedly loves, helped them become decent cyclists, and become an actual, real-life community of friends. It also doesn’t matter to them that its committee acts as a means for ordinary cyclists to express their concerns to the authorities dealing with Richmond Park (you have LD partly to thank for partially resolving the horrid resurfacing) or that a committee member recently persuaded the owners of the much-loved MoD track in Chertsey to reopen it for a one-day trial run. Neither do they care that the club takes a very dim view when its members genuinely fail to ride with consideration and care for others. Lamb and others like him see the oft-quoted figure of 400 members and simply equate big with bad. Their attacks follow a tried-and-tested formula: make a false or exaggerated claim on the internet, maintain a level of anonymity by declining the offer of a face-to-face chat and a coffee (easy to set up, given that most of the friendly committee and the faceless complainants are both usually in Richmond Park on Saturday mornings) and fantasise about physically attacking a Dynamo or, in a particularly nasty case on the wretched Veloriders forum which has since been deleted, seeing one of them die. In the face of ever-increasing membership numbers, they also ignore a simple question: why haven’t members left the club in droves if they’re supposedly surrounded by a bunch of arrogant bastards? Wouldn’t you leave if that was the case? Maybe Dynamo has become big in a relatively short space of time because it’s friendly and well-run – or is that statement just too straightforward and logical to comprehend?

And whatever half-baked theory the haters propose, there are numerous sensible counter-arguments. Yes, I’m sure some Dynamos have shouted at other cyclists and switched wheels, but then I’ve witnessed riders from other teams and clubs do the same for years. Yes, poor bike handling has been a feature of LD rides, mainly because a greater proportion is inexperienced in comparison to other large clubs, yet Dynamo’s safety record in relation to the number of miles covered is nevertheless excellent. Yes, it can be intimidating when an experienced group of ‘Mos passes you at speed, even though they endeavour to do it safely – although for every rider who complains we’re going too fast, another will say we’re going too slow. And yes, Dynamos have, regrettably, sometimes been witnessed behaving aggressively when commuting, but then the blue, black and orange tops are a commoner sight than other clubs’ jerseys on London’s streets. (A pertinent, if somewhat vain fact: the look of Dynamo’s kit is one of the most popular reasons members give for joining, which could mean that in comparison with other similar-sized clubs, Dynamos are more likely to wear club colours when not riding with their clubmates.) In truth, Dynamos aren’t ruder than anyone else, nor is there a greater likelihood of them breaking the rules; there are just more of us, and we’re more conspicuous.

Lamb, however, differs in two respects from your typical Dynamo-hater. Firstly, he may not have only fantasised about violence, if his claim that he was a member of a group of football hooligans called the 6.57 crew is anything to go by. And secondly, he is now attempting to show us all how things should be done by starting his very own cycling club – and in the words of one of his internet chums which he was only to happy to use as promotion for his new venture, it’s the “polar opposite” of the outfit which has had such a Lambasting.

Men and women’s racing teams, strong representation at sportives, a website functioning as a virtual clubhouse, weekly club rides and members of all abilities (some of whom are based overseas), not to mention supporting good causes… Gruppo Sportivo Gazzetta’s list of aims is notably ambitious and, perhaps not co-incidentally, somewhat similar to what London Dynamo has already achieved along the way. Indeed, GS Gazzetta, to use its slightly less cumbersome appellation, also seems to share a core Dynamo value in the sense that Lamb realises the importance of having well-designed kit, although the pre-release photos reveal he’s played it a little too safe with an uninspired, Rapha-lite, white-on-black design. Nevertheless, the Gazzas do, as Lambster Tom claims in the above link, represent a real difference to the club I’ve been a member of since its inception, so much so that they may as well be called Not London Dynamo, which would at least be less of a mouthful. And the difference with Not London Dynamo is this: its two leaders, for all their enthusiasm, appear to be remarkably inexperienced riders. Having ridden myself with Lamb’s chum Teresa Houghton and spoken with a friend who rode the London to Paris with her, I would suggest that her focus on spin classes has had a detrimental effect on her ability to develop group riding skills. Lamb, meanwhile, had been riding for barely more than a year when he fractured his left arm and collarbone and wrote off his bike on Not London Dynamo’s first-ever ride last November. In terms of serious accidents per total miles travelled, the Gazzas immediately became a more crash-prone club than London Dynamo before it had even officially accepted its first membership application. Quite an achievement.

Contrast Not London Dynamo – essentially a group of strangers who met on the internet – with the pedigree of London Dynamo’s founders: an accomplished time trialist (Guy Andrews), a talented former BMXer (Russell Short) and a pretty handy road racer (Paul Callinan). That’s a huge range of skills to pass on, especially to the fat, clueless novice I used to be, and of much more practical use than, say, the ability to crow about owning Michael Barry’s hat collection. As far as I’m concerned, Not London Dynamo doesn’t deserve to call itself a cycling club unless it can develop skills and encourage safe riding, because that, essentially, is the true value of the club system. But I wouldn’t hold your breath: contradicting the official rules on the Gazzas’ site, Lamb himself apparently wants his “club” to ignore the two abreast formation fundamental to safe riding because they are supposed to be a “rabble”. He expressed this view a week after coming off, so his accident may have been caused by more than just an error on his part. If that’s the case, the haters will now have another bunch of riders to moan about, perhaps with good reason this time. If they don’t, well, there’s plenty of other reasons to take issue with Lamb, and that could be why he shut down his personal Twitter account a few weeks ago: get off the stage before the audience turns and the rotten tomatoes come flying your way…

I wrote all this for two reasons. Firstly, terms such as “bloody Dynamos” have become the equivalent of “bloody cyclists” for people who ride a bike but are now just as intransigent as the type of motorists all riders dislike, and while I no longer enjoy poking fun at these idiots for using the club I love as their personal punchbag, I couldn’t walk away from these pointless arguments for good without setting the record straight. Secondly, there is virtually no criticism of Lamb online, which is a marked contrast to many of the face-to-face conversations I’ve had during the past ten months, so I wanted to redress that balance in a small way on this little blog – and for the record, I honestly harbour no desire to rival Lamb’s online presence. Given his previous form, Lamb will probably resort to name-calling and dredge up aspects of my life that have little or nothing to do with cycling; maybe he’ll even trawl through my tweets and falsely reason that some of the opinions I express chiefly to my friends are the same as his targeted, vitriolic hate campaigns. But hey, that’s his call, and a measure of his class or lack of it. Either way, I’m not going to mention his name in these pages ever again, and this entry won’t be open for comments – I’ll leave the half-truths, backbiting and exaggerations for his blog.

If you want to support Mind, you can avoid the Gazzas by donating money to the organisation directly. As for supporting young riders, I would recommend you have a look at the John Ibbotson Fund, or maybe even consider entering its auction for Rouleur issue #1. And here’s a final thought to any Lamb fans – and there appears to be many of them – who believe he should remain beyond criticism because of what he’s been through: some defenders of Armstrong say much the same thing about their hero. Do you think, maybe, that Lamb is using mental health issues in a similar way but on a smaller scale to that which many think his hate-target uses cancer? Because if he is, then Lamb isn’t such a berk after all…