Before I decided to waste entire days in the futile pursuit of riding my bike at a speed not fast enough to be deemed competitive, I used to play guitar. If I could find my cheap Squier telecaster among the bike wheels I’d probably start playing it again.
Like every self-respecting wannabe I was in a band. We were good (we still are in recorded form) and even rumoured to have gained some brief fame in Albania.
One thing I learned over the years is that there’s good feedback and there’s bad feedback.
Good feedback is like a well-drawn breath. It swells and fills the space in a coherent and predictable manner, carefully controlled as it builds to a satisfying peak.
Bad feedback is a painful squirling mess that screeches like a greased pig being wrestled to the ground and leaves everyone involved looking embarrassed.
The UCI’s handling of the removal of race radio in elite events can only be compared to the latter.
Jens Voigt pretty much patted the whole thing down with a shovel in his Open letter to cycling fans on the race radio issue. Here’s a pretty good quote:
“To all the ‘fans of yesterday’, the ‘fans of tradition’ – what are you people talking about? Do you really want to go back to the times of Jacques Anquetil? In that time the Tour de France was a tiny, little race with riders from France and maybe Belgium and Italy. Maybe 25 journalists were there? Each edition cost more money than it actually generated? Is this what you want? Because that’s how tradition looks to me.”
The Luddites lasting legacy was to become a term of derision, will McQuaidite become a similar term of derision among cycling afficionados?
And if we’re allowing tradition back into cycling, then I’m stocking up on tacks and working on my kidney punch.
The problem isn’t whether or not riders get to use radios, it’s how it’s been introduced and what it signifies.
Like the banning of Spinergy wheels, the war against Graeme Obree and countless other symbols of modernity, it’s simply Ludditism masquerading as sports administration.
If you want to know why the UCI are so obsessed with this, read Joe Lindsey’s Relent on Radios. In precis: the Blazers of Aigle are all desperately trying to make sure they don’t miss the train with a better buffet car.
There’s a case for and against them, but it’s pretty irrelevant given that a rider only has take their out for them to have no effect. And how many times have we seen riders do that?
There’s much bigger issues, as Jens says, that need dealing with.
So dear Pat, get the fork out, cut yourself a slice of humble pie and rescind the ban.