We need to make our roads safer so we can have many more #SPOTY cycling stars of the future! #cyclesafe
Pretty uncontroversial I thought. Not so. I had a couple of replies saying:
cognitive dissonance? Transport cycling does not equal sports cyclingand
Elite Races generally take place on closed roads with marshalls. How does that relate to everyday road safety?
I must admit I was a bit taken aback by this, and later someone suggesting that linking sport and utility cycling was almost dangerous. I'm not entirely sure why.....
So, was my tweet misplaced. Is cycling for sport and cycling for utility/recreation unconnected?
There are a number of ways I could argue this...I am a utility cyclist, I have progressed on to sportives and had I been younger I might have progressed to sport..... is one such argument. However, this summer I have seen first hand the most compelling reason for arguing that cycling sport and other forms of cycling are intrinsically linked.
Bradley Wiggins, Sarah Storey, Sir Chris Hoy, etc are sporting cyclists and are certainly classed as elite. They and their compatriots were also truly inspiring this year. Their efforts in the Olympics and beyond were incredible to watch. Whilst I was enjoying the spectacle and endevour knowing that I would never emulate what I was watching, I was conscious of the effects these events were having on my children. I had the immense pleasure of watching them go from being bored...'aww dad do I have to watch this...' to being completely memorised by the drama unforlding before them....'...come on Laura!!! Come on!!!!'. All three of my kids, even my 2 year old were screaming at the TV (and fortunately for us at the riders in the World Cup at the Glasgow Velodrome later) to go faster!
My children now dream of being in Olympics.
Will they make it....well....who knows. The odds are of course against them, but they have the dream just as I did when I was a child, to be a sporting great at the highest level. I didn't make it (judo for me) but I certainly won't be discouraging them. So how do they get there? Hard work of course. Hard work where? In a velodrome? On closed roads? In a multi-million pound gym with sports coaches analysing their every muscle twitch?
Of course not. If they want to be great cyclists, they will have to cycle on the roads.
There is the connection. For there to be a sporting elite, it is absolutely vital that any sport has a grass roots from which to pick the elite from. Elite athletes rarely exist without coming through the ranks, and Bradley is an excellent example of this. He worked hard, trained hard, and must have pounded many, many miles on roads, just like you and me. He was not born with a silver bike under his bottom.
My children, like many others around the country have been inspired to ride their bikes, and like many other parents around the country I feel I have to temper their enthusiasm a little because the environment, the roads, are not anywhere near as safe as they should be.
So, to anyone who suggests that there is no connection between elite sports and every day cycling, I'm sorry, I disagree 100%. We utility cylclists and every day recreational cyclists should be working with the likes of British Cycling to make our roads safer, not just for the 8 - 80 year old grass roots cyclist like you and I, but for the elite as well.
Let's make Britain's roads safe for EVERYONE!