Here in the United States an important election is taking place. It is arguably the most important mid-term election in more than 15 years. The talking points have been by turns filled with drama (Lisa Murkowski running as a write-in candidate after losing the Republican primary to Joe Miller), hypocrisy (Meg Whitman claiming to be tough on immigration until the revelation that she employed an illegal immigrant for nine years) and, on occasion, ridiculous (I’m not a witch).
No matter what your views are, the power to vote is such an immense privilege that making one’s voice heard in the political process borders on responsibility.
Cycling has its own democratic process, called sponsorship. Fortunately, participation isn’t nearly so fraught with disagreements and liabilities. And just like with politics, the process goes on whether we participate or not.
I wasn’t in the sport for long before sponsorship influenced my buying decisions. In fact, I began consciously supporting companies that sponsored cycling. I visited 7-Elevens rather than Circle Ks, brushed with Crest even though Colgate would do just fine, and after seeing a photo of Jacques Anquetil in his Bic team jersey, purchased only the French company’s ball-point pens.
I took note of which companies purchased advertising time during Tour de France broadcasts and remember vowing to shoe my car with Michelin tires before the winter arrived. Then I found out just how much they cost. It would be a few years before I could afford their tires in a size smaller than 700C.
I’ve continued to keep an eye on those companies that sponsor our sport. I do what I can to patronize them, though I haven’t moved my banking to Rabobank, nor have I dumped my iPhone in favor of one from HTC. But I’m just enough of a geek that I patronized Radio Shack long before they hooked up with Lance inc; I stop by almost any time I’m working on electronic gadgets. Try not to let that get around, though, would ya?
Some of cycling’s top athletes face allegations that suggest they are, in the grand scheme, less bereft of ethics than the crop of candidates who hope to steer this democracy. Yet we still face the prospect that many companies with pockets deep enough to sponsor Formula 1 or a football (doesn’t matter which kind) stadium may walk away from our sport.
We can’t change who takes what or how justice is administered, but we can continue to show our support for those who spend on our sport. Likewise, we can’t prevent a company from leaving the sport, but our patronage can do much to counteract the perception that their image was sullied by cycling.
And while it can be hard to fathom just how the spending of dedicated cyclists can be quantified or even registered, the great marketing machine in the sky knows when and with whom we spend.
It is likely you already do this and don’t need any reminding from us, but the political process can be frustrating, even in the best of times, but this is one time we can say it with a straight face—
Vote early; vote often.
Image: John Pierce, Photosport International
Today we did a little tune-up ride, leaving our hotel in Ferney-Voltaire (the birthplace of Honoré Voltaire) and riding by numerous embassies down to Lac Leman and the world’s most famous fountain.
After getting all the assorted problems with my bike worked through I discovered that despite purchasing the micro SD card with European maps for my Garmin Edge 705 GPS unit, I discovered that the installation of the new map set was the moment that the GPS chose that opportunity to flatline. Great.
Getting data from rides recorded could be difficult. Need to ask the wife to overnight the Edge 205 to me. Ugh.
I shot the top image early this morning outside our hotel. The field of sunflowers had to be 10 acres. It was so postcard French as to be comical. When I first saw them my reaction was giddy. The white peak in the middle of the photograph, the one coated with a dollop of clouds is none other than Mont Blanc. As I watched it, conditions on the peak pendulumed from clear to shrouded in cloud cover and back.
Today’s ride takes in the Col de la Ramaz among others. There are lots of green lines on the Michelin maps, provided I’m willing to skip the climb up the Joux-Plane. It’s a tough call, but I’m leaning toward the Ramaz, especially as the Joux Plane is better known as a climb based on its southern face and we would be climbing the north side.