Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Green Edge with Ham

For starters “Gomes”, Molly Meldrum not relevant to cycling? What about this ad? 

(geez, even these cyclists left Melbourne)

Most Aussies my age and a bit older can also remember (or can remember seeing footage since) Molly presenting his music show Countdown drunk one night. There's a youtube vid but it goes for nine minutes and who has the time?

Instead, if Molly was going to write an opinion piece in that state in response to Phil Gomes' post about the farce that is Green Edge's engagement with Australian cycling fans, it would be this.

While Phil Gomes ruminated on his blog post, a few tweeps and I also discussed this issue. We therefore echo Phil's sentiments. Rob's not just having a go at Phil, but the many fans who agreed with him and said so on Twitter and in the comments section.

It is hard to accept a lecture about “criticising something one doesn't fully understand” (tdc - sounds a bit like "you don't know man, you haven't seen war") from someone when you can't actually fully understand what they are trying to say.

It is also hard to accept it from someone who reviews his own book in his own magazine.

Although hard to decipher, I think one thing Rob is trying to say is, GE couldn't do anything with fans in Canberra because of contractual issues with bikes and such (tdc– like Trent Lowe and Vaughters fiasco – google it).

No Rob, it's not hard for us to understand. Some of us “fans” who don't have a clue thought of this ourselves a week or two ago and discussed on twitter how it's easy to get around. 

Maybe it's not GE's reason then. Maybe Canberra hasn't much of a cycling scene to bother with?

I regularly visit Canberra and each time I do, there's barely a day or weekend where you don't see a large number of local cyclists out and about. Or on a Sunday on the drive back to Sydney, you don't pass a car on the freeway with a bike attached. 

And in Canberra, there are some capable cycling clubs with volunteers who could probably scrounge 30 generic polos shirts from Lowes and organise a clinic or a meet and greet with a school or a club somewhere sans Scott bikes. Or how about even the same night Robbie was touting his book at Velo Republic? As a Sydney sider who can't get to the TDU, that's something I would've driven to Canberra for. I don't expect to ride with the team, I just want to “see them” and be part of an exciting moment in Australian cycling history.

Whatever the reasoning for the exclusion of Canberra fans, such is the norm – we're used to it. I got over it. But it is impossible to fathom why the Melbourne launch was not advertised at all. The Green Edge launch is history, it is an exciting moment. But forever the photos of this historic cycling moment will show hardly a cycling fan was there to witness it.  

Perhaps Green Edge is courting fans beyond the current cycling fan base as a thank you for their tax dollars. After all, taxpayers help pay for the AIS cycling program, the GE thingy in Italy, the Cycling Australia High Performance program and any non Cycling Australia membership/Grass Roots/Jayco generated dollar.

Tax payers such as Rob, other journalists, the Melbourne football press and public, Mark Arbib, Andrew Barr and corporate types.

I do understand though Rob. It's impossible to sell to corporates a “Christmas Party with GE/Breakfast Corporate Bike Ride with GE” opportunity when the great unwashed have already touched them. 

As Rob explains, it was only a dinner for the GE family – an exclusive club. But as fans, we don't want to be a part of the GE club. We are the GE club. Or as Rob Arnold put it, the GE family – but we weren't invited to even eat the scraps off the table.

Cycling fans too are taxpayers. More than this, we are the ones who watch the coverage which begat more coverage which begat more cyclists which begat more coverage which begat more cycling sponsorship which begat more cyclists which begat more coverage. We are the ones who buy the cycling products, the cycling magazines, and the jerseys. We are the ones who'll keep on turning up even after another UCI and/or doping disappointment.

I understand potential sponsors and corporate supporters must be greased and politicians thanked. But it's disappointing to hear such language - fans aren't part of the larger GE family.  

Like Ride thinks with its arrogant waffly prose and awesome cycling pictures (most of which we've seen on the internet already anyway) it's the best magazine in Australia and is always going to be, GE arrogantly expects the Oz tifosi to jump on board the Subaru with Mars Bars in hand with little effort to engage them.

Even before the internet, the cycling tifosi in Australia thought global – it had to. Whether it was months old magazines digested by wannabe cyclists or tapes sent over from Europe, they'd source it somehow. Now we are all closer, many of us look beyond Ride and Cycling Central (tdc - many of us instead of) for expert opinions and cycling entertainment. Celtic podcasters, magazines containing writing and photos so good it hurts,and many bloggers who don't have the same access as journalists but analyse the state of play better than their paid counterparts.

I've actually given up my subscription to Ride for this reason, I can't afford to invest what I can get better elsewhere,for less. The jig test, the “bike products” catalogue, the oz centric-ness and the stories they don't write about female cyclists are the only things that set Ride apart.

Oz cycling fans also look beyond their own cycling team and their own Australian riders. It's what cycling fans do. Especially if they're treated like shit.

Sure, the TDU will bring a big GE song and dance and much fan engagement. But it won't be with the whole team. Phil was also criticised by Rob and others for being too negative at what should be an exciting time. Of course it is bloody exciting. That's what sucks! All 30 rostered riders of Australia's first pro team in Oz all together (probably the last time). It is bloodly exciting and it is a moment that has now passed. 

And we couldn't be a part of it.

If the Bike and Lifestyle Show was anything to go by, there's a few people in the Brave New Oz Cycling Bubble failing to understand the target market they are so desperately trying to earn their cycling buck back from. They are attempting to brew new decaffeinated Nestle pod coffee through old moka pots and serve up Green Edge with Ham.

A recent Anthony Tan piece told us GE has two years to find a sponsor or Gerry calls Jayco caravan curtains. With so many cycling issues detracting so many potential sponsors, I'm not sure turning up cap in hand to some of them with hardly any fans is the right strategy.


  1. Storm in a tea cup guys! Who's cares whether Green Edge is being inclusive with the bike writers sub-culture? We might want to care whether they can find a sponsor or not, why sponsors are so hard to find (we know that one) and whether GE strategic thinking was awry?

    A national team? No such thing (outside the Olympics and world's or course). Where are talking registration, that's all. Who knows whether RadioSchelk is registered in the US or Luxembourg? Who cares?

    So, has Ge made a big mistake in tryiong to be a national team , flying in the face of the economics? You bet. Now if they had signed 4 asians, say a japanese, a Malay and two Chinese, then sponsors would be tripping over each other. And the riders could be guaranteed more than two years employ.

    Australia's Top End of Town won't touch cycling with a 10 foot pole until the public perception of the sport changes.

    bruce, Tumut

  2. Hey Bruce. Thanks for reading and commenting. I am actually worried about the sponsor thing and maybe that hasn't come across so much above. Anyway, you deserve a better response but I can't write one now - apologies.

  3. Why does it matter if the magazine is from Australia? I don't buy Ride (often). There are plenty of other great ones now available on the international market like Peloton and Paved - both cheaper and much less waffly than Ride.