BTCEB Blog No 51: No Title
I usually don’t like writing about myself because it always seemed to be one of the most selfish and self-centered things you can do but lately I’ve been feeing a bit isolated concerning some of the topics I’ve taken on. I’m sure the bike industry would rather not have some one write about the darker side of the industry such as some of the poisonous byproducts from carbon fiber production or health and human rights abuses found in Chinese mass scale production facilities.
Now, however, I think I’ve found some fellow travelers in the form of Dave Moulton http://davesbikeblog.squarespace.com/ and the second is Cycling IQ http://cyclingiq.com/ . For those of you who don’t know Dave Moulton he probably has more industry experience than practically any one else and had stopped making frames long before many of the new hot shots had even picked up a torch.
I must also give a partial thumbs up to VeloNews for breaking out of their usual sleepy mode and actually do an interesting piece for a change. I agree in part that every bike made requires human hands but every major company has made a choice between making a boat full of money or focusing on smaller quantities and higher quality.
It is from one of David’s blog entries that I was turned onto Cycling IQ. Cycling IQ writes about subjects usually not covered in your usual off the shelf cycling publications such as the interplay between both the corporate and cycling world, fist hand reporting and, again, reporting on some of the cycling industry’s less savory aspects, a man after my own heart.
It’s obvious both writers love bikes and biking but I think too that there’s a tinge of heartbreak that is evident in both of their blogs and it’s the same kind of hint of regret you get if you read memoirs from former C.I.A. agents who write about their time in “The Company” because the story arch is somewhat similar. A young starry-eyed recruit is brought into the fold due to a variety of reasons but after a while they began to see and know too much and become disillusioned with the whole dog and pony show.
Back before I had a word published anywhere my teachers warned in great depth about not having a too cozy relationship either the subject you are writing about and publishers and editors should avoid having a buddy-buddy relationship with advertisers because of the erosion of objectivity due to the purchase of access with the use of advertising dollars.
Personally I cringe every time I hear about (insert big name company here) when they set up some big media product launch party. A couple of years ago Big-Well-Known Bike Company had a large product launch party near one of the birthplaces of modern, mountain biking. Big-Well-Known Bike Company invited members of the cycling press from all over the world to ride one of the best-known trails in Northern California and have them ride recreations of thirty-year-old mountain bikes. Looks great on paper but no one could have predicted what happened next, at least three of the members of the press had to be carted away by ambulance because they didn’t know how to ride rigid bikes equipped with cantilever brakes. Uh, oops.
In general the event was given resounding thumbs up despite the casualties but it does remind of something I was reading in W. Hodding Carter’s “A Viking Voyage” and that was Americans never did anything without alerting the press.
So the question is is the cycling press just a mouthpiece for companies pushing product or like other news outlets does serve as a watchdog to curb excess and wrong doings? I’m afraid it’s more the former rather than the latter.
Bikes are going to be a big part of urban planning and the emerging “green” economy so doesn’t it make sense to buy bikes from companies who implement, safe and sustainable manufacturing practices?
If the cycling press turns a blind eye to environmental and labor abuses then they simply aren’t doing their jobs.