How marketing works
December 23, 2016 § 14 Comments
Someone posted a link to this Velonews podcast on Facebag: Why you are an idiot for riding in cold weather with bare legs. I usually ride with bare legs and am always attracted to people who call me an idiot, hence my involvement in bicycle advocacy issues and my involvement with bike racing.
I don’t often listen to podcasts about bicycling unless it’s SoCal Cyclist because bicycling themes bore me horribly, especially when they are devoted to how I can improve, get faster, better cope with my decrepitude, etc. I have been doing this long enough to know that I stopped improving at around age 28 and have been declining ever since.
But the link caught my eye so against my best judgment I clicked on it and was treated to Exhibit 1 of Why Roadies Are Assholes. The podcast was so contemptuous of everyone who didn’t know that riding with cold legs was bad, and the “physiologist” who pontificated on how bad it was for you exhibited two amazing qualities.
- He broke out into a hot sweat every time he said the word “pro,” which was every fifth word, rolling the word with love and smoky adulation off his tongue.
- He illustrated his point with that most awesome of roadie techniques, giving an example of the time he chewed out some rider in front of other people for wearing the wrong clothing, shaming the rider into hiding at the back for the rest of the ride. In real life this makes you a dick. In road cycling you think this makes you cool, but not really.
It didn’t escape my attention that the “expert” was a physiologist whose photo I’ve never seen leading the peloton up La Redoute, but was rather some wannabe, over-the-hill, not-good-enough hobby biker who compensated for his failings as an athlete by being a dick who lectured others with unasked for “pro tips.”
The podcast was miserable in other ways as well. It had three salient points that could have been made in two minutes, but instead he crammed them into an interminably boring lecture that I never reached the end of. The points were:
- You should overdress, not underdress.
- Keeping the chill off your legs prevents damage to the muscles.
- Professional cyclists dress warmly when it’s even remotely cool.
My winter wardrobe is painfully thin. I have one pair of knee warmers and an ancient pair of Pearl Izumi thermal tights that saw much use in Japan and Texas but have seen zero use in SoCal. And despite the condescension of the podcast it made me nervous.
Was I ruining my muscles by riding unprotected? Were my patellar tendons turning into rusty piano wires? Most importantly, was I jeopardizing my chances of pro contract to ride the Tour in 2017? And most most most importantly, would Alberto Contador smirk at me if I ran across him on the Donut and he saw me riding bare-legged, forcing me to ride in shame at the back of the group?
I did my best to resist the temptation, but could not. The PayPal account was positive. The call of new clothing was a siren song. I crawled like a drunk, fallen hard off the wagon, down the aisle of Competitive Cyclist Men’s Clothing, hands trembling, mouth dry, and clicked “purchase.”
Oh well. It’s Christmas somewhere.
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