Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not By Pennies, Dimes Or Quarters.

Punk's not dead. Or perhaps it is. Perhaps it is and we should quit living in the past. Or perhaps it is, and that's a good thing, because it has morphed (and continues to morph) into something more interesting. Punk, however, doesn't have layers of bureaucracy, administrative bodies, government subsidies - punk is not, despite the best efforts of a bevy of major corporations, institutionalized. Perhaps this why punk, in its different forms, continues to thrive.

Cycling, unlike punk, is institutionalized, which is why it ends up in situations like this or this. It's pretty easy, however, to simply blame the governing bodies in question. That's how things work in an institution - when something goes wrong, you blame those above you. But perhaps, if cycling - and in particular track cycling - is going to continue, we need to think more like punks. We need to take events out of the hands of the institutions and run them ourselves. The events we run and the track cycling we race won't look the same as the events and races that have been organized by Cycling Victoria and Cycling Australia over the past one hundred years, but they will be more inclusive, more vibrant and, what's more, they'll be ours. For us, by us.


conrad said...

A simple solution that CI might like to use to get around all of these problems would be to start running opens at club tracks again (which they can no doubt get essentially for free from the clubs, so they don't need to worry about all the expenses) -- there's a reason everyone is excited to go to Bendigo, Horsham, and all of these little country towns with their concrete velodromes -- it's because the events are a lot of fun and that's because they're basically run by the clubs, and they don't have all these silly arguments and problems. If it rains, well, bad luck. That's how it used to work, and everyone liked it for as long as I can remember, and it still just works at a few city clubs like Brunswick.

So after coming back to bike racing after quite some time, here's some observations (a) track cycling has died a lot everywhere in Melbourne except DISC as far as I can tell; (b) almost all the organizers expect all the good races to be at DISC; and (c) criteriums have simply massive numbers compared to what they used to be and the big events get gazillions of spectators, so it isn't that people don't like cycling anymore. In fact it's the opposite -- even women ride and there are specific women's races these days -- that's how far cycling has come! I think in 1988, there were about 4 women that raced and you could still wave hello to everyone that rode along beach road out training (indeed, that's what you did).

My conclusion from this is that I think part of the problem is in fact DISC. Now everybody basically goes to the same place to train and many people expect to train in perfect conditions on a beautiful wooden velodrome, and so when they race they expect that too.

This is surely a killer for many clubs. I used to race for Carnegie back in the late 80s/start of 90s, and they always had a decent track program. Now the club is like, gigantic member-wise, they have lots of good juniors, yet their track racing is pretty sick because everyone goes and races at DISC that can (including all the serious people who turn up each week without fail), which basically means that there arn't enough riders for, say, a decent weekly Thursday night at Carnegie (which is really an excellent velodrome with an excellent surface), because half of them have gone to DISC instead.
This basically leaves everyone who lives in a fair chunk of the city with a choice of either (a) a painful journey to DISC in heavy traffic (doubly painful for parents I imagine) and getting home at 10pm; or (b) to go to a criterium instead which you can ride to on your road bike.

So it's no surprise what people do.
I'm not saying DISC is bad (I like it), but it seems to me one of the effects it has had is to actually reduce the diversity and number of people riding track. Many people also expect to race there for all the big races (in fact, there's almost nowhere else in Melbourne big races are run), and obviously there is a lot of money involved, and so you get all of these problems also.

So basically I agree with you, except that what you think should happen already happens in the country and is what used to happen according to my possibly poor memory, and it's not clear to me it's possible to go backwards, unless people start turning up to their own velodromes again.

italocycling said...

Agree with both of you - did the DISC thing. Got fed up of it. A real drag getting there, hated carting the bike in the car. Was flaberghasted when I saw blokes rocking up with shopping trolleys full of gear. Tried DISC again. Nup.

Back to basics, Brunswick velo for training and racing the Enduro's - brilliant. I can ride my bike there if I want and ride all night on one gear.

So - lets run the races we want where we want.

Death Race said...

Track racing should follow metal's law, not punk's. Just carry on, despite the fact no one is interested (90s for metal, now for track racing) then bask in the glory of its resurgence (now for metal, ? for track racing).

Of go with jazz, and become the last bastion for those who have nothing better to do on a saturday night, other than hang about and drink beer...hang on...

Ian Human said...