Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hell Ride III

Just thought I'd post this comment I posted at Spinopsys because it's heaps long!!

Sorry for being boring, and covering some old ground, but the Hell Ride is really important to me.

'As a regular hell rider the recent incident has provided me with a lot to think about over the last two weeks.

A lot has been said about the Hell Ride, and almost without exception it has come from people who don’t even do the Hell Ride. People who have no connection to the ride feel free to dump shit on it because they have nothing at stake. They have no idea how important it is as an institution for racing cyclists in Melbourne.

The SKCC ride was the right thing to do. I know Jeff from SKCC, and I also know that he doesn’t do the Hell Ride frequently. He’s a really nice guy with a big heart.

The Hell Ride goes through stages where 1 or 2 cyclists insist on doing the wrong thing. Some people say it used to be worse 10 years ago, some people say that its worse now than its ever been. The truth of the matter is that mostly everybody does the right thing. To highlight this point, for the first 1.5 years I did the ride it had a police escort every week. About three months ago they stopped doing the escort. Why? because people by and large were doing the right thing.

All this talk about self policing and cracking down on the hell ride is a complete overreaction.
There are hundreds of groups of cyclists on Beach road each weekend. The only thing that differentiates the Hell Ride is that it is a fast training ride full of fit riders. In fact, many other bunch rides are just as fast as the hell ride- but they fly under the radar somewhat. It is not for lunatics, corporate cowboys, or try hard cafe racers- all the stereotypes that get trotted out by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. The Hell ride is A and B grade club racers trying to get a hit out into their legs when there is no other racing on.

Sometimes on the Hell Ride I will see a person do something that I don’t approve of. That can happen anywhere, any time in any walk of life. It doesn’t help to say that everyone who has done the Hell ride is a lunatic. I feel safer on the HEll ride than on many races conducted by Cycle Sport Victoria or clubs. The midlands team race two weeks ago was the most dangerous thing I have ever done on a bike- and that was ‘organised’ and sanctioned by officials.

None of the media attention that has focused on the hell ride over the last two weeks will have any impact on the ride. There is no organisation, no head, no directing mind or will. The ride is a puff of smoke, a collection of people who turn up in the one spot at the one time each week to ride as fast as they can for 70km. This is what the media, bloggers, cycling clubs and organisations and the police hate. They can’t control it. They can’t tell the hell ride what to do. This is the undercurrent of all that has been said in the media about the ride. ‘Official’ types don’t like the ride because they can’t collect money from the riders, and they can’t control what the riders do. The number of tinpot dictators in cycling clubs and organisations in Victoria is just ridiculous- especially Caufield Carnegie and the bayside clubs.

There has been talk of removing racing licences from people who take part in the hell ride. If you did that there wouldn’t be many A or B grade riders left. If you’re at the VIS you probably don’t need to do the Hell ride, because you do motorpacing three mornings a week. I frequently see Will Walker, Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson, AIS-Mapei riders etc etc in the Hell ride over summer. Are we going to kick them out of the sport too?

I’m going to keep writing about the Hell ride because I’m passionate about cycling, and I’m passionate about the hell ride and the people who take part in it. That doesn’t mean I approve of every person and everything that takes place on the ride. I’ve seen everything in terms of bad cyclist behaviour, bad pedestrian behaviour and bad driver behaviour. But I’ve seen all that and more on other rides- so it seems ridiculous to single out one ride.


Blogger Judda said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Judda said...

Hear, hear...

I'd like to see statistics on the number of road users that cause direct cycling deaths/injuries and indirect deaths/injuries/inconviences/taxes due to hitting bike riders, pedestrians, pollution, road use, traffic jams etc.. etc... and juxtapose that with bike riders... Australia should be more like a lot of European and Asian countries where the attitude to bike riders is very different, especially in regards to respect.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Judda said...

Here's a good one:

6:20 AM  

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