Friday, March 18, 2011

How Lucky Are We? TV Cycling Watchers I Mean.

Last week I could not believe that both Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatica were both on television with daily coverage.  Once in while I stop to ponder the dearth of cycling during the time I personally became obsessed with it.  There were literally somewhere be zero hours and a maximum of 3-4 hours of TV coverage FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR!  This was coverage of the Tour de France (when there was coverage).  They didn't think of covering the other major tours, much less the lesser tours.

In those days, it was easy to know how to react to current cycling news and TV coverage.  I immersed myself in it.  I set my schedule around it.  I set my clunky VCR to record it.  And I marveled at every moment of it, even when the commentators knew nothing about the sport and the producers showed more of the countryside than the race, somehow equating it to a picnic journey.

Now, however, it is hard to keep up with the total volume of cycling.  I find myself blithely fast-forwarding through coverage to just watch the last 5 kilometers so I can see a bit of each stage and not devote my life to it.  I guess that is how NCAA basketball fans feel this time of year when there is endless coverage.  You either give in to all of it and do nothing else or you have to skim through the highlights.

One interesting addition to the coverage this year is the cyclocross racing on Universal Sports.  For the world cup races the coverage is played with no commentary other than the course-side race announcer that you can hear in the background.  It is really very refreshing to just watch the race, think your own thoughts about it, even have a conversation while it is on.  It is an oddly zen way to watch something that is so brutal.  It reminds me of rowing in that people always comment on how beautiful and rhythmic the sport looks, but it doesn't feel that way when you are doing it.  Watching cyclocross is beautiful, but doing it makes me feel like throwing up for a solid hour.

Anyway, it is a great time to be a bike racing enthusiast.  It will be interesting to see in a few years whether it is still around, there is even more, or it goes the way of the national mountain bike racing scene of a decade ago when the prizes were significant and a lot of tv interest.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I am loving it.  Gotta go, though.  Milan-San Remo is coming up.

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