Friday Feature Extra: 10 things I love about cycling – Ant Beal

After the last few weeks, we at VeloVoices were feeling a bit jaded about all the news from the US. So we decided to revisit why we love the sport in the first place – a renewal of vows, so to speak. Over the course of the weekend, we’ll be posting up our ten reasons why we love cycling – and we’ve asked you for your list as well! Here is a list from Ant Beal, a planner from Derby, who regularly participates in AntBanter with VeloVoices on Twitter.

1. It’s not a straightforward sport, is it? From different types of race, to races within races, to the seemingly endless variables that can affect any race, the season has something for every rider and for every fan.

2. The lone escapee. Your heart goes out to them, wills them on, and for that one time in a hundred that they succeed, it’s a beautiful thing to behold. Any kind of breakaway carries that poetic drama, the plight of the underdog. It’s the most compelling drama, and it works in cycling because it is possible for the underdog to have his day.

3. The only constant in cycling is pain, but from that pain comes moments of raw emotion, guts, genius and glory. I read somewhere that it doesn’t get easier, you just go faster. There’s always somebody prepared to put the hammer down. Usually that somebody is …

The pain and pleasure of Jens Voigt (image courtesy of KreischelAG)

4.  Jens Voigt.  Jens for me is the human embodiment of everything that is great in cycling. He has a sense of honour and loyalty, determination, and above all, a lust for his sport and his life. I don’t think you ever get too old to have role models and heroes, and Jens is mine (no matter how short I fall from the mark).

5.  We can all jump on a bike and ride the same roads as the pros. It’s highly unlikely I’ll ever play football at Wembley, but it’s very possible that one day I will attempt to climb Alpe d’Huez (badly).

You can ride the same switchbacks as the pros and make Alpe d’Huez your own (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

6. We can stand on the roadside and watch our heroes hiss by at speeds I can only read about. We can get close to them too, Pedro Delgado and Miguel Indurain grinned at me on a TT reccy on the Tour, Sean Kelly once ran over my foot, and I can even say (with a little pleasure) that I once accidentally tripped Bjarne Riis up post Paris-Tours. And all that is FREE!

7.  In fact, it doesn’t end there. Twitter has helped create a level of interaction and accessibility that is unprecedented. I’ve had brief conversations with pros, and seen some really open discussions take place. That makes you feel part of the sport, and you feel like these guys are as committed to the fans as much as the fans are committed to them. It’s mutual.

8. It’s not about the bike? Actually, that’s wrong. I love the bike, from the graceful to the demonic, I’m a sucker for bike-porn. The precision that goes into bike engineering is mindblowing, and from functional to beautiful, past to present these machines have got it all. And we can all own our own, and tinker with them to our hearts content.

9. It’s the most photogenic sport. Cycling photography is an art form in its own right. Capturing the intense human effort, endeavour and emotion in the most dramatic of settings.

The beauty of cycling photography (image courtesy of Davide Calabresi)

10. Above all, it’s a community, our community. From the friends I’ve made on Twitter, to the guy that I share a nod and a smile when we pass each other on our daily commute, him thinking he’s Tommy V, me thinking I’m Jens Voigt. We’re all part of it as much as it’s part of us. #livejens

You can follow Ant on Twitter at @AntBeal. He’s funner than a fun thing from Fun Town.

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