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Friday poll: is cycling "proletarian" or "elite" sport?(23 posts)

Friday poll: is cycling "proletarian" or "elite" sport?cyclopathic
Nov 14, 2003 9:37 AM
I guess the answer depends on where you live, still

Many pro racers have blue color background, and heck many of them ride worse bikes/wheels then we do.

/poll dedicated to Terry B/
Pro cycling is blue collar, Rec cycling is somewhat elite.T-Doc
Nov 14, 2003 9:48 AM
only because high-income middle-aged people cycle to get in shape then get into the "toy" feeling is they (we) support the industry by over-purchasing stuff we don't really need. But traditionally, cycling is a blue collar sport.
Track cycling in US historically very blue-collar.Humma Hah
Nov 14, 2003 10:04 AM
It was very big in industrial towns. Still is in Lehigh Valley.
Nov 14, 2003 10:09 AM
I was talking to a cycling buddy from Mexico who described going to the Velodrome as a family and watching the races every Friday night. One comment..." the crashes are spectacular"...reminded me of the way NASCAR used to be in the US
I just finished reading a book about track cyclingDave Hickey
Nov 14, 2003 10:15 AM
It's origins go back to the six day races where fans would come to watch while drinking and betting on the outcome.
It had a circus like atmosphere.
many races used to end up on velodromecyclopathic
Nov 14, 2003 10:30 AM
it was a tradition: Bordeaux-Paris, PBP, TdF.. last '99 pro-PBP end up with spring on velodrome
'59 not '99 my bad nmcyclopathic
Nov 14, 2003 10:31 AM
"The Crooked Path to Victory" is the bookDave Hickey
Nov 14, 2003 10:37 AM
The book's focus is drugs and cheating in cycling but it gives great accounts of cycling from the late 1800's up til today.
I believe it was the biggest spectator sport in the nation ...Humma Hah
Nov 14, 2003 12:52 PM
... for a while. Six-days events were a main attraction at Madison Square Garden.
I believe it was the biggest spectator sport in the nation ...ukiahb
Nov 14, 2003 8:41 PM
yep, that's what I've read in "Hearts of Lions" by Peter Nye...which is a history of American bicycle racing and is well worth reading
I was tempted to say ...Humma Hah
Nov 14, 2003 12:50 PM
... it was the NASCAR of its time, except it was never quite as popular in the south.

It was poor-man's motorcycle racing. Early motorcycle races were done on very similar tracks. Very fast. Very dangerous. Even the spectators were frequently killed. Track racing thrived longer, being as the motorcyclists and their fans tended to die off.
Europe- Blue collarDave Hickey
Nov 14, 2003 9:59 AM
In Europe, pro cycling is a way out of the working class. Look at the backgrounds of the the Pros. Many come from butchers, farmers, etc... As for the the US, certainly recreational cycling tends toward the elite. Even some of the pros(Tyler Hamilton) come from a wealthy background
I can't figure it outgtx
Nov 14, 2003 10:23 AM
I've spent a considerable amount of time in Italy (live in Florence for 7 months, have lots of relatives there and visit frequently--both rural and city). I mostly see middle aged guys on the bikes. I rarely see anyone younger. Where are the new Itlian pros coming from? I see tons more riders in the 14-22 year range in the US--backgrounds from lower middle class to wealthy. Maybe in Italy they're taken young from the farms and then sequestered in top secret training camps? Generally, though, I see a lot more interest in soccer.
Europe- Blue collarbrad nicholson
Nov 14, 2003 11:09 AM
living and riding in europe i would say that while it is true that many pro riders come from family backgrounds of blue collar origins the majority, as in the us, come from the upper middle class. the reason is simple, the money it requires to train, equip onesself, and travel to race is exorbiant. however that being said almost everyone here rides something of a bike. i guess the conclusion i draw is that most "serious" cyclists tend to come from higher end jobs due to the costs involved. if it were less expensive to play it would be more popular but having seen bike prices in europe (OMG!) we had all better be thankful for our lbs' back home!
Europe- Blue collarT-Doc
Nov 14, 2003 11:22 AM
I guess the costs of cycling have taken it out of the blue collar realm everywhere. It may be, however, that the pros still come from blue collar backgrounds, as in other professional sports...sometimes its the only way a lower or low middle class individual can "make it."
Yes & No...Dwayne Barry
Nov 14, 2003 9:59 AM
If I may generalize:

In the US it is almost exclusively an elitist activity taken up by aging middle-class to upper-class folks to fight off the encroaching mid-section bulge. Even if you look at racers there is a disproportionate percentage of late 20s, 30s and even 40 year olds who start racing and continue racing, while the junior and espoir ranks are aenemic. Consequently, in the US it appears to be so much more "about the bike" (coupled with the American propensity to have-to have the latest greatest whatever to keep up with the Jones phenomenon) and not about the "sport" of cycling. I think this newsgroup actually is a great representation of US cycling as a whole.

In Europe its much more blue-collar; it's either about the P.O.S. bike as a commuting tool, or about the sport of cycling. The latter typically taken up as a junior and dispensed with by the vast majority of riders when they realize they don't have the talent for it. Your recreational cyclists are then drawn from the pool of folks who liked riding from the time they were kids or ex-racers. It's much less about the bike in Europe, Dura-ace is for pros and whatever bike you were riding 10 years ago when you gave up racing is good enough for the Sunday jog around the countryside.
Yes & No..., you're rightt5rguy
Nov 14, 2003 12:37 PM
I'd say that over here in Holland it's changed from a predominantly blue collar sport 25 years ago to a more mixed population now. That's the reason there are not many Dutch successes anymore! Besides that there aren't many young people to sign up for the sport, it's too much time consuming.
Yes & No...Tom C
Nov 14, 2003 3:16 PM
Bravo and well said.
Cycling: proletariat; Posting 'Friday poll...': elite! (nm)hrv
Nov 14, 2003 11:52 AM
re: Friday pollSao
Nov 14, 2003 12:51 PM
I think it really has to do with how much one is willing to fork out for equipment. A lot of us ride way better bikes than we really need and *could* get by with less. But if you have some cash, why not? Certainly it's a lot cheaper than getting into motorcycles and cars (which a lot of cyclists also do - I ditched my motorcycle years ago). So there is the appearance, at least, of some elitism when a shiny bike with an equally shiny rider flies by but it doesn't nearly equate to the $40,000+ price tag of a fine sports car (sans lycra).
re: Friday pollSao
Nov 14, 2003 12:53 PM
Not that I'm passing JUDGMENT on those of you with $40,000+ sports cars, mind you!

re: Friday poll: is cycling "proletarian" or "elite" sport?CritLover
Nov 14, 2003 6:53 PM
I think cycling as a sport is elite. Cycling for travel is proletarian. (Obviously not an absolute, but I think predominantly the case)

I don't know about what other people have observed, but most racers in my area are one if the following
1. White collar whites
2. Middle to upper class whites who have chosen to be poor to try to go pro
3. Hispanic or African American blue collar.

Just my experience, although it seems to be about 95% that way in NYC.

As for Italy, asked an Italian fella I met tonight whether cycling (racing) was something exposed to and followed from a young age, and he said that in some areas it was very big, but in many areas it was meaningless. He said, and I quote, "It's not like they are in Germany, they're really crazy for biking there." Completley ended the misconceptions of how Italians feel about cycling.
Mind Youbiketillyapuke
Nov 14, 2003 6:57 PM
You have to define "Blue collar.". If you belong to a union, have healthcare, and have a decent wage, then you have hit the trifecta. If you work for Tyler Pipe in Texas, or Macdonalds, or Wall Mart, where they screw the employees at lower than living wages, that is different. I'm not sure how many cyclists come from that background.
Also, remember, in Europe the executive class earns 18-31 times what the working class does depending on the country and they pay 65% in taxes. In the US an executive earns 410 what a worker does and pays 35% in taxes. Many European countries have universal health coverage, etc, etc. So you are really comparing apples to oranges.

On the other hand, cycling is one of the best things that you can do in the world for yourself and the environment. I could go on forever about this. Suffice to say that all cyclists on any frame, with any components, rock.