On Mud and Gender

The cyclocross season has started and there’s been a few emails and tweets to say “looking forward to your cross coverage”. But as loyal readers know there is no cyclo-cross coverage. It’s also a chance to address why there’s little coverage of women’s racing here too.

Why no cyclo-cross? Because it doesn’t interest me as much as road cycling. I’ve mocked cross before as Belgium’s answer to tractor-pulling but it’s really a sport where participation is superior to watching on TV. You get skills, a workout and a grin on your face. But it’s not the same as watching a race cross a landscape with all the tactics, at least for this blogger. I’d watch it at the Olympics and enjoyed the Worlds earlier this year too. But writing about it? That takes a sharper focus which I don’t have.

It’s the same reason why there’s no track cycling. It’s a useful discipline, vital even given its Olympic aspect which brings in viewers and money. But it has yet to inspire much coverage. The Hour Record gets a mention but perhaps because it features notable road riders? Ditto MTB where the only references are when Nino Schurter rides on the road or the past careers of Cadel Evans or Jean-Christophe Péraud.

Women’s racing is a little different. A few weeks ago a reader asked why there was no preview for the women’s road race. The answer is I don’t follow women’s racing so closely to justify attempting a preview. The difference is I am interested in following the women’s road races but remain more of a typical fan who knows the races and riders and watches the races when possible but doesn’t want to go digging up team budgets or assessing the politics of reform.

I’ve had one or two email discussions over sexist coverage, that this site is covering the men’s side only. True but it’s not meant to be for negative reasons. If this blog discriminates then it does so in many ways, elitist as it sticks to pro racing, on age as there’s little U23 talk, mud-ist as there’s no CX, BMX or MTB.

The Platypus Factor
One blogger once wrote he did what he liked “for the exact same reason God created the platypus: because I feel like it“. In a similar sense there’s no mission to cover everything, it’s only a blog rather than a newswire. The focus is on men’s pro road racing and presumably mining one narrow seam allows me to bring you the detail you want to read. I wish there was more time to cover more topics, and edit out the typos but time’s limited.

Sorry for the inward-looking tone. But if you’re waiting for cyclo-cross previews and The Moment The Race Was Won analysis of the Super Prestige it could be some time. Similar this site doesn’t cover women’s road racing nor U23. It’s narrow but that’s the way it is.

Finally saying CX isn’t for me and that I’ve not got time to write much about women’s racing isn’t meant as a moan. I hope it doesn’t generate too many upset responses. What would help is if readers could share there proffered CX, women’s cycling, track or other niche blogs in the comments below.

77 thoughts on “On Mud and Gender”

  1. I for one appreciate what you do and the interesting, insightful reports and digests. It must take an awful lot of time to put this together.
    Maybe those people who criticised you for a lack of CX or woman’s racing coverage could set up and run their own dedicated sites?!


  2. Good reasoning. You have every right to write what you want in your blog, including bordellos in Stockholm or gay clubs in Minsk, if you feel like it. I think I would welcome some CX coverage here, if only because my time is also limited, and I would follow CX easier if it was informed about here. I suppose hardcore cyclocross fans see road cycling followers as potential CX followers, if they were fed more information about it, a category to which I belong. But of course you should only write what you want to write, and us readers only thank you for it.

  3. Personally, I wish I had a button that would block all the CX coverage that filters into my feeds come the fall. If it weren’t such a hassle I would temporarily unsubscribe from some of the feeds which are heavily into it because to me it’s just noise (“oh look, another muddy field”.) I care as much about CX as I do about track, which is to say I care just enough to be able to recognize the different profiles of ex-track riders and ex-CX riders when they make their way onto the road.

    • +1 Beyond this I can’t shake the odor of bike industry opportunism with ‘cross. When sales of MTB’s tapered off it seems they decided ‘cross was the next-big-thing despite the fact that it’s been going on for a good long time. Once they sold everyone and his fratello a ‘cross bike, gravel bikes were next while MTB’s got 29, 27.5 and whatever the current wheel size fad is now. ‘Cross is fun enough, as is getting beered up and standing in a muddy field watching others…but reading about it is not, so enjoy some downtime Mr. Inner Ring!

      • Plus 1 for Larry, I don’t always agree with you but in this case I am 100% with you.

        Next up look out for the “Fat Bike” revolution at a bike store near you…

  4. Thank you INRNG for an honest assessment of your blog. I am sure that the majority of readers will have similar interests and views. Don’t even think of diluting the main thrust of the blog, the pro road scene, by trying to be a ‘jack of all trades and a master of none’.

    • +1
      A few prominent cycling blogs have tried to stretch themselves to do a bit of everything of late and it seldom sits well with original core readers.
      Your analysis of elite mens road cycling is second to none and we’re all lucky to get it for nothing.
      If people want similar blogs for CX/womens cycling/track surely they can search the internet for whatever they require.
      Enjoy your off-season Mr INRNG, we’re all looking forward to the TDU already.

    • Here-here. If someone wants to read about something else they can go somewhere else. If your personal interests change then so be it. But don’t pander. Your integrity means more then any of this.

  5. Well, don’t worry too much about it. Mr Catalano (cyclocosm.com) already has taken the reins of CX and women’s racing in a very compelling format. His take is short and to the point, albeit rife with details. Keep up the good work, your focus on road has no parallel and you bring a lot to the table.

  6. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to In The Crosshairs and the SVENNESS video series. ‘Cross is covered

    +1 on INRNG continuing the current state of excellence, this blog is a pro road essential for good reason

    • I like their videos and coverage, but dang, wish they’d use something other than Vimeo. Those videos either won’t load or take very long to load. Not sure why, on a nice, new computer with a good wireless connection.

      Also, thanks for the explanation, but as others have written. It’s your passion and your time. I follow road a lot, cross a bit, nothing about track or women’s or mtn. Just what I choose to follow.

      Thanks for all your excellent articles and reports!

  7. I think one of the reasons people find the lack of women’s coverage sad is not because of your blog specifically but because of the lack of coverage generally across women’s cycling/women’s sport/women’s representation in society… so it’s just another sign of a much bigger problem.

    (That’s also why I think you’ve done yourself a disservice by comparing your lack of women’s coverage to your lack of track and other coverage… there is not a broad and literally centuries old movement to improve the lives of track cyclists compared to movements to improve the lives of women. It’s fine for you to choose how you spend your time (especially for this blog) obviously, I want to be quite clear I’m not complaining about that, but maybe don’t try and compare sexism with mudism. Just stick with ‘I enjoy it, but don’t know enough about it and I’m not passionate enough to invest the time needed to find that information out’ and leave it at that.)

    • Are you telling Mr. Ring how he ought to write a post stating that he’ll write what he wants to? Odd.

      Inring finds itself (himself) in a strange position – his amateur blog is of such a high standard that people hold him to professional journalistic standards, or principles. The standard here is much higher than a most of the professional sites, but it must be remembered that it’s just Mr. Ring and his thoughts. Very well-researched and insightful thoughts, of course.

      • You – and others, myself included – have always titled INRNG as Mr.
        But come to think of it; though it is by and large the most probable, couldn’t INRNG be of the female gender despite the dis-interest for women’s cycling?

      • Whether or not someone is a journalist is of no consideration to me when discussing sexism and how people can contribute to a society with less of it. Indeed, whether they are a blogger compared to someone expressing their opinion in another fashion (online or off) is also irrelevant to me. I find it disappointing that you even considered whether or not someone was a journalist to be of relevance. (Are you saying journalist must have non-sexist standards, but lower standards are fine for everyone else? That seems an odd stance to me.)

        What I actually considered before raising my point is whether or not I thought I had any chance of being heard and understood; if I had thought the writer of this blog did not care about the topic and would not welcome constructive dialogue on the subject, I would not have raised it.

        • And INRNG only has so much free time – remember that this isn’t how he/she earns a living or can spend much of their day. So he/chooses where they want to focus. Personally I’d love to have enough free time to do twice the sports I do actually do, but I don’t so I have to pick and choose.

          Same with INRNG.

          As someone else has pointed out, those wanting to read specifically about womens cycling, can look here http://prowomenscycling.com. Where, by the way, the blogger has chosen to write ONLY about womens cycling.

        • “Are you saying journalist must have non-sexist standards, but lower standards are fine for everyone else?”

          I would say so. He’s not delivering the news; he’s providing his own personal views on whatever subject he likes. Accusing him of sexism makes about as much sense as criticising Woman’s Own for not covering men’s issues.

  8. An honest clarification for all. A very wise man once said (probably…) “Everything’s a cliche, so do what you want to do and be happy.”

    I, for one, would be very happy if you keep doing what you’re doing. I’m fortunate, though probably not rare amongst your readership, in that your interests in cycling mirror my own. I’m also fortunate that, thankfully, your literary prowess and insight don’t mirror my own!

  9. Appreciate the clarification but I’ve never felt that you needed to do so. It’s your blog and is good because it focuses on one thing in a unique way and provides us the readers with invaluable insight whether you happen to be a seasoned racer or a bike pootler like me. I suspect that many ask for a wider coverage as they appreciate what you do so much so you become a victim of your own success. I ride MTB’s (sorry 🙂 as well as a road bike and would love your stardust to sprinkle in the mud, but I’m fine that it doesn’t and love this blog for what it does and will never criticise it for what it doesn’t.

    Thanks for the great coverage

  10. I find it sad (and a real commentary on the times we live in) that Inrng even had to write this post. In today’s world, everyone DEMANDS their due and if you don’t give it exactly as they expect, then you are inherently a bad person. I am reminded of the comment by CS Lewis where he refers to people “who resent every kind of superiority in others [and] wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, or choice of food.”

    Or even what they cover in their cycling blog. Keep on writing the great stuff you are known for, Inrng, and let your critics go write their own blogs if they are so inclined.

  11. Cycling Tips has dedicated women’s coverage and the #SVENESS vimeo series covers a “how the race was won” aspect in all detail you could hope for.

  12. I want to add my voice to the chorus praising the quality and passion of the writing that you share with us, and acknowledge how I myself profit (knowledge-wise) from the amount of time and energy you must put into this effort. I am happy to be able to continue to read whatever it is you want to continue to write about.

    I also echo GC above. If anyone doesn’t know cyclocosm.com I whole heartedly recommend checking it out for his ridiculously in-depth analysis of men’s and women’s road and ‘cross racing.

  13. Love your work – I read here daily (Cycling News, Velo News, you, Cycling Tips) sometimes even if there is actual racing on .

    I’m in the Road Only camp – I’m here to read about Pro road racing. I find CX interesting, but out here in the West there is a pretty robust local scene which is kind of more interesting (IMO) than pro CX. Cosmo covers it w/ humor and painful detail at cyclocosm.com, no need to reshash here. If I want MTB I go to pinkbike.com and watch swoopy loamy videos (or go ride out my front door)

    Keep doing what youre doing – I approve and bring the full official authority of my Bachelor of Arts in Literature behind the endorsement

  14. Your clarification was not at all necessary but classy just the same.
    I would be inclined to suggest that criticism of your simply outstanding blog could be interpreted as a sort of compliment; you are perhaps the victim of your own excellence in that regard. This is to be admired. Thank you for your efforts and for living and breathing the road.

    Next folks will want a round of selfies and photos of every meal you eat:)

  15. All said above, but I have no doubt that this blog provides the best coverage available of men’s road racing. I am just grateful for anything that you manage to post.

  16. I see this popping up on a number of blogs that I read. People want fair, balanced, and unbiased reporting. But what they are forgetting is that these are simply BLOGS, they are the opinions of someone who thought to write them and publish. They are the editors section of the magazine, even though they often report facts and results.

    As someone above mentioned, I hope that the inquiries are more requests in nature and not demands for equality. That’s not the point here, it’s like demanding that everyone have an even distribution of drama, comedy, thriller and rom-com in their personal movie collection.

  17. Just to echo the comments above….there should in reality be no need for this post, it’s your blog and we are delighted by the coverage and insight that it provides (and in general for the quality of those that take the time to comment on the posts). Keep going as you are.

  18. It doesn’t read to me like a defence but a mission statement: I will only write about the things I think I know enough about and can cover in enough quality to make it worth reading.

    If only more commentators would follow the example!

    That said, I get the impression from the above that if women’s racing received better coverage and was easier to follow in any kind of depth (rather than being forced to dip into the odd race in an apparently erratic calendar) then INRNG might feel sufficiently informed to start providing more coverage. I sincerely hope that becomes possible – and perhaps the number of people wishing the same degree of insight was available for women’s racing is a positive sign for the sport in general?

    And if INRNG’s coverage of the female side of the sport never particularly increases? I wouldn’t be hurt, or disappointed, as long as I continued to be able to believe it was because of the desire to keep up the quality of the writing.

  19. Do what you do best because you do it better than anyone else on the entire internet. I can understand that those who follow other aspects of cycling would love to read about them here as well, but there’s only so much a blogger can do in their spare time.

  20. It would seem a sign of respect for his readers that Inring offered an explanation for not covering CX and women’s road racing. But, frankly, he doesn’t need anymore explanation or even justification than, “I don’t want to.” He’s under no obligation, legal, moral, or ethical, to cover either.

  21. I don’t think you need to define a scope at all. Write about whatever you think is of interest. Maybe it’s CX, maybe it’s MTB. The best thing about this blog is it’s unconventional approach to cycling related topics.

  22. A very erudite disclosure INRNG.
    “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Lydgate/Lincoln

  23. Can anyone recommend a track blog? I have never found an adequate one that goes beyond superficial news and results. I think that track has a million nuances that would make for fascinating analysis

  24. Keep doing what you do and like best.

    Thanks for the time and effort put into this blog and for providing a platform for civilised discussion; this is actually the only place on the internet where I enjoy reading the comments nearly as much as the articles.

  25. It seems like we all attract the people who are drawn to our passions. If you (inrng) were to write about cyclo-cross, it would perhaps feel to many of us like a dilution of passion.
    Please keep doing what you love and we’ll love you for it!

  26. I agree that Inrng has the right to write on the subject of his choice, but I’d add – just as a counterpoint – that it’s not a bad thing that he is held to a high standard by his readership. Good for him for answering so maturely and in good spirit.

    In the present climate, where Twitter seems to be blurring the lines between professional journalists and amateur bloggers, it’s good to hold the amateurs to professional standards when possible. The alternative is too hold the pros to amateur standards, and that would be bad for everyone.

    • +1
      I’ve seen what happens when amateur bloggers etc reach ‘pro’ status (or pro levels of influence) then go rogue or wildly lash out at criticism–it ain’t pretty.

      Even when inrng or commenters write something I disagree with (I also thought ‘hrm’ at equating sexism to mudism even in jest, but I’m much less brave than kinnibari and didn’t mention it) I have a little more faith now that if I disagree without being inflammatory, inrng won’t textually rip my head off and/or encourage loyal readers to spam my Facebook. Which is nice to know! 😛

  27. Like the rest of us here, I love INRNG’s blog for what it is and wouldn’t change anything about it.

    I second @GB’s hearty recommendation of Sarah Connolly’s http://prowomenscycling.com/ which has great indepth inteviews as well as news and analysis.

    And, like @Jerome, I’d love to know of a similarly high quality track blog. One of the (many) interesting features of track, for me, is the mix of women’s and men’s races in the same event, much like track-and-field athletics. Women get to compete on their own terms but don’t get treated as second best.

  28. Just wanted to add my thanks for the best blog in the internet. I come every day to read. Without meaning to be sexist or ‘mudist’ myself, I also don’t have the time or the interest for women’s racing or CX. That said I still read when YOU talk about them.

  29. You said it all with “this is a blog, not a news wire” and I applaud you for doing with your blog, exactly what you want and will keep reading it.
    Personally, I find quite a bit of mens road racing boring. We seem to be able to predict within a 2.5% certainty who will GT’s these days. Pick 5 guys out of nearly 200 – its always one of those. Classics, I always love them the most but even those there are always favorites. Still some surprises though, Terpstra at PR last year for instance. Who was the last truly surprising GT winner? Maybe Ryder…I love cross I think partially because I know how bad it hurts when Im watching it from having done it myself. The other piece is that there is way, way more technical knowledge and strategy than it seems at face value, of course, that again might be more obvious to folks who race it.

  30. We like it exactly as it is. Of course we like it – it is informed, opinionated, well-written and often funny. And free, and nearly free from adverts!

    Seems to me your greatest challenge is to keep enjoying doing it given the effort/time/money involved. And the expectations of your loyal and growing fan base and the possibility of making money from it will add strains. So staying focussed on what you enjoy and no more is exactly the right tactic. Bravo.

  31. Thanks Mr Ring – certainly agree with all those who’ve said you have nothing to be defensive about. It’s your blog, and the value we all get is because of your deep knowledge (and interest) in the subject. Of course it;s up to you what you’re interested in and knowledgeable about.

    On another note – and the real reason for this quick message – I wore my INRNG cap for the first time out on the (English) road this weekend. Felt very fine indeed.

    Please don’t sell any more so I continue to feel special in it…(!)

  32. certainly agree with your comments, i would say though having just watched the amsterdam six day that is one aspect of track racing that is worthy of mention, if only for the fact that the 200 lap madison is exactly like a mini road race with breaks, succeeding or failing, teams ganging up, on other teams, and horror of horrors riders actually fighting for position and using there elbows and shoulders to do it. Excellent entertainment !

  33. Another (belated) mention for Sarah Connolly (@_pigeons_ on Twitter) and the Pro Women’s Cycling website (prowomenscycling.com). What she doesn’t know about women’s cycling isn’t really worth knowing.

    Here’s a suggestion – why don’t you ask her to do a couple of guest (Women’s Cycling 101 style) blogs next season – might be some good cross-site promotion?

  34. Oddly enough, your passion for only men’s pro road cycling fits exactly into my interest. Thank you for all the work you put into this site. It’s yours, and yours alone, so you can do what you want.

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