It is a triumph that has attracted global praise for an Australian team but, on RIDE Media, Simon Yates’ win in the 2018 Vuelta a España has generated minimal comment. Why?
Rob Arnold explains…
For over 20 years, every bike race was important to me. Watching and reporting on cycling became habitual, so much so that I established a media company that allowed me to write about what I love.
Bike racing is wonderful. It is filled with intrigue and endeavour and, when you’re on the ground – or in the know – the stories about cycling flow with ease. Every rider in the peloton has a tale to tell, much like the yarns that emerge when we sit at the coffee shop after a bunch ride. There may be little consequence to many of the actions that get discussed but they yield commentary nonetheless.
It’s fun to talk about what we love. And my love of cycling hasn’t abated since I started riding as a young child. I’m 48 now and over half my life has been devoted to sharing stories about this wonderful thing we do.
Those who know me, realise that much of my adult life has been spent reporting on cycling, often racing, but also other elements of something I believe in.
“It’s not ping pong.” That’s something I say to myself often. My wife has heard me say it frequently too. It means: cycling is more than just another sport. It’s something special that can extend into community and, in my humble appraisal, make the world a better place.
Quite simply, if more people rode bikes, it would be better for society.
(Conversely, if more people played ping pong – table tennis – then there’d be more discussion on the topic, I suppose… but would it change the world?)
What has any of this got to do with Simon Yates and his emphatic win in La Vuelta of 2018? Little to anyone else but me. Still, I’m compelled to publish a few paragraphs explaining why, despite my habit of the past couple of decades, there has been scant commentary on the third Grand Tour of the year on RIDE Media.
It’s essentially this: I’m taking a little break. That’s all. If you need a title for this hiatus, let’s call it ‘long service leave’.
It wasn’t planned. It just kind of happened.
* * * * *
I’ve been out riding… surely the best way to take a break.
In April 2017, RIDE Media announced that it was ceasing the release of “regular printed releases”. That related to the publication of RIDE Cycling Review, a quarterly magazine that had been about since 1998. There are 75 editions and inside the thousands of pages are reviews about cycling – and bikes and products and racing and much more…
Every Grand Tour for well over 20 years has kept me awake late at night (when watching from Australia, or busy throughout the day when reporting on site in Europe) and prompted me to write… and source images and, on the whole, share the excitement that these races can generate.
The Tour de France this year was the last time that I reported on a race in its entirety. It won’t be the last either, but it has been relatively quiet on this site since July.
RIDE Media continues to publish the Official Tour de France Guide (Australian edition) and, together with a band of valued contributors, we will continue to report on cycling for many years to come.
It’s in my blood. It’s part of my professional life. Cycling is hugely important to me and I’m proud of how I’ve been able to share my passion with others for as long as I have.
Ultimately, however, my body (and mind) told me that I needed a break.
Since Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France this July, I’ve continued to watch cycling, and I’ve also ridden my bike(s) a lot more than I have in a long while. Occasionally, I’ve popped up a column on ridemedia.com.au or thrown in a Tweet or FB or Insta post to remind readers that I’ve not dropped off the face of the earth. But actual reporting? No, there’s not been much of that since returning to Australia after my 21st consecutive ‘big loop’ of France at the start of August.
It’s been cathartic. It’s been enjoyable. It’s been healthy. Riding my bike, being a dad, enjoying some rest – these are the things that have kept me busy these past few months. And I’m pleased I’ve taken a break. It was necessary. It is necessary.
These haven’t been idle weeks. I have, in fact, been doing quite a lot. And it won’t be long before I’m back doing as I’ve done for a long time now. I’m working on a few exciting initiatives with RIDE Media that will provide some true longevity for what is already a well-established ‘brand’, a voice for the cycling community. And all will be revealed in due course…
In the meantime, I’m paying attention, writing to keep myself amused, talking to people about cycling, and – of course – riding to remind myself how beneficial the act of pedalling is.
Sitting still isn’t one of my strong points. I’m usually awake early and active throughout the day but lately I’ve made my family the focus, not cycling.
Bike riding is the thing I do now (as I so often have) to get exercise, to unwind, to meditate… to make me feel happy. I continue to do that but, of late, I just haven’t been compelled to share so much about the cycling world as I have since establishing RIDE Media.
Of course, I’ve paid attention to what happened in Spain this September. Of course, like many, I’m impressed by what Simon Yates and his Mitchelton-Scott team have achieved at La Vuelta. Of course, there are many stories that have emerged from that race – and many others that have come and gone during my brief hiatus.
And, of course, I’ll start publishing more things about this wonderful world of cycling again soon. For now, however, it’s family time – me time – and rediscovering the love of many things.
Bike riding is a big part of my life. I’d like it to be a bigger part of the lives of others. It’s not ping pong – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Cycling is something substantial and amazing. It is exciting to watch and brilliant to do. It can inspire us and move us and allow us to see the world in a different way.
Even during my break, I’ve collected stories and made observations that I’m keen to share but I’ve refrained… momentarily. During that time, I’ve rediscovered some of the basics about cycling and why it’s become so important to me and that has proven to be a wise investment that, I hope, will serve me well into the future.
Simon and team: I salute you and your accomplishments. Bravo! But I’m not going to report on them because, this time, I was only there on the periphery… watching from afar and observing what’s beautiful about cycling. And it’s been most rewarding.
As always, thanks for reading… I’ll start writing again soon. For now, however, I’m going for another ride.