The Mighty Garbutt Speaks



I’m a subscriber to the Comic. Like most subscribers to the Comic i complain loudly and vociferously about the marginalisation of many of the traditional elements of cycling, especially club life and the UK time trial and hill climb scene. I also complain about the absence of race coverage of any depth and the paucity of results in favour of relentless self-promotion of their sportive series.

It was interesting to see Garbutt’s editorial this week bemoaning the standards of riding out in the sticks near Croydon or wherever the CW lodgings are.

“the rise of the rubbish rider is a step too far… ”

His solution is an interesting one:

“There’s much to be said for being a member of a traditional cycling club. So many of today’s newbie riders would certainly benefit from the experience”

All sitting comfortably next to the index:

Turn to page 22 for “CW’s latest sportive triumph”.

If CW had perhaps spent more time supporting the grass roots of cycling and club life and less time chasing the sportive dollar, Garbutt’s specious comments might make sense. The last Gran Bloato sportive I stumbled across didn’t have a club jersey in sight, no-one said a word to anyone else and I had to weave around the zigzag wanderers. Such is the egocentrism of the current bike boom; all digitised high score tables, massively expensive bikes and extortionately priced bike rides. The Comic is at the heart of the desperate race for bike boom quids, selling their past and readership for a few cheap energy gels and a some loose marketing copy pebbledashed with the words ‘epic legendary sufferfest’.



4 thoughts on “The Mighty Garbutt Speaks

  1. bikevcar September 5, 2013 / 7:51 pm

    The “marginalisation of many of the traditional elements of cycling” – what about the simple pleasure of commuting by bike. Forget poncing around in pro-team kit once a month doing sportives and talking about carbon, get a decent bike, slap on some mudguards and panniers and ride the thing every day.

  2. Simon E September 10, 2013 / 8:09 am

    “The Comic is at the heart of the desperate race for bike boom quids, selling their past and readership for a few cheap energy gels and a some loose marketing copy pebbledashed with the words ‘epic legendary sufferfest’.”

    Ain’t that the sorry truth 😦

    I glanced at this week’s copy, couldn’t believe that several pages were devoted to a bare list riders’ times in a recreational ride, which is presumably more precious to the publication than devoting space to a Grand Tour or domestic racing. I don’t know what planet Mr Garbutt is on but it doesn’t look like one I recognise (or want to pay £2.99 to inhabit briefly).

  3. Cris September 12, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    Jeez, a friend of mine knows you and says you’re a nice guy, however you don’t half come across like an arrogant so and so.

    If you’re the typical person people can expect to meet at a hill climb or club run, is it any wonder the scene is suffering?!

  4. traumfahrrad September 13, 2013 / 5:59 pm

    Cris – without being facetious, i can’t really understand your comments. Yes, there’s invective in this post, and yes it’s aimed at the comic, and to a lesser extent the standards of bike-riding and the whole sportive monster.However, it’s bracketed with html code for curmudgeon. I also wonder if you’ve read many of the other posts on this blog; the ones that celebrate club life, that eulogises and rhapsodise about the simple pleasures of riding a bike, even the ones that grudgingly admit in vaguely snobbish manner that there is room for sportives in the calendar, things like that, as long as there is some semblance of equanimity and respect for the traditions of the sport, something which doesn’t always happen. blogs are by their very nature personal, there’s always an inescapable accusation of arrogance; after all, i’m actually writing about myself and what i think and presuming -arrogantly? – that people might want to read it. beyond that, this is a blog about racing, about bikes, about cycling culture, about the past, the countryside, traditions of cycling clubs rooted in the leisure movement, the working class, community and the fabric of social history. it’s about the fellowship of the road, which is far from arrogance, and i guess, ultimately, cycling clubs are about the fellowship of the road. i’ve spent most of the weekend doing the accounts for a race I organised that is predicated on a couple of basic premises: it must break even, no more no less, everyone is welcome, it relies on volunteers and the tea and coffee are free. hence it costs £7. this is a million miles away from many of the current representations of cycling. you can call me arrogant for questioning this, and the inconsistencies of the cycling press in the way they chase the sportive pound, but i can’t help but feeling you’re missing the point somewhere. And lastly, with regard to the slightly personal “If you’re the typical person people can expect to meet at a hill climb or club run, is it any wonder the scene is suffering?!”, the scene isn’t suffering, at all. Hill climb entries are through the roof. Club life is burgeoning, growing year on year, membership is up, more and more people are seeing the attractions of being members of a club. Club life is ongoing, welcoming, bigger than its members, the antithesis of the individualism of modern life. maybe i’m not typical of the kind of people you meet at a hill climb or club run, but i can state unequivocally, that invective aside, i’m open and friendly, welcoming to all cyclists, actively encouraging to new riders, a staunch supporter of club life, someone who gives freely of their time to organise races in the locality, and maybe occasionally a bit strong with my opinions, but arrogant? I’d beg to differ.

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