Back in days when the VeloCast was a podcast and the world’s madness level was a tolerable “goofy” - these days, of course, we’re all dangerously close to a complete meltdown, teetering, as we are, at frightening “Gaga” levels - myself and John did a fair bit of talking about the UCI and Pat McQuaid. You remember those times, don’t you? A time when Alberto Contador and Bjarne Rhis dreamed of a grand tour triple in a single year. Sad, deluded fools that they were. Salad days indeed.
I also blogged about Pat McQuaid quote a lot too. So much so that in the wake of the Floyd Landis allegations, typing ‘Pat McQuaid’ into your search engine of choice resulted in seeing my posts listed above both the UCI homepage and it’s president’s Wikipedia entry. Surreal but true. So with the world at large growing ever more bonkers by the hour I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was compelled to point out that the old sod was out of bed again, wandering down the corridor of his care home in Aigle, in slippers and bare-arse surgical gown, mumbling something about good old days of Reynolds 531. The opportunity presented itself today when Carlton Reid posted his article on the BikeBiz.com website.
Carlton was at the UCI’s care home for the uncommonly bewildered in Switzerland recently to hear about the lovely things the
inmates residents have been doing with a new sticker machine. Or something. The bikebiz editor was good enough to point out that he was there, all expenses paid, “thanks to the largesse of the UCI” to learn about their campaign to have new bikes rubber-stamped by the UCI to say “Pat McQuaid has personally ridden this bike and can assure you that it hasn’t been built by blind, syphilitic, Vietnamese orphans and that a madman won’t jump out of the bushes with a blazer and a clipboard to deny you entry to your next Club 10”. Or something.
I don’t know how much it cost the UCI to bring Carlton from his home in the north east of England all the way to the rarified air of UCI HQ in Aigle, but if I was the UCI I wouldn’t exactly believe that I’d gotten value for money from Mr. Reid. Perhaps we’ll find out when the UCI publish their annual accounts. Oh, hang on…..Hmmmmm.
The article says:
The UCI is largely funded with cash from the International Olympic Committee and it spends much of this money on outreach work, delivering programs in the developing world to foster and encourage cycle sport. The UCI’s HQ velodrome, and outdoor BMX track, are full to bursting with youngsters from nations that don’t benefit from global pay-TV company sponsorships.
This is excellent work, largely unsung.
“Spends much of it…”. That’s the thing, though. We don’t know how much is spent on outreach work or the “approved by UCI” sticker campaigns or PR junkets for the world’s cycling press, throwing as much caviar, champagne and beach towels (seriously! - ask Carlton) as their suitcases will cope with. Carlton called the UCI a “bombastic, bureaucratic, bossy, Bolshy bunch of blazers” so clearly it’s not exactly been a success.
And it’s not that I begrudge the cycling journos the trip. Who would? I could certainly do with a free jaunt to Switzerland at the moment. I like Toborelone and cuckoo clocks as much as the next man.
But Carlton is wrong to suggest that homologation is a grand idea. Certainly not in the way that the UCI are approaching it. The flimflammery over the cost of the programme and not appreciating the size and scale of the world’s bicycling industry is entirely besides the point. It’s tantamount to finding a man bleeding to death in the street and wondering why no one has thought to treat the graze on his knee with a wee bit of anti-sceptic cream.
And that’s before we get into McQuaid’s lunacy of suggesting that a five grand bike is produced in China for $30:
“And they’re turning out thousands and thousands of these carbon fibre or Kevlar or whatever frames, at a cost of maybe $30 or $40 a piece, and that same bike is ultimately being sold as a bike on the market for four or five or six thousand Euros.
“Our problem is, this initial frame, of twenty or thirty or forty dollars, where are the safety aspects? Where are the safety parameters in the making [of that frame]? That’s something we’re going to have to address with the industry as we move on. We have to bear in mind the safety aspect of the sport. There’s a whole change that has happened which is making racing less safe and causing more crashes.”
This was said by Pat McQuaid, as some kind of weird justification of the homologation programme, recently. If anyone reading this happens to live next door to Pat could you pop over to his house and pass on the following message: THIS IS NOT YOUR CONCERN. Safety is the concern of the manufacturers. Nothing to see here, Pat. Back to bed with a nice cup of cocoa and everything will be OK. I have yet to see the governing body of swimming issuing a decree that the Speedo trunks being worn by athletes need to be regulated as swimmers competing at London 2012 next year are in serious danger of getting a ‘wedgie’.
This was said by Pat McQuaid, as some kind of weird justification of the homologation programme, recently.
If anyone reading this happens to live next door to Pat could you pop over to his house and pass on the following message: THIS IS NOT YOUR CONCERN. Safety is the concern of the manufacturers. Nothing to see here, Pat. Back to bed with a nice cup of cocoa and everything will be OK.
I have yet to see the governing body of swimming issuing a decree that the Speedo trunks being worn by athletes need to be regulated as swimmers competing at London 2012 next year are in serious danger of getting a ‘wedgie’.
The idea of forcing manufacturers to adhere to the UCI’s ludicrous set of standards (Carlton rightly talks about the completely out-dated weight limit) is anti-competitive and it does nothing more than to stifle innovation and put jobs at risk within the industry. Honestly, I am absolutely stunned that Trek, Giant, Specialized and many other manufacturers haven’t chartered a flight to the UCI headquarters full to bursting with rabid lawyers.
When the idea of bikes being approved by the UCI was first floated - or perhaps it was over the stink they created with the Specialized Shiv - I recall saying on the podcast that the only way that the UCI can have the level of control that seem to want was for the UCI to actually become thte manufacturer and build the bike to their own very detailed specifications. This would mean that all riders, from all teams, would all be racing the same UCI bikes, for all races. Problem solved. N’est pas?
However, we do know that Pat McQuaid is mad. But I don’t think even he has gone beyond “Gaga” levels. He’s not quite that mad. Is he?