Apart from being asked if I’d like to road test the latest isotonic chamois cream, the question I’m asked most often is if I’ll feature one of any number of sponsored charity bike ride on The Bike Show.
Ride a bike anywhere in a group these days and chances are someone will ask “is it for charity?”
I love cycling and I’m all in favour of supporting good causes, but I see no reason to conflate the two. In fact, think that it can do a lot of harm.
Why? Well, the very idea of sponsorship suggests that riding a bicycle is difficult or unpleasant and requires some extra inducement. I believe that riding a bicycle one of life’s great pleasures, like having a lie-in at the weekend, going to the cinema or drinking a fine wine. In so many ways, bicycling is its own reward. Would anyone seriously seek sponsorship to fund a lying-in-bed, movie-watching, fine wine charity drink-a-thon? It’s true, John and Yoko staged a number of bed-ins for world peace, but they didn’t ask anyone to sponsor them.
Not only do sponsored bike rides send out wrong signals about the ardour of cycling, a charity bike ride may well lure people who’ve not ridden much into undertaking a ride for which they are underprepared. I can think of little more likely to discourage someone who has never ridden a bike before from riding a bike again than the experience of getting exhausted, sunburned and saddle sore on a 55 mile London to Brighton charity bike ride.
I know that people may disagree with me on this but for the avoidance of doubt, there will be no sponsored bike rides featured on The Bike Show.