Peter Walker bemoans cyclists having to shell out, just like everyone else
Ask a road cycling fan if they have a significant pre-Olympics gripe, and it's unlikely they'll cite spiralling costs, a surface-to-air missile on the roof terrace or even Duran Duran. What's likely to get them hot under the collar is being asked to pay money to watch a sport that is, by tradition, free.
Just like road cycling itself is free of tax, insurance, excise duty, licensing and, for some, any rules of the road…
… cycling fans always had the consolation of being able to watch the road race. After all, with the men's course totalling about 150 miles and not far short of 100 miles for the women, there would be space for everyone to watch Mark Cavendish, Lizzie Armistead et al whizz past.
But I guess that’s changed?
… this week and for the first time, the Olympic organisers decided to charge spectators – adult tickets range from £10 to £15.
Oh, noes! Disaster!
To many, this might seem perfectly fair.
Indeed! And it’s not like there isn’t a precedent, even for cycle-aficionados…
After all, those attending mountain biking events had to pay out anything up to £45, while tickets at the BMX track went up to £125.
But you thought that, as this took place on public roads, you’d be exempt. But you reckoned without the avarice of LOCOG, didn’t you?
Others were not so happy: in comparison, 12 million-plus spectators a year can bag any prime spot for free at the Tour de France (provided they get there ahead of time). The general assumption had been that, aside from in temporary grandstands at the finish in the Mall in central London, road cycling fans would be spared the lottery of tickets.
You know what happens when you assume, I take it?
Personally, I'm disappointed…it would have been nice to emphasise that for all the occasional geek-ery about carbon fibre frames and aerodynamic wheels, cycling remains one of the more democratic of pursuits: all you need is any old bike, a stretch of road and knowing how far and hard you want to push yourself.
Is it really a ‘democratic pursuit’ when you are using, for free, a resource paid for and maintained by the efforts of others?
I know you would resist any temptation to brand it a cheapskate sport because deep down you really do love cyclists, Julia.
A big question, how are they going to collect the ticket money and how are they going to stop people being in a public place.
The fact that no one has been able to work that out is why anyone can watch the Tour de France.
I will be going out on my new wheels after F1 qualifying, Julia. Perhaps I can beg dinnersomewhere, later. tbfn
How are they going to charge someone for standing in a public, which has been paid for out of taxation? Just like the rest of the Olympics really, we've paid for the bloody thing and now they want to charge us again for it.
How typical of the cycling fraternity to expect everything to be free to them but paid for by other people ..
Much the same is happening in Weymouth with the sailing events ..
(scroll down to the "Viewing the Sailing" section) ..
But I've yet to hear a pathetic, whinging, whining outcry from the sailing fans ..
Personally, I'm eternally grateful that I live nowhere near any Olympic venue and will be doing my damndest to avoid seeing, hearing or reading about anything to do with the wholly unnecessary, cripplingly expensive & tawdry charade ..
It wasn't a free day by any means, JuliaM. I had to pick up a Chinese on the way home. Ignoring the lycra, they charged me full price! Additionally, I'm only doing 35 mpcb (miles per chocolate bar) plus 2 litres of (metered) water.
If my Uncle Hamish was still alive he would call it profligacy.
If cycling should be free to view because it's so 'democratic', shouldn't running also be? After all, for that you don't even need to buy (or nick) a bike.. and you could in theory do it barefoot if you didn't acquire some trainers in the riots last summer. Likewise swimming, as long as you swim in the sea or another open body of water. And what about football? Plenty of kids seem to manage to kick a ball about using jumpers for goalposts so why are we charging people to see Olympic football?
"How are they going to charge someone for standing in a public, which has been paid for out of taxation? "
It's quite easy. Rope it off.
"If cycling should be free to view because it's so 'democratic', shouldn't running also be?"
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