The Peloton Singularity
By David Millar
Feb 19, 2019
Professional cyclists – they’re a case apart. None of them find what they do remarkable, in fact they’re absolutely convinced it’s normal. After all, it’s all they know. They’re conditioned to find the extraordinary, well, ordinary. It’s rare to meet a champion professional cyclist, even a rider for the ages, and not walk away thinking, ‘What a lovely young man.’ Don’t get me wrong, like everything in life there are anomalies, yet experience has taught me that the vast majority are gentle and unassuming, yet there’s also something else going on deeper down, which I think can be explained.
Their first bike rides alone, where the freedom and the sensation of flight opened up a previously unknown universe, were actually the beginnings of a trip they could have never imagined joining and it designs and conditions and changes them into something harder, it forges them into something else.
Crashes don’t stop races, they barely even slow them down, you learn to ignore the shit that goes on around you, doesn’t matter who it is. By the time you’ve made it to the highest level of the professional ranks you’ve learnt not to stop for anybody, no matter how bad it looks and how much you care. You know nobody will stop for you, you accept they won’t stop for you.
That’s why you get back up.
“Put me back on the bike.”
Welcome to the pros.
I think that is why to date it has been so hard to get the peloton to unify, it’s hard to do that when at a deep level it operates at such a singular level, and the sport knows no different. It’s not only crashes, the whole of professional cycling feels like it operates in a short-sighted, survival of the fittest, Game of Thrones type of existence, and the cyclists are the foot soldiers on the front line, expendable and replaceable.
The peloton is conditioned to operate on a day-by-day basis, don’t think about tomorrow, forget about yesterday, live for today. Every night’s sleep is a reset, it’s the only way a professional cyclist can handle the relentless physical and mental stress. It works well for racing, it doesn’t work well for governing.
The peloton needs a body that wakes up every day and fights on their behalf, and doesn’t just think about yesterday, today or tomorrow, but studies everything that’s happened before and plans for years ahead while protecting them every day. It’s time for the peloton to become the singularity in cycling.