Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Truth Revisited.


I came across an interesting thought the other day, it was wedged between social media, my MA and some serious philosophers.

For my masters I had to write a contextual essay (to explain what the hell I thought I was doing), and I decided for I don’t know what reason to investigate the truth in non-fiction books. This is a pretty interesting topic simply because truth is such a difficult thing to define, and almost non-existent in any narrative form.

It went something like this:

The notion of truth in non-fiction is something that ultimately we understand, when engaging in the reading process, will on some level be flawed. On a psychological level ‘The human mind must think with the aid of categories’. (Allport: 1954) Human beings need a framework in which to see things to make sense of the world, but even those frameworks that allow us to understand the world are in fact constructed by our imagination. Kurt Vonnegut explained that writers seek to bring ‘chaos to order’ because ‘There is no order in the world around us’. (Vonnegut: 1988, p.155)

But the definition of truth is more for Plato the Greek than it is a cycling writer… or is it?

Not only did it allow me to examine the difference between some fantastic books (‘Ma verite [My truth] or Positively False anyone?) as well as the others that bend the truth on a much more subtle and calculating level, it also, while distracting myself for a moments respite looking at a social networking site made me think about the eternal debates about bikes and kit. Shimano or Campag, or Trek or Colnago?

We don’t see life in a linear fashion: instead everything we do or see is affected by the bearing of an enormous depth of previous experiences, emotions and feelings. In the same way that it is completely impossible to view a situation or a conversation entirely objectively, one cannot look at a bike with Campag and see the same things as the person next to them.

The facts of the situation would be: do the brakes stop the bike? Do the gears change? Does everything function efficiently?

At the top level all kit will function very similarly within these parameters of truth. So your choice will always have to be based on personal preference and not which is actually better.

Many people have now caught on to the fact that the professionals just ride what they are told, not what they want to ride, or what is necessarily the best, and this is true.

But in second-guessing, people are also missing a massive point. That bike equipment choice is, much like the truth itself, entirely subjective. So what watching those professionals ride, depending on how you look at the riders and if you are prepared to invest emotionally in them as idols, they will still influence your decision.

It is true though that Professionals have no say in what they ride, and likewise that when they ride a bad bike can they ever say anything about it.

I’m no longer a professional though, so here goes: The worst bike I rode was a Boardman with Dura Ace & Ritchey Wheels. The one I made go the fastest was Cannondale with Record. The one that broke the most was a Ridley with Ultegra. The one that got the most admiring glances was a DeRosa with Record, and my favorite was the RCS Condor with Dura Ace.

And you are only racing when you are on tubs. Ain’t that the truth.

4 comments:

  1. Speaking as someone in the cycling industry who is fed up writing about stuff he doesn't want to write about, let alone ride, this is an awesome blog post.

    Tom, I've followed your writings elsewhere and all I can say is that no-one deserves to be able to write AND ride as well as you did/do. Git.

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  2. Thanks man that's very kind.

    Whats funny is that people don't take into account how bad you (as a rider) sometimes feel when they come up and ask you about your bike. Being contractually bound to tell them it's good when its sometimes not, knowing they might spend their cash on it isn't always nice. Still there are ways of leaving hints.. I enjoyed getting that off my chest though, so cheers man.

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  3. Didn't DeVlaeminck buck the trend when asked what was the best bike he had ever ridden? If I'm right, he no longer rode for Brooklyn but still named Gios as the best there was. I do remember Sean Kelly saying that he'd never had a problem with the framesets he rode while with KAS (they had a reputation for coming unglued, Kelly then added that he got a new frame for each race).
    Mike

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  4. Your bike choice truth has been laid bare!

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