Thursday, February 14, 2013

Proportion of Cycling News Stories

Whether we admit it or not, the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong changes everything.

Until 2013, Lance created at least some sense of patriotism and heroism among the non-cyclists we live among.  It may not have blunted the overwhelming animosity we often feel from passing vehicles, but it was at least some positive notion they could associate with us as they passed--these guys are like that guy who defeated cancer and is an awesome American.

Now we are likely to be associated with lying, doping, bullying, and abuse of cancer victims.

Just how to put this into context?

Consider this graph, which shows the number of searchers for cycling's current biggest stars, excluding Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Interest spikes around the races each of these riders won or nearly won.

Now throw in Sir Bradley Wiggins to the mix:

Wiggins as an object of interest dwarfs interest directed at other riders.  Much of this is demographics and the historic nature of Wiggins' win, just as much as it had to do with Wiggins winning cycling's biggest race.

Followed as it was by his victory in the Olympics, Wiggins as a news story and object of interest of the general public, well, it's about the most interesting story since a guy from Texas with one testicle won the Tour de France.

How big of a story was that guy from Texas?  Well, the story of Lance's disgrace, even several years after the memory of his victories, dwarfs Wiggins' success, as this graph shows:

Cycling's biggest winner in years, Bradley Wiggins, barely gets a blip in comparison with Lance Armstrong.  Such is the scale of Lance and interest in Lance.

This is a reality of cycling today.  It'll be many more years before we can ride around without someone thinking immediately of him, just as it took years after the release of Forrest Gump for idiots to stop shouting "run, Forest, run" at anyone ambling along outside the confines of their motorized scooter.

I'm sorry.  But this is reality.

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