The Ride Of A Life Time

Further to yesterday’s post, I noted that I was taken by the description of garvel racing as “an elite contest underwritten by the people who lose.” I also pointed out the following in a recent Outside column about garvel:

What I hadn’t done until now is spent much time on the Life Time Group Holdings Inc. website. There are indeed running events:

And cycling events:

They’re also into coworking spaces:

And apartment complexes:

And fancy gyms like the one they just opened in Brooklyn:

Where membership will cost you $259 per month.

Then of course there are all the CBS oils, and hand-held massagers, and digital fitness classes, and weight loss programs…

Oh, by the way, their stock is up today:

Anyway, none of this is to say I’m against fancy gyms or giant wellness companies or whatever they are:

It’s merely to point out with amusement how delightfully corporate the whole garvel thing has become in such a short amount of time. I mean of course corporate sponsorship has always been a part of competitive cycling, this hardly warrants mentioning:

[Watch out, Cavity Creeps!]

But the traditional model of plastering sponsor banners all over sanctioned competitions seems guileless and downright quaint compared to garvel, which comes off as all indie and alt but is in fact going corporate from the inside out. It even makes me look at the bikes themselves differently:

Every bike company now offers something like this. For decades it was the UCI that was driving commercial sport bike design. Now it’s these unsanctioned lifestyle races, and in this sense garvel bikes are kind of like outdoor Pelotons–they owe nothing to tradition, or to the parameters of sanctioned competition; instead they can be pure fitness tools and unrestrained exercises in marketing. That’s not to say they’re all bad bikes, no doubt many are fantastic. It’s also not to say a UCI-legal road bike somehow has more integrity–indeed, your S-Wanks still gives me massive douche chills. It’s just interesting to watch how the landscape of cycling is changing yet again, becoming increasingly social media- and subscription-based like everything else:

It’s like a frequent flyer program, complete with early boarding:

In the future there will be no winners and losers, only members and non-members.

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