February 16, 2023
The new Rouleur magazine, the Body issue, is now available. Editor Edward Pickering tells us what’s in the magazine
In the introduction to my rundown of what went into Rouleur 116: Mind, I mentioned that the best thing about road racing was that clever riders can beat stronger rivals. I stand by that. But as I was putting together the latest edition of the magazine, Rouleur 117: Body, it occurred to me that the best thing about road racing is also that it is open to so many different body types.
There’s a famous stat, cited in David Epstein’s book The Sports Gene, that 17 per cent of American men aged 20 to 40 who stand seven feet tall, played in the NBA. Of course, not many people grow to seven feet, so we’re not talking about many people, but the point is that basketball generally selects for height. Most professional basketball players are tall, and the presence of a few shorter individuals does not alter the general truth.
Other sports also select for body type. Sumo wrestling is an obvious example. Elite marathoners are all slight. Swimmers generally have long arms relative to their heights and big hands and feet.
But road cycling? Power to weight counts, and so at the elite level the sport does select for leanness, plus, obviously, cardiovascular fitness. But riders can be short, tall, broad and narrow, and everything in between, and can find success. Climbers are always light, though they can be short or tall; sprinters may present in a more muscular fashion, but they can also be tall or short. Puncheurs may be light or stocky; rouleurs tend to be taller. Many riders thrive on specific territory, but the sport’s terrain is so varied that there is something for everybody.
However, it’s important to acknowledge that cycling as a sport and activity has also in the past been less inclusive. The iconography of the sport has celebrated the idealised, lean body type of the professional athlete and the keen amateur. But cycling is not just for people whose body fat percentage is below a certain number. As Beau Marksohn, the Instagram influencer I interviewed in this magazine points out, anybody who turns a pedal is a cyclist, and cycling must work on creating a space that is welcoming to everybody. Rouleur 117 celebrates the diversity and inclusivity of life on two wheels. To…
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