In defense of Twitter

A report was published by the Pew Research Center recently which found that only 6% of ALL Americans use Twitter (8% of Internet using adults). And of that 6% who use the service, 1 in 5 are members in name only, never checking the site for new updates. However, it was also interesting to see that while 21% of Twitter users never check for updates, 24% of users check more than once a day. So an almost equal percentage check never as check all the time. Anyway. Enough stats. Check out the full report for more information.

I’ll gladly admit that not only am I one of the 6%, I’m also one of the 24%, having every Twitter update sent to me as they happen through TweetDeck. However, before July of this year, I wasn’t really sure what the point of Twitter was. Sure, my wit is quite suited for 140 characters, but what can Twitter offer me that Facebook can’t? However, the deeper I got sucked into cycling, the more I realized the value of Twitter. Twitter became a way for me to be part of the cycling community, pro and otherwise. My increased Twitter activity was directly related to my increased interest in cycling! And now, not only do I have to defend my obsession with cycling, I also have to defend my addiction to Twitter! So, what about Twitter makes it such an integral part of the cycling community? Let’s explore.

(a brief note before we begin: for some, this might seem elementary. However, I write so those not familiar with our sport might gain new insight.)

On the fringes

Here in the States (and maybe elsewhere, I’m not sure), we cycling fans have a cross to bear as our sport of choice is woefully under covered by mainstream media. The cycling community is not large and the pro cycling fan base is even more not large. This is where Twitter comes in. Twitter gives us cycling fans a place to find like- minded individuals, a place to follow the pros through their training, races, wins and loses, a place to follow races which aren’t shown on TV or are available online only with Dutch commentary, a place to connect with fellow race watchers around the globe. Through Twitter, pro cycling becomes so much more than just what comes through the TV or computer.

As I’ve used Twitter to engage in the cycling community, I’ve found those I follow generally fall into 3 camps: the riders themselves, cycling news sources, and regular joes like myself who have an invested interest. In addition, I see three main ways Twitter is useful to the cycling community: following races, staying informed on cycling issues/news, and connecting with racers and their teams.

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What the hell is cyclocross?

…And why should I care about it? That’s pretty much exactly what I thought when I first started seeing cyclocross articles once the end of the road season came closer. Frankly, I was pretty dismissive of it at first – what’s exciting about riding in a circle (it’s a circuit course)? And I don’t like mud – it’s gross, not a novelty (mud is definitely a novelty in cyclocross). But I came to realize that ‘cross is like the crazy (drunk) cousin to road racing. People go for good a time, good beer, cowbells, and cheering. It is both a very serious sport and a very ridiculous sport. Those in the top tier are tearing it up and really fighting for the podium, but those further back in the field aren’t afraid to have a little fun! Racers will often grab beers being held out by spectators, or even money thrown onto the course!

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