Bicycle Racing + the Twitterwebs

Breaking news: Ted King of the Cervelo TestTeam will be racing the Tour of Austria this July. He would like to race the Tour next July.

Now this is clearly not that big a story. Ted King is in his first year of a Pro Tour contract with one of the strongest teams in the world (see 2008 yellow jersey winner and 2008 green jersey runner up), and at 26, he’s just settling into the life of an international pro. What is a big story is how I found out about Ted’s plans. He sent me a direct message via the Twitterwebs.

Bicycling Magazine did a short piece on twitter in the pro peloton a few months back, so I’m aware I’m breaking no ground here. What I want to talk about though, is how perfect twitter and cycling are for each other. Bicycle racing is a community sport. Any two bicycle racists may know each other by name, face, reputation, or bike, see each other every weekend, and live literally hundreds of miles away from one another. When we race, we race in a group, and we even ride in teams in what is an ostensibly individual sport. Off the bike, bike people are still bike people. There are guides to understanding us that we wish our friends would read (see Roadie by Jamie Smith). Better yet, we should just hang out with other bike people. The trouble is, we aren’t that big a proportion of the population. Enter technology.

At my core, I hate technology. I secretly loved it that my parents waited until 2006 to buy a DVD player, all of my electronics are scratched, broken, or some combination of the two, and I recently deleted (with great pleasure) my account on the facebooks. Technology–specifically the innertubes, though, has presented a medium by which we can connect with other bike people without having to make a 2 hour drive to a muddy field in rural Maryland to hang out for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. Enter the next big thing in social networking on the innertubes–twitter.

The twitterwebs are still relatively small compared to other social networking tools like the facebooks, the myspaces, even the blogging outposts, but they are both simple and powerful (see the Twitter Revolution or “twitterution”). Twitter is also fantastic for our purposes–sharing quick notes about races, training rides, or just spotting a unicyclist at our favorite training grounds.

The twitterwebs present to us, the weekend warriors and fans of the sport, a chance to get inside the heads of the athletes who make a vocation out of our collective avocation. Lance Armstrong is notorious for tweet tweet tweeting away, even on training rides up in Aspen. Conveniently enough for us, Lance has compiled a list of riders in the Tour who get down with the twitterwebs. Check out:

Astana riders
@lancearmstrong
@levileipheimer

Columbia riders
@ghincapie
@mickrogers
@markrenshaw1 (featuring guest tweets by Mark Cavendish)
@bradwiggins

Garmin riders
@dzabriskie… probably the funniest guy in the peloton
@christianvdv
@thedpate

Skil Shimano riders
@koendekort
@fumybeppu

Silence-Lotto riders
@wegelius
@cadelofficial, the Boyd’s Bear

And others
@bdlancaster of Cervelo TestTeam
@laurenstendam of Rabobank
@stevendejongh of QuickStep
@andy_schleck of SaxoBank and my choice for a 3rd place finish in the Tour

And one more rider who you’ll no doubt be seeing in future Tours, @iamtedking. While you’re at it, give me a follow, @bikesnobdc.

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