By Seb Kemp
It has been another hard week for Gee Atherton. An injury has pushed him onto the couch and deep into the world of British pub culture documentary, Coronation Street. For anyone unfamiliar with the chronicles of the residents of the Rover Return then all you need to know is that yes, the characters speak a peculiar strain of English, spend most of the time in the boozer, and although nothing ever actually happens you feel like it is worthwhile watching episode after episode in case something does.
After Corrie, anything seems worthwhile.
But this is TV, not long ago our lives revolved around the idiot box in the corner of every living room but now we have far better things to entertain us. That's right, the internet. We have it with us almost all the time whether on our computer, our cell phones or our tablets. Constantly connected and with an infinite scope of entertainment available to us, the internets are what turn our eyes square now.
Bizarrely, this week Bike Radar announced that it was going to meld its British based media empire to a remote reviewing station in North America. I don't think someone has explained how the internet works to the chaps behind this announcement. I actually don't think it was the Brits who were making the fuss this time.
Baby want some attention? Coo chi coo.
Showing that heavy hitting critique, classic style and old school character still has a place in the modern world of Instagratification and internet ingenuity, The Albion magazine announced that it too will be jumping the pond but definitely not the shark. Although The Albion requires the reader to shut down the attention seeking, glowing panel of mind-Googling resources, it still shares something with the internet. It is free, you can read it anywhere, and it has no boundaries.
However, all this talk about Brits aboard makes it sound like their presence on the crispy bacon side of the Atlantic is rare. Not true. Take, for example, Chipps, stalwart of British publishing and veteran of Trans-Atlantic fact-finding missions. This week he, along with many others, was down in Monterrey, California for the annual Sea Otter Classic.
It's not easy getting bombarded and bamboozled with the stream of information and constantly concerned that the real story could be right there but you are missing it. What is more, the internet means it becomes a race for the headlines. Late nights and long days are the only way in the information arms race. There is no time to digest the story, let alone a 6-inch Subway.
Twitter offers us the snap shots of all the information we may need, like the results from events. With a mobile device and Twitter, it is possible to get real time results wherever we are. Of course, this doesn't mean we get all the information and story. More so, those transferring the "news" can frame it however they wish or are constrained by the diminutive 140-character allowance.
Even though we are connected, it is necessary for the full story to emerge. I am nervous that the gathering pace of reporting is going to mean real story is overlooked. When everyone is racing to be first with blurting out the headline there is no room for the what, who, why, where, and how. Once a news headline is vomited into the world then who has time to clean it up when already everyone is racing to the next Technicolor rainbow? We need reputable news sources, not the media equivalent of teenage boys who prematurely pop off inside their own underpants.
Hans isn't the news but we see here that in many ways each of us has become responsible for communicating the news whether we like it our not. Now our voice carries over great distance and at great speed.
Although the ends should justify the means not vice versa, is this perhaps going a little too far? I also saw a chap with a GoPro on a tripod with a screen ten times larger than the camera that it was displaying footage from. Cart before the horse perhaps?
It is not always steak and blowjob night when you are part of the media as Rob Parkin highlights. I bet the GoPro dude didn't sleep in his car that night. Moving on…
At Sea Otter, there were two things that were talked about at every opportunity. The first was how hot it was and the second was that measurement of product. But we won't discuss that here…
Enough with this talk. Once Sven Martin starts defending peoples right to choose then the world really has gone topsy-turvy. #hassventurnedsoft?
Slalom. The best little game that mountain biking ever had. A great format for spectators and riders. I think at Sea Otter it is the main event. It certainly beats this kind of head-to-head racing.
Not all Kiwis are so angry. Here is some much nicer video of New Zealand's uncluttered trails featuring Justin Leov.
Anyway, back to Sea Otter and the slalom.
See, I told you that Twitter feeds the results to us in little spoonfuls quicker than another other medium can do so. I was standing next to Spomer as he tweeted this. Somehow he still managed to hold a conversation about the division of church and state, listen to the results being announced and still finger bang them out to the world.
Anyway, Twitter does not make you feel like you are there. Where is the beer spilling, flag waving crowd and Cedric Gracia making ludicrous shapes? Watching Gracia kill it at slalom makes the price of admission worth it.
There was everything you could possibly want to make a good spectacle: patriotic fans, the fast Frenchie, sunshine and Palmer and Cam Zink going head-to-head. Unfortunately, neither Zink nor Palmer qualified. Brian Lopes didn't turn up for his qualifying heat and the commentators kept going on about trying to track him down. However, I think Lopes wasn't late or missing, he just didn't want to turn up. He is like a laser guided winning streak, so he isn't going to accidentally miss this target.
The big story was Kyle Strait bringing the Sea Otter slalom back to its rightful home. "Slalom is an American sport" is one of the best quotes to come out of the weekend.
The crowd wanted to see Kyle Strait take this victory. They wanted it for U-S-A, they wanted it for more excuses to hammer the Coors Light that night, and they wanted it to wave those flags.
I've heard it said that "those who wave flags do not deserve to have one", but this was different. The reaction of the crowd was much like Danny Hart's victory at the World Champs last year. There was electricity in the air, an energy sparked and multiplied by the collective effervescence. Everyone was drawn to it and it wasn't about nations, flags, patriotism, it was about seeing the young lad with a big heart giving it his all. I hope this marks the start of a winning streak for Strait. Mountain biking needs someone like Strait at the top. Whether it is winning or hucking #whoiswatchinglylenow?