By Seb Kemp
Apologies for the two-week vacation that #NOTT went on. Unfortunately, the Internet in France is powered by steam-combustion engines which makes it run at 1995 speed…as long as no one within baguette-tossing distance also wants to script a simple email. That and I was hoping that the hours in a day would convert to imperial from metric, making it possible to pound pedals through Provence for eight hours a day, wolf down the necessary calorific intake to sustain another colossal day of pedal pushing, drink the requisite amount of red wine to make sleep possible, and still have enough time to scour through Twitter to make NOTT possible. Turns out that there are even less hours in the day in France when you include the two-hour midday lunch.
Anyway, back to tweets and their significance.
Last weekend the world's bravest mountain bikers congregated on a tiny patch of the Utah desert to try and out do each other. The particular piece of desert they chose was a nightmarish scene of beautifully time worn geology that was being reappropriated for the purpose of one of the maddest events I've ever witnessed firsthand. That anyone sees potential for fun in that terrain is remarkable; that a group of guys decides to try to fight for bragging rights and $21,000 by being more daring is bizarre. If it were my first day on earth I would think that humans are truly nuts.
It was like a band of cowboys decided to have a dick-swinging contest, just without the homosexual undertones. It was also way more impressive. I can say that without shadow of a doubt because I was there and I saw it with my own eyes (which I would not admit to if I'd been to a cowboy dick-swinging contest).
But this wasn't some secret Friday night gathering of hard men in funny clothes, this was a global event. Red Bull (the company that is perhaps more renowned for the exploits of its sponsored athletes and madcap events than the nutritional contents of its products) hosted the event and brought along a battalion of cameramen with aerial backup so that the proceedings could be beamed around the world – live – for everyone to enjoy.
And that is great. I mean, not everyone needs or wants to go to the Utah desert where the beer is weak and the doormen at the Bit And Spur are weaker. Instead you get to stay at home, enjoying the comfort of modern living, your own bed, and you can just tune in and watch the drop-ins for a few sweet hours before going back to doing something useful with your life.
But television is not real (for sake of argument let's just sweep streamed internet feeds into the term TV). Everything you see is twisted and morphed. Either just slightly or a great deal. Whether intentionally or not what we see on our screens is not quite the same as what happens before reality is bent and then squeezed down the pipes and beamed into our homes. Size, scale, speed, and scope are all distorted. The editors select the imagery you see and how you see it. And delicate nuances are perhaps lost.
After the Red Bull Rampage there was an overwhelming response on Twitter to the judge's verdicts because what a lot of people saw was different to what the judges must have seen.
Dunno bout these judges, it is what it is though! #rampage
— Aaron Gwin (@AaronGwin1) October 7, 2012
— Kieran Bennett (@KBennettracing) October 8, 2012
I haven’t seen the feed from Rampage yet but it sounds a little like Poison In A Can hired those replacement refs from the NFL to judge.
— Tim Zimmerman (@TimZimmerman) October 7, 2012
Congrats to all the redbull rampage competitors for making it to the bottom but thumbs down for the judging with the mccauls!
— Chopper Fielder (@GrantFielder) October 7, 2012
Not impress of the Rampage Judges ! But happy than Kurt took it nice and clean ! And a french guy on the podium
— Cedric Gracia (@CedricGracia) October 7, 2012
Having a good time watching #RedBullRampage, pity the judges are missing out
— Greg Minnaar (@GregMinnaar) October 7, 2012
Judges at #redbullrampage you are fucked!
— Danny Hart (@DannyHart1) October 7, 2012
Judges need to have a red bull and wake up! #rampage
— SteelCityMedia (@steelcitymedia) October 7, 2012
I doubt it was a Red Bull they needed.
— The Creative Finder (@findcreatives) October 8, 2012
Take a look at the final results, watch the footage again and it is plain to see that the riding was so different between the riders, and the lines they rode were so varied, that it was a case of apples and oranges. If the results were juggled so that particular riders weren't "robbed" then we would still be questioning why certain other riders were stiffed. It can't be an easy job.
However, I do think that it is far easier to be a judge when you are sitting on your couch. I won't go into what the judges are looking for and how they operate (Bikemag.com will have an excellent assessment of this coming up shortly), but I do think some things are lost on the viewing audience simply because a laptop screen does not do the madness of these riders justice.
However, it does highlight that Twitter offers an open voice for people. We can air the ideas that would usually just spin around in our minds before evaporating into thin air. We can share the ideas that mean so much to us at that particular moment but perhaps we could keep to ourselves. We can even use twitter to spread grand postulations.
Stream of consciousness or consciously curated feed. That is our choice with Twitter.