The Importance of Being Earnest: The Rhetoric of Cycling

by Chikashi


Cycling articles, commentaries and marketing copies are littered with glorified reference to the ‘pain’ and ‘suffering’ that allegedly make it a great sport.  I suppose that similar rhetoric is favoured amongst enthusiasts of any sport or any field of interest, be it art, clothes, shoes, watches, cars, writing instruments.  It seems to be the standard operating procedure for romanticising one’s chosen sport.  It is quite amusing to see the whole scene as a very effective marketing phenomenon.


One marketing objective is to create a virtuous circle that is largely driven by customers.  When customers and prospects come to like and appreciate the ethos of the brand and identify themselves with the mere idea of the brand and, by extension, the brand’s products, then they form what is fashionably called a ‘community’ even if they have never actually met each other face to face.


In some cultures, earnestness is a social solecism whilst in other cultures, it is standard conduct.  Regardless, it means that the tendency exists in every culture, whether it is sanctioned or not.  Many successful brands make a virtue of it, to their commercial advantage.  I wonder what Oscar Wilde would make of all the talk about pain and suffering on two wheels.