Rasmussen is in great shape, says Bush

But not that Rasmussen. No, the bicycling prime minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

He’s just been showing President Bush that Danes are great on their bikes. The two world leaders took a couple of spins around the MTB trails on the President’s ranch in Texas.

The obligatory official press conference even kicked off with bikes:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Welcome. Thanks for coming. A couple opening statements, and we’ll answer two questions apiece.

Mr. Prime Minister, we’re really thrilled you’re here. Laura and I love having you and Anne-Mette with us. Pretty good guests when you can have a meaningful mountain bike ride at sunset, and then at sunrise, and the man not even break into a sweat. You’re in incredible condition, and I really have enjoyed my time with you — my time when we talked, and my time when we rode.


PRIME MINISTER RASMUSSEN: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Let me, first of all, express my gratitude for your invitation to visit your ranch in Crawford. My wife and I are very pleased to be here. We have had a rewarding stay — and a challenging stay, I must say. (Laughter.) You made me work very hard out there on the terrific mountain bike trails on your wonderful ranch. And I can’t imagine a better place to spend time, talking and enjoying time with good friends. And I can’t imagine a better symbol of the close and strong ties between the United States and Denmark.

Is the UCI about to lift bike weight imposition?

In 2004-5, the ISO and DIN standards for most bicycles sold in the EU was replaced by a new, all-encompassing CEN standard.

The CEN standards – decided by tech experts throughout Europe, who had to sit through hundreds of committee hours of pure tedium* – divided bikes into four categories: “bicycles for common use”, “mountain bicycles”, “racing bicycles” and “bicycles for young children”.

The CEN standard for racing bikes is EN 14781. It’s yours for seventy seven quid on the British Standards website, and has been there for some time.

But the gnomes at the UCI have now spotted the industry regs for consumer bikes and so have sent out a communique warning “all cycle users” of the “New manufacturing norm for bikes in Europe.”

New? Odd.

Is the UCI playing mind-games? Could it be about to drop its daft weight restriction for pro race bikes, the infamous 6.8kg (14.96lb)?

Why daft? Because bike technology (tested and tested again) means that bikes can be made much lighter than this, with no loss of strength. Bike companies have long lobbied the UCI to drop its stance on bike weight, in force since 2000 but enshrined in the UCI’s Lugano Charter of 1996..

The latest communique from the blazers could be the beginning of the end for the 6.7kg benchmark, and the end for Scott and Cannondale’s leg pulls (although I notice that Cannondale has allowed legalizemycannondale.com to lapse)

The UCI wishes to recall that the real meaning of cycle sport is to bring riders together to compete on an equal footing and thereby decide which of them is physically the best.

The features which have contributed to the world-wide development and spread of the bicycle are its extraordinary simplicity, cost-effectiveness and ease of use. From a sociological point of view, as a utilitarian and recreational means of transport, the bicycle has given its users a sense of freedom and helped create a movement which has led to the considerable renown and popular success which cycle sport enjoys. The bicycle serves to express the effort of the cyclist, but there is more to it than that. The bicycle is also a historical phenomenon, and it is
this history which underpins the whole culture behind the technical object.

If we forget that the technology used is subordinate to the project itself, and not the reverse, we cross the line beyond which technology takes hold of the system and seeks to impose its own logic. That is the situation facing us today. New prototypes can be developed because they do not have to take into account constraints such as safety, a comfortable riding position, accessibility of the controls, manoeuvrability of the machine, etc. The bicycle is losing its “user-friendliness” and distancing itself from a reality which can be grasped and understood.

The many effects of this rush to extremes risk damaging the sport of cycling. These include spiralling costs, unequal access to technology, radical innovations prepared in secret, a fait accompli policy, damage to the image of cycle sport and the credibility of performances and the advent of a technocratic form of cycling where power is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful players, to the detriment of the universality of the sport on which its future and continued development depend.

* I know this because, as editor of the trade mag, I’ve sat-n-snored through some of the tech lectures.