The Twittering Canary

April 5, 2011

You know how the canary in the coal mine is an early indicator of the health of the environment? Twitter can act as a similar indicator.

A few weeks ago in an interview with Gavia at the podium cafe, I mentioned that while women’s cycling deserves to be on TV and women riders are right to be upset with the lack of support within the cycling structure to make that happen, it is also important to look inward at what people can do themselves, not just at what they would like others to do.

“You can’t say, on the one hand, no one wants to watch us,
but at the same time you’re not on twitter yourself to promote your sport.”

[The quote in the article is slightly different, not so easy to get all the nuances right in a free-flowing interview, for the interviewer or the interviewed]. And strangely, there are far fewer women riders on twitter (or facebook) than men, even though on average they probably have more interesting things to say.

So then a funny thing happened. First off, a few women pros tweeted me that they read the interview and are now on twitter. That’s great, I hope that trend continues, also inside Garmin-Cervelo. Secondly, a lot of people jumped on the band wagon saying they would totally watch women cycling, if only the UCI would make such broadcasts happen.

But here’s the rub; just the way I feel women pros should focus on what they CAN affect and effect (race their hearts out, spread the sport via social media, etc), the same goes for the fans. It’s easy to say what you would do if somebody else first did this or that, but at the same time most fans aren’t following women pros through the avenues that are available today.

For example, @yokoteute is one of the world’s best cyclists, but she only has 699 followers. Are her tweets any good? I don’t know, as I wasn’t following her either, I definitely recognize I have ways to go as well. She now has 700 followers. The biggest fan base I could find was @marianne_vos with almost 8,000 (it’s in Dutch but that’s a pretty good number).

Anyway, I started a list of tweeting cycling pros. But then I saw that somebody else has done a much, much better job so just ignore me and go here.

Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below or via Twitter (@gerardvroomen).

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