Image is Everything

David Clinger - Hard Rock RacingNo matter how hard you train, most of us will never get close to pro status. Then there are mediocre professionals. They are great in their own right, but not everyone can be a Lance Armstrong. If there was no mediocrecy where would the peleton be? To bring the average in to public view, we have “image.”

What started my thoughts on this subject was when I started watching the Amgen Tour of California. I just caught wind of the 2 year old American team called – Rock Racing. My first perception was Hell’s Angels on bicycles.

This team is all about image (oh, and great cycling.) They have some big names: Fred Rodriguez, Mario Cippolini, Tyler Hamilton, and Oscar Sevilla.

Like the start of every good rock band, you have to have a real cool name and some kick ass t-shirts.  Well the team got that part right, “Rock Racing.”  It is not the name of a corporation, it is a name in itself.   The logo just confirms the name.  It looks like a Rolls Royce badge with a skull stuck in it.  Talk about building a brand!

All of this was the conception of designer Michael Ball. Yes I said “Designer.” He is some famous jeans designer, that is now loaded, with houses in Malibu and drives around in a Bently. (Have you ever seen a Bently with a Yakima on the roof?)  I guess rich guys like to ride bikes too.

jeans.jpgBut the image doesn’t stop with the team name and logo.  They also have the image and attitude of every rider.  David Clinger, a b-team rider has a full facial tattoo. This has got to be a first in the sport of cycling.  They guy is probably nuts too. 

Mario Chippolin has done well for himself in the image department. Super Mario, the “boy toy” of the peloton. He was once quoted as saying “if I weren’t a professional cyclist, I’d be a porn star.”

Tyler Hamilton. What else to I have to say. I love the guy, but he is the “convict” of the group. An Olympic medal and career down the drain for doping. I think he will fit in quite well.

Freddy Rodriguez on the other hand has my respect. I had a chance to get his autograph, back when he was riding for Saturn.  He was racing at a local criterium here in Illinois and signing some sexy Saturn calendars.  I thought to myself, why would you want his autograph?  Well, more then ten years later he has made a name for himself all over the world and like Paul Newman, he has his own brand of coffee – Fast Freddy Coffee. You know you have made it in this world when you  package your own beans.

I think this is a very cool team and I hope it will stay together for years to come, giving cycling a “bad name” (to quote Bon Jovi) in the U S A.

What do you think about the team?