Release the pressure, open up.

Yesterday’s second post I realise was written in the haste of the moment, much like the comments on which it was based. I can see how some of you might have been offended by the language repeated in the quote and how opinions of me might have been formed in my apparent glorification of this. So I wanted to clarify my admiration for Bradley Wiggins “outburst” in front of a packed room of journalists by reflecting on personal experience.

It goes without saying that the Tour de France is a pressure cooker of expectation, emotion and rumour.  The pressure on riders such as Wiggins has been building throughout the year and the only “acceptable” form of release is results on the bike – though for some this is an excuse for more pressure. When our “stars” achieve those results we question them, tainted by the brush of association. Nick Hussey has written a fantastic piece on the erosion of our trust in cycling which encapsulates this eloquently. This negativity actually puts me off – I feel a worse person for consuming it, I just want to watch cycling, enjoy and admire. Increasingly I feel I can thanks to riders like Wiggins and Cavendish.  All of which has led me to cull some of those I followed on Twitter. Sorry folks but if I unfollowed it is because I find your arguments tiresome now, your negativity draining, and I see no magical end to your problems where I can see you will be happy. I’m going to reclaim some control, be happy again and enjoy my cycle sport without you.

I wanted through this post to put Wiggins’ comments into perspective based on realism, through personal experience of pressure and in so doing illustrate why I admire a statement bookended with “profanities”. I’m sure after the event Wiggins himself realised that the phrasing was not the best.  Yet it was uttered in the heat of the moment, in the fierce gaze of the world’s professional and amateur media at a moment that gave him the chance to look his both his visible and faceless critics in the eye.  As the saying goes its better to regret something you have done that something you haven’t.

Whilst I do not condone the language Wiggins used – especially not the c-word – I can see why and how he did. Neither am I going to join a growing crowd in the virtual world and throw the next hypocritical stone. These were words not punches, they hurt ears not bodies. And can you tell me you’ve never ever done the same? A defence based on “flight” can only work for so long and, as we have seen by some of the comments, silence and avoidance in Wiggins’ circumstance probably maks matters worse. I am speaking from experience here too. Under pressure I swear – MrsAB would say a little too much and often tells me off for my language. My use of expletive is born of frustration.  I am proud neither of its use nor of the things that make me feel the need to resort to it. However, I was told as a child “swear too much and it loses it effect”. Perhaps this is why it has caused such a stir – these are not generally the way of Wiggins in press interviews.

But I am sure I am not the only one for whom this pressure and its consequences are a part of everyday life. Many of us live inside our own pressure cookers day in day out.  For me, I seem to spend large parts of my life dealing with the pressures and expectations of myself and others. I find myself striving to do my best in the way I see fit only to feel questioned and scrutinized by others in doing so. My hard work, my dedication and my commitment questioned by others with limited evidence and seemingly written off as worthless.  This breeds frustration, it creates pressure. And we all know what happens if you don’t release pressure gradually. Shake a bottle of bottle of pop then open it quickly and you are covered in a sickly sweet mess. As human beings we are no different: if we let the pressure build too much we end up popping, releasing it in a less than controlled way, regretting the consequences.

This does not excuse my behaviour but it at least explains it. I look back on each time it happens and vow to learn to control it the next. Equally it does not condone Wiggin’s use of certain words. Nor though is it an excuse to ignore what he is saying and why.

This is why I respect Bradley Wiggins for what he did and said. His comments were a cork popping moment. I admire him for facing down his critics and demons. What did was defend hid determination, hard work and commitment. And if others cannot see through the bad words and understand his reasoning they have obviously never been there themselves. Maybe one day they will too.


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