It seems the Federal Trade Commission is set to monitor blogs. Apparently, some bloggers are getting freebies, and not disclosing it when they review the schwag in question. Yes, it's payola, akin to the newspapers not telling you that they got the food / car / movie they reviewed for free and that their ad revenue is, in fact, linked to giving an at least somewhat positive review. Yep, it's akin to that. Except that newspapers matter and bloggers don't and nobody thinks that the First Amendment protects individual speech as robustly as corporate speech.
In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it was important that I come clean about the vast pile of schwag I've accumulated as a result about blogging about bike gear.
First of all, there's that Ultegra stuff I keep bragging about as being nearly as good as Dura Ace, and way way cheaper than Campagnolo stuff, with replacement parts that are available no matter where you go. That was all a lie. The truth is the head of the Ultegra product design team at Shimano, a guy who owns three Hummers and an Escalade and lives in Texas, gives me free chain pins and derailer cable housing to say that. In reality, Ultegra costs nearly twice what Dura Ace does, and you can hardly find it in any shop, plus it breaks if you look at it funny. It also weighs nearly 12 pounds, making it the single heaviest part of your bike. In contrast, you can find Campagnolo gear nearly anyplace, and when I said their cassette cost $438 I 'forgot' to put in the decimal point. A Campy 11 cassette only costs $4.38, and it's so light that it flies off into the heavens if you don't tie it down. Yeah, that's right, Campy 11 is the best value on the market and Ultegra is a vile group designed by a bunch of Texas SUV drivers who hate cyclists. I'm sorry I misled you about that.
Then there was my discussion about training with power. It's bullshit, it's bogus. I only talk it up because Saris and Training Peaks gave me a free login after I had locked myself out of the software upgrade website. They give it to everybody for free but I am such a gear whore that I sold out for something I would have gotten free anyhow. Pathetic, no? The truth is that power training does not help you at all. It only distracts you from the real training plan you should be following, which is "go wicked hard all the time." Many Cat 5 and Cat 4 riders train using this method, and just look at their results! When you see power training kit on bikes, it's only because the UCI and WADA imposed Confidential Rule 184.108.40.206 a couple years ago following the late 90's drug scandals as a method of punishing dopers without scandalizing the entire sport. The rule requires all riders who are caught doping to ride heavier bikes as a punishment. That's right, all those riders with power measuring equipment are convicted dopers. A Powertap is the easiest, most plausible way to add a half kilo to a bike's weight without putting a ball and chain on it and a big sticker saying, "I'm a doper." And I'm totally not saying this to get my rivals for mid-pack B Master cyclocross finishes to quit training with power, you can trust me on that. Besides, even if they wanted to stop training with power, they couldn't thanks to the WADA rule.
Speaking of coming clean, a while back, I spoke highly of Pedro's Cleaning Kit and Citracleen. I only did this because I got some free at a race in a schwag bag. Now, I don't know whether I need to sell out for the race or for the gear, so I sold out for the gear. What I said about the Pedro's brushes being the schizzle, an essential part of a rider's toolkit and just the ticket to clean a dirty bike was a total fabrication. Fact is, the brushes seem to be made out of pure sodium, and when you expose them to water, they burst into flame. This is horrifying when using Citracleen, which is actually made out of Texaco Super Unleaded, rather than the citrus by-products I claimed they were made with. I'm sorry if any of you have been burned by the Pedro's Spontaneously Combusting cleaning products and the Citracleen, which is also useful as a napalm substitute.
Finally, I recently said good things about Continental Gatorskin tires. I said they were tough, gripped pretty well in dry conditions, and were light. The fact is I got them at race team shop discount prices, basically a 50% discount. I should have disclosed that at the time. But I didn't. I just hope none of you have been injured by the metal snow studs that fly out of the tires when you descend fast hills, and that their regular off-gasing of flaming helium hasn't caused you any injuries. Oh yeah, and the 'flat resistant lining' is actually a lead sheet, so if your legs felt a little heavy riding them, well, it's because they actually weigh 21,000 grams, not the 210 grams I said they weighed. I feel horrible that I misled so many of you, but the fact that I've been able to profit grossly from this - perhaps profiting as much a $26 - sort of soothes that nagging ache.
It used to be that I would be bummed about increased government surveillance of this lucrative blogging operation. The fact is that I like profiting unduly from the major freebies that the manufacturers throw at me, and this is a thought I cherish as I burn $20 bills to keep the new wing of the Rouleur mansion at a comfortable 85 degrees in winter. Yep, I would have been bothered, but since I recently upgraded my 80% lean hamburger to Kobe beef filets, and since I bought the new Bentley to haul bikes to the races, I just don't care all that much about the intervention. After all, if a big evil business like my blog could escape regulation, what kinds of things would escape FTC regulation next? Fiendishly profit-oriented roadside lemonade stands operated by kindergarteners, that sell lemonade to all buyers regardless of whether they are diabetic or have sensitive teeth that might be irritated by lemon juice? Girl Scout cookie sales moguls amassing a fortune through their indirect sales networks (i.e. 'parents')? Bike races, which advertise themselves as "fun" but which are primarily comprised of suffering?
There's simply no telling what could happen if we don't keep a close eye on these bloggers to ensure their speech about products is as responsible as it ought to be and to ensure that they fully disclose where the goods discussed were sourced from.
Because if we don't police the bloggers to ensure their speech is responsible, then, um, the bloggers will have won.
Ps. If you're the lawyers for any of the companies mentioned above, the commentary above is satire. It's found in the dictionary somewhere after the words "onerous" and "regulation."