This photograph is of significant importance to all seven fans of this blog. Why? Because it shows me celebrating my first post on this blog by going for an afternoon ride. Ever since that first commemorative spin around the block, I've continued to put on my white cycling pantaloons in order to enjoy a celebratory ride after every post. As such, these rides are now a tradition, and around the office we affectionately refer to them as my "post-post rides." By the way, if anyone...and I mean ANYONE, mocks my very manly and fashionable mustache, or my riding attire, they will be banned both from this blog and from the whole internet for at least six months.
The questions people ask me
In the last year, thanks to my uncanny ability to write as beautifully as Justin Bieber can sing, Cycling Inquisition Inc. has become the undisputed leader in providing thoughtful cycling commentary online. As proud as I am of the sixty two employees that Cycling Inquisition now has in its three offices, I often think back to numerous moments of doubt that I had before my very first post. Would anyone read it? Why would people want to know what I had to say? I mean, sure...I'm charming and I have an unbelievably great personality. Additionally, my adult braces give me a certain playful youthfulness, and more importantly my dark brown eyes have been called "exquisite" and "mystifying" by people such as myself.
The entire Human Resources department at the Cycling Inquisition office in Wichita toasts after having finally figured out how to offer free dental coverage to all of our employees. Well done gang!
Sadly, the qualities I just conveyed (great personality, boyish charm, stunning eyes) are hard to convey in the written word, so what on earth makes me so special? This very question came up recently as I read an email from a reader. In said email, the person asked me in a rather pointed fashion just who I was, what kind of cyclist I was, and what made me such an expert. Without thinking about it, I typed the answer and replied to the email.
I'm no one.
I don't mean that I'm "no one" in the sense that I'm invisible, that I don't exist, or that these posts are written by an IBM super computer that merely combines stock phrases with cycling jargon to create semi-coherent babble (although I know it seems that way sometimes). I also don't mean that I'm "no one" in the same way that a high school-aged Morrissey fan would, as he/she whispers that phrase to him/herself while crying into a pillow. I mean that I'm no one in the sense that I'm not really anyone of importance at any level, certainly not within the realm of cycling. Even as a commuter, I'm pretty much an unremarkable. I don't race, I haven't ridden across this or any other country. Most of you reading this have probably been riding longer than me, you ride more miles than me, and you have better/nicer bikes. For god's sake, I only know about three adults who even ride bikes, so I must really be a nobody.
So that was my answer to the reader who wanted to know more about my background and my credentials. I'm no one, but I must be a no one with grandiose delusions, because I publish my insights for all to see. Having answered the question via email, I have to admit that it still kept bouncing around my slightly oversized head. I suppose that the person was asking if owned a mountain bike, or if I did bike tours, or if I raced, or if I owned lots of dayglow cycling attire, or just what kind of credentials I had in order to write a blog about cycling. To be fair, I should point out that I'm not an authority, and that even inanimate objects have been known to start their own blogs through blogger, so that doesn't say much about my abilities. Still, I kept asking myself just who I am within the context of riding a bike, and I suddenly came up with an answer.
I ride, so that I can ride.
I know it probably seems like I'm trying to sound smart or witty by using a fourth-rate turn of phrase, but let me explain. What I mean by this is that many people who compete, will train in order to race, which completely makes sense. I, however, often find myself riding (during my commute for example) not just for the pleasure of that particular ride, but also to ensure that my future ride (be it a longer/tougher ride, or the same ride the next day) will be both enjoyable and doable. I've become aware of the fact that—at least for me—rides aren't individual events. They are (at the risk of sounding crazy) part of a bigger ongoing event or happening. The ride today will allow me to ride on Sunday without nearly dying, and that ride itself will allow me to ride the subsequent day or week without passing out from exhaustion. I know that this is not a particularly profound thought. It's merely a rudimentary understanding of how my body works, and its so basic that even a toddler would rightfully laugh at me for saying it out loud. Yes, if you ride, subsequent rides are easier because your body becomes accustomed to the exertion. Duh. Still, I find it interesting, because it could imply that many of us are not living in the moment...but rather riding today, in order to ride tomorrow. But that's not the case at all. Today's ride is the one I was looking forward to yesterday...and I'm enjoying today's while I look forward to tomorrow and the weekend too. So rather than being a depressing thought (that I'm like a donkey who's forever moving in order to chase after a carrot that never comes) it's actually an upbeat revelation of sorts. The reward comes every time I ride, and it also comes in the form of its pursuit of that ride. Sounds like a fifth-rate inspirational poster, but it's sort of true. So why not enjoy it?