Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Salute to Cyclists (and Other Assorted Ramblings)

(I was going to title this post "Ode to Cyclists," but I remembered that my poetry-writing skills were never that good, particularly for someone who majored in English. And since my strophes, antistrophes and epodes aren't what they ought to be, I decided to stick to prose for now.)

At any rate, something amazing happened in the realm of cycling over the past few days. If you read Fat Cyclist, you already know this, but for those of you who don't, here's the gist of it. Late last week, Fat Cyclist, as he is wont to do, wrote one of his famous open letters. This particular letter was written to Johan Bruyneel. (If you don't know who Johan is, just Google him. That's what DG would do.) In the letter, in typical satirical FC fashion, he asked to be allowed to join Team RadioShack. But his pleas didn't fall on deaf ears, and Johan replied by presenting him with a fundraising challenge, which, if met, would allow FC to attend Team RadioShack Training Camp in Arizona. The amount he needed to raise was $10,000 for LAF and $10,000 for World Bicycle Relief. The real challenge came from the fact that he would have less than a week to do it.

When he and his readers completed the feat a mere day later, Johan upped the ante. A couple other people donated prizes and FC wound up raising more than $50,000 for each cause in three days!

Now because I attended a very impressive social media presentation just this morning, I'm inclined to say that this just shows the outstanding feats that can be accomplished so quickly using social media. And that would definitely be true. It's also true that FC is a phenomenon and he could probably get those who love him (pretty much everyone who reads his blog) to do just about anything he asked. But it's also a testament to how generous and supportive this cycling community can be (and almost always is). I can rattle off a handful of examples of this—maybe not as extreme, but in some ways just as meaningful—that have directly affected me in the last few years as I've surrounded myself with these people.

Some of you may remember that I wrote a couple of articles for an online cycling 'zine a while ago. The editors often asked me to come up with ideas for articles. One of the suggestions I made was to write something about cyclists being a tightly knit community. One of the editors disagreed with me. In his estimation, cyclists are loners, not team players, and that's why they participate in a solitary sport. This is so contrary to my experience that I can't even begin to imagine where he got this idea. In my mind, this FC phenomenon is just another example of how cyclists band together to support one another.

Now for an awkward transition ...

Speaking of incredible behavior by cyclists, can you believe that some people actually ride their bikes on a trail in the dark? On purpose? It's true. This was the plan last Saturday down at Heritage Park in Adrian. Not only did they do that, but I decided it would be a good idea for us to go. As it turned out, it was a somewhat disastrous experience for me. The light I had wasn't quite bright enough for the trail. Besides, taking my first night ride on a trail I had never ridden on before at all was probably not the best idea. And if you think I am hesitant on an unfamiliar trail in the daylight, you should see me at night. Yikes!

Chris and I ended up bailing out of the ride early and waiting for the rest of the group in the parking lot. Still, it made me feel very brave to even try, considering how cold it was. Best of all, we went to a local watering hole, had some food and a few cocktails, and got to hang out a bit with Jake, Nichole, Laurie and Mitch, which we have not done in a long time. So it was worth it after all.

No comments: