Amateur Cyclist: First Impressions

Time has gone by since another apprehensive young male has decided to try his hand at marketing the brand that is himself through social media. While first met with negative preconceived notions towards the ideology of self-promoting, our main character continues on this visual and insightful journey. Before we dive into the deep psyche that Instagram instills on it’s users, let us do a recent recap of basic behavioral changes our amateur cyclist has discovered.

While I will shamelessly admit to thinking in 140 character anecdotes, there has been a shift in everyday train of thought. In order to keep up with a constant social longing, my day seems to be catered around how I am able to share my experiences with others (mostly on the bike) without having given away my entire existence and thereby leaving myself exposed and with nothing to share. It is good to find a balance between what you would and would not like to share. Not because the things I choose to share are considered morally inappropriate, but because I would like to save a piece of myself for a face to face setting. I actually get a kick out of pushing the envelope the more chances I get. That in combination of planning my down time with photo opportunities that might come around are two of the most recent changes I find myself adapting to.

As far as the people who are also on this platform, there are many distinct and some subtle intentions that strike you right away. For one, there are people on there who make a big effort to put themselves out there and cater to a wide market of viewers with their hashtag lists longer than their photo captions. Some photos have been edited to such a degree that the authentic, DIY approach to capturing photos is ruined. There are many overproduced, sugar coated, photos with zero imperfections that invalidate my own personal mission statement I’ve presumed with my time spent online. The viewer can easily notice that there was a lot of time taken standing in one place, with many attempts at perfecting a particular moment. There is a time and place for that, and I don’t feel that Instagram is a place for that. At the same time I can see why someone would take so much time and effort for such a result, their have other motives on this application. They are seeking celebrity status through this medium. My initial goal was to explore this realm on a more intimate level. This is the most intimidating route as it goes against my personal character. I will still attempt at exploring this avenue, it is going to take more time for me to market my ego for this type of fame that has potential to be a complete flop and leaving my soul completely empty.

The second type I have seen are those who take a more mellow approach to the sharing aspect. Photos are met with far less hashtagging (a sign that the user is not completely driven to seek an audience bigger than their own personal circle of friends) while still being rich in content without being pretentious. I find myself clinging to this approach more than the first mentioned. There is a presence and a power that comes from all things candid, and improvised. A power that no DSLR, or overproduced photo can capture. If only this was more social sought after, there would be less of a cookie-cutter approach and a more enriching experience for everyone. There is no question that this is universally enjoyable by everyone, however there is a question of motivation for this type of reward. The type A approach is the easier digestible of the two. It is the fast-food equivalent while the type B is an exotic and wholesome meal that changes someone’s outlook on life. Both are sustainable ways of living. It then becomes a matter of preference from the viewer.

My plan of action towards Instagram is the same as all other social mediums I have chosen to join. Which would explain my lack of swag and mass appeal. I am aware that I may not be everyone’s preferred flavor of choice, and it is my fault for expecting everyone’s tastes to change just because I am using service C instead of service A. I need to dive deeper into the approach towards mass appeal in hopes that I will one day figure out just what it is that makes people cling to a certain style, then slowly manipulate those masses to a more enlightened point of view that someone may have never considered and now have a new outlook on. If that can be achieved, than it’s mission accomplished for me. More to come very soon. Summer has just begun and this young male has some celebrating to do in the weeks (and days) to come.

BTW please feel free to follow me to get a better perspective on my new digital journey.

IG: Amateur_cyclist

Summer Came Early

The human social experience is one of the most liberating assurances on the planet. There has been a lot of social interaction between some friends and myself. There has been a significant change in esteem day by day. Between friends visiting and reacquainting with past relationships, my moods have been elevated to a state of elation time and time again. It’s not so much that we are in each other’s presence constantly. A few interactions at the right time is all I need to have a good time. Friendly vibes whether they be male or female have gotten summer vibes going.

I am feeling a strong sense of comfort and the ability to come out of my shell on a more frequent basis. Sometimes I think that if I was able to notice and correct my neurosis at an earlier point in my life, I could have gotten to this sweet spot a lot sooner. In the same respect, perhaps I was not ready to show a vulnerable side of myself and receive it from others. There are countless examples from academia I can recall where I was much too naive and immature to further progress into maturity. Everything seems to be working out nowadays. I can reflect on bad decisions, and let that shape ones in the future.

This is turning into more of a philosophical rant than I expected. I’m just stoked I have good vibes coming in from multiple sources on a near daily basis. I pick up on other people’s confidence and comfort in their own skin and am myself empowered to continue the same behavior. Not so much in a sappy, sugar coated, ultra motivational type way. More in the respects of me being a grown ass man and being able to make the type of decisions I want.

Social interaction is a catalyst for further development. It may have taken some time, but I am realizing that I need more of this in my life. I remember mentioning that all day-to-day tasks feel better when you have someone to talk to about them, or someone to curl up in bed and wake up with. Whether it’s work, school, bikes, or anything else that matters in life, I am a firm believer that we do all of these better when there is someone we are able to connect with on a social level be it intimate or not.

The most challenging part is finding the select few who are on the same side of the spectrum as you in regards to self confidence. I’ve had my share of relationships where the differences were so polarizing, I felt a disconnect and had to distance myself from those people as a result. Some in which I’ve known for a number of years.

That’s been on my mind this past week. Thinking about how tight summer is going to be. How powerful human interaction can be. And opening myself up to more experiences seems right at this point in my life.

-dfj

Amateur Cyclist: Prologue

Spring is set to begin in a drought-stricken town adjacent to an ocean. Children are approaching the end of another academic semester. The thought of such institutionalization still haunts an emerging adult faced with many social and societal pressures. The changing of times leaves him another year older and being rudely reminded by the current generation’s language and trendsetting. 

After finding solace in a life behind two wheels and shaved legs, our main character is exposed to his fellow human  in all different shapes, sizes, genders and ages. Here lies a duality tough to swallow. 

He seeks pleasure in being able to travel back in time and discover lives lived in a “simpler” time. Picking the brains of the older (only by biological standards) crowd brings him much joy by listening to battle stories of a time spent at an age near his own. Not only in active listening, but having the storyteller show the correlation between their past success and his own emerging success brings about a bliss that is so powerful, our main character is unable to actively cope and realistically comprehend his own potential and shuns the bulk of the possibilities at success through cycling.

On the other hand, he is faced with a new generation of riders who resemble a hunger and a fire he stoked on a more frequent basis. Panic and a hint of envy are constantly lingering in the back of his head. While at the same time he makes an honest attempt at pushing his pride to the side since his flame is at a lull at this transitional point of his life. There is a sense of genuine friendship and solidarity he never got to experience as a youth who grew up primarily an only child, jumping from school to school, and failing to acknowledge his reclusive character in both the intimate and non-intimate setting. All of these factors make him standoffish when opportunities to join new friendship circles come along. Having realized how important human interaction is for his species, he finds connecting with his fellow peers an energy draining experience and reserves these times for when they will benefit him the most. 

Taking all of this into consideration, our main character relizes his generation is no longer under the societal microscope and this scares him in a way. Much like the tides that come and go, he is afraid he will be swept away with yesterday’s waves and be another forgotten memory. Social media is the most prominent method that points this out to him. He has found his own voice in the past years and has used this voice to form his own opinions on life and has shaped his character (many times) to a form that feels most comfortable. This voice has cruel, cynical, and sadistic words towards such photo sharing applications. 

Dealing with the good and bad, the comfortable, and uncomfortable, he is faced with a decision to make. Keep up with the times and remain relevant, or slowly turn into an old, bitter man day by day. Given the most recent spell of loneliness in his life, our main character decides to step out of his cynical comfort zone and remain relevant. Patience will be tested, jokes will be made, enemies may be formed. This is a path he is willing to pedal along and will continue to do so for the sake of curiously and self-discovery….

Life of a Philosopher

enough side stepping….

I get a kick out of spending chunks of time with no objective agenda. I spend time at parks, indoors, or any comfy surface. It might seem like I’m staring off into space without a single thought in my head, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Why is it that when someone is physically idle everyone presumes they are mentally idle? While the same thoughts might not appear ever time I begin to reflect on time spent on this planet, there is a lot going on upstairs. 

Ancient Greek philosophers lived lives that were seen as lazy and unproductive. I too share these same social pressures usually from my own neurosis. The capitalistic social norms have a powerful effect on the human psyche. While an argument can be made for what someone is able to accomplish if they continue to live life in the traditional go to school, college, find a significant other (a, then b, then c….) people fail to realize what can be gain from a life not lived in the pursuit of material goods and social status. 

Philosophy as a conceptual application would not have blossomed into what it is today without those thinkers spending their lives immersed in deep thoughts about existence, purpose and self discovery. Pondering thoughts like these takes time and does not involve a direct sense of urgency. I find this process most important and enjoyable. Think of all the realizations that came from these ancient thinkers. Imagine what a sense of relief someone would get when you realized that you don’t have to spend years of your life doing something you don’t enjoy and that you can find happiness in alternative avenues most people will not mention or build a lifestyle around. On a more existential level, once someone is able to find happiness in a certain method that is neither directly harming themselves or those around them, what more is there to existence?

I go back and forth between pursuing some arbitrary goal involving further formal education, sacrifice, and more money and continuing to live the way I live now. Mainly because of my surroundings and being at the age when everyone tells themselves they want this career and their lives will sort itself  out once said career has been achieved. I’m not kidding anybody. I know this life isn’t for me. There was a point in time when realizing this brought about fear since this is what I’ve always been told was the way to obtain success. Having discovered this is not true, I am glad and reassured that I am living the life I want to live. 

I’m at a good place in my life right now. I may be in between phases, but my head is in the right place. I have found what makes me happy and will continue that pursuit no matter how sparse my resume may look at the end of the line. I am not interested in what looks good on paper at this time. This may not be what works for everyone else, but this is most comfortable for me and that’s all there is to it. 

-dfj

You’ll Never Guess What Happened

Time to get the creative juices flowing….

It is easy to say we stand for or against such topics like domestic abuse, water conservation, and the war on drugs. Topics like these have such a natural moralistic response that saying you are for or against them is unoriginal and seriously lacking in creativity when defining one’s character. The reason I bring this up is to attempt to enlighten those who choose to quickly jump to certain go-to responses when it comes to comforting one another. When someone shares an experience where something is lost, damaged, or has died, it is mindbogglingly obvious, unoriginal, and mildly frustrating to hear the listener go about traditional ways to comfort. I refuse to believe that the person sharing said experience will be surprised to hear that someone the person they are talking to is sorry for their loss, or is somehow unaware that their situation is unfortunate and must be told that by the listener. I believe we all can agree that we all feel the same way when someone shares a loss as this is a natural human reaction. That being said, lets take it a step further and refrain from voicing this responses that has been embedded in our social DNA from day one. This type of redundancy is so prevalent that it can be skipped altogether to a more constructive type of conversation.

I choose to share my own experiences with those I care about because I trust them enough to avoid this archaic route and to keep things more organic and less, Follow steps: 1,2,3…. (dated circa, the beginning of the human language.) Those handful of people know how I function and the key to my heart is sometimes simply absorbing what is being put into the conversation and letting all the natural emotions run their course. Part of me felt bad at expecting this type of non-traditional response from a stranger I have been talking to for a few days. She had a hard time processing this alternative path in comforting someone and was offended that her way of going about problem solving wasn’t the right way to help. I can’t be upset at someone for doing something one way for their entire lives and being expected to change all of a sudden. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for both of us in the future.

Preface: Before jumping into your own routine, please be aware of what is about to take place. I will attempt to share an experience that happened to me a few days ago. Rhetorical questions will be asked, but none requiring answers (meaning please do not provide a solution to something that is not a direct question.) Lastly and arguably one of the most important parts is PLEASE try your best to honor by request of being a wall. A silent wall that is still able to absorb what is in it’s proximity. I will be more comforted by what is not said than by, “I’m sorry to hear that.” “Sorry about your loss.” “What you should do is….” “That sucks. That’s terrible.” I am aware of all of these reactions, I’ve felt them myself and don’t need them repeated to me.

 On Thursday my track bike was stolen while attending some training class at Santa Monica College. The strange thing is that all the events leading up to the final goodbye felt as though I knew this was going to happen and I was slowly preparing myself mentally for the loss. I can remember being in a car accident with my folks many years ago. We rear ended a semi on the freeway and ended up totaling the car. At the time my folks wore their seat belts very rarely out of ignorance. This one time we were headed back home from whatever errands we were doing and we seemed to all make a subconscious effort to buckle up, as if we somehow knew this was going to happen. Thursday definitely felt like that.

While I could easily Social media blast my loss, play the victim, and call upon assistance from others to help right this wrong, I will not be doing this because it simply is not in my nature. I will say this again, (I KNOW THIS SUCKS, AND IT’S AN UNFORTUNATE LOSS) but at the same speed that you have read this sentence, I have let this experience pass through me, and I am continuing to go with the flow by going about my life.

I had a concert I planned to go to a few months before and was unable to attend in the way I had planned because of it. I could have easily taken a Lyft to the venue, bought another ticket, and attempted to have a good time. This option seemed out of the question as it goes against the loose definition of an organic experience I have set for myself. Instead, I took a moment to reflect on what had happened, and adapt to the new environment that was brought on. The funny thing is that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me.

Years ago when I was still in school I got another bike stolen. This happened conveniently after my last final of the semester and a few hours before work. Rather than making a big deal about it on social media, I continued to be mindful that I had other responsibilities to take care of and proceeded onward. I found a bus route that took me to work and went about my day.

The same went for Thursday. The show was missed and I now own one less bike. That’s it!

These are the facts and there is no need for an emotional response. This is now in the past and we as a species must move on instead of clinging to things that are out of our control.

Fun fact: I know whoever took it is a scumbag because I left my new helmet strapped to it, only to find that that was the only thing left when I returned to where I parked my bike.

That is my experience. Not much is left to be said. Those are all my thoughts on the subject. I’m currently going through a bit of grief not because of the bike but from general loneliness. The desire to feel things is once again fading away into a state of emotionless, stagnant isolation. I’ve gone through this before and will be trying to ride things out in hopes that they get better before they get worse. Until next time…. Thanks for listening (you’ve already been more helpful than you’re aware of.)

-dfj

Off-the-bike Thoughts

This is the second Saturday I’ve decided to stay off the bike for the majority of the day. Hope I’m not coming down with something….

I’ve been pondering a bit about cycling. Particularly, the marketability. While every amateur cyclist here in SoCal is willing to praise and promote any sponsor on the market, I have indifferent opinions towards this concept. Full disclosure: the race team I ride for has many sponsors and while I am thankful for their contributions to products, it is not in my character to saturate my being and most of my social interactions as one big commercial for (insert brand of choice.) Perhaps it’s because I’m less affectionate towards most people. There has got to be some way to have my reclusive cake and eat it too.

One of the examples that first comes to mind is Mario Cipollini. Second disclosure: I am in no way, shape, or form an expert of any degree when it comes to this talented rider and his background or upbringing. On face value, I am clearly aware of his success when he was in his prime. He was known not only for this sprinting talents, but an attitude all his own that wasn’t always friendly. Any Youtube search will bring up a scene of him either winning a race, or showing a more frustrated, less PR friendly behavior. I can only imagine he has been fined multiple times for these types of acts, but I never once recalled him jumping from team to team for his behavior. I’m not suggesting we all go on rampages and let the wild, and more emotional side out during every bike race. I’m providing an example of an alternative approach to a marketing campaign.

Since his times racing in the pro peloton, “Super Mario” now sells boutique bikes catered to the 1% who have a fetish for all things Italian. Be that as it may, he has cleaned up his act and has sponsored a women’s team as seen here. Shifting from one end of the marketing spectrum to the other has shown that both options have the potential for success. Insert Star Wars dark side, light side analogy somewhere in this paragraph.

It seems like most sponsors are afraid to show such bold opinions in the world of cycling (at least from a road cyclist’s perspective.) I’m not saying we should saturate the market with a bunch of sassy divas, but perhaps show that more humble and slightly humorous approaches to marketing grab another type of target market’s attention much like yours truly. I for one am getting a little tired of the pretentious brands that cater to the has-beens and never-weres of the world. Insert slow-mo of a road cyclist in muggy, rainy weather, riding without a helmet, out of saddle with a five o’clock shadow, looking away from the slightly dim-lit camera on some windy road. Much like the light show at Disneyland, it was fun when you saw it the first few times as a kid, but has now lost it’s magic.

I could be the only one who feels this way. Perhaps I’m letting my inner grumpy old man get the best of me. Or maybe it’s the cynic finally voicing how tired it is from seeing everyone conform to this repetitive approach to marketing the world of (I’m gonna narrow things down here) road cycling. The reason I do this is because other disciplines seem to have a better balance of humble, less stuck-up and ultra competitive at their disposal. Part of me hopes I’m not the only one who feels this way about the slowly changing world of bikes. I think I’m done for now. Time to get back on the bike and back on my routine.

-dfj

Time Travel

As defined as revisiting a setting you were previously exposed to at an older age….

Time travel is possible and in a figurative sense, I was successful last night. Since date night was cancelled I decided to ride my bike some more during the evening in hopes to accomplish the same goals that were set originally (I wanted to mingle and flirt.) Like any wise time traveler, I went with an escort. My good friend Jason who I know and trust dearly escort me to the Mid-Wilshire / McArthur park area to meet up with more casual urban riders to ride bikes, drink beer, and all those familiar tasks at hand.

We showed up a little early but were then met by regular attendees. While observing the scene of riders I am reminded of a time when I was just beginning to discover the bike scene for the first time. So many different shapes and sizes of riders. One of the most common things I saw were people fitting their bodies to the bikes they owned and not the other way around. I tried to push down the old purist’s soul, go with the flow, and enjoy everyone’s company. It was blatantly obvious that the majority of today’s night riders have a narrow approach to becoming the cyclist they wish to be. Much like every enthusiast, we know a handful of pro names and may have even seen a bike race or two, whether it’s a local street race, or wherever the hell you watch pro cyclist on the interwebs. The reason I say this is because there were people with entry level bikes (much like the one I have) the highest end (in no particular order) shoes, handlebars, computers, all while wearing no helmet, no lights, or their bike properly.

Everyone who you chose to talk to was more than friendly. I was unable to find someone who’s opinion I had trusted about more intimate bike talk when discussing parts, riding types, and etiquette. I was most impressed by the ride leader and his most friendly and approachable attitude. He was polite and descriptive about his intentions for the ride, clearly trying to cater to almost all skill types (while the fully kitted riders were ready to throw all caution to the wind.) Nonetheless it was only a short amount of time until I stumbled across a rider I identified with the most whom I felt represented me some six years ago.

An eager to learn soul who showed a combination of determination, attitude, recklessness, while somehow showing an appreciation for the bike. If anything he was a little more open minded since he had both a road and a track bike. Between the substance exchange we established a friendly connection and while the hangout before the roll out is always enjoyable, we were ready to ride. Having already been told This was a street clothes ride, there were a handful of fully kitted riders who were ready to be the winners of the group ride. I had decided before I left my house that I was going to take a more mellow approach to the group ride. In doing so, I saw so much hyper extension in the legs that I had to look away in fear of letting my mind get the best of me an expecting the worst case scenarios of losing control. There were a fair share of times where things did get out of control. Riders not wanting to stop for red lights and giving them and those around them a bad name. Riders not having the ability to stop and locking up their rear wheels either with the sole of their shoes or through brute force of the most popular rear-wheel-skid. I am taken aback to times where I believed this was the norm for this type of cycling. While I distinctly also remember never putting all my trust in a skid and to this day have never used my shoe to slow me down, more than one person did this through multiple steep descents in downtown Los Angles (you know because you could smell it.)

The ride started off on a good note nonetheless. When after some time (before the first stop) a local known name showed up. It was from then on that this turned into a local legend dick riding contest. The pace went up immediately and most riders (males) took off. I will admit that I did partake in such accelerations, leaving out my chances to find a female (or male) counterpart to mingle and flirt with. Much like all ride hijackings for the sake of speed, turns were missed and confusion began (in the heart of downtown with all the one-way streets.) We regrouped and did it all over again. I couldn’t get over the fact that this guy looked race ready on a Wednesday night group ride at around 10:30pm. Clearly this guy has some type of complex, knew this ride was going to happen, and took it as an opportunity to surround himself by others who he knows will give him the attention he so wants. Once we finally regrouped, I got my head back on straight and refrained from continuing to go with this bull. I stuck with the leader, along with testing other riders abilities by seeing how close I could get without them freaking out (not very close sadly.) We stopped at our first stop and I decided it was time for me to leave. The leader had mentioned that once we arrive to our destination, there is usually a race back (for bragging rights I presume) to which I wanted to part of. I’d rather troll the group and make them question their decision making like I normally do in an everyday setting. (Funny story, the first stop was at the top of a hill about two miles long that ungulates a few times before the crest. I was there to see the front group finish, out of breath and out of step. I then shouted, “Who won?!” to no response. (the next question would have been, “What did you win?”)) I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of attempting to turn the tables on such strong personalities. Speaking of….

As mentioned before there was little to no regard to traffic laws, which resulted in drivers saying hurtful things. Two men were passing a group of us by up this hill and proudly shouted something to the extent of, this behavior is why drivers want to run you over (and that he wouldn’t feel bad if he were the one to do it.) “Have a nice day! I replied to which I’m sure the driver got a chuckle out of.

So on my ride home I was feeling a combination of dehydration, fatigue, existentialism, and an elevated state of mind. Did some soul searching to try and cope with the pain I was putting myself through on the ride home to decide whether this (world domination through cycling) is what I really want. I had concluded that it is the state of vulnerability that everyone is afraid to show and what keeps us from moving forward in all walks of life. In realizing that I made an effort to rediscover that vulnerable state that comes from fatigue. Since I was travelling on a flat road, I was able to lock into it with little road distractions. I required myself to dig deep and have my effort be running on sheer mental will. People mention that the biggest differences happen after the athlete is fatigued. This was my goal for the ride home and it was met more than once. Fitness carries the body longer than most of us think. As cliche as it may sound, pushing past that mental boundary is  what separates the wheat from the chaff. Once we reach past that first mental barrier, our fitness is on autopilot and it becomes nothing more than a head game. I had forgotten what that was like and pleasantly reminded of times in which I had to ride back home at an even later hour, wearing clothing less suited for the weather, in a more fatigued state.

While not all my goals were met, much like people’s goals are in Los Angeles, they were happily deterred to something else of equal value. I was trying to figure out what it was about that obnoxious type of riding I used to do that got me so in shape and strong. Having experienced that I now know it was because I was opening myself up to such a vulnerable state on a frequent basis that whipped me into race shape. I’m going to keep this in mind the next time the going gets tough.

Until next time….

-dfj