Currently Seeking

Many, many thoughts come to mind when finding the right words to describe a hardened soul. Whether through loss, opportunity, privilege, hard work, or happenstance, the cream has, and will continue to rise to the top.

Going back and forth between the metaphorical pendulum of how serious someone takes the realm of cycling, I am at a place where there was a sect of cycling I to this day still identify strongly with.

Having first entered cycling by ways of the “far left” party ride scene then shifting towards the more conservative, competitive route, I can say that I am able to, and still hold many of the views of bike shop culture with that of my own. Being noticed by a bike shop is equivalent to the local skate shop looking at your demo tape and offering you a sponsorship (and all of the pipe dreams that come with it.) There are perks both physical and ideological one can gain as a result. Unfortunately, things seem to be taking a turn in a different direction. 

At the current age of brand ambassador based marketing and retail turning towards the digital age, I cannot help but pay close attention to how I am being marketed based on my close relationship with bikes. In that same respect I’m trying to figure out what was one of my first experiences with this type of culture. Then through my own type of reflection I was reminded of that all too familiar branch of cycling that (to me) was the perfect balance of strength, talent, and humility. 

They may give off a bad, pretentious vibe to some circles, but there was a point when the people who BA’d for Rapha made it very clear that their special group of mostly British based cyclist rode long and hard, while downplaying the seriousness of their craft. Covering large distances, sometimes spanning over several days, all for the sake of the love of the lifestyle. I know when I’m being marketed to, and this type of riding spoke to me. 

While currently swinging away from the formal competitive route, I find that I am coming back into contact with this familiar interest in hardened cycling with little to no aspirations of the pipe dream that is competitive racing. Reserving the space to go beyond what you may be capable of in a less conventional setting is something I can definitely get on board with. If there was a brand out there that catered to this fringe audience, let them know I’m interested. 

One of the reasons I feel the big R get a bad rep is like most brands that become successful, growth is often inevitable. More demand means that new goals must be met, and new audiences must be accessed. This (in the eyes of a SoCal based rider) has manifested itself by speaking to the 30+ weekend warrior crowd, and those who want to race competitively in a more formal setting. This combination of crowds can be seen as good overall. However the consumers are quite different in many respects. I can’t for example imagine seeing these different branches who all stand behind the same type of cloth getting together at the same social gathering. Yes I know they all ride bikes, but the distinction between how these different groups of people get their kicks from pedalling pedals begins to lead the sects astray. 

I’m here to say I miss the glory days of hardened souls who knew they had the ability to go above and beyond, but showed it in a different way that doesnt involve podiums. However you’ve come to be the hardened soul you are now is your own unique experience and should be embraced, celebrated, and enriched with like minded people. Maybe there are groups like what I am describing and are just not on my radar. Maybe they exist, but are separated by their locations, or a simple lack of communication between those with like minded interested. I want those people to know I am on the search for you. If I have touched on something above that speaks to you in a special way, please let me know. People with similar interests who come together can create a positive and enlightening experience for all whom they surround themselves. 

The tentative goal is centered around talented riders with equal parts humility, that don’t necessarily need to prove their worth by taking part in every local race under the sun. Humility cannot be emphasised enough. Recognise that you are not as entitled to anything more than your own abilities. With that being said, if you want to participate in any type of formal racing, that is your choice and will not be looked down upon. I would love to seek a group of people who enjoy lengthy rides on the road or the dirt, who aren’t afraid to push themselves and keep a balanced perspective on the world of bikes while still being able to prove through your own talents that you’ve got chops. Know anybody that might be interested? Asking for a friend. 

Until next time….

Not a Praying Man

The setting is on the saddle. Road, dirt, the context is irrelevant. You have been trying to keep from riding the brakes through a technical descent but cannot seem to let it go. Arms are beginning to fatigue. Fear is reaching the point of saturation. To keep the wheels from squeaking and causing long-term damage, you decide that enough is enough. Letting go of the worry-grip you take a deep breath and begin to observe the immediate changes in scenery. As scary as things may seem, the reprieve from letting go helps keep the mood calm(er) and focused. You have successfully accepted your fate and am living in the moment.

I’m not a praying man. The concept of faith, much like nostalgia, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Both lead to toxic behavior and I am unable to commit to blind leaps of assumption. However, the above mentioned scenario is the closest and current thing to faith I experience on a frequent basis. In some strange way, this checks out in my head. All of these comparisons to end with one more. This one ends on a positive note.

I imagine similar feelings might arise when it comes to courtship between to people. While in the middle of my “get your life together” year, I am now getting to the point where the worry grips have to come to a halt. The moment of clarity once you realize all is well and the initial fear was good in it’s initial phase, but it has expired and needs to be disposed. It may have taken some hurt feelings to get to this point, but hey, gotta take the good with the bad right? I think I’m getting the hang of this whole rolling with the punches stuff.

Anyway, all that to say I have a little more clarity (and an analogy to refer to when the going gets tough) and after twenty-six years of reflection, I am finally beginning to feel comfortable with this concept of….. educated foresight. Until next time.

Still loses like a jock

All this self-reflection is cool and all. I remember being told that one must take the good with the bad. That phrase is much easier said than done. The hard part is the application of behavior after said reflection has happened. 

As long as I can remember, I have had (and continue to have) sore loser tendencies. Not the most attractive quality in any way, shape, or form. The monster still remains. One silver lining is I now am able to keep my mouth shut and remove myself from a situation when things get too hot for me to handle. This has taken many years to do and is not easy to this day. I’m at this point where I make an effort to catch the jock settings before I am exposed to it in hopes to be aware enough that when the hypercritical, egotistical side comes, I can check myself¬†(inside and out) and do something about it. Right now all I can do is remove myself from the environment. No sense in finding another punching bag who has no idea what they’re in for.

Playing the vain-blame-game is an all time low move, no matter the circumstance. Stewing in this can lead to a lull in progress. I have stewed for years at a time, trust me, this sucks and there is no way to put a positive spin on the matter. Self improvement is not gradual steps in the right direction. It is a jagged path that may have a few quick steps forward, but can be just as easily be met with a step or two in the opposite direction. It is finding some type of comfort when dealing with this, despite the planning that was involved, the data that was recorded, the emotional investments made, that what separate the childish jocks from the more normal human beings with more control over their emotions. Some can flesh out the cause and effect in a polite and effective way. Others have to find a quiet space to be alone with their thoughts and vent in whichever way they feel is necessary (can you guess who has to do the latter of the two?)

But hey, gotta take the bad with the good right? Me “taking” the bad manifests itself through isolation. That seems to work for me so I’m going to stick with that right now. I am completely comfortable with not saying anything when I do not have nice things to say. From there, things will build up depending on the situation, but usually pass with time. A conflict lies when your analytical train of thought is running on all cylinders to prevent this moment of embarrassment from happening again, while your physical and more emotional sides are moving at a glacial pace to reset for the next encounter. Cue anxiety, cue impatience, cue anger, then tie it all together at the end with self loathing. This has been my life for as long as I can remember and remains to be that way.

The good news is self-awareness is how I am able to begin to keep things in check. A balance of all these emotions is paramount when the going gets tough. I sincerely admire how women are able to be cheerleaders for one another and keep the environment (in this case, we are discussing competitive cycling) from reaching that toxic but fragile state. I am taking a lot of mental notes now that there has been an increase of female presence at bike races. I am cheering for you cheering on your peers and fellow cyclists. With that being said, fragile masculinity is a tricky thing to navigate. Here’s me continuing to take these small steps forward despite going through the same pitfalls I always seem to find myself (while keeping the trite, inspirational speech to a minimum.)

until next time….

Cyclisociopath

Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but gets the point across. I digress, it is confession time:

Having One’s upbringing stem from the roots of jock culture, an individual can choose to go one of two ways. They can remain willfully ignorant to the toxicity they have contributed and will continue to do so, or reality can eventually set in and the person must then deal with the effects of their actions in their own way. Part of my upbringing was spent amongst the culture of the jocks. Not right away, but when it did, I went for it. 

This isn’t a typical jock story, more fitting for an athletic outcast such as a cyclist. This first manifested itself through high school wrestling. A sport which will always hold a deep place in my identity. Most jocks are born into this type of culture, similar to those who are born into wealth or some social privileges other may not. When someone starts out on top, one of their key roles is to keep things that way. For the rest of us who rely on opportunities that come and go with life, we have to try harder to make a name for ourselves in order to achieve this status. Riding bikes started off easy enough in the beginning. I got to a certain level of fitness and ability, then became esteemed in a way that would end up doing more harm than good. 

The hypercritical, detail oriented, exaggerated standards of masculinity are harmful to all parties not involved in this acidic environment (we’re talking pretty low on the pH scale) which count for a majority. Often times it is not until irreversible damage has been done that the initiator realizes the harm they have done. I am of course speaking of personal experience that I am not all too proud of. 

Holding someone else to an inflated standard (big point: that does not wish to be held to said standard) ruins relationships, intimate or not. Those occasional, What you should do’s, are a vain approach to bettering someone’s experience. Consider consent. Pay attention and really ask yourself does this person want to hear what I have to say. Not saying this will be easy by any stretch. 

I’ve been bullied, and bullied back. It is never a long term rewarding feeling. I am now a more quiet person because of it. I know people who have a lasting impression of my character because of previous behaviors. I have to exclude myself from conversations 

  1. I cannot accept a sincere compliment, making it challaenging for me to  reciprocate. 
  2. I have jaded views that are not supportive of the world / lifestyle I choose to be a part of.

I prefer to keep an arms length in these types of social settings nowadays. Seems safer for both parties and help the coping process. There are steps being taken to accept and move on from these behaviors. I will admit that once a certain level of fatigue hits, the all too familiar feeling presents itself. This moody type of person we all can be shows true character. The point of this is to admit that I have begun to see within myself and my own character, and I do not like what is on the other end. 

For now I will continue to keep my views to myself unless asked about them, and work through whatever it is I need to work through. Maybe one day we (myself included) can become better cheerleaders for one another instead of needed to keep others at a similar level of progress and ability as that of ourselves. It may have taken a few years, but letting this go for a male amongst male peers is unnecessarily difficult. No, I’m not all that interested in racing bikes right now. No, I don’t know if and when I’ll race again. No, I don’t know what I’m doing with / or want to do with my life. Pushing these types of questions and concerns is synonymous to someone sharing a plan, only to have someone else dictate how that person will follow through with said plan without their sincere consent. 

All this to say that I come from a jock culture. I’m not too proud of that part of my past. I hope this behavior can eventually be ruled out of existence, but hey, one day at a time. Jock culture is sociopathic and while there is comfort in that ability to disconnect, it does not end well. Here’s to finding new social ground in the world of two wheels. 

Until next time….

Support your local group ride

Only if you want to.

With daylight saving coming and going (and who could forget Pi day which I had reluctantly forgotten) so begins the season of spring / summertime bike racing. But more importantly, group riding. If you have been lucky enough to hear me wax poetic about this topic, you know it holds a special place in my heart, legs, and gag reflex. I owe a tremendous amount of personal success to group rides. My current circle of friends and physical fitness are both rooted in group riding.

Group riding provides a safe space for everyone to not only become familiar with one another, but reduce the pressures of competitive, formal bike racing. While there is an unwritten code of ethics and etiquette when discussing the topic, once executed successfully, the benefits are tremendous. 

Some of you may have guessed that yesterday marked the start to a local group ride out here in the 818. There were many people who showed up for the maiden voyage. Most admitted they have been thinking about this day since last week. Some to regain their fitness they once had, others to catch up with others whom they do not regularly see. For me, it’s a bit of both. Also to see new faces and to take note of any physical or mental growth. 

What better place for people of different collars and creeds to get together and co exists for one common goal? It’s a stretch, but it’s one step towards a utopian world. I cannot say enough good things about weekly group riding. Some weeks go better than others. I would be lying if on occasion fatigue sets in, poor decisions are made, and tempers flare as a result. 

With that being said, last night we all met up at the local university, caught up on life, rode bikes, and parted ways on a good note. This may come off as vague and boring, but one much experience it to grasp the weight of the environment. I deeply enjoy group riding and enjoy my current fitness level along with the time of year. What an exciting time to be alive. 

Until next time…. 

Memorable Moments

2017: The Year of getting your (my) life together. Not that things were catastrophically wrong and needed order to begin with. Between beginning to ride competitively again, weight loss, and crawling out of the hole that is financial debt, I feel as though life is beginning to regain it’s order.

All of the above mentioned actions have grown the seed in my head that believes that a more memorable existance is achieved with a healthy relationship with fatigue. Some might be able to see where this is going. For those who need a little more explanation, please allow me to share my point of view.

Let us imagine a trip, whether it is a cross country vacation, a honeymoon, or an escape to an isolated destination to a local park. Everything has been prepared, there are no significant delays, many pictures are taken, you as a result feel that this trip has enriched your life in one way, shape or form. To that I agree. Here lies the twist. Even though this trip went for all theoretical accounts according to plan, there still remains this increased effort to retain all of the positive things that have happened. We might have albums with many photos to capture the memories of time well spent. Others might precede to write things down in a journal, or phone a friend to share all that happened as best as we can remember. Some may go a step beyond all that and paint a mural, direct a film, or support a cause of their choosing. All (and while it is by no means the sole reason for asking so) to recall all the events that have taken place.

Now imagine if things did not go according to plan. Your luggage gets lost, there are travel delays, you lose your wallet or lose your way home. Sure you might manage to jot a few things down or get a photo from when things go from bad to worse. It is my belief that you require less mental assistance when it comes to recalling memories of less successful events. Ever ask someone about a thing they did that didnt go so well? Ever notice how they are able to recall more details from memory then pulling out the phone to jog other positive thoughts?

Full disclaimer: I do not want my point to be exaggerated and made to believe that I wish everyone I know lose their stuff and their minds all for the sake of memory. I believe that there is a balance that can be kept in which we are able to have a more memorable experience.

Call it fatigue, stress, or grit. The term you use does not matter. The act of enduring outside your comfort zone no matter how it manifests itself allows us to mentally and physically capture the experience in a more effective way than others. What you choose to do with these memories is up to you. I understand that there are hundreds of thousands or atrocities that go on on a day to day basis and that the best course of action is to do our best to forget some memories of when times were tough. Forgetting may be more difficult to do as a result. To put a positive spin on things, lets think of when this can be used to benefit us.

Hard work is hard for a reason. While I have no idea why that is the case, the fact remains that in order to do something with increased difficulty, there is a more likely chance that stress will come as a result in one shape or another. I am under the impression that this type of stress keeps us sharp. It can be useful, however too much of anything can be negative towards our well being. We all have different ways in which we benefit the most from stress. Some have different tolerances and those need to be acknowledged and respected by others. There is an ebb and flow that comes with enduring stress. In certain environments it is used as a tool, while in others, it is a pest that needs to be eliminated from our headspace.

All to say I am projecting my own experience in an effort to justify its normality. Most of what I do involves me being a degree of separation from a level of comfort. Call it sadistic, but I have recognized that this can be used to achieve some beneficial and memorable existance. I am not expecting everyone to agree with what I am saying. Perhaps consider the thought the next time you find yourself in a sticky situation. Be mindful of how well you (or someone you know) is able to recal recent events that ended on a sour note, or encountering an obstacle along the way. What better time to share this than on a gloomy Sunday morning right? With all that being said….

Until next time

Conflicting Conversations

The transfer of thoughts and ideas. Simple enough right? People have many options when it comes to how they want to get an idea to one another. Once all is said and done, mission accomplished. Right? Say what you need to say, then the exchange begins.

I’m not here to explain something we all are aware of and know how to do. My concern is the flow in which this process takes place. For anyone who has stayed two weeks in in a biology class, the term fluid mosaic shohuld jog some familiar thoughts. Organelles moving in unison with one another, working together, performing separate tasks for the greater good. If it is good enough for the human body, it’s good enough for myself.

My concern is, if a model such as the human body works so well as a majority ( I am aware there are many flaws, but given the phisiology, we as humans work pretty well) why cannot we apply these principles to other aspects of human life? Why can’t conversations work in this same way? I was in a work meeting not too long ago and the clash of speech was discomforting to say the least. I canno’t grasp how speaking over others is an effective form of communication. As someone who communicates best by thinking before I speak, I get cut off in conversations almost every day. Trying to be the patient change I wish to see, I cannot help but point out this to other people. The strange thing is people seem to have little to no sense that they are doing this.

How can you sleep at night knowing that you as a person are getting through to someone when they haven’t finished speaking? I understand that there is a limited ability to do more than one task at a time. This doesn’t hold up in the long run. This clash makes me want to shut off immediately. I know we all get wrapped up in thoughts and feel that we need to say right away or else we will lose the resale value on our homes, get points knocked off of our credit score, or heaven forbid, forget. Please, from someone who functions best in a less vocal, fluid way, please be considerate of the way you communicate is affecting others.

Until next time,