Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Are the 99% of the Talent Pool

If you're an outdoors nut (and you must be some kind of nut if you're reading this blog) you know can't go online these days without being bombarded by at least five links a day to mind-blowing extreme videos. Mountain bikers riding down a ten-inch-wide mountain goat trail on a 25% grade in Italy, which no one in their right mind would even hike up. People racing the Iditarod trail on fat bikes in sub-zero weather. Some dude in Wisconsin pulling an overnighter in a hammock on the top of a flagpole he rode up.  (Did I have you going on that one?)

Every time I open Facebook or my feed-reader and find one of those links, I think, "Ooo, pretty pictures of fun stuff," and my finger clicks before I know it... like the proverbial lab rat.

Suddenly, I'm immersed in the quest of some scraggly dude I never heard of, pedaling across Mongolia eating only native plants. (Some other scraggly dude crossed Mongolia last year with a bag-full of Clif Bars, and, like, carrying food is so 20th century.) There's a long shot of him proceeding at an ant's pace over a dirt road stretching to the infiinite horizon over the barren steppes. The frigid sun glints off the camera lens. Sparse guitar licks echo with loneliness.

The guy must be some kind of monk, or insane asylum escapee. What a hero! Extreme privation! YES!

I start wondering if I could close my business for a couple months, beg off from family duties, stuff some home-grown vegetables and a flask of well-water into my handlebar bag, and ride straight to Hudson Bay.

Maybe I could stay a couple months up there, just long enough to see the Northern Lights. Just me. Yeah, that sounds perfect. Well -- I'd take my solar iPhone charger, of course. I mean, I gotta make an edit, dude; the sponsors ain't gonna pay me just to dive head-first off the grid, and besides, I have to show off my new 30-gram tripod and iOS 7 editing suite, and seriously? I'll need something to do on those 18-hour summer days.

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These extreme dudes, God bless 'em. I like watching their vids, because, actually, they're inspiring and a little shocking.

Yet what I say is, we are the heroes. The middle-of-the-roaders, who who force ourselves to actually finish the dishes, get little Emma to and from her soccer game, hand in that work assignment—so we can leave for our ride (now shortened from two hours to one) unburdened by nagging guilt. We are the ones who ride through pain and nasty weather, not because we're paid to, but because it matters so crazy much to us.

It's time that we normals, who keep the bike industry rolling, become the laureates in the beautiful videos, the stunning advertising photos, and the industry Web sites.

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Mamatwogirls said...

I'm loving what I have seen on your blog. Found your spot from semi-rad. My husband, two daughters (ages 6 and 9) and I are leaving in 5 days to go on a 7 week bike tour. We backpack, hike, cycle....we dont climb, bike race, or do any extreme sports, and it sometimes feels like what we do is so mediocre compared to what others out there are doing. However, we are a family that loves being together, outside and we truly enjoy each other.

Do you listen to the Brave Monkeys Speak podcast? I think you would like it. Lots of how to live the life we "HAVE" to live while still doing the things we enjoy. "Become a Man" podcast is another good one.

Life is too short to not get out there doing what we like!

If you want to follow us on our bike trip my blog is www.raisingcatandbug.blogspot.com

Have a great summer!!

Velosopher said...

Jenny, I very much appreciate your appreciation. I often feel like the more philosophical posts on here go ignored in favor of the latest product review. I'll definitely check out those podcasts and your blog. Tons of good on you and your fam for making it happen in the fashion that works for you -- it's inspiring!

Emmy said...

Well in some sense we're doing it already - making riding to work seem like the norm. In our conservation grad work we learned that what we see our in-group do may be the biggest influence.

Other than that, I'd say make the roads safer. One of the reasons I no longer ride my bike to work (although I gave up my car, use the bus now) is that Rte 5 has decided to call their breakdown lane the "bike lane". Yeah that'll work, when everyone's trying to pass the left-turning car by swerving into the "bike lane" - while texting.

If it were more convenient, if we gave people the tools, more people would ride their bike. Would help if people could shower at work too. Who wants to arrive at work smelling like they just wrestled in 90 degree weather? ;)

Well I so appreciate you bringing up this topic. But whatever you do, don't try this:


Velosopher said...

Emmy, have to agree with all your points about making commuting easier. Would be a wonderful boon to cycling culture. Could we find a way to make bike commuting "beautiful," cool, something to get excited about in the media, the culture -- in addition to making it logistically easier?

Emmy said...

Could we find a way to make bike commuting "beautiful," cool, something to get excited about in the media, the culture -- in addition to making it logistically easier?

I totally agree, the media could do great things with this idea. As an invention, the bicycle is second in beauty only to its cousin, the wheel.

But would it change anything? I doubt it. You'd be better off using embarrassment and peer pressure. Have you seen the study from the researcher who gave little happy or sad faces to neighborhood residents based on their energy usage? That study convinced me.

For example; I tried to get my boyfriend to remember our reusable bags when he went to River Valley or Atkins. Years of this fell on deaf ears; until one day shopping he realized he was the ONLY person in the store who had to be given disposable bags. He was mortified. He claims he was surrounded by dirty looks and to this day he begs me to help him remember those cloth bags in the car at all times.

Compare that to when I bring in my travel mug. Everyone has their cute little change purses ready to pay, I have this unwieldy mug. Hi.....can you put my coffee in....this? Just fill it to here, you can charge me for a large, or a small? I guess. The baristas look at me like I just handed them an alien and people in line look like I'm taking too long. That does not encourage me to keep bringing it in. There is a learning curve to all this, and the businesses are not keeping up. It would be nice if they retrained their staff on how to deal with these new ideas and products so many of us are trying to use every day.

(On a lighter note, it is amusing to watch how everyone deals with our new world of eco-friendly products. I'm actually making a series of indie films about a similar topic).

If the average worker walked in and found he was the ONLY guy who was bringing his ugly, gas guzzling car into work and everyone else came in on their bike, you'd better believe that guy is going to gradually change. Add to that a bike path extension near his home and you have a winning combination.

I have some funny links to this effect but I forget how wonky eblogger is about html. Maybe I can get you the name of that study.

Emmy said...

For the sake of etiquette I should add that I realize you weren't referring to bike commuting in your original post. The answer about celebrating the average (non commuting) rider? I don't know, I'd rather have the non-extreme rider experience to remain a subculture. I get plenty of encouragement from fellow riders without being recognized on a larger scale. Can you just imagine the Pantene ads that would result from this becoming a celebrated trend?