“Like riding a bicycle,” they say. This quip is meant for anything that is easy, or any skill that, once acquired, remains embedded in your animal brain for the remainder of your days among the upright. The simplicity of the machine and the elegance of the physical act of riding are touchstones for our human experience.
Once we get off the bike however, things get complicated. As cyclists, we are bombarded with information about products, accessories and services. What is good? What is bad? What might be better? What is a big lie? What are the hidden secrets? Once you have been jumped into the velo-gang, you will ask all yourself all of these questions and be subjected to all the other gang members’ opinions, as long as you’re willing to sit still long enough to listen to them.
Our friends are obviously a big influence. Here is a group of people with whom we identify, who are participating in the same activity and spending their own money to field test an array of products for us. We ought to listen to them.
Then there are magazines and websites, staffed by experts (a subset of the industry that does not include this writer). These people have access to a stunning panoply of bits and bobs. They’ve seen and done it all. We wonder. They know. We ought to read what they’ve written.
There are also the great unwashed hordes (by far my favorite), who, by virtue of internet connectivity and a ready wit, will tell you exactly what you need, why you need it, and why everyone else is wrong. Think of website forums, the lawless Wild West of cyclo-expertise. There amongst the naivete and vitriol you can find real pearls of wisdom, true insight.
If, like me, you are un/fortunate enough (this is subjective) to work in the bike industry, you will also sit cheek-and-jowl with people who are doing the actual work of dragging this great stinking beast of a pastime forward, the folks designing the stuff or marketing the stuff or dealing with all the stuff that breaks. Here too you can find genuine expertise, in addition to cynicism, optimism, sarcasm, sincerity, inspiration and coffee.
This week’s Group Ride asks the question: Who are YOUR influencers? Do they produce reliable information or too much noise? What are the best sources of information? Who really does have your best cycling interests at heart?