The Laughing Group

The Laughing Group

Padraig and I have been in the same zip code exactly once in the last four-and-a-half years, the length of our collaboration here on RKP. Nonetheless, I count him as one of my closest friends. We maintain what I like to think of as an old school correspondence, long emails spanning the distance between small editorial questions and life’s great challenges. I don’t write to anyone the things and volume of things that I share with Padraig.

And as we’ve been working together, the tone and tenor of the site have evolved. Where once we wrote largely about the pros (and some bemoan the lack of pro commentary here now), RKP seems to have evolved into a site more inclined to sift through life’s sundry.

It was almost comical when, two weeks ago, we asked where the readership is in their lives and discovered that the lion’s share (at least of those willing to comment) are exactly where we are, somewhere in their 40s, trying to manage family and career. And our ages don’t really matter, and our careers don’t really matter, and how manage it all doesn’t really matter either. The thing is, we’re all working on the same challenges. Birds of a feather, we flock.

And the contributors who find us, who submit work for consideration, are doing what we’re doing. They’ve arrived at that point in their lives where the urge to find better, and not necessarily more fun, ways to live has become important. The bike provides a perfect analogy, a perfect vehicle for this pursuit, because not every moment in the saddle is pleasant. We have fetishized suffering because it can be a useful component in getting better, both at cycling and at living.

In this sense, riding bikes is spiritual, right? It’s how we connect to each other. It’s how we get to know ourselves properly. It strips away that layer of obliviousness and draws the attention to a fine point.

The bike remains the thing that draws us together, but the site is less and less about the bike and more and more about using the bike as a lens through which to see ourselves more clearly. There is no RKP without the bike. We will always be thinking about cycling, but the urge to hold it at arm’s length, to treat it as something separate from ourselves, a curiosity to be examined, has mostly gone.

Rather than being a website that reviews bikes (we will keep doing this), comments on races (this, too), bemoans the excesses of those who make their living at the pedals (ayup), we have become more of a meeting room, a place for cyclists who are working hard at being better people to gather and discuss what works, and what doesn’t, even if sometimes that means evaluating a new to market jacket or wading into the moral shallows of racing for money.

Padraig and I maybe started out writing at you, riding along in the guise of quasi-journalists, but it’s hard to stay on the front for long like that. Sometimes we have the form for it. Sometimes we don’t.

Hopefully, as the site has become more personal, we have settled more comfortably into the pack, this laughing group which is neither too fast nor too troubled about getting to the finish line. We are no longer working hard at being the experts. Now, like you, we’re just working hard at being ourselves.

Image: Matt O’Keefe

, , , ,


  1. Mike in FLA

    The Laughing Group is THE place to be!

    If you can’t laugh about being a fifty something father (with a job, a bunch of kids, and a wife who works to much) who dreams constantly about being on one of his bikes, what can you laugh at?

  2. TominAlbany

    I have a friend that I used to go to the Indy 500 with each year. We went 15 years in a row. For 14 of those, we lived in different parts of the country. We rarely spoke on the phone during the rest of the year except to arrange our annual meet-up. Despite that, when we got together each Memorial Day weekend, we fell quickly into our rhythm and it was like the time had been completely bridged. We were a laughing group, in a sense.

    My laughing group now is scattered across the country. When we do manage to ski or ride together, it is the same. The same old jokes come out of the bag – along with some new ones. As you say, we’re just working had at being ourselves.

    Great column, Robot. I’ve come to appreciate what you and Padraig and the rest really bring to RKP.

  3. Patrick O'Brien

    To paraphrase Carlos Santana, riding bikes is spiritual and sensual. Spiritual and sensual will never go out of style.
    When I want to read about all cycling has to offer in life, RKP is the place.

  4. SusanJane

    Lanterne Rouge? Nope that’s me without the bike and in the car. I’ll carry the spares for everyone.

    I actually have a Lanterne Rouge t-shirt from CafePress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *