I have been athletic my whole life, other than a brief spell in and around college, when I was actively killing myself with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. What can I tell you? It seemed to make sense at the time. I am fortunate to have figured out pretty quickly that I just didn’t have the stamina for that lifestyle. It wasn’t my sport, if you know what I mean.
When I got into the bicycle industry about a decade ago, with no small amount of help from Padraig and Radio Freddy, it was the realization of a dream I didn’t really think was possible, because who gets to work on things they love? Honestly? Who?
I can tell you, this decade later, that work is still work. It’s hard. It’s stressful. I’m not practicing wheelies and sipping espressos all day. BUT. The hardness of the work is definitely tempered by getting to learn about bikes every day, by getting to put together dream bikes for people, and by working around folks who are just as into the whole thing as I am. Bike people are, by and large, good people. I have ridden more, and in more interesting ways and places, than I ever would have, left to my own devices.
What’s funny to me though, is that I look around the veloverse, and I wonder if there is any other job I would consider doing. I’m not sure.
I think about that time I rode bikes with Hennie Kuiper. He’s probably in the 5 or 10 greatest racers ever. He was also a DS for Telecom, Motorla, and more. The half day we spent together he spun an unending tale about his racing and managerial career. It was an interesting window into a life I have never wanted. Soccer was my sport growing up and I have continued to play all through adulthood, excepting the aforementioned detour. I would pretty happily, given the talent, play pro soccer. Sure, some of the training is hard, but a lot of it is fun. I would coach that sport, too. I do. Just not professionally.
Pro cyclists just suffer. The training is hard, except when it’s brutally hard. The races are worse. Or they’re boring. Managing a team is like living the worst road trip I can imagine. The mechanics work as hard as the riders. I don’t want that job.
Then you’re into the bike making side of the industry. That’s where I live now. And you have to ask yourself, “What do you want to make?” or “What do you want to sell?” It’s all pretty tight, margins-wise. Like the racing side, not a lot of people are getting rich. So, what do you wanna do all day? Luckily, for me, a big part of my answer is, “Write about bikes.”
This week’s Group Ride asks, do you ever dream of joining the rag-tag bunch of us in this bike business? What is your ideal job? Team leader in a Grand Tour team? Race mechanic? Or are you bike designer? Would you drive someone’s demo van? Would you organize events? Sadly, there are already probably too many of us just writing about bikes.