It’s been a long time since I won anything. I can tell you, right now, this very day, I had forgotten what that felt like.
This morning I learned that Outside Magazine named Red Kite Prayer the best blog in cycling. That we even made the list was really terrific. I read through the list three or four times just to make sure I was reading it right. We were at the bottom of the list, but there was no mistaking that the numeral 1 was next to our name.
I admit, I feel like I dumped Philippe Gilbert at the foot of the Mur de Huy. This means more than any bike race I ever won. It would be easy to turn this into an ego-stroking moment of self-congratulations. I’d like to avoid that. While I’m proud to share this acknowledgement with you readers, there’s a deeper reason for mentioning this.
Outside has been a source of inspiration for me both personally and professionally for more than 20 years. The writers who have written for them are a “Who’s Who” among the best of those working in magazines. If you have worked for them, you know more about writing than just how to construct a grammatically correct sentence.
Their collection of features, “Out of the Noösphere,” served as a lighthouse for me when I was feeling lost in my graduate work. It reinforced in me my desire to write about cycling. I can remember thinking how I wanted to bring Outside-like writing to bike magazines. For me, this nod is an implicit endorsement of that quest, of my results.
As Robot said to me this morning, “This changes nothing … but you know, it’s really f***ing cool.”
In his biography of Eddy Merckx, Rik Vanwalleghem said that Merckx took almost no time to enjoy his victories, that as soon as he was off the podium he would begin stressing about the next race on his calendar and whether or not he could win.
I get it now. I do.
Back to work.
Of all the writing I do, some of my very favorite work is travel writing. More than ten years ago, in a job review, I was asked what I wanted my job to be in five years. I responded, “Sniper.” Feature writing is in my blood and bringing to the reader an extraordinary experience in a far-flung locale is more fun than video games.
Some years back, when I was in graduate school and facing an ennui only those privileged enough to go to grad school can experience, I wondered what the hell I was up to. (Big surprise.) Over Christmas break I ran across the book “Out of the Noösphere,” a collection of features from Outside Magazine. It recalibrated my mission, so to speak and has informed my travel writing ever since.
Currently, the only real travel work I do is for Road Bike Action Magazine. Their editor, Brad Roe has given me pretty broad latitude to work. As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s as fun a relationship with a magazine as I’ve had. And given that Hi-Torque’s Mountain Bike Action was only the second magazine I developed a real affinity for (after Sufer Pub’s Skateboarder), to work for a Hi-Torque publication on a regular basis is big fun.
Zap even remembers my name now.
There are those days on the bike, days that are revelations. While a day can be memorable because of your form, your results, your company or your location, the way memory works, the more of those elements you pull together, the more memorable they are.
I had one of those days at the Tour of the Unknown Coast. Held in Humboldt County, California, it is the hippiest of the hippy holdouts. A different sort of place, and a different sort of ride. While there are a great many century rides, the TUC seemed to draw only those riders with a certain love for suffering. Harder than your average bear, Booboo.
If you enjoy travel writing, whether mine or not, I hope you’ll pick up the March issue of Road Bike Action. You might even want to check out the ride, which I can assure you, is one for the scrap book.