Communication. It’s been a subject of much consideration for me lately. It’s as multi-faceted as a princess-cut diamond. There’s who my circle of contacts has been lately. Given just what is going down, it’s been curious to consider just who I’ve felt a need to be in touch with. I can identify some shifting priorities; it’s a signifier of who I really wish to be in contact with. There’s the what of my communication. Just what have I felt a need to tell people? Are those communications positive or negative; I have to grant that there is one source of open conflict in my life and another in which I’m trying to avoid conflict. Then there’s the big one with my boys. I have a need to manage them and their behavior here at home, to try to keep them doing some school work, reading at the very least and not playing with electronics all day, but the tension of needing to complete freelance projects on deadline and the need (it’s a genuine drive) to produce for RKP has me occasionally admonishing them with more horsepower than necessary. Just what does that tell them?
I’m also thinking about what is being communicated to me, first, by those in my inner circle, then those people I feel a need to be in touch with. Beyond that, there is what my local government has to say, what my town’s newspaper is reporting and then the alarming information coming from the national media and, finally, the insanity spewing out of Washington.
Deep in the margins of my day, which is to say late at night or early in the morning, I’ve been working on some fiction. It concerns cycling, bike racing, and to you lot, rather unsurprisingly it obsesses over the concerns on which this site was founded: Where cycling takes us psychologically more than physically. Going someplace else has turned out to be a way to go someplace else.
When I began the manuscript, I was writing it for fellow cyclists, for a more metaphoric inner circle, those in-the-know. Then a strange thing happened: I asked a friend, a non-cyclist, to read it. She’s been a valuable sounding board for other non-cycling work, and I wanted to get her take. Her response was so positive that I began to feel like I’d cheated her for not slowing down enough to explain bike racing, the thrill of undulating singletrack, the rush of the pack.
To my complete surprise I developed a desire to write for a much broader audience, to talk about where cycling lives in my life and the lives of many of us, to demystify bike racing without condescending, without going full 101 on the reader. Can you seduce a non-cyclist into a love of going fast on a bicycle? Surely it’s possible as evidenced by all the cycling widows and widowers who wanted to see Jan Ullrich beat Lance Armstrong, the girlfriends who wanted to see Fabian Cancellara pound all comers.
And now, I find myself asking a whole new question. For nearly 15 years I’ve been writing about the inner expanse of cycling for cyclists. It’s certainly possible that I could write a novel about cycling for cyclists that would be warmly received by a thousand score of MAMILs. That would be a satisfying experience, full stop. But I can’t seem to stop there. I want to say something true about cycling for people who absolutely don’t give a shit about cycling, people who don’t need to care about the sport beyond the fact that maybe a family member, friend or coworker wears that nutty, stretchy clothing.
I’m not Robot and it’s not Friday, but here’s my solicitation: What is it you wish the rest of the world new about cycling? Is it that it’s your spiritual practice? That it’s the only time when you are truly free of the world? That it’s several of your favorite hobbies? Help me out here; make my guiding stars a little brighter.