I have a familiar face. A very familar face locally. My eyes typically hidden by tinted sunglasses because my eyes are ridiculously sensitive to light because of something that happened when I was a teenager. My hair is kind of a mess because it gets blown around by the wind. Sometimes it’s tied back by a rubber band taken from the morning paper. All of that paired with a flannel shirt partially buttoned creates my image that I’ve grown with over the years.
It’s how I present myself for three seasons of the year. The summer has an overhaul and I dominantly appear in tank tops and compression shorts.
But, people who’ve gotten to talk to me over the years and gotten pieces of my playbook that gave me success have said many things to me over the years.
One thing I hear a lot (besides “I’ve been watching for years”) is “I want to be like you”. It’s one of those things where I don’t know how to react because a) I’m just me and b) I only found success because I rebelled against the social norms of cycling in any way I could. That rebellion put me on the map and it gave me my own personal platform where I could vocally talk about things I believed in or didn’t believe in.
Some of that rebellion includes:
– Refusing to join multiple clubs that requested me to join them.
– Keeping as much independence with cycling as I could. Previously, I allowed suggestions on how I could improve but I no longer accept them.
– Minimally dressing like a cyclist. The only cycling gear I own now are tights.
– Stripping the cyclist mentality from my life. That snotty arrogance is so unnecessary and as I grew older, I permanently got rid of it.
– Riding more “acoustic” and “informal” as I grew older. I no longer look like a cyclist, the spandex body suits are gone, and I tried to strip down any part of me that could come off as intimidating to approach. I also no longer have an exact schedule outside of the night sessions. When I have options for timing throughout the day, I look at when I have a space to go out and feel when my legs are the strongest on a particular day.
I truly made cycling mine. I wanted cycling to feel approachable for anyone of any age and be able to make it their own. I partially dress the way I do to prove a point. That point is that you don’t need those $100 bicycle shoes or that $75 cycling jersey to become a “cyclist”. All you need is a bike, some time, and a goal in mind. As long as you’ve got those three things, you can become a cyclist. If that’s what people want to be like, then that’s alright with me. I know it’s been successful and cycling has become more accessible to the average person around here. I know this because it’s more than a coincidence that I’ve seen dozens of people with Trek bicycles that resemble the three that I own and the fact that it’s the only brand of bicycle I see. If bringing cycling to the community is my lasting memory, so be it. It’s making for a healthier community and I couldn’t be happier about the outcome.