Monday, March 13, 2006

Hey, this is my blog

Instead of writing one of those dreaded "oh, I have nothing to write about today" posts, I thought I'd share an excerpt of an article I wrote a few years back. This is back when I still thought of myself as mainly a "cycle tourist," and was trying to conjure up a definition of what that meant. So, in honor of the Iditarod race, here's "Of Dogs and Cyclists."

"... See, cyclists are a lot like dogs. No, not because they eat protein snacks and bark at cars. To most, a cyclist is a cyclist - but that doesn't stop the proliferation of a startling variety of breeds.

First there are commuters. Commuters are the Labrador retrievers of the pack. Throw them a good bicycle route, and they'll keep coming back. They love a good game of "catch"- that is, sprinting to catch green lights. They're highly sociable, largely domesticated and don't mind being leashed to the same roads day after day.

Then there are the recreational riders, the toy poodles. They're mostly out for show. They often have the best bikes on the block, as shiny as the day they were purchased - and often as unused. They coast gingerly along smooth payment, chrome sparkling in the sunlight, all while smiling dreamily to grab the attention of passers by.

In contrast, there are the extreme mountain bikers, the huskies, pulling their powerful bodies over terrain that nature never intended them to cross. Their bikes show the marks of a life fully lived, coated in mud and marred by deep scars. They live on the cusp of tame and wild, fully prepared for the roughest conditions. They work well in groups but their minds are fiercely independent, and they're never fully content when they come down from the mountain.

Recreational mountain bikers are golden retrievers. Like their husky brothers, they love going on long rides in the mountains, jumping in the mud and summoning their maximum energy level whenever they go out. However, they're also just as happy to curl up on the couch when the weather forecast calls for rain.

There are club riders, the Shetland sheepdogs, who are happiest in herds. They're always nipping at the heels of other riders to keep a good drafting speed as they move in formation along the road. Separation from the herd is a mark of shame.

Road racers, on the other hand, break out of the pack when it really matters. Like greyhounds, they move in graceful unity until the time comes to rush forward in a stunning burst of speed. Their sleek, lycra-clad bodies were built for speed and speed alone. They can be a delicate breed, prone to freezing in the winter and unable to carry the weight of life's necessities on their ultra-light bikes.

That's where cycle tourists are different. Tourists are the St. Bernards trailing behind the pack - big, bulky, slow, but built to last, built to withstand the rain and snow and ice and wind that gets in the way during the long haul. Tourists are well adept to carrying large loads on their bikes, pulling them when necessary, moving at a steady speed until they reach their final destination, whether it's 5 or 5,000 miles away ..."