Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let me explain...

My mom once told me, "Never explain. Your friends don't need it and your enemies won't accept it". But this one time, let me explain...

Mediocre: adjective
1.of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate.
I've been aware that some readers have taken offense to my use of the adjective mediocre in referring to cyclists in my regular club. Let me explain...

When I use that word it is not to disparage any accomplishment or achievement. I was asked this weekend while on a ride about the total annual mileage I expect for 2009. The follow-up question had to do with whether or not a rider's annual mileage of 1000 miles counted for anything. My response was that if the rider in question had planned to achieve 1000 miles, and subsequently did achieve it - great! In fact if they were able to achieve 1050 or more - super! Back pats all around!! But if at the end of the year, a rider adds up all the miles in his log book and they total 1000, and that was entirely accidental. Boo! Let me explain...

An ordinary cyclist watches the news on Friday evening and sees that Saturday, the next day, will be fair weather. Having no pressing plans for the day, they decide to go for a ride. Since riding with others is better than riding alone, they call or email a few people, "Hey, wanna ride tomorrow?"

An ordinary cyclist hears of a charity ride in a nearby town three months before it occurs. About a month out, they begin deciding whether or not they want to register and ride it.

An ordinary cyclist uses a bicycle for recreation when there is no other recreation which might be more fun on the immediate horizon.

There's nothing wrong with ordinary cyclists, or according to the definition - a mediocre cyclist. In fact, the bicycle manufacturers and shops would soon go out of business if it weren't for the ordinary cyclists. There would be no charity rides, no bicycle clubs, no bike lanes or trails if if weren't for ordinary cyclists. They are the great majority! I just don't want to be one.

I want to rise above ordinary. I sit down in January and plan my entire cycling year (in pencil - life being what it is). I know every ride I want to do, and plan the training which will enable me to accomplish it; then start the training weeks or even months out. I plan to achieve something more than last year. More distance, or more events, or faster finishing times, or something - just MORE!

A dear friend, who died a few years ago, once angrily accused me of being a mediocre singer. He was right. I have an ordinary voice with an ordinary style. I agreed with him. What made it preposterous was that he was more ordinary than me, he just didn't know it. In the previous 2 or 3 decades of playing music, he hadn't learned anything new, he hadn't taken any risks, he hadn't discovered anything, he hadn't grown or achieved as a musician. Still he thought of himself as that younger man who had played in a regional band long ago. He was not that man - he was an ordinary middle-aged musician. Like me.

I make no pretense at being in the league of some of the riders who motivate and inspire me. I'm in contact with riders who routinely ride 300 to 600 mile events. One of my contacts is leaving in a couple of days to ride a 1200Km (744 miles) event in Colorado. There's no way I'm in his league. But I aspire to be. I dream of it. I train for it. I want it.

So when I use the phrase "mediocre cyclist", I don't mean you; I just don't want to mean me. If you are offended, then you'll need to get glad in the same jersey you got mad in. And while you wait for your feelings to subside, ask yourself "Am I an ordinary cyclist? Is that enough for me?" If you are and it is enough - great! It's just not enough for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment