Monday, September 2

What's In Half A Decade?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the vast majority of you (2 out of 3, actual) were not here in the beginning when this blog was running around naked looking for something to eat.  

Five years ago I posted my very first cyclo-centric entry here on the back alley wall of the internet.  Let’s go back, shall we?

[Wavy lines and trippy music]

Jersey Guys was supposed to be a fictitious blog written from the point of view of a cycling team training in Wash Park. We've grown overly frustrated with the "jersey guys" as Boone calls them and wanted to vent our frustrations via this blog. Now I think it might just be easier to relate the stories from our point of view and embellish a little internal dialogue for said Jersey Guys.

When I go to the park in the mornings for my rides I rarely encounter them, and why would I? That is a relatively slow time for the path around the park. But when we go in the evenings to walk and take the kids to the playground we end up fighting with the jersied cyclists, the rollerbladers, jogging clubs and pokers. It can get painful.

The path has clearly marked lanes, the inside for a clockwise ped path and the outside for a counterclockwise bike/rollerblade path. Ironically it seems that very few people abide by the simple rules and travel in the wrong direction in the wrong lane very frequently.

And also there is a posted speed limit of 15 mph. Now, to be completely honest, on my morning rides I very often ride 18-25 mph and maintain that speed for four or five laps around the park, but again, the park is usually desolate when I ride and I am very careful around other users.

When the park is crowded it makes no sense to fly around the park, four across, but the jersey guys do it all the time.

[Trippy music and wavy lines]

So I set the tone early: preach to the choir while not practicing my own dogma.*  It’s been a good paradigm formy discontinuous ramblings.  It’s probably a good thing I didn’t decide to be a real preacher.  I’d be rich and famous by now.

One thing that is interesting to note, I actually threw the first internetal litter down on August 29th, 2008, however, for reasons lost to antiquity, I deleted the original post.  I remember that I had some intentional reason for doing it, but I just can’t remember why.  There is the vaguest memory of it being embarrassingly harsh toward the jersey guys that terrorized Wash Park.

Oh, I guess I revisit a little blog history.  Originally this blog was found at and was called “Jersey Guys: Adventures in Idiocy.”  The original blog is still up, but I’ve also carried over all the posts to the current URL.  Hopefully I won’t be stoopid enough to have a future URL as well.  Let’s just stick with the good ole  

The subtitle didn’t last much longer than that original post.  I think I changed it to “Jersey Guys: Taking the Lane” early on.  I know I posted about it, but I gave my research team the day off as it is the five year anniversary of the second post of this blahg.  I kept “taking the lane” as a titular (titler, titlar, title-er) theme.  I’ve used it under “From the Pavement’s Edge” from time to time.  I think I actually wanted the title of the blog to be “Taking the Lane” but someone had already snagged that one up.  FPE has worked rather well for me over the years.  Five to be exact.

When we moved out of Denver into Lakewood I lost interest in slamming jersey guys.  It didn’t help that I was fast becoming one myself.  *See the statement above.

I know I’ve developed as a writer in the preceding five years…much like cancer develops, kidney stones develop, myopia develops, a persistent cough develops…but it’s interesting to me to look back and see a lot of the same old garbage way back at the dawn of my time here.  

On October 23rd I claimed to be going on a hiatus and then proceeded to post again a week later, then two days in a row a week after that, and then two days later, and again six days after that.  Obviously I wasn’t sure what a hiatus was in 2008.  I probably still don’t have a good concept now.  On November 20th I announced that the hiatus was over.  How typical.  For all I know I’m on a hiatus now.

That November 16 post, the “Community” Ditch Trail entry, was maybe my first good look at the behaviors of other cyclists, and of commonly held perceptions (mine at least) of what good cyclo-behavior should be.

Over the next few years the blog became more and more a part of who I was.  In some ways my cycling drove the blog, and in some ways the blog drove my cycling.  I looked for things to participate in, or rides to do, that would make for interesting blog “butter” as Jeaph so quaintly put it.  Maybe at times I contrived adventures just to have a blog post the next day.  Sue me.  I had a lot of fun adventures because of it. Sometimes I went and rode and ended up with experiences I just had to share.  
One of the underlying drivers of the blog after 2010 was my full-time bike commuting and our car-lite family lifestyle.  Riding every day because you have to puts you in a lot of situations where the analytical side of your brain is forced to employ forensics to determine of the benefits are going to continue outweighing the costs.  
If someone intentionally buzzed me as I rode home on Ridge Road I had to be able to go in to the closed circuit TV of my brain, determine what happened, calculate the benefits of doing it again the next day against the risks, and then come up with an appropriate response to the situation.  Most often it was hand gestures and a gravelly cry of “Jackass!”  But I went out the next day anyway.  I had to.  I wasn’t proud of my physical reactions to the danger careless motorists put me in, but couldn't find the perfect way to respond or not respond.  I tried to be stoic.  And then I blogged.

That’s when the moto-fascists were born.  I think the writer’s block I experienced in trying to convey my frustration at the jersey guys way back in our Wash Park days finally broke as I was continually assaulted by moto-fascists.  The words poured out of me.  My analysis of the cyclo-centric lifestyle was heavy on blogged determination to overcome the trials of riding a bike with purpose.

Then there was Leadville.  That obsession created a new facet of my cycling and ended up commanding a huge footprint on the blog.  I really think the love of mountain biking I developed out of that process helped to revitalize the blog a bit and to give it some more positive content.  It pulled me out of my moto-fascist hating funk.
What finally killed off the MFers for good was moving back to Kentucky.  I find it hard to get riled up by idiots behind the wheel because there are so few of them here.  Even in Lexington my rides are so much less stressful than they were when I rode day after day after day.  Maybe it’s because I can just choose not to ride for a time after a bad vehicular encounter…maybe being able to take myself out of the situation means I don’t have to focus as much on survival.  

While I loved being able to ride every day I think it is entirely possible that immersing myself in the cyclo-centric lifestyle and blogging about it when I wasn’t actually riding maybe have disproportionately contributed to my overall stress levels.  I hated my job, but is it possible I actually hated my commutes as well?
I think I just hate commuting full stop.

If my commute could simply be sitting down at the keyboard…

Anyway, the blog has changed drastically in the last year.  The move back East was a greater upheaval than I expected.  Oddly, I’ve managed to keep finding things to write about even though I don’t spend as much time in the saddle as I used to.  And in some ways (laugh if you will) I think the content and delivery has improved.  I say that in all seriousness, but it is difficult to get a good objective image of yourself.  We’re all biased towards ourselves.

Five years in I guess the big question is this: where do I see the blog going in the next five years?

I can’t say for sure.  There is so much low hanging advocacy fruit here that I could focus on nothing but that and go on for decades.  Mountain biking is on the cusp of truly exploding in pockets around the eastern part of the state.  I’m working on getting those fuses lit.  But I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time writing about mountain biking advocacy.  I really don’t.  I’m doing it because I see it as necessary, not because I necessarily love the idea of mountain bike advocacy.

In the end I just want to write things that give people something to think about or that contribute some positive mental energy to their day.  I don’t think this blog will ever be as widely read as Fatty’s or Snob’s.  And I don’t think I want that kind of pressure to write in my life.  I’m not saying I would shirk it if it came my way, but while it was nice to see my pageviews spike after Fatty linking to me and tweeting about me I’m not as concerned about thousands of pageviews a day.

I’d been seriously considering changing the look of the blog for awhile to reflect the atmosphere I find myself riding through these days.  I wanted to open up the shades and get some light into the darkness of this place.  It’s time to do some spring cleaning (a few months early) and let the sun shine in.  But have no fear, I won’t be moving to a new URL or changing the name of the blog any time soon!  

In five years I hope I can find my true niche in all the chaotic blog-o-sphere.  I think the first five years have really been about running the gauntlet of issues and topics, trying out my voice on different verses, and now I can finally settle in and flow with the stream I find myself in.  

Trust me, there will be lots of flotsam and jetsam in my stream.

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