The Power of Community
The cycling community is bound by strong ties. When I awoke this morning, there was a cyclist sleeping on my couch. He had texted me yesterday afternoon to say that he was biking from Key West to Toronto and needed a place to stay. He would be arriving at my doorstep in about two hours. His name is Jun and he is from South Korea. He had decided to take the trip and bought a bike three months ago when he realized that he had more time than money for vacationing. My brother and I were glad to accommodate him on such short notice.
This was the third time that I have hosted someone who contacted me through warmshowers.org, a website built for traveling cyclists to find lodging from other members of the cycling community. Having been on a few bike trips myself, I can testify that a warm shower is something that can’t be found at most rustic campgrounds but is badly needed. Most hosts on this website offer at least a warm shower and some space on their lawn for camping or a couch to sleep on for free. It is one of the low-cost ways that the cycling community cares for one another.
But there are some aspects of cycling culture that are not quite so warm and fuzzy. Cycling is an equipment-based sport (i.e. you need to have a bike so that you can go biking) and, as such, there is a lot of gear/tech associated with the sport. With all of this gear and technology comes a materialistic focus that obscures why many of us love cycling. There are premium-grade bells and whistles and fancy do-dads for thousands of dollars if you have the dough to spend. Performance improvements are more often equated to the equipment a cyclist uses instead of the hours of blood, sweat, and tears he or she may expend to make real improvements.
Cycling becomes less a sport for ordinary folks like Jun who travel across the country on a whim and a cheap bike and more a sport for heavy-spending elitist thoroughbreds.
But it doesn’t have to be. This is why I like the YouTuber, Vegan Cyclist. He presents himself well as an everyman sort of guy. He is a poster child of the cycling community. He is the sort of “bruh” (I believe this colloquialism translates to “bro” or “friend”) you would expect to run into at any group ride in any city across America. He talks about gains and losses, success and failures, or hopes and disappointments. He talks about new methods that he is trying out that may or may not translate into actual results. He talks about his wife and children (he once released a whole video on his anniversary devoted entirely to talking about how much he loved his wife for sticking with him through thick and thin). He is humble and honest with everything that he produces and, as a result, his content quality is unrivaled.
His YouTube videos reflect his love for the sport of cycling and his humble and honest attitude. His advice is practical. His race results are enlightening not because he does so well, but because he does pretty average. Through this, he shows his viewers how he wants to get where he wants to be. His videos are always a breath of fresh air.
And that is why I am talking about him. Whether it be cyclists like Jun or the Vegan Cyclist (Sorry, I can never remember his real name. I think it’s Tyler?), the cycling community is made up of inspiring stories of people who just up and decided to get a bike and ride. This spirit of accomplishment is what I hope to capture with the stories I write on my blog. If you want to hear about the latest and greatest do-dads to empty your wallet on, you may have to look elsewhere. I want to tell the other side to cycling stories. I want to tell the stories of people who get out and ride, who work hard and make small gains. I want the everyman to be the mascot of what I write and why I write. And it’s cyclists like Jun or the Vegan Cyclist that embody that everyman mentality so well. Thank you for your inspiration.
Watch Vegan Cyclist’s “Breathe” Video (sorry Mom, some bad language):