A Minor Course Correction

I feel as though I owe a few of you an apology, or at the very least an explanation. As an opening statement, let me just say, I don’t hate watts, not really. I don’t hate cyclo-computers either. I’m not anti-aerobars or opposed to Strava. If you’re wearing a heartrate monitor, I’ll still hug you, and if you know your 1-hour FTP we can still be friends. In fact, we never stopped being friends.

I understand the things you do as expressions of a deep love for cycling and an insatiable curiosity about what you might be capable of. These are good things, although, in your intensity, sometimes you frighten or confuse other people, like your romantic partner and/or the guy at the bike shop who doesn’t understand why you want to order a TT helmet.

You neither frighten nor confuse me. I see you.

One of the things I’ve tried to do with TCI though, is to stake out a slightly different editorial position, a perch much closer to the entry-level cyclist and a bit further from the serious cyclists who might be engaged currently in a training block or working on sharpening their end of summer tan lines. This is a conscious decision aimed at demystifying the act of riding a bike and creating an array of content that is accessible to people who might not have watched Paris-Roubaix on VHS tapes while riding rollers in the winter.

The thing is, you serious cyclists are easy targets. Your ways can seem arcane and arbitrary. Your style can seem obscure. In poking gentle fun at you these last two years, I have not in any way wanted to offend you. My aim was just to use humor as a way to let less serious cyclists know they can belong here, and maybe to let a bit of the air out of the whole cycling endeavor, as people perceive it.

But it’s not for me to tell you to take riding a bike or yourself less seriously. You do you. Be as intense as you want. Let your Type A flag fly. Create spreadsheets. Strive for KOMs. Optimize your diets. Shave above the knee.

If you write enough words, you’re bound to offend someone eventually. I have probably written more than enough at this point. If you’re still here and reading these words, then our relationship isn’t beyond hope. I apologize for ribbing you so much. I’m sorry for implying you might bee part of some ill-defined problem that is somehow keeping people off bikes. None of that is right.

I am going to attempt a minor course correction, one that allows even the most aerodynamic among you to stay with the group. And if I stray, I hope you’ll remind me I said all these things, and that I’m nothing like a role model myself.

Find the featured image above by Daniel Hughes and a nice piece about Alpe d’Huez at rideshimano.com. TCI is sponsored, in part, by Shimano North America.

Join the conversation
  1. johnrom719 says

    Well-steered, Robot. I wonder: did you have a revelation one day which led to this missive? Do you self-reflect to course correct at the end of each day? Or did you receive and reflect on some feedback from a friend or foe? (Or alternatively an alliterative a**hole?)

    Essentially, I am asking you to reveal a bit more of your PROJECT. How does a Robot find himself a) in need of a minor – or major – course correction and b) implement said correction?

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      John, I don’t take an inventory at the end of each day, but generally speaking I try to maintain the attitude that I might be wrong about almost everything. There was no feedback that led me here, just a subtle feeling that “serious cyclists” might read me as too consistently poking fun at them. I want to be honest with myself. Am I couching criticism or judgement in humor? Am I making ANYONE feel less welcome? The answer will almost always be YES. I’m flawed. I’m human. I have fear, doubt and insecurity like everyone else. But I’m not afraid to course correct. Course corrections have pretty much always led me to better frames of mind and better relationships.

  2. Barry Johnson says

    I have never felt TCI came across as very Grant Petertsen-y. Very wide arms of welcome are usually displayed here. Any perceived disdain imho would be from incredibly thin skin and a lack of a funny bone. Robot, you’re pretty damn chill. Don’t change.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Thanks, Barry, for the support.

  3. Dan Murphy says

    Man, if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re taking things waaaay too seriously.
    Thanks for being here, Robot

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Dan, you are wholly welcome. I could (and should) say the same to you.

  4. eborling says

    I’m mildly offended that you are worried about offending “serious cyclists.”

    That’s the throw-away jokey line.

    In reality, one time I inadvertently offended someone that I was to shortly find out was a “serious” roadie. He asked if I was a cyclist and I replied “I’m a bike rider. I hate referring to myself in anything that ends in -ist, especially bike riding.” We still got along splendidly after the initial awkwardness of my comment, and we connected on only that level that 2 strangers can when they find out that they share a mutual love of something and have many friends and other interests in common.

    I still never let anybody call me a cyclist though.

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