I have been going back through the (really rather massive) archive of writing that Padraig and I (to a lesser extent) compiled at Red Kite Prayer, partly to recycle old ideas with a new outlook, and partly to understand how we were writing about bikes and cycling then vs. how we do it now. My main takeaway is that, circa 2010, we were very much involved in signaling in-group credibility. We were trying to convince hardcore cyclists that we were as hardcore, maybe even more hardcore (hardcorer?), than they were.
We wrote about pro cycling a lot, assuming that most of our readers were following the sport as closely as we were. We made inside jokes and references, and tried to be “soulful.”
Over time, things got more personal. Life happened to us both, and it stripped away some of the pretense of how we were presenting ourselves. That was a good thing, but as you get more personal, more relatable even, the pendulum swings sometimes into navel-gazing territory. You’re writing about yourself a lot, and if you’re not careful you overindulge your audience’s patience without offering enough in the way of entertainment.
When Padraig told me he was shutting down RKP to start this site, I felt half-a-minute’s sadness. We had, after all, put a lot of work into it. It was a bit like going on a round-the-world trip and then suddenly arriving home. You’re glad to be there, but you’re afraid you might miss the excitement.
He wanted more voices involved in the new site, and he wanted to reset the tone. Those sounded like good ideas to me. Instead of winking at other “serious” cyclists, he wanted to do the most inclusive thing possible. Rather than simply rebooting RKP with new contributors and a whiplash tone shift, he wanted this thing, The Cycling Independent, and of course, I was on board (happy to be asked, actually).
TCI allows me to be as irreverent as I really am, and as bad at riding bikes, too. And instead of trying to write my way into worthiness as a cyclist, I can go back to the original remit of RKP, which was to get people excited about riding bikes. We have come, if you’ll pardon the quasi-pun, full circle.
This week’s TCIF asks, how has your attitude toward bikes and cycling changed over the last decade? Are you ramping up the intensity? Or are you also shifting to a more laid back approach? If you have a mission, beyond just pushing the pedals yourself, what is it? And how are you moving it forward?
We hope you like TCI. If you’re here, we’re friends. Having said that, we can’t do this the way it needs to be done solely as a labor of love. If you get a lift out of our work, help us keep it going by subscribing now. It’s cheap. Like a small Slurpee. Or a ten pack of tube socks.