The Laughing Group

The Laughing Group is that bunch of riders at the back of the peloton who know the finish line isn’t for them that day. Maybe it’s a pack of sprinters on a mountain day. They know they just have to stick together to make it inside the time cutoff. No need to stress the legs. No obligation to carry water. Time for a chat; that’s all.

Padraig and I have been at this a long time together.

And as we’ve been working together, the tone and tenor of our work has evolved. Where once we wrote largely about the pros (early days RKP), The Cycling Independent seems to have evolved into a site more inclined to sift through life’s sundry and just keep the laughing group together.

That’s you.

Few of us here are racing to win, i.e., we’re not really racing. We’re trying to manage family and career. Our ages don’t really matter, and our careers don’t really matter. It’s not the what of it, it’s the how. This is the Project. We’re all working on the same challenges. Birds of a feather, we flock.

Big thanks to Shimano North America for having our back this year.

And look, if you’re just here for a brief distraction, we’re here for that. That’s fine.

But even the contributors who find us, who submit work for consideration, are doing what we’re doing. They’ve arrived at that point in their lives where the urge to find better, and not necessarily more fun, ways to live has become important. The bike provides a perfect analogy, a perfect vehicle for that pursuit, because not every moment in the saddle is pleasant. We have fetishized suffering because it can be a useful component in getting better, both at cycling and at living.

Suffering isn’t necessary though.

In some sense, riding bikes is spiritual, right? It’s how we connect to each other. It’s how we get to know ourselves properly. It strips away that layer of obliviousness and draws our attention to a fine point.

The bike remains the thing that draws us together, but the site is less and less about the bike and more and more about using the bike as a lens through which to see ourselves more clearly. There is no TCI without the bike. We will always be thinking about cycling, but the urge to hold it at arm’s length, to treat it as something separate from ourselves, a curiosity to be examined, has mostly gone.

Rather than being a website that reviews bikes and bike stuff (we will keep doing this), comments on trends, and bemoans the penchant for taking ourselves too seriously, we hope to become more of a meeting room, a place for cyclists who are working hard at being better people to gather and discuss what works, and what doesn’t, even if sometimes that means evaluating a new to market jacket or wading into the moral shallows of racing for money.

Padraig and I maybe started out (a long time ago now) writing at you, riding along in the guise of quasi-journalists, but it’s hard to stay on the front for long like that. Sometimes we have the form for it. Sometimes we don’t.

Hopefully, as the site has become more personal, we have settled more comfortably into the pack, this laughing group which is neither too fast nor too troubled about getting to the finish line. We are no longer working hard at being the experts. Now, like you, we’re just trying to keep going.

Join the conversation
  1. TominAlbany says

    I’m in!

  2. Pat Navin says

    I’ve described the site to friends not familiar with it as less about “what/how-we-ride” and more about “why-we-ride.” I agree with you, John. As I’ve aged and slowed down, I’m more interested in the why. A number of years ago when I rode damn hard, I was talking about why we ride with a friend (while on a ride), and he made an interesting, general, observation about cyclists. He said, “We ride hard because we’re all trying to get away from something.”

    I’ve thought about that a lot. I think it was true for me, especially when I was younger. Riding is more sublime for me now. It was a natural evolution.

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