Monday, October 12, 2009

Why We Blog

There is a curious relationship between the desire to ride a bike, be it for purposes of commuting to work, to race, to spin down a tree-lined trail, to lose weight, to dart in and out of traffic with a messenger bag, to smack around a ball with a mallet, or purely as a means of transportation and the desire of cyclists to express themselves regarding the significance (or lack thereof) of their pedaling.    Books have been written, magazines published and movies made about the seemingly simple act of pedaling a bike.  And now, we cyclists have permeated through the blogosphere like a rancid TriBerry-flavored GU gel through a Cat V racing noob.

There are literally thousands of cycling blogs online these days ranging from the purely informative to those that are personal cycling diaries in which daily rides are described with excrutiating detail including miles logged, road conditions, wind direction, what was eaten for breakfast...etc, etc....all documented as though the writer/cyclist is a WWII fighter pilot being debriefed after his mission.  Who reads all of this?

Making sense of all the cycling blogs can be a daunting task.  In fact, the entire purpose of one blog titled is to categorize, and thereby organize, all of the other cycling blogs.  Consider it your rolodex for cycling blogdom.  For example, referring to, you can search the subcategory of single-speed cycling blogs specifically. Within this category, one can find a wide variety of blogs supposedly focusing on singlespeeds that range from the obligatory "I Heart Single Speeds" ( to the slightly more disconcertingly titled "The One Eyed View From The Saddle" (  Regarding the former, I wonder if we could declare a moratorium on the entire "I Heart (insert your favorite obsession here)" phraseology.  I think we all get that "heart" is a cute way to verbalize what is more creatively represented by an actual drawing of a heart meant to represent 'love.'

But we now know that love doesn't originate in the heart, but rather the brain, and a very specific part of the brain in actuality, called the medial insula of the cerbral cortex. I know - the words medula insula just don't seem to work.  "I medial insula you!" Regarding the latter single speed blog mentioned above - I don't really want to know what 'one-eyed view from the saddle' the author is referring to.  However, I'm guessing it describes where his particular feelings of 'love' originate, as opposed to either his medula insula or his heart, for that matter.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, there is a recent post that can help you prioritize the seemingly endless ocean of cycling blogs: the London Cyclist Blog's  list of the Top 50 cycling blogs.  I will spare you the suspense of having to follow the link and just give you the top 3 here:

  2. Bike Snob NYC

As we all know by now, Portland is the cycling capital of the US and possible center of the universe, and will therefore henceforth be referred to as Bike-Mecca. Fair enough.  As any self-respecting Mecca, it must have its gospel, thus we will honor as the most successful cycling blog.  Second on the list is a personal favorite, and role model for the PooBah, the illustrious BSNYC.

In case you didn't know, BSNYC now writes for, among other periodicals, Bicycling and Outside magazines, and has recently secured a book deal.  He gives the entire world of frustrated bike bloggers (present company included) hope that, we too may one day quit our soul crushing day jobs and spend the best hours of our days writing about our obsession.

And that leaves the third most popular bike blog on the list: FatCyclist, represented by a logo including a Clydesdale with the slogan "Heavyweight Horsepower."

FatCyclist is a truly inspired piece of writing from a man who rides to stay alive - originally to assist in his weight loss, and then to help him deal with his wife's battle with breast cancer.  With the assistance of his blog, Team Fatty became the most financially successful LiveStrong Challenge Team ever in that it raised more than half a million dollars for cancer research.  Just two months ago, Elden "Fatty" Nelson lost his wife, Susan, to breast cancer.  The cycling blogosphere came together in a response to the post of his wife's death titled "Don't Say She Lost" with unprecedented solidarity and sensitivity.  If you've never read this particular post - you may want to take a peek.  To date, this singular post has received 2,441 responses and inspired a resurgent campaign of cycling defiance to cancer called "Fight Like Susan" with its own pink Twin Six jersey, perhaps particularly poignant now during breast cancer awareness month:

The reason cyclists blog is no giant mystery.  We like to feel connected.  We like to know those miles we spin mean something and have a purpose greater than just the appearance of the digital numbers on the odometer.  Maybe that purpose is just to stay in shape.  Maybe it's to appreciate a road out in the countryside more than it could ever be appreciated from the inside of a car.  Maybe it's to exert an effort beyond what we thought we were ever capable of.  Maybe it's to let us ride away from those demons that chase us, or to ride toward those goals that lie just ahead.  Maybe it's to help us fight for people we love, like Elden rode for his wife Susan.  But as we ride, we cyclists have the need to talk about our adventures - whether that's over coffee at the half way point, or a beer at the end of the ride or on the pages of a blog on the internet.  In this way, blogging seems to have become as much a part of cycling culture as Saturday morning rides starting from the local bike shop.   Reading a post like Elden's certainly displays that the power of cycling is felt as much in the legs and lungs on the bike as it is in the heart and mind through words.

Pedal on!

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