AN OPEN LETTER TO STRAVA
I read your e-mail today that announces your new app which will "eventually" allow us to do so-called ride reports. Obviously you have heard that Ride With GPS has just completed a contest to select the best ride reports of their consumers, actually offering up quality prizes for the winners You say that you have chosen 36 riders to test the app because you "trust" that they will provide quality reports. In looking through the list of 36, I notice that at least two are professional riders, one a well-known pro and author turned Strava segment challenger when he didn't get a contract for this season. How very snobbish of you.
One of the observations I have made in using your site is that I am a very average cyclist. And while it is interesting to compare yourself to other riders, including the very best, it also serves as a reminder that there is such a world of difference between elite and average to say nothing of those who simply struggle to finish. We all want to think of ourselves as having some value, something that others will notice about us, something that will be seen as exceptional. If not human nature, at least this is the world we live in, a world where the truly great athlete is rewarded with such accolades along with millions of dollars.
But just let me tell you about my mediocrity, at least as a cyclist. I have now ridden about thirty years depending on what you consider the beginning as I have always been a bike rider of some degree. Just this year I went over the 200,000 mile mark, which I know is not a record, just a lot of time on a bike. In fact, figuring an average speed of about 12 miles per hour (I expose my mediocrity) this works out to about 2.3 years of my life spent on a bike seat. Over the years I have experienced some race time, completing a couple of dozen 12/24 hour time trials, brevets and gran fondos-yes, a very rich cycling experience. As a back of the packer, maybe I know what I am talking about.
If you look at the 10 finalists in the Ride With GPS contest, you will see that, like me, they are not elite cyclists, at least not in any obvious way, but rather mostly back of the pack riders. In fact one report comes from a guy riding in Afghanistan. Another comes from a girl riding a 35 pound bike in the hills of Washington and Oregon with a dog in her basket. Now you say not very interesting, yet they actually are the real stuff of people's lives, and one will win a deluxe gravel bike from Breadwinner Cycling in Portland Oregon. Pretty nice I say.
I say you can do better than this. There is already enough of this elitist BS in cycling, already too much worship of those who we see as "the best." And when we don't stack up against them, or when we plan and train for a gran fondo only to bonk and quit in the middle of nowhere, it is difficult to see oneself as in any way exceptional. As is the experience of our lives, we struggle with this great myth.
John Kennedy said:
"The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived, and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic....Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
So because others say it is okay or even cool, we go along with the latest trend, accept that the prevasiveness of EMF frequencies is okay, that toxic chemicals in our food, water and air is okay, that the way we see others treat our fellow humans is okay, that turning Aleppo into a dump is just what needed to be done. Well shame on our lack of thought.
So as with Trump-I am apolitical as well as average-I will wait and see, with a rising sense of alarm, what your new app brings. However, I leave you with this thought, it is not the accomplishments that define a man's life but rather the knowing and acceptance of self.