"And when I'm old and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super...(muwahahahah!).....no one will be." - Syndrome in "The Incredibles"
I often am reminded of this quote from the Pixar movie when I read things about technology. Recently, the Grammys were handed out. Billie Eilish won a boatload of hardware for her latest album which was recorded in a bedroom on software and with equipment anyone can buy. 20 years ago you could not have begun to imagine such a thing. Studio equipment, and studio rental fees, were astronomically expensive and only by the backing of a record company could any artist hope to get recorded. Now "anyone can be recorded". Does that mean nothing is special anymore?
You can look at photography, art, and even news stories. All areas have been "democratized' to the point that much of the impact that photos, art, and news had "back in the day" has been lessened to a degree. So, what has all this got to do with cycling?
Technology has brought people's accomplishments, that used to be amazing, down to "everyday happenings". This is our perception now. The accomplishments haven't changed, but our awareness of them, and the frequency of our awareness of them, has made them seem ordinary. Knowing that things can be done sometimes makes them repeatable on a larger scale by more people. This gets driven into social media channels until it becomes "just more noise". Take any ultra-event as an example.
I'm not sure what the point of all this is, if I am honest with you. It is something I struggle with though. I see, on social media, someone finishing, what I know is a technically, mentally, and physically challenging event, and I have to really try to not be the guy that says, "Oh....that's nice. Congratulations and all....", with no real feeling of wonderment and joy for the person. Because I know how hard it is to do those things. I know how I'd feel if I accomplished those things in cycling. Or at least I have an inkling of how I'd feel. I know it is a wonderment and a joy for that person who is finishing whatever event it is they have done.
|Standing here watching- you cannot help but "feel it". DK200 finish line 2016|
I blame technology and spending too much time on it. Because I also know that when I am out in the World- either participating in these events, or as a spectator at these events - that wonderment and joy is easily felt. No matter how many people are accomplishing something. How do I know that? I know that from spending hours at the Dirty Kanza 200 finish line. I've done that several times. Just standing there and watching. I find it heartening, uplifting, and yes- joyous. I don't know the vast majority of finishers. It doesn't matter. There is something about being in the moment that is special.
I suppose it was the reason I got into promoting an ultra-distance gravel event as well. It was hanging around all those people at Trans Iowa v1 that really turned me on to having the desire to recreate that again and again. The awe inspiring people that took part in that event were super. They, and the ones that followed them afterward, were why I did what I did. They were, and still are, some of the reasons I ride in these crazy deals I have trouble finishing.
So, the point is - if there is one in this post - is that while more and more people can be "super", it still is special. It still is meaningful. It matters. But only if you engage. Go cycling, get out there. It doesn't have to be an event. It doesn't have to be splashed all over social media. Share these times with friends, or savor them alone. But the only way to beat being cheated out of the joy and wonderment that achievements in cycling- or anything, I guess- is to enjoy them in a real, face-to-face community. There is something magical about that. Something technology cannot replicate, no matter how hard the purveyors of it try to convince us that it can.
Thanks for reading!