Taking the Lane
How does an intermediate level, mostly non-competitive, somewhat lazy, injured, aging, slightly cantankerous and opinionated gal who is not even a gear-head or a tech-weenie come to be President of one of the most hard-core cycling clubs in the SF Bay Area?
I ask myself that daily. After all, i’m not particularly strong, and i definitely am not fast. I don’t race, have never participated in either RAAM or PBP, or even a double-century… the longest I’ve ever ridden in a single day is about 115 miles. Cycling-wise, I am in AWE of so many of you. Moreover, I am neither a computer programmer, an accountant, an attorney or sports physician, and am largely apolitical. And I’ve only been a club member since 2007. A virtual newbie by most standards. So what gives?
The answer is quite simple. Just care a bit, and talk straight. There might be a particular issue that piques your interest – so you come to a meeting or two, but don’t stop there. Show up, become involved — you will learn to appreciate all the differences in skill levels and experiences and variations in desire and commitment of the membership. You might find most folks exceed you in cycling acumen, experience, speed, drive. Doesn’t matter. Your voice counts, too – and it will be heard. (And so does theirs, so try to pay attention and listen.)
After a while, folks start asking you to consider doing this or that function, or want to nominate you for this or that club office. You hem and haw. They keep asking. In time you just step up and take a turn. And because we are cyclists, and care about doing it safely and in a focused, deliberate manner, you realize it’s also a time to “take the lane.”
Much like a bicycle, there is a simple and beautiful symmetry….we all come into club membership with different expectations and hopes … some just want to ride in the company of other people, some are interested in linking up with like-minded bicycle-touring travelers, some want to train hard for a specific event or a series of events, some hope to find a mate, some like to organize and play with software… the list is endless, and every reason has its own logic and value. And each person helps keep the machine in balance. Whatever your role (at any particular time… because it is a fluid concept and changes), you are welcome and appreciated. Ultimately, we are all “just a bunch of folks who love bikes.”
So — Thanks to all and everyone for being Grizzlies. I invite you – no, challenge you – to participate. Do you look at the ride schedule with bewilderment? List a ride YOU like. Have you done a great bike-touring trip? Whether it was last week or 10 years ago, we’d love you to share your experiences and stories. Fond of a particular ride in a location too far to drive to and back comfortably? Organize a club weekend. Have an artistic vein? A great recipe? Submit your idea for the next Century jersey or post-ride meal. What is your particular skill? Come share your visions for the club. All it takes is a bit of time. The return far outweighs the effort. You’ll be glad you did… (and so will we!). Now let’s get out there and RIDE!