Josh Mack blogging at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, and occasionally on; bicycles, politics, Brooklyn, parenting, crafts, and good reading. Currently helping to build a new NYC neighborhood news site - nearsay.com, that celebrates the voices that make our city. Subscribe to the daily newsletter it gives you what you need to know.
I am more of a bicycle obsessive than a bicycle rider, which is something that I learned in reading Bill Strickland's amazing memoir Ten Points. Last fall, I was really pleased with myself for riding four fast laps with the pack in Prospect Park, and for managing my fear, as a rider pulled into a spot between me and the guy on the right. We were rubbing elbows and stayed like that for quite a while. I was forced into the uneasy position of just trusting the pace and the riders in front and on my side. This was really close for me, but as I learned in the book , it is nothing compared to the tight packs and organic movements of racers in a criterium, a race on a short looping course. The book isn't just about riding however, it is about growth, getting over a horrific childhood, the magic of children, and the way a wife and family can save a man. I think there are things in the book we can all relate to: temptation, rage, difficult moments in growing up, the joy and agony of being pushed physically and failing, but in Strickland's case they are taken to extremes. The author is a man who was literally forced to eat shit with a gun held to his head by his father. He was assaulted by him, had his nose broken by him, and had other experiences that started out in some quasi-normal state like going to a baseball game that end oddly. Thinking about it, I'm realizing that the memoir reads like the weekly crit he rides in, trying to earn ten points to fulfill a promise he made to his daughter. This quest enables him to transcend his childhood as he gets fitter, and like a breakaway pull free from his past, but then he finds himself reeled in by the pack and old patterns. Again and again this happens, the surge to break free and the reeling in. But something happens to him midway through the season when he gives in and learns to be one with the riders and the race. He stops fighting, sits in (which is what his blog is called) and can finally break free, change patterns, and score some points. Thankfully my hell wasn't nearly as deep, but I could relate to the book on several levels, and found it to be an incredibly moving account of a journey. I'm so happy for him and love reading his blog at bicycling.com, where he is the Executive Editor. It made me think of my childhood, my child and, the love and to some degree saving grace of my wife. The book also makes me want to get on my bike and tuck into the pack in the park with the annoying guy too tight on my right, because for a little while it felt like we were flying.
This video was posted to a group to which I belong. I think the author was trying to demonstrate the stability of a certain fork rake but he managed to convey something else entirely to me. One minor thing to note is that his top speed is still less than that of the winner of the prologue in London.