Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life - Killer Instinct, Part 2

A short time ago I had a short (email) conversation with a local friendly Cat 3 racer, a result of my post on "killer instinct". The exchange centered around how we both started riding as kids, and how we both, somehow, have kept the competitive fires alive for decades.

Part of what he wrote:

"I remember when I was ~13 years old and starting out racing my bike, I used to see you with the "actual size" Cannondale. You were already a fixture on the racing scene. After all these years of racing I have seen guys come and go; I have watched guys race for "personal glory", and to satisfy their ego (which is all well and good. I suppose we all do that to some extent). But many racers who do it only for those reasons fall out of the sport. Guys like you love bicycles, bicycle parts, racing, riding, all of it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for guys that do it, year in and year out, because they love "bike riding". I get that sense from you.

Lets make it a point to go out for a long weekend ride sometime this summer. We will each invite some trustworthy guys that won't turn it into a race and we can just go out and ride, for riding's sake."

As he suggested, we decided that the best way to talk about things is to go on a long ride and just talk. We have yet to set a time for this ride, but it's one of the few rides that I'm looking forward to doing this year.

At about the same time, another good friend of mine asked me what I'd ask a certain Joe Parkin if I could ask him, say, 10 questions. My questions, in a reply on April 17th of this year, were as follows:

1. Currently racing rider you most respect, if any. Ditto team, ditto director.
2. Ex-racer you most respect. Ditto team, director.
3. Briefly, what advice would you give a new Elite lever racer?
4. Do you currently coach or advise any riders, teams, directors, etc?
5. Do you ride now?
- If so, what bike?
- Do you use power, HRM, cyclometer, nothing?
- Do you "train" or just ride?
6. Favorite bike you raced, and why. (I believe he mentions a bike he likes, but he doesn't really say why)
7. Typical training week back then, say during a break, if you weren't in the Tour, etc.
8. Dirtiest riding you've ever done.
9. What drove you to write your book? Will you write another one?
10. Do you do any grassroots racing? i.e. USAC racing.
11. What kind of music did you listen to back then? Now?
12. What other interests/hobbies do you have?

Then, on cyclingnews today, I saw an interview with him. I suppose my questions were pretty generic because he answered some of the same questions.

Based on what I read, I could make a few deductions. First off, I guess he's writing a new book (!). Second, he mentioned Adri Van der Poel, a guy I briefly ran into during my trip to Belgium. And finally, he is really good at shooting rifles, a skill that I've been fascinated with ever since reading the Bob Lee Swagger books (especially A Time To Hunt). The only difference is that I haven't pursued the last skill in any way except to learn how hand guns work, whereas he's become a top level long gun handler.

Mr. Parkin seems like a character with incredible depth. He has incredible cycling talent, but that seems to be just the surface of his character. I have a feeling it would take a long time to unearth some of the treasures he has to offer, something more than just an interview.

Perhaps a long ride would help talk with Joe. A ride that respects the group's members - no egos, no half-wheeling, no stupid attacks, no yelling, respect for motorists, along some nice, quiet stretches of road. Two by two when it's safe, a smooth paceline when it's not. And, for my benefit, a gentle pace up the climbs. Or at least some regrouping at the top.

I wonder if Joe is free for a long ride some day this summer.

1 comment:

No One Line said...

How timely! This weekend, at the track, a buddy of mine reached in to his bag and tossed me A Dog In A Hat, returning the favor from when I lent him The Rider.

I really liked the Parkin book. The writing was straightforward and unembellished, for better or for worse, which gave the individual stories he told a sort of clarity. It felt like a series of learning moments throughout his young career, and it was such a cool glimpse into this haggard world of workingman's pro cycling.

Having followed your writing and enjoyed your stories and thoughts for a while, I've got a series of questions I'd like to ask you, too. I don't know if I could make it to CT to invite you on a long ride, but perhaps a phone call or email exchange sometime in the coming weeks or months could be a suitable stand-in. I'd turn it into a piece for my blog. Thoughts?