Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Watching The Ships Go By.
Sometime on Monday I decided that I was going to do my 45 minutes of riding on the track. DISC is of course still closed, so this obviously meant Brunswick. I had a bunch of stuff to do after work on Monday, plus the FOA moderators dinner at 7, so I knew that this meant riding after dinner. This in turn meant I would need the lights on.
Three phone calls later and I was heading out to Alf's place in Reservoir. Three phone calls, an hour in traffic and 15 hilarious minutes with Alf later and I had the keys in my hot little hand. By 9.30 the track was lit up like an airport and I was cutting a series of very slow laps, where I was discovered by Rolly on his way home from the same dinner I'd just cut out of early.
I'm a member of the club, sure. I pay my three hundred dollars (or so) per year like everyone else. But the club has over three hundred members, some of whom I wouldn't know to look at. Somewhere along the line my regular appearances at track racing, at road racing, at cyclocross and at the junior clinic has meant that I've gained a level of trust. As well as the the keys to the lights, I currently have a club bike in my end room, the keys to the gates, club pedals inside my car, the keys to the kiosk and unfettered access to the candy inside the kiosk. It's a little weird, in a way, but I guess that's just how it happens. You keep turning up, they give you things to do, and in return you gain some things. The transaction is pretty equal, but it takes place with different currency - you donate something tangible, like your time, and in return get intangible things, like trust, responsibility, status, and again, a sense of being a part of something bigger than yourself.
The other night someone asked me why I do it, and I mumbled some bullshit answer about the club having done so much for me when I was starting out. This is definitely true - the club, and in particular Nath, were totally behind me from the very start - but it's not the reason why I keep turning up. Part of the reason is that the cool things that happen - the junior clinic, cyclocross, Tuesday Track, Thursday track training - need people to turn up in order for them to continue happening. And we all have a vested interest in ensuring that cool things keep happening. It's more than that, though. You don't show up every week out of some sense of obligation. You show up because you like it, because bike racing is cool, because the people you know are there and you can sit down and talk shit with them while the racing happens around you, because being there and part of something is its own reward.