Thursday, June 7, 2012

Not good enough?

Here’s my little secret for today: I’m not really that good at a lot of things. I was never a great athlete as a kid. Oh, I played a lot of pick up sports and wrestled in High School but I wasn’t great. I never was any good at wearing the “cool” clothes.  I really wanted to look cool and wear that stuff but on me those things just looked… not right. I was a decent student at school but not the best. When it comes to writing I am slow to get started and irregular (if you’ve been keeping up here, you know what I mean). As a person, I have a lot of faults. When it comes to racing bikes I will certainly not be any competition for Lance Armstrong.
In fact, by not thinking I was good enough was my mental block from doing a lot of things. I didn’t jump in to cyclocross or any bike racing for several years because I thought “I’m not good enough”. When I played guitar it took Nick Riff hearing some of my music and asking me to be part of his band – an idea I never would have approached before because I thought my guitar playing was not good enough.  There are a lot of things that I didn’t try or at the least, held off from trying for a long while because I thought I wasn’t good enough.
Don’t let thinking that you are not good enough stop you from doing something you really want to do. It’s been a gradual revelation to me. Once you say “So what?” and do it anyways, you will find out you will probably exceed your expectations. There’s nothing like throwing yourself in a situation where it’s sink or swim. Often times you find that you can swim. Many times you find that you can swim much better that you thought.
And if you don’t perform all that well, what then? Unless you’ve decided to go running with the bulls or naked skydiving with no instruction I think you’ll be fine. Decide to start a band and no one shows up? Or better yet, you start with a bar full of folks and after song number three they all have wandered off? I know that feeling. It’s definitely a bummer but it’s not the end of the world. You didn’t lose a limb. Decide to enter a mud run and realize you just can’t run that much? Guess what? Neither can a lot of people who’ve already entered. Coming in dead last is a blow to the ego but hey, YOU tried. Use it as motivation for the next event. Besides that, even by coming in dead last you are still way ahead of those who did NOT even try.
Don’t think you’re good enough? Need a push? Check out these folks:
Chris, who wrote the book “The $100 start up” that’s been changing many lives has a good starting point here: The Art of Non-Conformity - Qualifications
Need a kick in the pants? Joel is where I turn to when I’m feeling like hanging it up or saying “fuggedaboutit”: The Blog of Impossible Things
How about this? How about “How to stop sucking and be awesome instead”? (geared more toward software writers but as a general idea it’s great stuff)
You might need training or practice. So what. Quit worrying if you’re good enough to accomplish “X”. You already are good enough.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

My first bike

The first bike is usually one where you discover the world at a speed faster than your legs can take you. You can now go further as well. Almost like becoming the Six Million Dollar Man.
Mine was a Murray 20" single-speed designed like a "British three-speed" as we folks in the U.S. dubbed them. I liked it great for the first year (I was 6) but the next year I wanted a BMX bike. All the cool kids had BMX bikes. So what happed? The next year, my Dad made my rather pedestrian bike into a BMX bike. He spread the stays in the back so it had room for a big knobby tire, repainted it black, made me a number plate. He bought motocross (motorcycle) handlebars and cut them down to fit me better. Dad put a lot of effort into transforming this perfectly good bike into something his son wanted.
Bu I was upset when he first showed it to me. I did appreciate what my Dad did (sort of) but it just wasn't the same. I wanted a new bike. This was not a new bike. This was not much like the other kids bikes with the springs on the front forks and such. But as time went on I began to love that bike. It had a bit steeper gearing than the other kids' bikes so I could get a better top-end speed. It also made it easier for me to do wheelies with. I rode that bike everywhere, jumped it over any ramp we could rig up, learned to ride wheelies down the block. I eventually delivered newspapers on it for a couple years.  
We did a lot of tweaks and modifications to that bike. Dad thought it’d be cool to add a 3-speed crank thing to it. It was sort-of cool. Multiple speeds! Go faster! But I don’t think this device was ever designed to take the sort of abuse a boy who’s hero was Evel Knievel. It didn’t always shift right. I broke the right crank arm several times. My father had my uncle weld it together a couple of times but after the third time it was plain to see that we just needed to go back to the original crank. I also had a parade of banana seats, sissy bars, “motocross” seats and such.
When it was time to retire that bike I don’t think I really gave it much thought or appreciation. I had broken the crank once again (but some years later). By this time I had a “real” bike. It was a blazing yellow 10-speed. Hey, I was growing up, I needed a grown-up bike! I was also not far from driving, too. Who needs a bike when you have a totally awesome bone-stock rusty ’73 Nova hatchback? But looking back with all the benefits on hindsight on that bike that my Dad modified for me, that may be what lead me to my passion for being on two wheels.
Dad, I'm sorry I was ungrateful at first. I loved that bike.