Friday, January 22, 2016

Control.

It's said that the only control humans have is how we respond to stimulus. Even then, much of it is based around the person we are and the experiences we're able to reference. 

As a logical human who also happens to be prone to outrageous responses, my brain likes to scream 'NO!' rather than 'yes, this is true'. 

I respond to everything. I cannot help it. If I were a therapist, I'd diagnose myself as a high-functioning child with the appearance of an adult but who has little self-discipline and focus; reaction is based on the level of experience I have. 

I think, however, this holds true for the majority of the bike community. We're 'grown ups' making poor investments, creating economic bubbles, throwing tantrums, tossing away the future in an effort to win right now and vehemently denying the existence of anything we think we might not enjoy. 

E-bikes are the industry's Lima beans (we won't eat them, Mom. We refuse!). Women are the girls next door that we have to play with but who we steer clear of because clearly, girls are dumb and icky, but we'll definitely play with their toys and steal a fruit snack or two. We want it both ways, but only ours. We'll only do something if it's comfortable or seems cool, and we're deathly afraid of anything that might be different. 

Because we can't control it. 

Just like nap time, we don't have a say. And that makes us angry. We've alienated outside business investments because we need absolute control (that toy is MINE!) and cannot tap into evolving markets or successfully engage new users without first alienating them. Why? Because we're unfailingly stubborn. We think we know best because this is the way it's always been done, regardless of the idea that cycling (especially professional cycling) is one of the youngest sports on the planet. It's not horse racing, it's not boxing, it's not bullfighting or gymnastics or climbing mountains or running or... You get the gist. But just like a toddler, our young sport has a set pattern. And damn you if you try to change our pattern. We'll throw a tantrum like no other tantrum before because, despite it being new and fresh in the world of sport, our 'history' and 'legacy' is precious... 

Never mind the Lance Armstrong debacle, cigarette smoking in the early 1900s, bike development and the ever-changing face of modern cycling. DON'T TRY TO CHANGE OUR NAPTIME, MOM. We've been doing it this way forever (if forever is no more than 150 years, or mere 'infancy' in the timeline of sport). We don't like change. 

However, like most children, if we don't change and adapt, we'll end up as non-functioning adults who live in their mom's basement, relegated to an unlived life and banished to the realms of mediocrity in the 'sad tales of what could have been' hall. 

My recommendation? Grow up. Get a job. Keep the sense of wonder, of fun, of excitement, but grow the hell up. It's time for our sport to do less tantrum throwing and more changing. Like skiing did a while back (and hopefully, less like snowboarding), we're in our pubescent years as a pursuit. Yes, it's painful. Yes, it's not pretty. We have weird spots of grossness and hair growing everywhere and WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! popping up, but we need to accept that this is part of our process. We cannot be the toddlers of the white and very male genome any longer. We cannot do the world any service by focusing solely on the fact that we hate beans and naps and that we want to play with our blocks all day and leave us alone. It has to change. 

If boobs and cheap marketing are our play blocks while women, ethnicities and tech advancements are our beans and naps, perhaps it's time to maybe try them. Maybe go outside and see the new things the world is offering, maybe make a friend or four. Because while cycling may be stuck in a childhood time warp, the rest of the world won't tolerate it, and tantrums don't fix anything. Unlike in our infancy when everyone had high hopes in the potential that was the baby cycling and told us how cute we were, the world no longer revolves around us and we must find out how to fit in with the patterns of normal human operation. We cannot exclude other people or we won't have friends. We cannot pretend we're the most important thing because GUESS WHAT? We're not. Not everyone hates naps or beans and eventually, we'll have to stop crying about it because truly, nobody cares and they're busy monetizing naps and beans. We cannot respond to anything that is different with a whiny 'we hate that' because, well... We don't actually have control. Mom (aka, the world and life) will eventually force us to love naps and we'll start to appreciate beans. We cannot have much of anything exactly how we like it.

I'm learning this. I'm learning this extremely quickly and learning to respond with less rage and more humor. Less anger about things not being how I need them to be to make my world a perfect place, and more understanding that it's my job to create them. Less expectation of people to behave like adults and more realization that many of us are just toddlers. 

So please excuse me if I treat you with indifference. I'm assuming you're a toddler.