Monday, June 12, 2017

What Happened to Bike Boy (?)

I've been meaning to write this for the last four years. Every time I log into Blogger (a rare event), I see that the vast majority of my posts are drafts. One is titled "Life," another "One Post, Eight Years."
I got desperately close to finishing something about a year ago and typed up a draft that included about four pictures and 500 words. However, my creativity failed me, and my self-consciousness did not.

The thought has irked me for a while now that I need to put some sort of note on my blog. A preface, a disclaimer, so to speak. I would never delete my archived blog posts, but I rarely can bring myself to read them. It's as if a different person wrote them—someone with a completely different set of interests and motivations.

So I feel that an explanation of my life is order. Where I've been, what I've been doing and why I stopped blogging. Not because I need to apologize you, but because many of you read this blog faithfully and might enjoy the closure. Closure is a nice thing to share, I think.

My ability to write in lengthy prose has suffered significantly after three years of journalism school and inverted pyramids, so these bullet points—in the closest thing to chronological order—must suffice. I've also learned that readers are attracted to white space, hence the line breaks.

  • I started on May 17, 2007. That was the birthday of my elder sister, Maria, and if I did the math correctly, she turned 15 that day. I was nearing my 13th birthday. As a kid, I knew that I really liked two things: cycling and writing. Emphasis on the cycling. I had been reading other cycling blogs from local riders and thought it would be the coolest thing if I were to interact with them in the blogosphere. 
  • I raced my heart out while living in Michigan from 2007 to 2009 and made sure that I wrote about it as often as possible (while inserting as many references to Christianity as I thought would bring God glory). I loved this time of life, and I made several lifelong friends during it. There are too many people than the acceptable number of shout-outs would befit, but if you look at the comment sections of many of my old blogs, you'll see that much of my life revolved around those people. And that was not a bad thing.
  • I loved Michigan. My family, my neighbors, my youth group, my high school, my soccer teams, my cycling teams: essentially everything except the Winter-induced Seasonal Affective Disorder that so many Michigangsters— I mean, Michiganders — endure. But the Winter meant that the Red Wings were playing, and I freaking loved the Red Wings.
  • I was a really socially awkward kid going into Middle School, and many will say that I still am [a socially awkward kid], but I pretty much always felt welcomed. Lately, I've been remembering how Jim Hughes let me stuff him into a large, sealed trash bin for 2 hours as a White Elephant gift. To this day, I will never understand (1) why a person would be that gracious to me and (2) how Jim managed to survive 2 hours in that trash can with minimal air holes. Thank you, Jim, if you're there.
  • Alexey Vermeuelen was one of the biggest reasons for why my passion for cycling blossomed as a kid. You might not believe it, but I actually outsprinted him in a couple of criteriums back in the day, although the jury's still out on whether or not he let me beat him at the Kensington Road Race in 2007. But that's disingenuous of me to say, because Alexey is way too competitive for that. He helped me see how important teamwork is to cycling, and not just to cycling, but to all of sports and all of life. And to him and the rest of the AAVC and SLC gang, I'll always be fondly grateful.
ToKV Road Race, circa 2008
  • I've forgotten how catastrophic the 2008 recession was for Michiganders. It sent my family to Arizona to start a new life. New house, new school, new church, new cycling scene. 
  • I hated Arizona at first. Like, really hated it, but everything takes time. Soon enough, I was on the school soccer team, creating a role for myself as the Village Idiot in the "Robin Hood" play and training hard on the bike with my dad. When the old things go away, sometimes the new things arrive with a sense of familiarity.
  • For the next few years, I had a blast in Arizona. Jake Spelman and I befriended each other in late 2009 and went on to become a dynamic—if not zany—junior cycling duo. And the list of teammates and competitors that I got to know went on and on: Josh PF, Stephen M, Kenny P, Taylor S, and Owen G were just a few of the really cool junior cyclists that I spent time with, not to mention the fine folks at DNA Cycles Racing. Every ride, be it alone, with my dad, in a group, or at a race, was worthwhile. 
  • In 2011, I felt like I was on top of the world. I made the L'Abitibi team at regional camp, traveled North America for races and published a play at my school. From my perspective, that was what it was like to really live.  My belief at the time was that God had made me to race my bike, and that racing it well would somehow make it happy. I now fail to understand how that all fit together, but it made perfect sense to me at the time.
Our play, circa 2011. The death scene I wrote for myself was painfully long, according to my dad.

  • I sustained femeroacetabular impingement in both of my hips in 2012. That's the injury that just sidelined Isaiah Thomas from the NBA playoffs (prediction: he won't be the same player when he comes back, if he ever does). This really sucked, as I had signed up to race for a cool new cycling team (Winded) and was looking forward to my final year in the junior category. It also sucked not being able to run, walk or even sit without pain for a solid two years. 
  • I spent 2012 and 2013 pining over my cycling career that had been put on hold. When I wasn't going from physical therapy appointment to surgeon appointment to therapy appointment, I found that my former time spent riding my bike left a big hole. I decided to get more involved in church, seeing as my cycling friends were all out riding. I hate to admit that something as silly as a bicycle would cause this, but I was pretty depressed.
Church college group party, circa 2012
  • I started college at ASU in 2012 as an English major. For a while I wanted to write plays or screenplays professionally, and I wrote almost as I often as I had trained on the bike.
  • I got hip surgeries in 2013 and successfully recovered. But I found that I didn't have the heart to return to racing. Many of my friends had moved on to different places in life, and pain still lingered in my hips (though perhaps it was just psychological). I still love cycling. I love to watch it and fondly remember my races, but the sport is no longer part of my life. It's just not the same as it used to be.
  • I quit the English department at ASU and decided to cut my teeth in the journalism program. This proved to be a great decision, one that taught me to be a more gutsy person and pay attention to detail. It also gave me an appreciation for how everyone has a story and that someone needs to tell those stories.
  • My friends and I created a sport called Flappery. The sport is in someways a parody of itself, but we enjoy it, and I look forward to our fourth annual season this year. I've found some really great friends, and I wouldn't trade the times we've had for the world.
  • I found that following Jesus was not a matter of being a fast bike racer who happened to be a Christian. I believe it is, instead, a matter of knowing Jesus, and having him change and mold your life into one that reflects him into the world. I regret that I so often gave others a picture of my ego rather than a picture of Jesus. I used to be so afraid that people would judge me for being a Christian, but that's totally different now. I wish I had shown you more about Jesus than my political diatribes and more about Jesus than my self-righteous rants about religion. The more I learn about Jesus, the harder it becomes to think of a person that I would rather be like. Seriously. 
  • Somewhere along the line, Michael Tait ran the Newsboys and their music into the ground.

So where does that leave me now?

  • I graduated from Cronkite in 2016. I spent my last year and a half of school interning and contracting for the same company, which promptly hired me full-time. I write for a trade magazine. We cover business technology, you know, like cloud computing, IT security and storage... all that jazz. I'm a tech journalist. The writing is dry, but my boss rocks, the company is full of solid human beings, and I get to work from home. And anyone who knows me well knows that I'm a bit of a homebody.
  • I haven't straddled a road bicycle in three years. Someone from church rides my Look 595, and my legs are hairier than a gorilla's. I still play fantasy cycling and recently re-installed my "Pro Cycling Manager" computer game. I created all of my cycling peeps as a custom riders, and we we had a few great seasons (Alexey recently won the Tour-Vuelta double, and I got to play the role of a superdomestique).
  • I have enrolled in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's online Master of Divinity program. I started a Greek class last week and find it fascinating. Although I was supposed to do homework tonight but spent my time on this blog post instead. The last few years have made it very clear to me that I would like to be a pastor some day. It's an excitement and at the same time a weight that I feel. I see the worlds of the sacred and the secular clashing, and I often feel stuck in the middle. And I jolly well think I could help other people who find themselves stuck there as well. I lead my church's college ministry, and the grateful doesn't begin to describe how I feel about the opportunity. The challenge of developing a mission statement and then getting people to buy into it is incredibly difficult but seems to be such an enjoyable challenge. All that to say, I'm really excited for the future.
Ushering at a wedding in South Dakota, circa 2016
  • 2016 was the year when my friends started getting married. I traveled to two out-of-state weddings. Once I travelled with my family. The other time I travelled with a group of friends, including an optimistic red-headed fellow named Alex. Then Alex decided to hitch his wagon to Maria's, and another wedding was born. That was my first time as a groomsman, and not the last, I expect. Don't expect a wedding invitation from me any time soon. I'm not averse to the idea, but I've time and time again proven myself incompetent in the girl department. And, as Stuart Smalley would say, "that's okay."
  • I was the assistant coach for a high school soccer team last Fall, and I will do it again this year. I loved practicing, scrimmaging and running with the team. Although I don't ride my bike, I haven't turned into a complete coach potato, although I'm sure my mom wishes I would play less EA Sports on my Gamecube.
  • My friend Sam and I are looking to move out this summer. We have yet to see if I'm all talk, but I think the departure is quite likely. Things have been great with my parents, and I love living with them. But I think I'm nearing that next step in my adult life where I get used to being outside of my comfort zone. I am 22, after all.
  • My little sister goes to school in Tucson, and my older sister lives in the The Bronx with Alex. My parents are great roommates, and my dad brews some of my favorite cider. My mom and I sometimes watch the Detroit Tigers together (I "borrowed" Alex's MLB TV account), and my dad joins in when he isn't threatening to become a D-Backs fan. My mom is a patient listener and one of the wisest people I know. My dad, in addition to being a major influence on me asa person, has an excellent taste in movies (notably, Wes Anderson's) and loves to make Big Lebowski references about me. This is because I work from home and often can be spotted wearing a bathrobe.
That's Jeff Bridges, not me.
  • I remain an obstinate Detroit Lions fan.
  • My friends think that I make too many Lost references. I started the show earlier this year, and am nearing its completion. It rocks. As do Stranger Things and Prison Break (but not the new season of Prison Break, of course). And Twin Peaks is showing promise. There's nothing like a good character-driven story. I also definitely had a South Park phase, but such a disclosure is not fit for public consumption. Or, whatever. 
  • I went through depression a couple of years ago (unrelated to the cycling injury) but rebounded majorly thanks to an abundance of support and resources. Life often looks and feels (and is) grim, but light always shine through, be it ever so tiny.
  • I still use the word "pizza" as a profanity, along with words like "solid," "juicy" and "savage."
  • I'm a big fan of Skye Jethani and have always been perplexed as to why evangelicals don't know much about him. 
  • I turned into a political junkie during the last presidential primary but now realize that to be a vanity and striving after the wind—so to speak.
  • Domenico Pozzovivo remains my favorite cyclist. Gotta love the little guys.
  • I became a big twenty one pilots fan three years ago, but I went into hiding when they hit massive radio popularity. I will rise some day. And you'll probably judge me for this, but Eminem and Kanye West have really grown on me over the years. 
  • I often contemplate going through my Facebook and deleting all the rash things I said over the years. And then I remind myself that living in guilt is silly.
  • I don't use the Oxford comma any more. For many people, this is the most offensive thing about me.
Did I miss anything? If you were a loyal reader of the blog, thank you so much for your patience. To all, thanks for reading!


Zachary Maino said...

Whoa whoa whoa! You lovED the Red Wings? You're still a Tigers and Lions fan, but you lovED the Red Wings? I am offended by this more than the lack of Oxford comma use.

Thanks James, long live Bike Boy!

Darrell Anderson said...

James, that was awesome!!! BTW, he IS the Dude. Far out man...far out.

john henri Rorabeck said...

The most offensive thing about you is the fact that you do not use the Oxford comma anymore.

Jim said...

Still here and you're welcome! :D