Radios, Phones, and Internet

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I was 100% behind the removal of radios from bicycle racing. I think it takes away from the moment. Takes the intellect out of the sport. Makes it mechanical.

Now I’m struggling with the same dilemma with cell phones. And the internet somewhat. Don’t get me wrong. There are times that a cell phone is indispensable. And the information that is on the internet is beyond mind boggling and useful.

But, it seems that a lot of people are so into documenting their doings that they aren’t doing them anymore. And that people are so into checking out what their friends are doing that they’re doing nothing more than checking out what their friends are doing.

Cell phones are a different dilemma. There is something to be said about being out somewhere riding and only having yourself and the guys you’re with to rely on. Just the possession of the phones takes away from that unity. It disrupts the flow of the ride. Even if no one is talking on them. It is strange when there is a flat or a pee stop, everyone pulls their phones out to check for messages or texts. It takes us all out of the moment. Changing flats should be like walking home from school when you were a kid. A good thing. A time to get the read on what’s going on during the ride. A time to catch a glimpse of what everyone else you’re with is experiencing.

I don’t have many photos from when I raced before there were digital cameras. I have some photos of where I was when I raced. But, unless a photo was published in a magazine, I had no photos from the race. We were busy racing. And enjoying the travel. We weren’t much into documenting it. Now the documentation seems to be nearly as important as the experience itself. The experience is 1000 X more important. A photo doesn’t come close. The sounds, the smells, the other million things that the picture doesn’t capture.

It’s kind of like racing cyclo-x. Either you get cyclocross or you don’t. And when you do get cyclocross, you realize how special it is. You realize that it takes a trillion skills simultaneously to do it correctly. So many skills, that no one person can possess them all. It’s you against the course. Then you against the competition. A photo can capture a glimpse of cross, but you have to do it to understand it fully.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess it is something like, let’s try to spend more time living the moments. And while we’re living these moments, we should leave the documentation until later. I think it will add to our quality of life.

6 thoughts on “Radios, Phones, and Internet

  1. Jay

    That is absolutely the truth. I stick that phone in my jersey off or muted alot of the time so that I am just able to ride.
    If something happens then I have that thing with me.

  2. hluce

    I keep a cell phone in my car for emergencies and for calling people when I’m on my way someplace to let them know my ETA, and for in court when a defendant doesn’t show up and a bench warrant is about to get issued I can call them and get them into court. Otherwise I don’t use it much. I’ve never used a cell phone camera, I’ve got a Nikon. As for shooting bike races, I’m no longer interested in documenting the race; if I take pics, I’m more into trying to catch the feeling of the thing or the ambience of the place – this means that riders might not be recognizable per se. It’s kind of the same when I do pics of shows, it’s not snapshots (and never has been). Documentary evidence is for court 9and I’ve done that, too.) Still, if I go on a ride, the cell phone is coming with me. The first 100 mile ride I did, I got dropped at 50 miles, and I had no one with me for the next 35 miles, until I caught up with some people. If I’d had trouble, a cell phone might have come in very useful. I suppose the same goes for the day that I was 15 miles out on a training ride and had a flat on both tires, then, by 10 miles out of town, I’d exhausted both tubes and patches and walked the last 10 miles into town… back in Florida in 1986 or so.

  3. Matt

    I’ve chosen not to even have a cell phone. I head out on the bike to get away from people, not to still be connected. Of course, people think that this is crazy when I’m out riding. “What if you have a flat, accident, blah, blah, blah”

    I do what I did before cell phones existed. Knock on a door and ask to use their phone or stick my thumb out and hitch a ride. On the rare occasion I’ve had to do this people have always helped out and restored my faith in humanity. Regardless of what we might read, most folks are good at the heart.

  4. Paul

    Well said. Maybe I’m getting crochety in my old age, but I’ve managed to survive just fine without being in constant communication with every other living thing on the planet. I guess I’m just not important enough to need to be.

  5. hluce

    I was thinking of taking race pics once again but after looking at that last pic of Steve… that’s one good pic. Camera stays home… whoever did that has bike racing pics down.


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