Sanitized Shit

This entry was posted in Racing on by .

A few posts ago someone left this comment – And there is more to being a good writer than simply owning a computer. This article would be even more effective if written in clear, simple English, complete with appropriate syntax, matching pronouns etc. Next time you’re in the peloton, be on the lookout for a good copy editor. Suck his wheel for a while and you’ll both be better at what you do.

I’m sure it makes total sense to him, but to me it was an insult. One that has a lot of truth, but those are the best.

Here’s the deal, once again. I don’t profess to be a writer. Not even close. I do have a bunch of errors in each and every post. But, I’m pretty sure I can’t write this in any more simple English than I already do. I pretty much write like I talk. I am a bike racer, not a writer. I spend more time than I’m comfortable with already posting here everyday. With that being the case, I have hard time justifying doing anything more than just putting down what comes across my mind at the time I’m posting it.

I have this screwy part in my personality that I don’t really like reading stuff about myself. I like to know about the article or writing, but I, at best, will just skim thru it. I think that same part of my brain is the one that doesn’t allow me to go back and reread my posts. I don’t really like reading anything I write. That is one of the reasons that there are so many editorial issues. Another is that I have no patience for it. I am pretty much ready to be going for the day and don’t want to spend another second on the task. And third, I probably couldn’t correct the posts to be grammatically correct even if I wanted to.

I think the purpose of writing is to convey information and thoughts from one person to another. I do that, most of the time, in a round about way, but that is the way it is going to be. If you want sanitized observations about cycling, you should go down to your newsstand and pickup a Bicycling Magazine, because that isn’t what you’re going to get here.

47 thoughts on “Sanitized Shit

  1. VCScribe

    By “matching pronouns” does he or she mean “agreeing” pronouns? Pedantic twats need to take their own advice. Rock on, Stevie!

  2. RIE

    Hey Steve, I think what you write is great. I spend enough of my time throughout the day reading syntactically correct crap that I know I need something that is raw and from the heart. That is a good enough reason to keep me coming back. There is not enough soul in the world, so keep it up!

  3. Bri

    There will always be people out there that don’t like you. Ironic part is that the person obviously reads your column. Envy has a way of finding things wrong in a person instead of focusing on the positives.
    I raced in the Masters at Hell’s Kitchen. I found your article on the race spot on and wished I could have read it prior since it was my first time coming down from Kansas for the race.
    Keep up the good work!

  4. GeWilli

    Don’t change a thing Steve. This is a web log, not a commercial word mill.

    I’ve lived through the ridicule of crappy writing, and occasionally it stings but ultimately people need to understand and be able to read it for what it is. A digital journal, a way to share what is rattling around in our head with friends (and fans). But it is an honest autobiographical glimpse. Editing can fuck it all up and can change the feeling and meaning.

    I’m with you on not wanting to go back and proof-read and edit after writing. Gotta move on to the next thing, the next task, let it flow, no one is being forced to read it. I say if they don’t like the way you right, they shouldn’t click the link anymore.

    Plenty of us appreciate your thoughts. Thanks

  5. dlshulman

    It takes a special kind of person to leave comments about someone’s use of grammar on his blog. I guarantee you that people who do that would NEVER do that to your face.

    Now, as far as your grammar goes, it doesn’t matter. Your voice comes through clear in your writing. Don’t change a thing.

    It’s true that sometimes poor or unusual grammar can make reading tough at times. I don’t find that to be the case with your blog, but I can think of one time when it caused me to give up temporarily on one of the best books I’ve ever read, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Would asshat have posted to McCarthy that his book would have been so much better if he’d corrected his grammar?

  6. Deacon Matt Levy


    I’ve been fortunate to know and race with you for years, you have always been an inspiration to me. You have made me a better racer and I thank you. I have had the pleasure to read your blog every day for about 3 years now, and I appreciate your writing. Don’t let one idiot change your style, or opinion, or in any way affect you, I am proud of you, and I am proud to know you. See you at the Quad Cities Crit. God Bless you my friend, matt levy

  7. Brian

    Congrats to the guy, he just won the internet! Keep up the good work Steve and I look forward to seeing you race in Iowa this year.

  8. Margretta

    Steve, I read your posts nearly every day, and while you may not know me as a bit of a grammar fiend, your writing is very interesting, and in a blog.

    The commenter who left you such an unfriendly message SHOULD NOT BE READING HERE if they’re looking for an “effectively written article” — since you’re not writing an article.

    GeWilli has a good point: editing what you write will “clean it up” too much, and take it out of YOUR voice. What I love about reading what you write is that it sounds JUST LIKE YOU, and you write about an interesting array of topics.

  9. Teo

    Your website offers much insight that is obtained literally nowhere else. Not in a magazine, not on any other website. Your blog is the only one i read daily. Im guessing 99.9% of your readers could give a shit how you write, but love reading what you write.

  10. Jeff

    I know people like that. Always correcting pronounciation when you use a foreign word or whatever. What you almost never get from people like that, is original thought or creativity. Thanks, but I’ll take the thinker and creative person over the technical writer any time. BTW Steve, especially enjoyed your memories of traveling around to race as a young man with no money the other day. I wonder if you realized how free you were then, as you do now. Good stuff!

  11. Andy Chasteen

    Steve, your writing style is the very reason I ENJOY reading your blog. If you changed your writing to portray like that comment suggested, I’d probably stop reading. Keep doing like you’re doing.

  12. AP

    Ok so you make some english mistakes, you are a bike racer not a writer. The minor grammer mistakes dont take away from the writing, in fact you have a good ability to convey your thoughts and feelings pretty well. You dont proofread, i would say you do a pretty damn good job then, since there are only ever a few errors. Maybe someone is mad that you beat them recently?

  13. JD McCay

    Steve, I really enjoy your blog and you do a great job of writing it. It’s been said already but worth repeating… without an editor, it’s very difficult to get it write, I mean, right. I review my blog before I publish it but still find mistakes if I come back and read it later. As long as your point is clear, then you’ve accomplished your goal. See you at the races. -JD

  14. Mark

    “I think the purpose of writing is to convey information and thoughts from one person to another” …nailed it. Keep it up Steve!

  15. Cave


    I’m a daily reader of your posts and a few others as well. I rarely ever respond to any posts at all. This person is a complete jackass. These are the types of people that enjoy taking stabs at others, to make themselves feel better. They are feeble minded and weak!
    With that being said, I think your posts are pretty clear and concise. There may be an occasional typo, or grammatical error. Big deal. I’m sure this person has no idea what it feels like to be glazed over after an epic 70+ mile bike race either.
    Keep on doing what you’re doing Steve!


  16. Jimbo

    Although I recognise that I’m just fueling the fire, I think it’s ironic that given the broadly problematic grammar of the grumpy troll’s comment, he or she has bothered posting at all. Besides, if one needs copy editing they can hire a graduate student.

    Please see below for a copy edited version — you know so we can all be learned together.

    [And] [T]here is more to being a good writer than simply owning a computer. This article would be even more effective if [it had it been] written in clear, simple English, [] with appropriate syntax, [and] matching pronouns etc. Next time you’re in the peloton [] be on the lookout for a good copy editor. Suck his wheel for a while[,] and you’ll both be better at what you do.

  17. kevin

    Simply just another faceless person out there hiding behind a keyboard.
    I rarely miss a post here and always look forward to the next topic.
    You have my support and keep up the great work!

  18. Lucas

    Steve, I love the blog and the passion and knowledge that comes through your writing style. Thanks for all the posts!

  19. FPA

    agreed with above. I’ve said it before; national pubs should hire you as the “voice of wisdom from within the peloton”.

    Years of experience = $ monthly article in something like “Bicycling” rag.

    I’d pay to read it….

  20. Doug P

    I congratulate the person who criticized your writing on his well-developed sense of entitlement. I agree that he deserves a complete and speedy refund. Those Godless Obama Communists forced this poor soul (at gunpoint I’m sure!) to read your blog.

  21. jim robinson

    Steve, I’ve been a copywriter and journalist for well over 20 years, and I think your writing’s great. You bring colour, energy and clarity to your work — and that’s what counts.

  22. old and slow

    I had a 740 SAT Verbal score.

    I never raced with Hinault and LeMond even though I am very much a contemporary of theirs.

    Any questions?

    (So you misspell a simple word or conjunction every now and then, Steve? I deal with young “Senior Engineers” in their thirties all day long who do much worse.)

  23. Andy

    A little late to the party here, but I want to change the emphasis a little, so I’m chiming in. Pardon the length.

    People who listen to and respond to criticism in an evenhanded way can learn from it, and do a better job the next time out. That’s one of the things that Tilford does well on this blog: he’s an experienced, fair critic of the sport, who has a deep passion for cycling, and an honest commitment to finding words to identify and explain its joys and its problems. Through his writing, many readers probably hope to learn about cycling, to become better riders, to understand racing more deeply, or to see a better tomorrow for cycling. Tilford has a fair but critical voice, and that’s why the blog is good.

    To my mind, it’s a sign of respect to criticize his writing. The critic believes in at least some way that his comments will be heard, and have an impact. He wants to be heard, because he wants to have some relationship to the writer. He’s asking Steve to recognize him, because he the critic wants his acknowledgement and respect. That’s the case, even if the critic thinks he’s trying to take Tilford down a notch or something. Let’s say the critic didn’t really care about the respect: then he wouldn’t need to post anything on the blog.

    On the other hand, everyone who has jumped to Steve’s defense is actually at least in part showing that they think Steve can’t take the criticism. By vilifying Tilford’s critic, people are trying to deligitimize or qualify the criticism, dismiss it to take away its insulting or hurtful quality. News flash: if Steve can take it, he’s not going to be hurt by it, but learn from it. That’s exactly what he writes in the post above. He’s thinking about it, despite the sting.

    Writing is like a lot like bike racing: there are the naturals, and the hard workers, the people who do it for a living, the weekend warriors. Everyone has their reasons, their expectations, their dreams, and their actual performances. And those are all part of a huge, complicated sport, industry, and professional enterprise. Writing and cycling share a lot. Great! Lucky for us all! They make life richer!

    By a technical measure, the writing on this blog has some room for improvement. What it’s got is heart and passion, because of (or perhaps despite) long experience. And it’s got a thoughtful, critical attitude. This combination of qualities is why there’s an audience.

    Here’s my advice: keep writing the blog the same old way, except for one thing. Start shaping it into a memoir on bike racing off-line. Then, hire an editor to help iron out the writing, and to structure the memoir. By the end of it all, you’ll have a book that will satisfy the schoolmarms, the defenders, and many thousands of other interested readers. And it will already have a passionate, invested audience.

  24. jpete

    I think that if a person lacks the ability accomodate another’s idiosycracies in order to devine the meaning from what they have written without being derailed by the occassional misuse of language, that speaks to his deficiency, not yours. Using language to berate someone’s intentions to express themselves speaks of a little, narcissistic mind. Wouldn’t change a thing.

  25. Mike Seal

    who gives a shit what some punk bitch says – I’m certain that if you met this guy in person you’d probably as him to go f&ck himself. The “better than thou”crap doesn’t fly with me, as I’ve found that I may be good at certain things but there’s always someone better at others.

  26. Jim Buckley


    I’ve only recently started reading your blog posts and I’ve found them to be interesting as well as thought provoking. I look forward to reading your entries everyday.


  27. Kory

    Late, but I wanted to share my support for your writing style. Your blog is one of very few that I read regularly. That has a lot to do with the personality that you emote in your loose writing style…that and I the lessoned learned from your experiences and insight. Another vote for “don’t change a thing!”

  28. Nancy

    I enjoyed reading your blog because the content is very interesting. However, I noticed in general that online journals (Velonews) had a poor grammar and spelling. I can say that their free online stuff is bad and I won’t buy the paper version since it is hard to think that it will be higher quality. And some people or companies probably don’t want to be associated with VL for this reason because it does not show a positive image of their products.

    It is just a way to be professional off the bike too.

  29. devin

    i proof read mine from time to time and when I do I laugh and say damn need to do a better job..
    I agree with you.. most times it is just a free flow,, a lot of people like to hid behind comments and could not stand up behind them if they tried.
    Keep up the good work.

  30. poyntell

    Whew. Lot of energy in those comments. Yay! How did Americans get so cautious and afraid to put their opinions out there. Steve’s blog works because he has the courage to take the risk and put it out there—his observations, perspective, and analysis. I just read an article that said americans pretty much agree on the three highest values: fairness, caring, and liberty (even if they don’t agree on the order). Steve’s blog epitomizes those three values. Somehow, we’ve all become to afraid to say what’s needed to preserve those three things. Hats off to you, Steve. I agree with Tim—haters gonna hate—so you have to push onward despite them. I agree with Andy. Memoir is in order

  31. chuck martel

    Gee, I was going to ask that you start posting in Norwegian but that’s probably not going to happen. Well, OK, Kansas English will do fine.

  32. Jim

    Somewhere else on the internet I get this a lot but it’s not my house so I can only absorb it or respond.

    If I were you I’d not publish that guy’s remarks. Does no good.

  33. Gordon

    When I read your blog I feel like I am sitting at a bar listening to you. I don’t care about syntax, punctuation, spelling, or anything. I just like to hear what’s on your mind. I hope you keep writing that way because I’m going to keep reading it that way.


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