Sunday, October 28, 2007

What do you do?

I'm currently spending my "free" time helping with a study that has followed about 250 women for the last 9 years. Each of these women comes in and we bombard them with tests. Anyway, rather than just testing them in silence, I like to ask questions and get to know them. The questions I usually ask is quite simple, "what do you do?" You see, this is a way not to offend (or at least that is the goal). Many of the women who come in do not work outside of the home, and it gives them an opportunity to say what they enjoy doing in life. Others have a job, and that is generally what they say they do.

When you ask people what they do, they often first think of their job. Is that really what defines you? Is that the most important thing that you do? How would someone respond if they asked what I did and I told them that I was a father and husband. They would likely assume that I didn't have a job, yet being a father and husband are my most prized responsibilities and quite frankly one of a select few areas where it really matters whether I succeed or fail.

This brings me to another identity crisis, one that is cycling related. I started my cycling career as someone who did long tours and then by the time I was a teenager I had started racing. I have identified myself in the "racer" crowd for the last 10 or more years, although I haven't really raced in quite some time (like 8-9 years). I look around at cyclists, and the groups associated with cyclists and I feel that I belong in the racing group, sort of as an exception because I don't race. I certainly don't belong in the MTB group or the tri group. I am a commuter, but that always brings to mind old guys on goofy looking relaxed bikes designed for comfort and not speed. I don't race, but that doesn't make me slow. Anyway, I like to be thought of more as a racer than a commuter, even though I don't race. I also have a tendency to make fun of those guys who don't race but think of themselves as "racers".

So here is what I've been dealing with for the past couple of weeks. I've decided to get a new light for my bike. The one I have is fine, but I can't see that well with it and something brighter would allow me to better miss the potholes on the roads I travel. The problem is that "racers" don't have lights, they weigh too much (that's why I currently run a really lightweight light... that and because it was cheap). More important to me now, is conserving the environment and making choices that will be a good use of the natural resources. So the obvious choice would be a generator hub. Perfect would be a generator hub combined with a high powered LED that is actually focused a little to make it so you can see with it. I've done the pricing, and I think that the generator hub is going to be the way to go. This is in COMPLETE violation of my desire to be thought of as a "racer"! Those hubs are a source of both weight and friction!

So why do I want to be thought of as a "racer", even though I haven't raced this decade and why does this light mean such a move to "the dark side"? I don't know. I think it's about image. It's who I am and who I want to be. I want to be a racer, but I also want to conserve resources. My two ideals don't mix so I have to decide. So doing something for the environment is more important to me than maintaining my image. It has really surprised me how hard it has been to give up my image for what I really believe to be more important.

So what do I do? Or better yet, what do I want to be known for doing? Exercise physiologist... no. Father and husband... YES. Cyclist... no. Someone who acts to preserve the environment... yes. Blogger... no. Christian... YES. ... and the list goes on.

So what do you do?

(the poor ladies in my study have no idea what question they are answering)


Heather said...

I've always seen you as they guy who does the right thing, makes environment conscious decisions. Even though you may not look like a racer, I still know you can beat me anytime! :) Say hi to Aly for me! (our blog is

theboy said...

You could be describing me, rather than yourself. Even having rack, panniers, big lights, and riding in street clothes haven't shaken my "I am a racer" thinking. Completely wacky and unnecessary. I, too, wonder why I think that way.

Paul said...

What do you do? is a very powerful question.

I am also a father. My family is of primary importance to me, but I also like to ride a bike and enjoy a good ride with my family. So I parent patiently, and patiently wait for my next ride. I maintain an old race bike, even though I'm not a racer, because I think it's the right thing to do(I don't think it's right to spend $1000's on a new one when the one I have can be fixed/maintaned). I also struggle with my body mass, much like the FatCyclist used to.

Where are you going? is another good question.

Anonymous said...

Hey Sans, tell me about your light set up with the generator after you get it. I looked at those online but I couldn't find much info about them. Everything seems to be about the light weight rechargeable battery type lights. I want a bright light but the hub generator set up doesn't seem to have the output. And then if you go too fast down a hill or something, the hub puts out to much juice and things go awry? I was getting most of my data from Sheldon Brown's website. I haven't seen any other detailed articles about the things. So, since it sounds like you are going to get one and will use it in real world conditions, can you write a follow up at some point to let us know how it goes? Thanks