I think cycling and the world of bicycles contains a whole lot of interesting people; disproportionately so. I come from the world of health care, where most people don't seem to be that creative or take the time to look outside of their own specialized world. I know these are generalizations that should not be applied unfairly, but I am amazed each day when I read the cycling blogs written by professionals and amateurs alike. Red Kite Prayer (RKP) is one of my favorites ... Padraig is a real gem of a writer and a professional; not to mention some of the other writers that write for RKP. I am also keen to read things by Gary Fisher, hear about Tom Ritchey's exploits, or thoughts by Ben Serotta.
All of these people are famous in the world of cycling for a reason. They are pioneers and passionate about the two wheel world, much like me. I don't plan on being famous in the world of cycling, but I certainly enjoy writing and reading more about cycling and bicycles than most other subjects. These famous bike people are either successful athletes turned business people or craftsmen turned athletes or some combination of the two. The are a form of the modern renaissance person that has many talents.
In retrospect, I should have been a mechanical engineer. It would have been more useful for being in the bike world and designing frames or components. Although I am convinced that a job is just a job. I don't care if you are a carpenter, nurse, social worker, or doctor ... your days are very much the same one day to the next. And as such, maybe if I was a bike engineer, I may have lost interest in it? No ... probably not.
I am also impressed by the various creative individuals in the world of cycling that have funneled their passions to make a living based on their true love. I think some of the smaller apparel companies are pretty impressive. I like companies that focus their creativity to be different, but remain true to functionality and form (based on actually cycling experience?). Stand outs for me include:
Rodeo Adventure Labs
Some of the current or past pro riders are also extremely interesting personalities. As an example, consider Phil Gaimon - writer of books, racer of bicycles, and comedian of all sorts. Evelyn Stevens - a wall street analyst who just decided to become a world class cyclist. Michael Barry - a rare Canadian world tour rider who not only survived as a pro cyclist for a long time, but is also a fantastic writer (I hope he throws me a mini-blog post some day). There are many others. I am referring more to the current riders than the past. The past is full of characters; both good and bad. I think we need to bring back the "great" nicknames in full force. "The Badger," "the Sheriff", or "the Cannibal," sound so much more descriptive and menacing than "El Pistolero" or "the Cowboy." If Lance was called "the Boss," then that may very well be perfect. By "boss" do we mean leader of the team / peleton or power thug? (http://bikeraceinfo.com/riderhistories/cyclist-nicknames.html).
Creativity is the stuff that makes us move forward to invent, improve and instruct. Most of us have some form of creative outlet that allows that part of our brain to express itself. Some of us have made a living on it, and some just produce "art" of many forms just for our own good. It's so cool to see the eclectic mix of personalities that build bikes, race bikes or just plain ride bikes.
I think the universal passion that people share about bikes is a little crazy and a lot cool. How many non-bike people think its completely nuts to spend thousands on a bike? Most. How many people have friends that don't ride a bike that give you the weirdest look when you say you rode 100+ kilometers yesterday? Most. However, we all understand each other. That's cool. I'm glad I belong to a group that understands my spending and rides their bikes for hundreds of kilometers.
I love bike people: they are creative, tough, and adventurous.