10 August 2017

It's been an interesting experience.

Notice: Pedal Dancer® has retired after seven years of blogging and photographing travel, climbs and races, creating maps and event calendar lists, chasing pro races, offering travel tips, and sharing where and how to get out for a good bike ride. Goodbye and thanks.

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I heard from a reader today. A reader I had corresponded with in the past about the Tour de France and local bike rides in Colorado. I am enclosing my letter to John because I was able to tell him what I would like to tell all my past readers to explain why Pedal Dancer® has retired.

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Hi John, It’s nice to hear from you. Did you enjoy the TDF this year? I did very much! My brother (he is in California) and I would watch and text back and forth with comments. He knows France better than me. He had just finished another 3-week trip this year to ride some new climbs in the southern Alps (he goes to France every year to ride and rest). His trip was just preceding the TDF so it was fun for him to see the aerial footage. He had just ridden the Col d’Izoard, a climb we rode together years ago and is a favorite of his. It is fun to watch the TDF with someone who knows so much about the area and the riders. Chris Froome did well but the other riders were the real story this year. Go Bardet! Go Martin!

I wanted to explain why I no longer write on my website. I reached the point where 15-years of riding a bike (so much!) left me with huge projects to tackle around my home that needed to be done, a new job that did not allow me to attend races or write for hours, an illness that no longer allows me to ride a bike, as I had, and a semi-burnt out spirit which combined to make me realize it was not realistic to keep up with Pedal Dancer. It took 100s and 1000s of hours. It was fun and I have some good memories (and an awesome memorabilia filled bike room) but the new social obligation to learn and report on women’s racing as well as men’s meant even more time was required and expected. Plus being a photographer at the races is far from a pleasant easy-going experience. It is so political and harsh, and people use you and your work or photos for their own financial gain. For me, I was always focused on the fan and although my readership was very good, the downs started outweighing the ups. I never liked the whole social media thing. I didn’t care if I was “cool” or “popular.” I liked a good bike ride, a good story, a great map, and joy in nature. And I liked sharing what I had learned to make it easier on others. I had grown my knowledge to the level where I realized many in the media were just plain wrong in what they were reporting. I knew their facts were off and yet they were influencing fans. Then right about the same time, two majors events happened: One-day I got suddenly very ill and Doug Pensinger, a well-known photographer and someone I admired from the Tour of California and Colorado Pro Challenge, died unexpectedly of a heart condition. He was a very decent man. After I emerged from my struggle to regain my health, these events made me realize it was time to move on and start the next chapter. Due to an odd neurological issue and years of far too many injuries, I could no longer ride a real road bike. I felt like I had lost my purpose and my identity. At the same time I knew I had done all I could within the sport of cycling. It had to be enough.

I had made it through the doping era of cycling, learned my way from a novice inspired to learn to ride a road bike by attending the Tour de France in 2001,  joined local century rides, began to travel to Europe to ride a bike, joined a race team, bought more and more bikes, started a blog, became a photographer at World Tour races, traveled to see the Dauphine, Giro, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Tour de France seven times, wrote more and more guide pages on my blog and even spent 5-weeks cycling in France for my 50th birthday. I did a lot.

For now, I have simplified back to quietly enjoying the Spring Classics, TDF and Vuelta on TV for the sheer beauty of the competition and location, and not feeling the need to give my time and effort for free to promote cycling. The decision to stop, means I will no longer be doing my annual Colorado bike events calendar lists or writing on the blog. Rather than close the website entirely, your letter (and the letters of many others) prompted me to decide to leave it open for now as a historical record and resource. Thanks so much for visiting, for writing to me with your personal stories and sharing in a passion. I wish you all the best in whichever sport or hobby you follow.

My health has recovered (stabilized) somewhat. I am different now but happy to report I started traveling again. I just planned a vacation to Northern Ireland and Scotland. I will be taking a week-long hiking tour to the Orkney Islands. I look forward to another trip to the sea - from land-locked Colorado - after recently visiting Humboldt County in Northwest California for a college reunion.

P.S., That whole idea about riding a bike event for someone because they can’t - is bunk. Believe me, they would much rather be riding the bike themselves - if they could. So go spend some quality time with that person instead, and then ride your bike with your friends who can, while you can, with humor, humility and joy. The same applies to travel … and life!

Thank you very much John.

Pedal Dancer® has retired after seven years of blogging and photographing travel, climbs and races, creating maps and event calendar lists, chasing pro races, offering travel tips, and sharing where and how to get out for a good bike ride. Goodbye and thanks.

Riding with my brother Mike in the Pyrenees

Walking on the cobbles at the Paris-Roubaix (in the middle in black).