How To Be A Good Correspondent

Sunday Times of London

It’s easy: write to people.

When someone writes you, WRITE BACK!


On December 21st, a night that is way too long, a night for a genteel diversion,  I was zooming around the internet. I found a cycling writer named Richard Caseby who’d penned “It’s £20,000, and I broke it” .

Caseby sounds like my kind of guy: a ham-handed mechanical ingenue, an accidental R&D guy.  In short, a Destroyer.
He is handed a bike, which is too small. He raises the saddle, throws in some spacers.(Plot point #1)

The bike is an experiment from some Formula 1 team, built “with no preconceptions”. Code for “our designers have no experience with bicycles”.

He’s told it costs around $34k.

(The stakes are raised)

The seatpost shears off (Plot point #2),  nearly emasculating him. They build another one.  He is not billed for the damage.  Jagged car-boner shards can graze the femoral artery (talk to superbike racer Eric Bostrom)….so he’s doubly lucky.

I had to talk to this guy (what? And tell him about how stupid carbon fiber is?)

Personal belief: if you use snail mail, you can reach nearly anyone on Earth.

My real mission: see if he’d race with me at trans-Wales. It’s a seven day epic cleverly spaced just before SSWC in Ireland, next door.

I’d already tried to whinge my way in (“doesn’t your race need a legendary racer…or someone to help pick up trash, in exchange for the thousand-dollar entry fee?”) to no avail.
Secret belief: if Lance called, they’d fall to their knees.

So I’m eager to do menial work, but best allowed to simply be Jacquie. BUT there really is no money in bicycles, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Come New Year’s, I’d forgotten  all about  lobbing a card to some guy who wrote a good column .

Why write at all?

A) it is fun

B)  I will not go quiet into that (fill in the adjective) night. Folks need to know me.

My peers, Jock Boyer, George Mount, and Greg Lemond –all paved over by Lance, in a country that barely knows cycling exists except for Lance.co.

Can anyone recall the American lineage of women bike racers?

“What, you mean women race bikes?” (Oh, right, we are never on the telly).

Pity the kids that will never hear  of The Undisputed Queen of Mud…A woman who never mistook her fun for a job.

Cards (collectible! Guaranteed to be worth at least .39 on Ebay!)  are elegant memory aids. Priceless ephemera scattered atop the century-deep muck of bicycle history.

Would you believe: handbills trampled in the ankle-deep hype of mountain bike lore?

How about: direct-mail come-ons  destined for the recycling bin of oblivion?

Two months shoot by,  and I get a call and an email from Righteous Reader/rider Noah Gellner, congratulating me on my story in the Sunday Times.
“Huh?!”

“What, you haven’t seen the page in  yesterday’s paper?” Noah goaded. “Normally you’re the one telling me this stuff. I just thought you were being restrained. Look in your in-box, I’ll send a scan.”

“You mean someone wrote a story without talking to me?”
Then I read the piece….he definitely never heard of me (no harm in that, easily remedied) BUT he doesn’t accept the queen’s request that he be my liege at some hellish enduro seven months off?

Humpf!

Praps he doesn’t have seven days to goof off on a fat tire bike across Wales. After all, he IS the managing editor of a million-reader newspaper.

Would you believe: a stringer for  a small neighborhood weekly?
How about :  the sole proprietor of a fanzine newsletter famed for its breathless celebrity gossip?

I don’t know. They used heated prose.

The term “temptress”  appears several times in it over the past year or two.

I doubt I’ve seen it in the NYT or the SF Comical. It’s almost…biblical!

Might have to fling it around a little, just to bring it into the 21st century.

The term “hot” needs a sabbatical.

If my magical power is to ‘tempt’, well, then I’d sure like to brandish that talent at a publishing house AND at a sustainability-minded cycling $ponsor.

Better yet…simply point it at everyone I meet and ‘tempt’ them to ride their bicycle. It’s a big job.

~ by jacquiephelan on January 25, 2011.

5 Responses to “How To Be A Good Correspondent”

  1. What a great title “Naked, Mud Covered Temptress”. You could call one of your clinics by that name.

  2. You ‘tempted’ many a person to get muddy and have fun on a bike. A measure of a person is how many nicknames others give, and by that standard you are head and (naked) shoulders above the rest; Alice, Wombat, Temptress, ect. Keep the naked rubber side down always.
    Call me tempted
    Doug Page
    velocodger

  3. Lineage of American women racing cyclists off the top of my head? Audrey McElmury (I know they were great womens cyclist in previous decades), Sheila Young, Sue Novarra, Beth Heiden, Alice B Toeclips, Cindy Whitehead, Connie Carpenter, Rebecca Twigg, Marianne Martin, Connie Paraskevin, Sue Demattei, Julie Furtado are the names that come to first come to mind though I know the list is MUCH larger. Who is the light for the future? Lea Davison (another Middlebury grad such as Alice, right?) who will be racing for Specialized for 2011.

  4. dont forget Inga Thompson, just for a Reno tie in

  5. Pity the kids that will never hear of The Undisputed Queen of Mud…A woman who never mistook her fun for a job.

    When my daughter, who started riding a little bike offroad quite young, got to her early teens and began considering the idea of racing (found out about the Nor Cal high school league), it was a very important thing to tell her about the history of Women Racing Mountain Bikes, with quite the focus on all I knew about you, Jacquie. She soaked up the stories that are spread across the ‘net, detailing the challenges, victories, and general fun of your time on a bike. Gave her a new appreciation for what a mountain bike is and what it means to get out there and enjoy. Your history certainly changed her perspective, for the better.

    The editor from the Times certainly does not know what he is going to miss.

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