“…the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day…”
It’s not often these days that a bike-related story truly impresses me.
Maybe it’s because I learned last summer while interning at Adventure Cycling Association that however original you think your idea is, it’s bunk—it’s all been done before, as I discovered working on entries for the Cyclists Yellow Pages. A race where only the finish line is provided? It’s been done before. A company that takes new women cyclists on tours of Amish country? Done. Bike tours of microbreweries? Oh, please.
But a couple of stories have honestly touched me this week…
• Ernest Gagnon met riding partners through the internet…and has lost 200 pounds since doing so. As a person who has felt self-conscious about her body almost since birth, I am really impressed by Gagnon’s courage. I’m much smaller than he is and still intimidated by what I term “spandex-clad lycra warriors.” (Small note: does describing Gagnon as a “500 pounder” make him sound like a fish to you too? A small peeve I’ve had for several years.)
• Emily Finch, mother of six(!), hauls her kids around Portland on a bakfiets. As if having six young children isn’t impressive enough! Finch apparently doesn’t even mind if a family friend wants to join them for a trip to OMSI. (This one is a double-whammy: it’s also the first BikePortland story I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for at least a couple of years.)
On Wednesday when I was giving a lecture about non-profit publishing, a friend chimed in that personal stories are often the key to emotionally engaging readers. It’s certainly the secret to NPR’s success, and I don’t feel connected to new acquaintances until I’ve become familiar with a significant amount of their backstory.
Perhaps stories, not stats, could help take the bikey cause to the next level.