My first magazine job was in the great state of Colorado.
From my office window, the entire front range of the Rockies spread out before me and behind the office were the start of the great plains--a high, arid desert perfect for hiking, running or biking.
The company I worked for at the time was just hitting its growth spurt and, as a result, the management team had hired a bunch of twenty-something kids who were happy to work relatively cheap.
All of us were from somewhere else--drawn to the mountains by our desire to lead active lives--and we spent our nights and weekends skiing, hiking, running, biking, kayaking, climbing, etc.
At some point, I became interested in mountain biking, so when a buddy who worked in our production office started bringing his bike to work for lunch-time rides, I asked to join him.
The next day, we changed our clothes, grabbed our bikes and took off for a rocky trail that began at the edge of our parking lot.
Almost immediately, I knew I was in way, way over my head. My buddy--let’s call him Al--took off like a bat out of you know what, jumped the curve and pointed his bike straight down a huge, rocky, rutted incline. In an instant, he was gone.
I reached the end of the parking lot, looked down the hill and spotted him. He was a speck down on the prairie followed closely by a huge dust cloud.
I gulped, gingerly picked my way down the hill and when I hit the flat, tried like heck to close the gap. I never did. In fact, the harder I pushed, the harder I fell--head over handlebars.
It was embarrassing--even more so when Al rode up on his way back to the office. Once again, I was on the ground trying to determine if all my pieces and parts were working.
He laughed and said, “Dude, how come every time I turned to look for you, you were on the ground?“
I chuckled and made a mental note to never ride with him again.
It’s a good thing I didn’t.
Years later, when Al and I were launching this magazine, he was riding competitively--getting so good that he contemplated turning pro. Luckily for me, he decided to stay with the magazine.
I was reminded of this little incident when I read Tania Juillerat’s article, “Gaining Ground,” which details how Indiana’s mountain bike trails went from worst to first--eventually becoming a mecca for serious bikers--like me (and Al).
It also reminded me, again, of the power of the activities and opportunities you provide for your citizens. How many lifelong friendships were made over a hike, bike-ride or softball game?
A lot. And that tidbit ought to keep you going when the budget monster or recessionary pressure gets you down.
Keep up the good work!
Till next month…
Rodney J. Auth