Monday, July 21, 2008

Birds of a feather, flock together

What about the other birds then?

I was speaking to my colleague the other day (well, gossiping more like) about the petrol price increase and what our management was going to do about it. We were generally upset that the higher management is refusing to increase the mileage claim amount in relation to the hike percentage. He's summary to the issue was simple "they won't budge to our needs because they are given petrol cards and hence not affected. and they are all of the same mind... you know... birds of a feather"

which made me wonder, i am not of the same feather, but i am of the same forest, why am i to be discriminated? surely i have an ecology contribution to the system.

over the month i pondered on his point "birds of a feather". i started noticing that this point applies to everything we do in life, including triathlons and weekend rides.

how many of us can honestly say we do not discriminate our friends in this circle? ok, perhaps discriminate is a bad word to use, let me rephrase the question: how many of us can honestly say we do not categorise our friends in this circle?

everyone does: the speed demons, the siput girls, the ever-sweeper etc.

nothing wrong there. and we love our friends regardless of the category we place them in.

however, discrimination i feel comes to play when friends are not in the same category as the 'main flock'.

of late, even the friendly cycling group pcc has lost its niche as your 'perfect cycling partner'. when i first started, pcc was fondly known as the 'le tour de fat farm'. famous for its easy routes, great rides and fantastic eating experience. every ride was centered around where was the best place to eat what. within pcc, we had the fast boys in front, the leisure riders in the middle and the newbies behind with the ever trusty sweeper.

to other clubs like p2k and bike pro, pcc were the underdogs and not to be taken seriously. while it is impressive how pcc has evolved in the past two years, it is sad to know it is no longer unique as it once was. it now breeds speed demons and strong mutants, all very similar to the birds over at p2k and bike pro.

of course it is not in my position to say whether pcc has evolved for the better or for the worse, but i do know that it is no longer the 'perfect cycling partner'. it shows less empathy for new riders or slow seasoned ones. it has also developed a hint of arrogance of how far it has evolved into.

all well justified i'm sure because it is the hard work of the leaders and the frequent flyers of pcc to be faster, better, stronger. we are also no longer the fat farm, which i'm sure is great news to many who see the term as an insult.

but really to me, pcc was the 'perfect cycling partner' because it housed a forestry of birds: big ones, small ones, sleek ones, colourful ones, nutty ones and they all sang a different tune: chirpy and sharp, low and sexy, even god awful screeching. you would imagine with such unorganised tunes, it would be chaotic but no... any new bird, young or experienced that flew into the pcc forest would find a circle of same feathered friends that they can sing together.

it was harmonious. it was the heart of pcc.

today i am sadden that the birds sing the same song as other clubs. it sings of speed, and distance and how only great birds do great things. it sings of competition and without intend, alienates the minority birds. these are not necessarily new birds, just birds that do not sing the same tune. it is as if the main flock birds have grown in such numbers that other birds either have to sing the same way, or move out of the forest.

step back before i continue: i'm not imposing the main flock birds are snobs, merely the fact that minority birds are constantly pressured to be accepted by singing to the main flock tune.

it's really not the main flock's fault. it's the weakness of the minority bird.

let me explain: i am a minority bird.

while i think i am well liked by all birds in the forest, at heart, i am a minority bird. minority in the sense that i'm relatively a seasoned rider but never considered myself a speed demon. never been classified as one either. just occasional spats of speed. other than that, i'm pretty much on my own.

even in triathlons, i am a minority bird. i'm not exactly new.. but i'm not exactly a top 10 finisher either.

i have to admit i have been upset about main flock birds asking me to join them on the higher branches of the forest. upset because i feel pressured to feel belong.

then i realise i play a very important role in the forest's ecosystem.

if you think you are a minority bird like me, here are two main things to think about and hopeful you too will not be pressured into joining the main flock birds:
1. if everybody is as fast, how do we have greatness?
think about this. if we are all main flock birds, able to deliver the same amount of energy and distance, how are we going to brag or admire anybody? we'll all be the same. at triathlons, we will all finish the same and the podium will overflow with people taking turns to receive their gold medal. in fact, we will all be 'normal'. nobody will shine. and since nobody will be last and have a great story of determination to tell, we will lose inspiration and soul too.

2. if everybody was a main flock bird, where's the melody?
an orchestra is never built on a single musical instrument. it needs a range of different sounds and rhythm to make something magical and memorable. a piano solo may sound impressive, but the whole orchestra is what makes it great.

so back to my point about my contribution to this ecosystem as a minority bird.

if i was as great as the main flock, i will not be inspired to write this blog which in turn has inspired many.

if i was as great as the main flock, i will not be able to speak and share experiences that newbies can relate to. hence, they will think you must be great in order to join a triathlon. on hindsight, they may be less competitors! but that's not the point here...

if i was as great as the main flock, i would not have understood what many other minority birds feel and therefore lose out on a lot of soul.

my contribution to the ecosystem is to provide an avenue for slower season riders or newbies to build the courage and inspiration to challange no one else but themselves.

my contribution to the ecosystem is to provide support and encouragement to other minority birds by saying "hey, you know what, forget what the other birds are singing. what do you feel like singing?"

and i know there are some key minority birds out there.

like nabil when he was actively riding in pcc. he was the ever protective and steady sailboat. very reliable and definitely sang his own song. although he was normally the sweeper, he never lost out on respect from other riders. in fact i think we respected him most because he always ensured nobody was left behind and everybody was safe. a very responsible role and no 'flimsy' main flock bird can handle.

so if you are indeed a minority bird like me. do not be ashamed and do not be upset and succum to peer pressure as i once have.

you should realise that your contribution to the ecosystem is very important. do a self check, ask yourself "if i am not a main flock bird, what is my contribution to the ecosystem?". don't be afraid to ask friends close to you as you will be surprised how much you actually mean to the forest without changing the type of bird you are..

i mean, if every bird in the forest sang the same song in the same tune... it would be a very plain and boring forest, wouldn't it?


nurina said...

Thanks May Senn for this entry
Yes I'm also one of the minority birds (and definitely still belong in the fat farm). But when Upiq told me earlier this year that my silly blog and stories inspired him to start doing triathlons I knew this bird also has it's place & function in the ecosystem....

Dancing Ciken said...

i can feel it ;)

aku lega jumpa the perfect group for me. tapi satu hari nanti, mereka akan semakin laju dan terkontang-kanting la aku kat tertinggal di belakang, again... adakah mereka begitu? i hope not

morale of story: perlukah aku belajar untuk menyanyi?

The Editor said...

Very thot provoking article. Ur articles never seize to amaze me. Although you provide the backdrop of PCC as the reference, i am sure I can relate to many other things in life, cycling, triathlon and frenship.

I wud like to thank you for having the GUTS for putting pen to paper on ur thots, one which i have never had the GUTS to do so and say so.

Lastly, it serves as a reminder for me when i am sometimes down. What a motivational article.

Deareset Senn

Vicious Cycle said...
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Vicious Cycle said...
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Vicious Cycle said...
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ishsal said...

The Minority Report (featuring Tom Cruise). Insightful, as always. Can't say i am ever bothered/pressured by speed/power/timing. Friendship and sharing of new experiences count highly in my book. Bringing up a child helps puts things in perspective of course ... the same values we want them to grow up with, are the same values we adults sometimes need reminders on. Interestingly enough.

kev said...

Yeah, I have that sort of problem over here too. That's why I cycle alone :(

Roadie said...

flock of birds do flock together but those are weak they cant make it to the next season so they drop and die during their flight!!!!

you seriously have a indentity crisis. pls dealt with it!!

do point a finger at certain individuals and not PCC. yes there are some hammerheads which are fast and they show their impatience while waiting for fellow cyclists. overall the group are intact. pls do keep your head up and look and not in that tri position.

you were strong on the bike before. but because you wanted to do 3 categories of sport within a competition, you have lost focus on the cycling which PCC rides are suitable for. pls think abt it.

you arent regular at PCC weekend rides so you have lost touch with the flock of birds. and since you are so in the competition scene, how can you be a minority??!!!!

pls go through the process of differentiating between road cycling and cycling in a triathlon.
tell you the 1st difference, bikes are different. pls digest it and be sensible in your views.
at least the next time you woke up in the morning on sunday, you know which group to join.

just to enlighten you further, ducks and birds dont fly together!!!

The Editor said...


I think you miss the point of the article and while we like to be emotional about things like this, I would like to remind you on a few things:-

Firstly, the article raises a few concerns of observation and perception, hence to be rebutted by yourself almost like a character assasinatation is uncalled for.

Secondly, your opening remarks of "flock of birds do flock together but those are weak they cant make it to the next season so they drop and die during their flight!!!!" gives me the impression that those who are slow, cannot make it in the PCC cycling group. I think the writer is trying to make a point that we should celebrate the difference and not win-lose situation in the current lifestyle.

I came to the PCC cycling group to cycle among friends and chose NOT to be strong, therefore by your remarks then, I should die and be left by the roadside and not make it to the next, is it? This is not the PCC that I remember - caring, emphatising and mutual respect.

Individuals or influential individuals make up the personalities and face of PCC, hence the perception of the general public to the PCC is my interaction with these individuals. I maybe participating more then the writer of this article in the PCC rides, but i agree with the observation of the Author of this article. Hence, I fail to understand your personal remarks to the author and not discuss the issues.

Thirdly, it only takes one or two individuals to tarnish the image of the club and if you are representing the club and is the face of the club, then your comments here confirm the writers observation thus "I rest my case".

Fourthly, have you ever thought, some of us compete with ourselves and not compete with others, hence we CHOSE to stop at a certain level, and not proceed to push ourselves to follow the herd of "hammerheads" as you put it.

Fiftly, have you observe that less strong riders and old PCC members CHOSE sometimes not come to rides.

Sixthly, if I want to be dropped all the time, and this is my thing (the expereince of being ridicules and dropped), i might as well cycle with certain bike shop groups or semi racing race groups. I chose to cycle with PCC, becoz i thought I was among friends, alas your comments confirms that cyclist is an individual sports and belongs solely to "birds" and "ducks" shouldn't belong to such groups. (thats the point that you are raising - unless u are shooting urself in the foot)

Vicious Cycle said...
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beyond cut off said...

Hi Rodie,

Thanks for your passionate comment. Very valid insights indeed!

my apologies if i have offended you. I also apologise on behalf of my friends if they brave retorts ruffled your feathers further.

my entry simply wanted to comfort minority birds like myself to not be ashame and pressured to change who we are.

but i'm sure i do not have to justify my entry as you clearly understood its meaning by enligthening me further about ducks and birds not flying together.

i am, however, disappointed that i failed express myself clearer in my entry.

had i done so, you would not have been so upset about 'flying poutlry' when what i was really talking about were birds singing in different tunes.. totally different topic if we thought about it.

i am also hurt that you take the liberty to tell me what or who i am without knowing me in person.

on top of that, you challenge me to point out hammerheads who are clearly my friends in pcc and hang them out to dry? probably a good idea to you but i would rather feel the heat of your comments than betray my friends.

my hammerhead friends have done nothing wrong. they deserve and worked hard to earn every bit of cycling glory and i am proud of every one of them!

back to not knowing me in person: you may have smirked at that comment. perhaps you do know me. perhaps met me, heard of me, even rode with me.

but i clearly do not know you. i checked your blog profile and noticed that 'roadie' has only been activated this month.

i hope i did not upset so much that you had to recreate a different ID just to comment on my blog!

if you did, my readers and friends are all passionate people, with admirable confidence and never hide themselves.

so for whatever reasons you felt, justified you hiding behind a blog name let's put it aside.

in future, i appreciate you coming to me as who you are. Unless, you too are suffering from an identity crisis.. a duck wanting to fly like a bird perhaps? ;)

in fact! i would love to meet you and apologise to you in person for the unneccessary concern i caused you.

naturally, since i have no idea who you are, i am the girl who rides a pink diva regardless whether it's a sunday ride or weekend race.

she's the sluggish one that has never really been fast.

and she's the one who actually can't ride fast so probably decided to hide behind triathlons for an excuse of "strong on the bike before, now lost focus with 3 categories"...

... but you already knew that, didn't you?

CapArnabBrand said...

I can relate with this... many newbies are worried about joining regular groups becos they're worried they cannot keep up, get dropped, ride alone, weakened in spirit and get embarassed by being the last rider home...

Many ride alone for that reason.

Your story gives hope to newbies to actually step out and give group-riding a try... knowing that in a ride of 20-30 people, at least they can keep up with 1-2 riders who will willingly accompany them home.

Keep riding and writing.

Mich said...

I was once a newbie . My first pcc ride was a Sunday Ride to Janda Baik.At first I was quite worried. But the inner voice inside my head told me , those riders was a newbie before. They start from zero too. If I didn't take the first step to join them, when am i going to start ?

nurina said...

I think roadie has overlooked one major factor: why do birds flock together in the first place:
Simply because by flying together their changes of survival are much better.If they work together by drafting behind each other in a V-line, changes are that a lot more members of the flock make it to the destination. If in rough wheather every bird would fly individually changes are only few or even none of the flock would survive.....

Vicious Cycle said...