And the Winner Is... (cont.)

Here, read the winning essay from Outside's Seven Cycles contest as well as the four other finalists

    Photo: Photos by Nigel Cox

Michael Getter, Arlington, VAWhy do I and I alone deserve this bike? Because I will probably be the only contestant distinguished exclusively by my own pathetic mediocrity. I can't claim that I've overcame tremendous physical difficulties in order to ride a bicycle. I haven't lost a leg in a horrific bike accident involving a squirrel and an 18-wheeler but overcame the odds and am now riding again with an artificial limb. I have not finished second in a major international race only due to the fact that my bike was not as light or ergonomically advanced as the winner's. . . . I am not a rising star destined to bring gold back home from the Tour de France.

I am not any of those special people who stand out from the crowd distinguished by their physical or inner strength, determination and perseverance. I AM the crowd! I embody the very essence of an average American guy who is trying to make it to the next day. We have no special gifts or talents and everything we do we achieve by working or studying really hard, since nothing comes easy to us. We are schlepping through life, doing the best we can in an endless circle of days and nights, working, sitting in traffic, raising kids, taking out the garbage and enjoying an occasional bike ride with friends. Oh! . . . The Bike Ride! That is probably one of the few highlights of our lives, when speeding down the hill we finally pass that blue-haired old woman with a Chihuahua attached to her wrist and arrive to the finish line with an aching back and sore shoulders thinking for the first time in weeks, "Damn! That felt good!"

By giving this bike to me, you are not just recognizing one guy's achievements as being more worthy than those of the other contestants. Instead, you are giving hope to millions of invisible, undistinguished, mediocre worker bees. You acknowledge our presence here on earth and that our silent existence and toiling away in the trenches of daily American life, moving this society forward, inch by inch, deserves a recognition we never get from anyone. . . . Except, maybe, in an occasional presidential speech during an election period, which we unfortunately cannot take out for a ride. But this bike is a work of art! It is real and we can admire its beauty, and when I ride it, it will be with pride for all of us who are incapable of ever approaching the heights reached by genetically superior individuals like Lance Armstrong or Miguel Indurain.

I thank you for reading this cry of a truly "invisible" man. I shall not bore you any longer.

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