Edi­tor’s Let­ter

How to zing friends and neg­a­tively in­flu­ence peo­ple

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Some of the great things about cy­clocross in­clude mud, push­ing your­self to the limit for an hour and feel­ing trashed at the end of a race. Some of the bad things about cy­clocross in­clude mud, push­ing your­self to the limit for an hour and feel­ing trashed at the end of a race. Heck­ling – which works so well in ’cross be­cause rid­ers move slowly com­pared with other cy­cling dis­ci­plines – also falls into the both good and bad cat­e­gories of cy­clocross.

I’ve been on the re­ceiv­ing end of some good and bad heck­les. Once, I was chas­ing James Cook, a de­signer of this mag, late in a race on a snow-cov­ered course in Ot­tawa. Our friend Bob Bergman, for­mer On­tario pro­vin­cial masters cy­clocross champ, watched the ac­tion. (Ac­tu­ally, to call it “ac­tion” is a bit gen­er­ous.) As James came by Bob, he yelled loudly enough for both of us to hear, “Matt’s a few sec­onds be­hind you. Keep­ing push­ing, James. You can stay ahead.” As I came by, Bob yelled, “James is just a few sec­onds ahead of you. Keep push­ing, Matt. You can catch him.” Bob both en­cour­aged and razzed us. Mas­ter­ful.

The least suc­cess­ful heckle I re­ceived came dur­ing a mis­er­able race, one of those in which I suf­fered way, way at the back. The heck­ler started at me when I was at a dis­tance. He was harsh and loud. Like re­ally harsh. I thought, “Wow, this guy is re­ally givin’ ’er.” As I ap­proached the heck­ler, I re­al­ized I knew him. OK. Maybe the vol­ume was sup­posed to sig­nal that he didn’t mean to be harsh – some kind of irony by vol­ume. This guy con­tin­ued the shtick for a few more laps. Now, I’m not such a sen­si­tive flower that he hurt my feel­ings, but he did wear on me, just like the race. Nei­ther was much fun. To his credit, he did leave me a beer that I dis­cov­ered at my car. That lifted my spir­its.

This mag­a­zine’s first edi­tor, Dan Dakin, got me good at a race. He was at the side of a turn as I bailed. “Hey, you should read Cana­di­an­cy­cling­magazine for tips!” Zing! Well played, Dan. The heckle was short, cut­ting and funny. An­other favourite came at me from a friend in Cleve­land who saw me go last into the hole shot of a race. Qui­etly and with no de­tectable sar­casm, he said, “Great start, Matt.” The dead­pan de­liv­ery is what gave the line its sting and boosted its hu­mour.

So what have I learned from all th­ese heck­les? I should train more. And, if you are go­ing to let the ver­bal mis­siles launch this fall, it’s best to keep them short. (Few are as tal­ented as Bob. Only the best should at­tempt a two-part heckle.) Like any good zinger, tim­ing and tone are im­por­tant. Fi­nally, if you feel your heckle wasn’t suc­cess­ful, I’m pos­i­tive that giv­ing the heck­lee a beer af­ter the race will fix ev­ery­thing.

Matthew Pioro Edi­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.