I once emailed a hard working, pretty popular cycling writer about pitching big ideas to sponsors. She, along with a few other ladies successfully raised money to ride every K of the 2012 Tour de France route. She generously answered my questions and told me she liked my idea; which was to spend three weeks riding famous stages of all three grand tours. I meant the project as a history; following stages from the early days of The Tour to anything before the Lance era. I wanted to do a video and (so quaint) a book, not about the ride itself, as my exploits would be feeble, but about the history of the sport.
She wanted to help, but then I’m pretty sure I shot myself in the foot. There was a suggestion that I find a charity to link my ride to, like they had linked their Tour dreams to People for Bikes. I responded that there was nothing bicycle related that I felt a strong desire to commit to with my meager income. I then added that I hated the idea of hitching my desire to spend three weeks riding in Europe. I went on talking about how I saw this type of thing in climbing world all the time (FUND MY EVEREST TRIP! I’LL DONATE WHATEVER IS LEFT TO SUCH AND SUCH FOR SUCH AND SUCH!) I hated the idea then, and while I have to admit that I had no particular problem with this writer having done that, but it wasn’t for me.
Communication stopped after that. My life was hit with an unexpected turn and the idea fell off my radar. I really didn’t mean my statement to be a dig on what she and her group had done, but I can totally see how it probably came off that way.
For better or worse we live in a “start up” culture where the norm is get people to support your ideas and projects because you are the one doing them. We can blame the codoling of millennials and the idea that everyone is a winner, but pointing fingers rarely does more than piss people off.
I can understand the turn to crowdfunding when you live off peanuts and see no other way do the thing you so badly want to do. But here’s the thing; people have made those things happen for themselves well before the internet, and the stories that will inspire us most in the future will come from the people who didn’t hitch their dream to something that was secondary, but to those who were honest about their motivations. Not from the people who had the money to do it themselves, but turned to others so they wouldn’t have to tap into their retirement funds.