ok, this thread comes with two warnings:
(1) with the sole break of an hour off for critical mass, i've been working since 9am. it's 11pm. and,
(2) this post gets smooshy and squishy and a little fuzzy. if you don't like it, don't read it.
so, i've been here about a year now, and one clear change has happened since i got here...
this has gone from a virtual community to an actual community.
I was an organizer for 4 years and it was all about building community. People would be like "we need a listserv" and we were against it, since that's not real. Real is face to face. Real is people you can look in the eyes and relate to. Bike Forums is here, but it's not real.
But since, oh, about May, more and more cities are using this space to make real community. Real rides, actual groups of people. Using this not as the community but as a tool to create real communities. Chicago, Boston, NY, SF, and even us in lowly DC are all posting real rides, actual people-to-people social funness, an they're working, and this board is bringing real people together. Beyond that, I've been floored by how friendly people are when I contact random strangers from this board before I travel to their town. They're welcoming, friendly, and happy to get me drunk. (ps- I'll be in Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday) And now, hey, many of us are trekking cross country to meet eachother... in person.
And it's worth mentioning that in a sport/hobby/obsession like FG, where people tend to be all pretense and posture, I've met so many people here who are just plain old nice. Nice nice. as in, the kind of people you can get a beer with and not be ashamed of your nashbar brand bullhorns.
So, a toast, if you will, to making it real. That's some valuable stuff.