What I’ve learned from 3 weeks on the road –

June 10th 2015, I worked for 4 hours,leaving at lunch to have Martin drive me to Enterprise where I picked up a FIAT, came home worked another 4 hours, put my dogs in the car and drove them the hour north to my parents house.  I dropped them off stayed for dinner and drove home. I got home by midnight, slept for 3 hours and got up to leave. Realizing that I need more sleep than I used to, I said screw it and went back to bed until 5am. I got in the car and started what has now become 3 weeks on the road.

This road trip is not over yet. But I’m waiting for photos to upload to Facebook, so I figured I would write what I’ve learned.

What started out as a week long trip ended up being 3 weeks. I have worked 8 hours a day for my real job every day. (I did come home for about 24 hours, saw my family, dogs, and went into the office for a full day’s work)But I have spent some days doing it in a car, with laptop tethered to a tablet for data. I have worked in coffee shops and via phone. It has been stressful and fulfilling at the same time. I did miss one meeting that was sprung on me the day of, but I was able to Webex into the meeting and almost be there. It has been pretty hard to work and be away from work, but it has all worked out.

I love bike racing. I was asked a few times on this trip how can I love it if I don’t do it. My response is always “do you ask Nascar fans why they love it?” But here’s what I can put into words –

The community – have you ever been to a bike race? Have you ever volunteered? Have you ever tried to put a bike race on? It’s a thankless job to try and put one on. But it’s so worth it in the end. It’s amazing to see the type of people that go through hell year after year to put on an event that doesn’t get any main stream media attention (except the bad).

The excitement/sport of it all – North Star Grand Prix was my first time to a stage race. Holy shit. I don’t understand why I have to have a reason to love cycling as much as I do, when so many people love sports they’ve never played. Why do you love Golf so much? Do golfers fly through 90 degree corners at speeds of 30 mph, just to push even harder on the pedals and do it again, and again and again for 90 minutes. I’ve seen so many guys crash and jump back up, checking the bike before evaluating themselves. This is a sport for passionate people. Watched by fans that are almost as passionate. North Star was great, the crits, the hilly road races, the finishing circuits… Even on bad weather days there was spectator support. You won’t understand unless you go. Unless you feel the rumble of the bikes. Unless you see the desire in a racers eyes as they fly past you trying to make that bridge.

My ‘new’ life – I moved into a house with a friend back in December, there were 4 people living in the house, plus me and the pups. The house is huge and everyone is amazing. I thought it was just a place to live. A space to occupy while I figure out my life. But it’s become home. I receive regular group texts and miss my new ‘family’ more than I could have ever imagined. I can not wait to get back and live, with these people, in this place, in this time.

The people –

  • Host hosing – wow. At my new house we have bands stay the night a few times a week maybe. And it always seems like a pretty normal thing, you travel in a band, people put you up, it saves money, it saves time. And in biking it’s the same thing. This trip I’ve met two amazing hosts. Bob in PA and Chip in MN. Both amazing men who I don’t think get enough credit. It’s amazing how some people will open up their homes and lives to perfect strangers for nothing. They don’t do it for money, they don’t do it for glory, they just do it because they are good people. And that is such an amazing thing, and maybe a sad thing that being a good person is so shocking. I’ve even been a host house and it still amazes me how genuine these people are.
  • Mechanics and Director Sportifs – I didn’t know much about this until attending the Philly Cycling Classic and getting to do my first rides in team cars. I know the BS I read in Velonews and CyclingNews about how crazy DS’s are… but riding along with Astellas and BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental Group at Philly was great. These (in both cases) men, know everything. Pay attention to everything but are the nicest, most caring, sarcastic, realists I’ve ever met. I only made the BMW car laugh once, but it was a good one. One I’m still patting myself on the back for.
  • Facebook friends – This one is tricky. At some point over the past 6 years I’ve seen you at a race. I’ve taken your photo, posted it, and we’ve become social media friends. It’s mostly a one way street. I see you. I see you at races, I see you racing, I can zoom in so far I can see the whites and red’s of your eyes through your Oakley or POC glasses. I have been there through your triumphs and I have been there when you’ve failed. I’ve been there when you crashed, but I have not photographed it. It’s still the one thing that I can’t do. I don’t know if it’s because I’m soft or what, but when you crash I drop my camera and try to see if you’re ok. I pick you up and call Brian Adams to see what to do with you (Brian always knows best). But here’s the problem with that. I see you, I know your face and weird as it sounds, I know your body in lycra. If you were to walk up to me in jeans, I’d probably have to search my memory for you. But in lycra, I know you. You don’t know me. But I’m the girl that most of the time has a camera and asks you how your race was after wards. I’m geeky about bikes and bike racers… So when I bounce up to you after races and ask questions, know that it’s me. Know that I’m somewhat invested in your race. I’m sorry if it’s a bit weird. But I’m a groupie. I love cycling.
  • And last but not least, actual friends – I have met and fb met some amazing people over the years. And I have had the privilege to become actual friends with some of these people. They are all amazing.

The bad –

If you have a medical emergency like all of a sudden you have a cyst on the side of your face, go to the dr. I didn’t. Still haven’t… I’m in a lot of pain almost all the time. But hey. Life. I’ll have my mom take me to the dr. when I get home.

I’ll go into this later. But I decided while sitting at breakfast with Korina in PA one day that I would try and be a legit photographer, charge for my photos which is something I’ve never done before. Try and get some of these trips funded… But upon opening up my website, I found a comment…. this comment I’ll talk about it when I can… right now it’s heart breaking to think someone knows my because of the photos I post. I don’t post photos because they are all amazing, I post photos because I’m a god dammed photographer and I document almost everything. Not to make you happy, I do it because I am living life. The life I want. It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful and joyous. so comment writer “Fuck You.” –

 

Since you lack any sense of self-awareness, let me help you out.

1. You’ve been told that you’re sharing too much on social media, because you are, and publicizing every painful detail (painful to us, not you). This is not how a mature grown-up woman works through grown-up break-ups. Your expressions on social media come off as calculated and tailored for the purpose of social media and to attract sympathy. In other words, it’s insincere.

2. One of your many things to deal with are your dogs that don’t know why they’re not going home? Seriously? Notice I used the word “that” and not “who” before “don’t know why they’re not going home”. They’re dogs, not children between the ages of 5 and 8.

3. Why do you feel like you need to justify your life? You’re right, you don’t. So…don’t. Everyone else has their own lives. No one cares about yours as much as you think they do.

4. Clearly, you’re insecure about and sensitive to the fact that you pursued cycling photography for and because of your boyfriend, because this is not the first, and probably not the last, time you have attempted to refute that notion. And with every attempt, people are never going to walk away thinking, “Oh yeah, I guess she did pursue cycling photography independently. Glad she explained it to us.” Nope, that’s not what’s happening. In fact, you’re just confirming that which you’re trying to deny.

5. Let’s Google Erika Fulk. The following are the first 5 search results: 1. detroitspoke.com; 2. your LinkedIn profile page; 3. your Detroit Spoke Twitter account; 4. your Instagram account; and 5. your HuffPost blog for which anyone with an internet connection can sign-up for their own. Life DOES happen, and things DO change, but you’re not talented enough for National Geographic, so you enrolled into Wayne State’s unremarkable art program and majored in photography.

7. If your photography was independent of Martin, then why couldn’t you have always gone to the races you wanted to go to? You can be choosier in your career only now that you’re not with him? Huh?

Listen, I’ve seen pictures of both of you. He’s really handsome and I can’t say I’ve seen one bad photo of him. As a photographer, you should be able to take photos that make you look better than you do and I haven’t seen any. You’re not that pretty. Based on the past few years since you’ve been coming up on my Facebook Newsfeed, it’s very clear that you’re into Martin way more than he’s ever been into you, and that’s because you created a relationship in your head with someone who is far above your league…like, your fancy camera zoom can’t even capture it he’s so far. Eight years together and no marriage proposal? I get it. It’s 2014. But still, eight years and no proposal? No one except you thought you two would be getting married.

Do yourself and everyone a favor. Deactivate Facebook for 6 months. Focus on you and your career. Try finding the dignity and self-respect you misplaced. Above all, just shut the hell up.

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