Cosplaying as an Influencer

A story about photography, coffee & cycling

March 6th, 2024

I took a picture of my neighbor last year while practicing my portrait photography with an old camera. His favorite coffee brand saw my post on Instagram and sent a bunch of beans and other gifts as a thank you.

It was such a nice little surprise! I’m not someone that has a huge following on social media and I only post my photos as a way to practice photography, so I was pleased as punch that sharing his story would be appreciated, since he’s someone that’s been so generous with advice and gear to encourage me to get back into bicycling after many years away.

Here’s the photos and writeup from November of 2023:

Photo of a smiling older gentleman wearing a black t shirt. Close up of a logo for 'Death Wish Coffee' on the breast pocket of a black t shirt. Back of a t shirt with an illustration of a woman with a painted face drinking out of a mug in the shape of a human skull.

Let me tell you a little bit about my neighbor Randy:

He’s one of two friends that got me back into cycling. I figured if a guy in his 70’s can ride MTB, road and fixies even though he’s got shrapnel in one of lungs from Vietnam (and by the way he still totally shreds, riding his fixie up the steep hill at Washington Street to lift at Stern’s Gym, the oldest gym in the country) well then hey, I can power through a knee injury and stop making excuses.

He used to coach a youth velodrome team back in the 90’s, a little bit after I did a season there in 8th grade, another connection to my formative years that makes me feel like I really am back home. It warms heart to see that the velodrome is still going stronger than ever – it’s a meetup spot for all kinds of group rides and is the beating heart of the central urban San Diego cycling scene.

And yes he’s still pushing the envelope. I mean just look at his shirt of the world’s strongest coffee, that stuff is industrial grade jet fuel.

In short, I want to be Randy when I grow up. I told his wife that once and she said “yep, he gets that a lot” 😂

So here’s to rad old dudes that fight Father Time like a boss. That’s the battle I’m going to be training for sooner than you think and I hope to handle myself at least half as well 💪

The brand I referenced in the post is Death Wish Coffee, a company with the punk-sounding tagline “Rebellious by Nature” — an appropriately irreverent and hard core culture that’s a perfect fit for coffee-loving athletic types.

Hell, their coffee’s even been to the space station, not just once but twice.

Bad. Ass.

After seeing my writeup, they sent a thoughtful hand-written note of appreciation and a bunch of beans, stickers, a mug and cool bandana:

Bags of coffee beans and related gear.

It’s such a fitting gift for a coffee fan like Randy. His morning routine is to walk his bulldog Molly while carrying a ceramic espresso cup, slowly ambling their way to the coffee shack down the block for an early pick me up. I got him a gift card from the same place about a year ago and this just levels it up even more.

Randy = Cycling Enabler

We started talking not soon after I moved to the area because I saw a track bike on his roof rack, which is how I learned about his involvement with the local velodrome.

Bicycling played a huge part in my adolescent years. The junior team at the local track was one of those “I found my tribe” moments in life, formative in ways that you appreciate even more in hindsight.

I lost touch with cycling many years ago, after injuring my knee playing soccer and needing surgery. So when I got back into it after such a long time away, I naturally had a lot of growing pains and minor issues. I took it slowly, taking any advice and tweaks to my gear that I could get.

Randy gave me a couple of different saddles to try out and see what my fit was. And once that was dialed in but I was still experiencing wrist pain, he even gave wrist guards specific to riding mountain bikes, from a motocross brand that doesn’t even make them anymore. So incredibly generous and a total lifesaver.

So here’s to capturing moments, celebrating our neighbors, and of course, to more epic cups of coffee. Ride on, Randy, and thanks for the beans, Death Wish Coffee.