Being Treated Like a Moron by the Companies that Manufacture the Equipment I Use
Come on. How stupid do these companies think I am? How can something be "stiff yet compliant?" Why do they think I will pay twice as much for the same stem I've been using for six years because now it's wrapped in carbon fiber and weighs 40 grams more? Why do they keep expanding the diameter of my headtube? Why the hell does everything have to be "oversized?" Every clamp, bearing, and tube is swelling faster than the waistlines of the middle-aged investment bankers who are buying them. Why do they think I can't figure out by looking at a component with a fancy graphic printed on it that it is identical to another company's less-expensive component that is made in the same Asian factory? Why do they keep taking spokes out of my goddamned wheels? Why do they put labels on everything warning me not to try to service it, as though it's more complicated than tightening a bolt with an allen key? You can build a whole damn bike with about three tools! Why does "Bontrager" think I'm dumb enough to pay $20 for bar end plugs? And so forth.
Explaining the Tour de France to Laypeople
The Tour is right around the corner, and I have no intention of writing about it. That will be done elsewhere--from the straight coverage on Cyclingnews to the satirical coverage they'll undoubtedly provide on Velocitynation (the US Weekly of NYC bike racing, for better or for worse). But like most cyclists at this time of year I will have at least one layperson ask me to explain how the Tour works. There was a time when I enjoyed revealing the subtleties and intricacies of the race to the uninitiated, in hopes that they would be converted and in turn spread the word and help the sport grow. Now, years later, I've come to terms with the fact that this will never happen. They'll nod their heads and go back to watching football. Good. I'm sick of explaining it anyway. What's more, I no longer want the sport to grow. It's filled with enough idiots as it is.
People Who Think That Charity Rides Are Races
I'm no misanthrope. Actually I am, but I'm all in favor of charity rides. I mean, come on, they help people and they get people riding. However, I become a little touchy when people think that they are races. Like when they close half the city for the MS Ride and some friend-of-a-friend or relative asks me, "Oh, were you in that big race today?" Or when you mention you race bikes to somebody and they tell you how the 195 pound chainsmoker in the cubicle next to them did that Five Borough Bike Tour "race" last week on a straining, squeaky hybrid and ask you why you didn't. Then when you take pains to gently explain that those aren't races, they think you're an arrogant prick. (OK, maybe that's just me.)
Being Treated Like Garbage By Everybody
Anybody who commutes by bike knows the sheer rage you feel when some obese retard in a minivan takes a break from his or her cellphone conversation to yell between bites of Dunkin' Donuts that you "belong on the sidewalk." Or how pedestrians look right through you when you have the light and walk right into your path. This is nothing new. Nor is it new that when you try to bring your valuable bicycle into a store or place of business so that it won't get stolen, the proprietor usually acts like you're bringing in a wild boar with diarrhea. But as a racer, it would at least kind of make up for it if we got any respect as athletes. But we don't. At least not in NYC. Here we're allowed to use the parks for races only until the sun comes up, at which point we're banished like Giuliani banished the homeless. Usually we're being forced out to accommodate a running race of some kind. The runners are usually allowed to stay the whole day. Over a course of many hours, finishers gradually stumble across the line while their adoring friends and family applaud and wrap them in tinfoil capes. Why are runners so loved and cyclists so despised? What's so great about running anyway? Most of these people will never get anywhere near the winners of their races. They just run for their "personal bests." Big deal! I can beat myself without even trying! I suck! You're supposed to beat somebody better than you. Maybe that's why people hate us. Because we can admit that.
Being Asked If I Won My Race
Of course I didn't! As I already mentioned, I suck. The correct question is, "How was the race?"