Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Put Up Or Be Quiet: Would You Still Ride?

On a recent commute, I was waiting at a red light (I do occasionally stop for them) and was joined by three other commuters. As the light changed we passed somebody who, upon seeing four bikes together (my word!), asked loudly in an irritated tone: “What is there, a marathon today?”

Such moments hurt my brain so badly that it’s almost enough to make me stop riding. (Well, not really.)

But I do think that each and every one of us has our own personal breaking point at which we’d give up cycling. I’m not talking about injuries or anything like that. I’m talking about having to put up with something so inconvenient, awkward, or embarrassing that it would be enough to drive you to something else. And I think this breaking point is different for each of us.

While we all like to think we're above caring about how we look or what we ride, we're also conveniently never required to put ourselves to the test. Following are some scenarios to contemplate. Read each one, suspend your disbelief, and ask yourself, “Would I still ride?” Be honest with yourself—nobody else has to know. Some of these scenarios aren’t so bad (in fact, many may already be riding this way), and some are, objectively speaking, awful. So read on and discover your limit.

Would you still ride if:

You can only ride on pavement.

You can only ride offroad.

You can only ride in USA Cycling-sanctioned races. That’s it: no commuting, no training (indoor or outdoor), no recreational rides of any kind.

You can only ride in charity rides. (Shortest route only where distance is optional.)

You cannot change any item on your bicycle (including inner tubes, though they may be patched) for two years.

You only have three choices of jersey (all XXL): a maillot jaune, a Mapei jersey, or this jersey from Primal Wear:





You can only ride tubulars. (Yes, even on your mountain bike. 650s and Dugasts allowed.)

You can only ride a full downhill rig with 25mm slicks (regardless of terrain).

You can only ride one of those trials bikes with no seat.

You can only ride a beach cruiser with speedplays and full CSC team kit.

You can never wear a helmet.

You must always wear a helmet, but it has to be a replica of the one Greg LeMond wore in the Champs-Elysees time trial in the ’89 Tour de France, and it has to be the wrong size.





You can only ride in flip-flops on flat pedals with no foot retention system of any kind.

You can only ride a fixed-gear bicycle with no brake and a 14x50 gear.

You can only ride the above with flat pedals, pennyloafers, and no foot retention system of any kind.

You can only ride a keirin bike that has been modified to run disc brakes and a singlespeed freewheel. Otherwise the bike must be entirely NJS.

You can only ride against traffic (including criteriums, road- or off-road races, or in velodromes)

You can only ride one of Sheldon Brown’s wacky bikes

You can only ride a tandem.

You can only pilot a tandem with Sheldon Brown as your stoker.

You can only pilot a tandem with Sheldon Brown as your stoker and reading aloud from seminal works of science fiction through a megaphone.

You must ride a different bike each day. That bicycle will be the first bike that randomly comes up when you log on to velospace each morning. (Right now it happens to be, unbelievably, a dual-suspension Schwinn Homegrown)

The same as above, but instead you must ride the first complete bike that comes up on eBay when you search for “road bike” and select “ending soonest.” (Right now it happens to be a 58cm carbon Felt road bike with Dura Ace. But tomorrow’s another day.)

You can only ride a Rivendell with a 3’x5’ billboard affixed to it that bears a photo of Grant Peterson and the words, “Your handlebars should be higher than your saddle!”

You can ride any bicycle you want, provided it is equipped with a dynamo hub powering a phonograph that plays old Edith Piaf records. (This should be particularly amusing in a cyclocross race.)

And the ultimate test for those of you still standing: you must ride a recumbent.

49 comments:

dan said...

The only thing worse than riding a recumbent is riding a 3 wheeled recumbent

e* said...

another fascinating post. great read. apparently, i'm not as hardcore a cyclist as i thought i was. 12 of your hypotheticals would make me a non-cyclist (assuming riding a recumbent actually qualifies as cycling).

Anonymous said...

You see this guy on the road:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1267/891214688_0e596927f2.jpg

Anonymous said...

Ampèreheure, l'angst de la colle!

The Los said...

Holy crap... I haven't laughed that hard in a while! Thanks for a break from the monotony of the rainiest year-to-date in San Antonio's history.

Los

casual entropy said...

but some of those sound so damn desirable. i'd love to have sheldon brown stoke me while reading scifi through a megaphone! and a keirin bike, plus freewheel and disc brakes?! hilarious!

i really enjoyed this post, snob.

i'd have a hard time riding exclusively USA-cycling approved races, and charity rides. and trials bikes. cruiser with CSC kit and speedplays, though - so, um, you've seen me riding around?

Steff said...

Love your picture, anon. The juxtaposition of aerodynamic bladed front wheel with baggy shorts and tshirt is particularly treasurable.

Anonymous said...

This is probably one of those "if you have to ask, then you don't deserve to know" situations....but why the MAPEI jersey?

Anonymous said...

"You can ride any bicycle you want, provided it is equipped with a dynamo hub powering a phonograph that plays old Edith Piaf records. (This should be particularly amusing in a cyclocross race.)"

Sure. Assuming I can find a carbon fibre & titanium record player covered in Mavic stickers and that I can find a copy of "Je ne regrette rien". No problem.

Fendergal said...

Every year, somebody would ask me if I had done that "race" in April (aka Bike New York). Then it stopped--it was quiet, too quiet. Then a couple weeks ago, some unnamed doofus asked me if I had participated in the "Bike New York Race." My husband moved to restrain me from headbutting him, but I just put my head in my hands and groaned.

Aaron said...

"Is there a marathon or something?" reminds me of the Brian Posehn joke about driving by the line for the new Star Wars movie and yelling "Star Trek sucks!!!"

Anonymous said...

singlespeed Keirin disc sounds pretty rad, actually.

Robosauce said...

I would ride a recumbent carrying Sheldon Brown on my shoulders if I could attach a dynamo-powered record player and listen to some Boris Vian.

big jonny said...

How did you know I own a Mapei jersey?

It's only an XL I'm afraid to say. Not an XXL.

But I'll keep eating donuts and maybe someday I'll be something you can be proud of.

Shane said...

What about being Sheldon Brown's stoker with him up front, naked?

Christopher McArthur said...

Funniest post yet ??????

Anonymous said...

Living in Chicago some of these just arnt feasible?

flip flops? I would get frostbite and lose a few toes =((

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous,

You can wear wool socks under the flip-flops in winter.

e*,

You are hardcore. 12 out of 26 is a very high score.

--BSNYC

Niki said...

I have tubulars on my track bike. I ride it on the street once a week to get to and from the velodrome. I've had it since April.

I HAVE FLATTED FOUR TIMES.

Finally last night I remembered to put the new cog on my commuter wheel so that it'll fit on my track bike and I strapped my tubulars to my bag.

Sheldon said...

My "three-wheel recumbent" is all I can ride now, due to MS, but that hasn't stopped me from riding.

http://sheldonbrown.org/greenspeed

Sheldon "Tadpole Trike" Brown

BikeSnobNYC said...

Sheldon,

You have always been one of my favorite people in cycling and you are now more than ever. I can't help thinking of the entire Astana team leaving the TdeF for doping yesterday on one hand, and you riding with MS on the other. You are what cycling is all about, and your contributions to cycling are worth a thousand tour Tour victories.

That said, here you come blowing a simple test to ribbons, like a Rhodes Scholar at a spelling bee. This test was meant for schmucks like me who won't ride if they don't have a clean jersey to match their shorts, not guys like you!

You also owe me a new keyboard for all the ones I've permanently gummed by frantically searching your site with grease-covered hands in the middle of repairs over the years.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

I'm a fat girl riding in a very thin city (Southern California). My commute is a very hilly ride and one morning someone yelled out, "You gonna have to ride a lot more, fat girl!"

Sure I was hurt - it could have been my personal breaking point. But for every jerk like that, there's 2 other people yelling words of encouragement when I am climbing those mad hills.

mander said...

Hilarious! This one was especially good bikesnob.

Philip Williamson said...

The only killers for me are 'against traffic' and 'flip flops'.

Stupid bike or stupid helmet - jeez, just tape some toilet paper to your shoe and go!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 6:08pm,

Well, look at it this way--you're not a cyclist until you've had invectives (and in many cases actual objects) lobbed at you while riding. I'm sure we've all been called (and hit by) everything imaginable while out there on the bike. Screw 'em and consider this more encouragement.

--BSNYC

ben said...

Bikesnob - your response to Sheldon articulates perfectly why I admire and respect him so much. I'm sure Sheldon appreciates some good natured ribbing directed at him and his unique bike stylings. Both you and Sheldon are class acts all the way....

Anonymous said...

I would be quite happy and would sell off my entire fleet of bikes if I could ride on Sheldon's lap while he pedaled away on his Tadpole. THAT would be heaven!

Dr. Logan said...

The Grant Peterson billboard has to be made of steel too. He wouldn't have it any other way.

Chris&Lorena said...

"Is there a marathon today?"

How people this stupid can breath and stand upright is beyond me.

I've always believed that stupid should hurt but, my dad always said it better. "When you reach a certain level of stupidity, your air should just automatically cut off."

The trouble is, these idiots are behind the wheel and if they stop breathing, we could be road kill.

There is no free lunch, eh?

doug in arcata/eureka california said...

having a meth-crazed maniac drive slowly alongside me, purple veins bulging through his bright red forehead while he screamed, "i'm gonna fucking kill you, i'm gonna fucking run you over, you piece of shit" came really, really close to my breaking point, closer even than the time i got sprayed with a fully automatic BB gun. i carried my u-lock within easy reach for a few weeks after that. a pointless, pathetic gesture, but i felt a little safer too.

Anonymous said...

i had to "quit riding" when i got to the primal wear jersey. i would rather ride in a ziper-mask or have my eyes gouged out and ears sealed with wax and be a 'bent tandem stoker-gimp on a sheldon spaceship than wear that hideous rag. i am totally vain.

Industry-choad

Anonymous said...

The marathon comment? I guess none of us has ever had anything stupid come from our mouths. The guy was probably trying to come up with a word for a long bicycle race, but out came "marathon".

I would quit riding if I still had to ride my dad's old Varsity.

Anonymous said...

Uhh, ive said plenty of stupid things, the point is, I havnt said them when trying to insult COMPLETE STRANGERS going about their business.

Anonymous said...

I would quit riding if my riding had to be documented in a stupid blog.

Anonymous said...

The thing that's nearly made me give up cycling is that I'm so damn tired of being lumped in with all the punkass irresponsible "bikers" who blow stoplights and signs, ride wrong way down one way roads, and generally just behave like asses on the streets, making things difficult for everyone. Same roads, same rules, same responsibility!

Niki said...

"Same roads, same rules, same responsibility!"

I see just as many cars running reds, stop signs, riding the wrong way, etc. as I do bikers. Of course there are far more cars out there.

In any case, I'm sick of people completely ignoring the fact that drivers break the same laws cyclists do.

It's worse when drivers do it too - first off a car is far more dangerous than a bike, and second drivers are usually more irresponsible about it. When I run a red light on a bike I look to make sure the intersection is clear. Usually cars run reds as they are changing and just accelerate and pray.

Meep said...

I think I went midway down the page and then stopped at riding without a seat. Where am I supposed to rest after a climb?

Also, I've had people curse at me, scare me, and throw bottles at me. It pisses me off to no end, but it just encourages me more.

Anonymous said...

@niki:

"I see just as many cars running reds, stop signs, riding the wrong way, etc. as I do bikers."

so, what you're saying here is that it's ok to be an asshole on a bike because there are other assholes driving cars?

I'm fucking tired of whiners like you who hide behind the "but but BUT cars do it too!" excuse.

db said...

This list made me laugh out loud, which doesn't happen a lot lately. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was fine until you brought up Sheldon Brown as a stoker. Never met the guy but for some reason that freaked me out.

Anonymous said...

Would you still ride if:

You can only ride on pavement.
-most people do.

You can only ride offroad.
-I consider myself jeffersonian, why not?

You can only ride in USA Cycling-sanctioned races. That’s it: no commuting, no training (indoor or outdoor), no recreational rides of any kind.
-fascism

You can only ride in charity rides. (Shortest route only where distance is optional.)
-gross, but why not.

You cannot change any item on your bicycle (including inner tubes, though they may be patched) for two years.
- no problem with fixed.

You only have three choices of jersey (all XXL): a maillot jaune, a Mapei jersey, or this jersey from Primal Wear:
-Mapei

You can only ride tubulars. (Yes, even on your mountain bike. 650s and Dugasts allowed.)
- I have commuted on tubs,

You can only ride a full downhill rig with 25mm slicks (regardless of terrain).
-urban warrior

You can only ride one of those trials bikes with no seat.
- I have always wanted one.

You can only ride a beach cruiser with speedplays and full CSC team kit.
-great, can I have a zipp disc

You can never wear a helmet.
-never do

You must always wear a helmet, but it has to be a replica of the one Greg LeMond wore in the Champs-Elysees time trial in the ’89 Tour de France, and it has to be the wrong size.
- that is just not fair, but could you ride the same bike?

You can only ride in flip-flops on flat pedals with no foot retention system of any kind.
- how else would I get to the beach? I would suggest Chacos.

You can only ride a fixed-gear bicycle with no brake and a 14x50 gear.
- this is how I commute.

You can only ride the above with flat pedals, pennyloafers, and no foot retention system of any kind.
- 16*54, done it, I would suggest a blue blazer.

You can only ride a keirin bike that has been modified to run disc brakes and a singlespeed freewheel. Otherwise the bike must be entirely NJS.
-cool

You can only ride against traffic (including criteriums, road- or off-road races, or in velodromes)
-danger makes it more exciting, I do hate to appear ignorant

You can only ride one of Sheldon Brown’s wacky bikes
- some are nice, despite their wackiness.

You can only ride a tandem.
I have always wanted to see if this would work to pick-up girls-
"hey, how would you like to be my stroker?"

You can only pilot a tandem with Sheldon Brown as your stoker.
-sure, he is an icon

You can only pilot a tandem with Sheldon Brown as your stoker and reading aloud from seminal works of science fiction through a megaphone.
- this one is tough, not that I dislike sheldon, just science fiction

You must ride a different bike each day. That bicycle will be the first bike that randomly comes up when you log on to velospace each morning. (Right now it happens to be, unbelievably, a dual-suspension Schwinn Homegrown)
- I would love this.

The same as above, but instead you must ride the first complete bike that comes up on eBay when you search for “road bike” and select “ending soonest.” (Right now it happens to be a 58cm carbon Felt road bike with Dura Ace. But tomorrow’s another day.)
-Cannondale Carbon Team Si 3 System Six Road Bike 52 NEW
a little small, but sure.

You can only ride a Rivendell with a 3’x5’ billboard affixed to it that bears a photo of Grant Peterson and the words, “Your handlebars should be higher than your saddle!”
-I do not agree, but why not?

You can ride any bicycle you want, provided it is equipped with a dynamo hub powering a phonograph that plays old Edith Piaf records. (This should be particularly amusing in a cyclocross race.)
-sounds great

And the ultimate test for those of you still standing: you must ride a recumbent.
-done

Keith Hearn said...

I'm reading through the old postings and just came across this one. Yes, I'd be more than willing to only pilot a tandem with Sheldon as my stoker if it meant we could have him back among the living again. He continues to be missed.

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