There is a certain type of judgmental, arrogant, and annoying person who somehow feels like he or she is in tune to the ineffable, intangible truths of cycling, and consequently acts like he or she has a profound understanding of riding that the rest of the world does not.
I am one of these people.
And as the weekend approaches and the throngs of both the wise and the clueless set out to choke our nation’s roads, trails and bike paths, they will be silently judging each-other as they pass. And I think that’s just fine, as long as they're enjoying themselves. But not everybody seems to be, and these are some common examples:
You've Just Gotten Your First Fixed Gear and You're "Never Going Back To Gears"
I see this one all the time, mostly in the introductory notes to fixedgeargallery submissions. Hey, despite my denigration I will readily acknowledge the pleasure of riding a fixed gear bicycle. But pledging to ride fixed and fixed only is the kind of overzealous commitment a teenager makes to a genre of music or a style of shoe. I’m not sure when riding anything besides a fixed gear bicycle became the equivalent of Mommy and Daddy making you eat your greens—maybe it’s when people found out the President rides a mountain bike. Perhaps coasting represents letting go of your adolescent convictions and succumbing to the system. Whatever, get over it. You can put dayglo Velocitys on a road bike too.
You're a Dyed-in-the-Wool Roadie Who Eschews the Dirt
Lots of roadies, at least around these parts, have an innate, almost preternatural aversion to riding on anything that isn't pavement. Just riding over sand, gravel, or a bit of road salt is enough to send them sprawling. Many of them will spend thousands of dollars on a TT bike that they may use twice a season, but won't buy an inexpensive mountain bike and try a type of riding that is: 1) fun; 2) great for training; 3) immensely more enjoyable than road riding in the icy winds of winter; and 4) teaches important bike handling skills. Yes, bike handling skills—some of these people find riding off a curb daunting. I realize that many of them have spent a lot of money on precious and colorful kits in order to look like pros, and that they don’t want them to get dirty. But I get the unsettling feeling from this type of cyclist that there is a significant other at home who is very frustrated sexually.
You Make Fun of Lycra
Lots of baggy-shorted mountain bikers of the free-riding variety, as well as urban fixed-gear riders, make jokes about lycra-clad "spandex warriors." And as I've said before, I have not and will not ever try to convince anybody that lycra kits look good. However, making fun of lycra is like making fun of your friend in the life vest on the Titanic. If you've actually ridden more than a couple hours at a time you will understand that there's nothing particularly pleasurable about wet cotton, or snagging your voluminous nylon bermuda shorts on tree branches, or crotch fungus. These lycra-bashers are the same people who would visit Chernobyl and go, "Hey! Look at the idiot in the radiation suit!"
Your Primary Bicycle is a TT or Tri Bike
The tri thing is literally exploding here in NYC. If you're not on a fixed-gear with lime-green Velocitys, you're on a Cervelo with a bento box and two water bottles behind your saddle. (I encourage all riders upon approaching these people to grab one of these bottles, take a swig, and replace it as you pass.) Like the fixie riders, the tri riders also have a slavish devotion to their poorly-handling, awkward bicycles and use them in circumstances for which they are not appropriate. I personally do not see the point of struggling up a climb on aerobars while trying to reach behind yourself to take a drink. Maybe instead of the Zipp 808s you should have used some money to buy an inexpensive road bike. You might actually have some fun--and take out a few less people the next time you try to get in a paceline.
You Are Obsessed With Numbers
I realize and acknowledge that there are much stronger riders than me. In fact, “DNF” has appeared after my name so often on results sheets that people think I have an advanced degree. I also acknowledge that people with actual race results warrant more serious training and attention to detail, and that Power Taps, SRMs, and whatever else people are using these days are useful tools for maximizing this training. But when these numbers are literally running your life and you’re doing things like posting them on the internet or holding back on a ride with friends because you can’t go past a certain threshold that day, it may be time to loosen up a little. If you're not a full-time pro making a living from riding your bike, take a break from geeking out once in a while and take a normal ride. Like the dirt-averse riders, your significant other is probably having an affair.
You Are Intimidated By Your Bike
Yes, it’s pathetic but true—a lot of people are afraid of their bikes. They’re afraid to try simple repairs themselves. They’re afraid to scratch them. They’re afraid to get them wet. They put them on a pedestal, take pictures of them, and submit them to websites. Being scared of your bike is as almost as pathetic as when it came out that Lionel Ritchie was being beaten by his wife. If you’re one of these people, do yourself a favor—get it over with and ghost-ride your bike down a flight of steps. Then pick it up, straighten the handlebars and the seat, make quick peace with the scratches and scuffs, and ride the goddamn thing!