Of course, the sheer variety of bicycles at the show mirrors the disparity that exists among cyclists. And, as anyone who reads the comments on this blog will tell you, disparity can lead to divisiveness. Each one of us rides differently and for different reasons, and we are all highly suspicious of those who we feel are riding for the "wrong" reasons. It's the tired, age-old "real cyclists" vs. "poseurs" debate. Worst of all, each one of us also has a completely different idea of what the wrong reasons are, and I'm no different. Following are some reasons people commonly give for cycling that I personally feel call one's true dedication into question:
It's Good for the Environment
Yes, cycling for transportation is much better for the environment than driving, or flying, or piloting some kind of contraption that burns endangered marine life for fuel. And yes, this is a good thing. For the environment. But what does it say about your commitment to cycling? Not a lot. I suspect many people who cycle primarily because they're concerned about the environment will bail on us as soon as some other clean way of getting around comes along. If SUVs were completely emission-free and ran on smugness instead of fossil fuels these people would flock to the dealerships and proceed to run the rest of us off the road as they root around in their glove compartments looking for their "Live Earth" CDs.
The High Price of Oil
This reason is even flimsier than the environmental one. You don't care about cycling or the environment. You just care about money. Well, what if cycling cost more than gas? (And for many of us, it does.) Would you still ride then? I don't think so. We don't need your kind.
Striving for "Personal Bests"
The concept of the "personal best" is an insidious one, and it will probably destroy us as a species long before our bellicose, environmentally hostile ways do. Substituting "personal bests" for objective standards lowers those standards like Giant lowered top tubes on road bikes. Remember: a bicycle is an elegant and efficient tool designed for seeking out and defeating people who aren't as good as you. If you want to beat yourself, don't get a bike--get a pornographic movie. You can beat yourself all day long without even leaving the house.
A lot of people fall back on this one when cycling-related arguments get heated. "Hey, it's all about having fun, right?" Wrong! Fun is for children and housepets. Cycling, like all important things, is about suffering. Sure, you can have a little fun, but only if that fun serves to remind you just how much you're really suffering. Because when you try to take the suffering out of cycling, you wind up like this:
Real cyclists don't ride because it's healthy. They ride because they have to. If cycling caused arterial clogging, incontinence, and breast development in males real cyclists would still do it anyway. That whole impotence scare didn't get people off their bikes. It just got them using really ugly saddles with cutouts.
Leg Definition (males)
Male cyclists who are vain about their legs and think others admire them are completely delusional. If you're a male cyclist, your legs are either overly developed with an abrupt tan line from miles and miles of cycling in lycra, or they're hairy and scabby from innumerable mountain biking falls. Your legs reflect the fact that you're an obsessive cyclist in the same way a smoker's brown teeth identify him as an addict, or a wine-bibber's stained lips identify him as a slightly more socially acceptable drunk. All three of these things mean you do one thing way too much, and they broadcast only one message to others: stay away! You are not attractive. You are a freak.
Yeah, sure, cycling's cool now. But if you're expecting it to stay that way you'll be disappointed. You know what was also cool once? These glasses:
Think about it.