So if you have ever Facebook stalked my photos you have probably learned in recent years I have taken up riding my bike around various parts of America. I was not a very experinced rider before my trips so the culture of cyclists was pretty new to me. As an outsider I’ve made some observations about cyclists and here is what I’ve learned so far.
Cyclists have very good taste in music.
I don’t know what this is because everyone listens to music while they exercise but cyclists have the best taste of anyone I’ve met so far. Half of my playlists have come from a spin class.
They can be fat.
Unlike other cardio sports, you meet a lot of really good cyclists who are decently old and pretty solid. I’ve been passed on the White Pine Trail by many grey haired roadrunners. Even I am a heavy set guy and after a cross country trip I was much faster but not much thinner.
You have to know a lot.
Omg. Bikes are complicated af. Remember being like 7? And they were just like two wheels of awesomeoness? Well that time is over. Bikes have a complicated anatomy and you have to know to change a flat, thread a cable, clip in, and poentially take it apart and put the whole thing back togeheter (real talk: I can only really do like 1-2 of those things).
Different cyclists have different strengths and preferences.
There is no universal cyclist. I mean you know there probably is now that I’ve said there isn’t. However in my expienece there are some parts of cycling that some people enjoy more than others. Some cyclists want to ride in rural Utah and look at mountains and others love urban biking. Some want to sprint for 100 miles on a flat bike trail others want to climb up a mountain and enjoy their earned descent.
Or some want to drink Diet Coke and stop at every gas station for a treat and just keep riding between naps.
You have to learn the language.
Get ready for a constance vocab quiz. Aero, derailleur, cycling kit, levers, RPM, cleats, chamois butter, fork, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
These GD bike riders love their beer.
I learned this one earlier when I used to work at a brewery. These punks can throw it down the friggen’ hatch. They ride their bikes all day and drink their IPAs all night and somehow get on their bikes the next day. I guess all that calorie burning and metabolism boosting must be the cure to no hangovers.
There is a heirachary (sadly).
I’ve noticed this a lot in bike shops. Everyone has an opinion about everything when it comes to a bike. Are you a road bike person? Mountain bike? Do you cyclocross? No matter what your answer is, the reply could be anything from a half smile of approval or quiet sigh depending who asked. Everyone thinks their way is the right way to ride a bike or the kind of bike or the type of gear.
It’s not a cheap hobby.
I will start that I know someone out there is annoyed I wrote “hobby” instead of lifestyle but see the above observation to see what I think about that. Obvi bikes are expensive, but good helmets, gloves, jerseys, tires and computers can all set you back too. I guess we can all hope we save on gas riding around town and saving the earth. You’re welcome by the way.
There are “rules”.
Some cyclists will tell you things like “a real cyclists owns a least 4-5 bikes” “they never wear gloves” “never let anyone else clean their bike” “only wear cycling sun glasses”
You know what though? Just do you. Except maybe don’t wear a cycling cap when you’re not cycling.
Cycling breeds explorers.
I straight up cannot even pretend to keep up with some of my cyclist friends. During the course of my first trip they all wanted to see everything as up close and personal as they could and for me if it meant going more than .02 miles out of my way ya’ll can just buzz off. After the trip was over so many of my teammates went on to travel to different cities and national forests and I watched The Kardashians in a Days Inn hotel waiting to go home to keep watching on my own couch. I do find myself now actually wanting to visit new places and say things like “I’d love to ride my bike there”.
Biking is the best community.
When I’m riding around and I see another rider they always give you an acklonweding head nod. If I’m stopped on the side of the road they always stop to see if I need anything. My old teammates graciously taught me everything I know about bikes, and have since grown into a network community. The League of Michigan Bicyclits is an amazing group as well as some local groups in Grand Rapids.