In one sense, it’s a pretty good article, encouraging others to get out and ride their bike and enjoy the world around them as they ride. However, there’s something in the tone of the article that just put me off to the point that I felt the need to comment on it, and that tone starts right away on the article:
I do a lot of my bike riding at White Rock Lake, or in that general area. I see a lot of people out there that are wearing spandex, and strange shoes, and riding very expensive, very fast bikes. They seem to be quite focused on their ride. But I always wonder: do they ever just get on their bike and go to the grocery store? Do they commute to work? Do they ever accomplish anything with their ride other than some intense workout?
I read this a couple of hours ago and my first thought was, “Well… have you ever bothered to ask them?” You can often see this type of cyclist getting ready for or cooling down from one of their training rides either up at the north end of the lake or in and around the many parking lots around the lake. Why not stop and talk to one of them? Or why not show up at one of the group rides in the area before it begins to ask the riders if they commute, run errands, or otherwise just toodle about on their bikes? They are, after all, just people, despite all the lycra and carbon.
The author then goes on to talk about all the wildlife he’s seen and experienced around the lake, and marvels at how the others never seem to slow down or look at the world around them. Now, if you’ve spent any time hanging around cycling forums or other websites, you’re probably aware that this is a pretty common argument/complaint/discussion (often borne of comments such as “Stupid roadies never wave hello, who do they think they are?” or “So I totally dropped this Fred on my last ride”). And you just as likely are aware of the discussion that follows, so I don’t want to spend much time on that. However, it is important to reiterate that if youare actually training on your bike, you shouldn’t be focusing on (or even paying attention to) to the things, like wildlife, around you; you should be focused on your training. Wondering why someone working on a time trial isn’t drinking in the world around them is a bit like wondering why someone at work isn’t drinking beer and watching TV. What’s more, if you see someone not drinking or watching TV at work, it’s not likely that you’d wonder if they ever did that sort of thing, would you?
And that sort of brings me to the main point of this post, and the other thought that came to mind as I was reading the Go Get a Paper article: Why does the cycling world seem to be so Balkanized? Why doesn’t the author know any “roadies” to ask if they ever just take a slow enjoyment ride? Why do roadies look down on “commuters” and “utility cyclists” for their heavy gear, fat tires, and slow, plodding pace? Why do commuters deride “fixie kids” as damn dirty hipsters? And why do the urban cyclists mock the “Lance wannabes” in their spandex and cleats?
I suppose that technically, I’m a roadie, as all of my bikes are road bikes (Although I am building up a cross bike slowly. Real slowly. At my current pace I could order a Vanilla and get it before I expect to finish this thing), but I’ve never raced (at least not against anyone who knew I was racing them), and I don’t train nearly as often as I should. Really, most of my time spent on the bike is in my commute to and from work. Of course, I like to do a lot of long charity rides too, like the Lone Star Ride and (if I can raise enough funds), I’ll be doing the Tour du Rouge this May. And I’m trying to run more of my errands by bike this year too. Hell, just yesterday I worked out a route from the office to home via the liquor store so I could cut those occasional booze runs out of my driving trips. And frankly, if I had the disposable cash right now, I’d love to add an Xtracycle to my collection, as well as a fixie, ’cause damn if those things don’t look like fun.
The bottom line is, when I see someone on their bike, I don’t judge them by the gear they’re wearing, their riding style, or the kind of bike they’re riding. I’m just glad that there’s another rider out there on the road. I know that there are others who feel the same way, but sometimes it just seems like we’re outnumbered. Maybe that wouldn’t be the case if more people stopped wondering and started interacting and expanding their horizons.
By the way, I don’t want this to sound like I’m attacking Mr. Hubbard, or accusing him of being a bicycle bigot. In fact, I fully agree with his core point that everyone who rides should really try riding in all sorts of ways. But that also goes for Mr. Hubbard, to whom I might say, put down that paper and try a time trial. The world will still be there when you’re done.