Friday, July 30, 2010

When hairy legs are weird

Riding a bike can be a great social endeavor—most of my friends are people I’ve met through cycling. But if you’re not in it because you love it, you’ll never stick with it. It certainly won’t help you make friends outside of cycling circles. Consider the following social ramifications of being a cyclist:

  • You’re considered weird if you’re a man and you don’t shave your legs.
  • You’re expected to wear stretchy pants.
  • Weighing 80 kilos or more is considered “big.”
  • You have no qualms whatsoever about stretching in public after a ride, even if that stretching occurs while waiting for a table at a crowded downtown restaurant.
  • You store tires, wheels, and perhaps even complete bicycles in your basement to protect them from the temperature extremes in the garage.
  • You genuinely believe that a really good bowel movement can give you a competitive advantage.
  • You know what carbon fiber is and can bore people at parties talking about the relative merits of unidirectional versus woven layups.
  • You drive a station wagon and will only ever drive a station wagon because you can fit your bike in the back without removing a wheel.
  • You envy Andy Schleck’s body.

  • You weigh your portions and count calories but don’t consider that an eating disorder.
  • You’ve lost brain cells as a result of tubular glue fumes but consider it a worthwhile tradeoff for the ride quality and performance advantage of a high thread count tire.
  • Your tires have a higher thread count than your sheets.
  • You genuinely believe that you can ride your bike during lunch and nobody will notice the way you smell all afternoon. Either that or you simply don’t care what you smell like all afternoon.
  • It looks like you’re wearing a white t-shirt when you have your shirt off at the swimming pool.
  • You don’t find it the least bit embarrassing to have your bike in your cubicle next to you with your sweaty, stinking clothes hanging over it so they’ll be somewhat dry when it’s time to commute home.
  • You still work in a cubicle rather than an office because you’re more focused on getting your Cat. 3 upgrade than getting a promotion.

Bottom line is that if you ride your bike worried about what other people think, you wouldn’t ride your bike for long. I make fun of people who wear pro team kits in plus sizes.



Or who spend a ton of money on a Pro Tour spec bike when what they really needed was a coach and a nutritionist. But if fantasizing about being a pro* by wearing their kits or riding their bikes is what motivates you to ride, who cares?

*We all do it. Don’t lie.

Riding a bike is like Duke Ellington’s philosophy on music: if it feels good, it is good. So find what works for you and stick with it. Evidently, frequent commenter Lifein360 feels good on a regular basis when he wears Saxo Bank and Cervelo team kits. I’d take that over a spoonful of Nutella any day.


  1. I am guilty of wearing team kits but I have a rule. I only wear team kits where the major sponsor is a Beer company.

  2. Reading through your list it hit me that cycling is closer to a cult than sport or recreation. Can I get a Raelian kit?

  3. our friends tend to be cyclists because it tends to be the only thing we can talk about, and anybody else would have left (has) long ago.

  4. Dug's comment hits close to home. The misses and I were just talking about how I don't have any friends in our neighborhood... Except for the 2 guys who ride bikes.

  5. I'm getting a lot of mileage out of that Nutella post, yes? I'm a little disappointed that no one has sent me a case of it. Since endorsements come to those with exposure, and being as I lack the exposure and popularity, I'm left buying my own Nutella.

    That was a good one. I extra especially (expecially) liked the bit about thread count and eating disorders.

  6. A SUV works better than a station wagon because you can get the bike in upright and an office works better than a cubical because the drying clothes can dry behind the door as long as you have an "open door" policy. The bike hides behind the door as well, so the drying clothes don't get lonely.

  7. Blackdog: I think that's a good rule.

    Besides, I can't think of any active pro teams sponsored by beer companies, so you'd get a pass anyway for being retro.

    SteveA: Based on the SUV and the office with door, it's apparent that you're more focused on your job than your next upgrade. Shame on you.

    Rabid: I hope you get that nutella sponsorship. You should suggest they put nutella in gu packets for use in competition. Which reminds me that I thought of another joy of being a cyclist--you spend more on technical food than you do on lunch each week. I realized this when I spent $12.80 on two flasks of gel, enough to fuel all of 3-4 hours on the bike. I spent $6 on lunch today, used a gift card I won in a race Monday, and brown bagged the other three days this week.

  8. "Tires have a higher thread count than the sheets" LOVE it!

  9. I am guilty of pro level bike, but if you already have your Cat 3 upgrade, and your team shop gives you proform, it costs lest than what most of us would consider a beater. Besides, if you are not willing to take out a 3rd mortgage to buy the best bike you can, then you are not serious enough about getting your upgrade.

  10. "*We all do it. Don’t lie."

    Funny you should say that. I've been working on a post all about that.

    Aaron, you don't have any friends in the neighborhood because you live in a that "rare and exclusive" community. They shun dirtbags like us.

    The key is WHY we all wear stretchy pants: "It's for fun."

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