Friday, November 11, 2011


One of my pet peeves in the popular cycling media is the misappropriation of the word "PRO" (in all caps, no less), especially when one uses that term to describe one's self for having accomplished the singular task of donning expensive Italian-made clothing for the Sunday morning group ride. Perhaps my annoyance derives from the implication, intentional or not, that the career cat. 3s using this term are just one degree removed from actual professionals just because they've managed to minimize the unsightly bulges in their snappy red, black, and white kit.

While I will be the first to admit that a nice looking kit and a fast looking bike provide motivation to get out and ride, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that top shelf stuff puts us anywhere near the status of a true professional. In the first USGP event of 2011, Ryan Trebon averaged 472 watts over 60 minutes en route to victory. No kit in the world will even put you in the same area code as that kind of an effort.

"Pro" should be used to describe actual professionals, whether that's the journeyman domestic pro who doesn't know if his team will even exist next year, the rookie that blazed through the amateur ranks en route to his first contract (congratulations, Nate!), or the reigning world champion.

But "PRO" should be reserved for the type of athlete who, while holding both yellow jersey and rainbow stripes of world champion, provides the leadout for a teammate. Or who, while marked by every team in the race, manages to solo to victory anyway in two consecutive monuments. PRO athletes are the guys and gals that transcend their discipline, the people who are admired by pros within their sport and others, the athletes like Kelly Slater.


  1. I agree, Pro means you're good enough to get paid. Pro = professional = it's your profession = specialized vocation.

    Why the insecurity, the need to be a big deal? What's wrong with being an amateur? Or even a recreational cyclist?

    While were on the subject, how about the word suffer? Yeah it's just slang, but what about people who truly suffer pain, injustice, poverty, abuse, slavery? Kinda puts that "miserable" ride in perspective.

  2. Lets face it, anyone who kits up in their team uniform to go on a team ride is a little jazzed about looking PRO. If not why do it?

    I generally enjoy the self-mocking use of the phrase "PRO", which is how I usually read it. I doubt too many career Cat 3s are really confused about the definition of pro. Career Cat 2s, maybe.

  3. JZ - to be clear, I have no qualms about trying to emulate the professionals. As cyclists, we do it all the time. One of the great things about cycling relative to other sports is that doing what the professionals do or dressing as the professionals dress is attainable by most anyone. Finding a set of pads, a uniform, and 21 other guys to play a game of American football with is a bit more challenging.

    What I object to is describing one's self as PRO.

  4. I bet that hurts to shit PRO.

  5. I think you are making a big assumption. Not everyone interprets the word PRO the same. When i look at the word "PRO", for me "PROCREATION" comes to mind. Someone that says they are a "PRO" is a guy that is gettin' some. Something at which i am very good at. In fact, I am so good at it, I am now doing it 2 at a time. So i guess i am a PRO-PRO. And yes, sometimes i wear my team kit when I "PRO" with my wife.