How road cyclists see you

Often I’m asked, "Dr. Behooving, why is it that road cyclists seem to look down upon those of us using bicycles for more noble pursuits?" 
Left: how you signal. Right: how road cyclists signal.

When I hear this I am reminded of something the novelist John Updike observes of New Yorkers. "The true New Yorker," he writes, "secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding." Yes my dear bakfiet owner, the roadie has no idea why you’re not wearing lycra, and he doesn’t care. He cares as much about your existence as we Australians do for that of New Zealand (a little island South West of here somewhere). Slow cyclist, you have some worth to roadies, if the landscape is so featureless as to provide no other milestones to shoot for when he’s doing interval training. So be assured, at least you amuse him, in the same way ants might amuse a boy awaiting his school bus: "squish, one, squish two, squish three…"
To the road cyclist, your Rohloff hub looks like it came off a girls dragster. While you’re telling him about your s and s couplers, he’s lifting your bike, feeling its weight, thinking, "kookoo, kookoo." Ditto for your hub gen lights, Brooks titanium saddle, and gallant effort overtaking his training bunch; never ever do that. There is only one way you can impress someone whose life in the saddle revolves around racing, and that is to beat him in an organised race. But then you’ll go up a grade, and he’ll say you’re OCD, because in our minds there is only one winner: it’s me babay, I’m the only winner, it’s me, freakin’ me, yay. That’s how we think.


  1. Jimm says:

    Got a colleague who has passed a group of club-riders in their spandex on his Brompton folding bike. He was the local dealer for Brompton, so of course it was decked out in choice accessories: a nice Brooks saddle, 5-speed, large front crank, and aero-bars, but still a treasured look of disbelief on the group as he passed them – in his work clothes. 🙂
    Heck I’ve been known to pace a group while wearing jeans and a sweatshirt on my recumbent trike, and I’m not particularly fit.
    Would be nice if club riders just kept their sniggering to themselves – there will be people faster and slower than them. Get over it, guys, and just enjoy your ride!

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