The Schisms and Sects of Contemporary Cycling, by Luke MacLachlan (guest Cycle-Space author)

Luke writes:
I have just read “In the Shadow of the Sword,” about the growth of Christianity and Islam. It describes the factions of the early Church – the Arians, the Monophysites, the Orthodox, the heterodox, the heretics, the schismatics, the Chalcedonians who accepted the council of Chalcedon and the Nestorians who did not, the People’s Front of Judaea, the Judaean People’s Front etc.
I have emerged from my reading to find there is a similar debate among cycling advocates. Just as the language of philosophy is Greek, so the language of transport cycling is Dutch.
You have your Nederlanders: Dutch people unaware that they are the centre of world wide debate. They just ride bikes when it suits them. A few race bikes, but most don’t. This dangerous diversity bothers them not one whit. But then you have your extra- or hyper- Nederlanders, who are not Dutch [Editor’s link]. They believe that any deviation from the way of Dutchness is heresy. No experiment with alternatives is permissible – the Dutch (cycle) path is the only path. They are like the emperor Hadrian, spellbound by Greece.
You have your Deens (or Danes) similar to Nederlanders, but regarded by extra-Nederlanders as dangerous schismatics. You have your Deense Architecten, such as Mikael Colville-Andersen, of cycle-chic fame. They advocate the riding of bikes, but regard interest in bikes as little better than worshipping graven images. Bicycle specific clothing? – they shudder to their protestant/iconoclast core. But they are tolerant of the sins of others.

Bike Snob the Soutpiel

The apartheid followers are not cyclists – generally portly gentlemen, they believe cyclists should be kept off the roads because THEY DO NOT PAY ROAD TAX. [c.f.]

The soutpiels include Dr. Behooving and Bike Snob. Part racer, part flaneur, part visionary, part book salesman, the soutipiel has a foot in Holland, another in Portland, another in racing, and another in transport, with manhood dangling in the briny sea. (This whole post is to use that word.)
Vehicular cyclists? Just as there is no word in Spanish for vegetarian, there is no word in Dutch for vehicular cycling. As we can’t speak about them, we just have to ignore them.
Luke MacLaclan is a reader of this blog who lives in London, where his main means of transport is what cycling puritans would regard as a frivolously sporty bike – though they would note with approval the permanent mudguards.  By profession a lawyer and mediator, a photo of him in a suit trying to smile and look serious at the same time appears on his imaginatively named


  1. Edward says:

    That’s quite a picture you paint – various sects and splitters and Dr Behooving in the middle of it all with a salty nob. He’s not the messiah you know. He’s a very naughty boy.

  2. Luke says:

    Edward’ “He’s not the messiah you know.” I’m pretty sure that if an Afikaaner calls you a soutpiel he’s not being complimentary, and I am sure that not even the most eccentric sects worshipped a salty knobbed messiah. Pleased you read it.

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