Sunday, January 3, 2010

Types of Cyclists

So to the outside world, anybody who rides a bike ever is a cyclist, and we're all just inconveniences they have to deal with while driving.  Within the world of cycling, there are quite a few distinctions and it's worth discussing them and how they pertain to us, the road cyclists.  Here are a few of the broadest categories of cyclist.


Commuters can be identified by their hi-vis yellow everything, multitudes of lighting mechanisms, flat bar hybrid bikes, and their blatant rudeness and sense of entitlement on the road.  They are most often found during the weekday commuting hours, but can be found on bike paths and "taking the lane" at any time of the week.
As roadies, we avoid commuters at all costs.  They are slow until you try to pass one, not particularly good bike handlers, and they think they own the road, bike path, sidewalk, or any other paved or unpaved thoroughfare they happen to be huffing and puffing down the center of.  If you find yourself needing to pass a commuter, know that they will do everything in their capacity to pass you at some point later on.  They won't smile or wave, but just smugly pedal by as if they were planning on riding 6mph, and then ramping it up to 30, and you just happened to be riding by as they did this.  Once you let them pass you, they will inevitably tire and the process continues.  Your only options are to exert some real modicum of effort to keep them from catching up, or turning off.  You cannot ride slow enough to let them get away, because they will always ride slower.

Mountain Bikers:

Real mountain bikers won't ride more than a few hundred feet on a paved road.  As a result we will seldom see them except at trailheads, road crossings and bike shops.
Mountain bikers think they are cooler than we are, and they're right.  They wear baggy clothes, smoke pot, drink beer, and get to ride over rocks and off cliffs.  This requires skill, and courage, but generally not as much fitness as racing a road bike.  This means that we see them as slackers that don't have to suffer in training to be successful (lame), and they see us as nerdy calorie counters who obsess over power numbers and lactate thresholds.  We are both right.  As a result, we should treat mountain bikers with respect, but expect to receive the same respect in return.  We both recognize the other as an acceptable way to spend one's time, but think that our particular version is better.


Hipsters have been discussed ad nausuem by many other people and are way beyond what I'm capable of understanding.  Most of them view bikes as accessories like the guys in high school with souped cars.  Very few of them know how to actually ride a bike, and actual bike messengers hate them as much as we do.   One notable exception is the hipster who knows that most hipsters are douchebags and goes out of their way to be friendly.  Because of this exception, we should be at least decent to hipsters we pass while riding, but expect nothing from them, except maybe the joy of witnessing a failed trackstand every now and then.
Worth noting is that the guy who shows up on a group ride on a fixed gear.  He isn't a hipster, he's a moron.  While fixed gear bikes have their place (the velodrome), and some people (not me) might attest to their credibility as training tools, they are absolutely not for riding in groups with other people who have made the leap in technology to gears and brakes.


 Triathletes are NOT road cyclists.  They think that they are, and for this reason, they are potentially the most dangerous sect of cycling from both a stylistic and safety standpoint.  The job of even the very best triathlete is to ride at a moderate pace for 4 hours by themselves.  Most people you will encounter are "finishers" who just bought their first bike and don't find it odd that their brake levers are nowhere near their hands most of the time.   Triathletes are responsible for sleeveless jerseys, those water bottle cages that mount behind your seat, and the idea that riding a bike in a thong is ever a good idea.  None of it is a good idea.  Plus running hurts.  Not like cycling hurts, running hurts in a way that is stupid.  Anyone who thinks running is a good idea is suspect in the first place.
 Triathletes are horrible bike handlers because they don't train or race in groups.  Even professional bike racers have a hard time controlling a bike at speed in those aerobars. (Menchov in the rain, Rasmussen like 4 times at Le Tour.)   For this reason they are to be avoided and treated as dangerous.  Let them pass if you're on a bike path, otherwise you'll be going faster than them.  If they think it's okay to grab your wheel,  slow down so they don't think you're acknowledging them as existing on the same plane that you do.  They don't.

Everyone Else:

These are the people on $100 walmart bikes, beach cruisers, and the like.  They think we're super weird and they're right too.  We should appreciate them for riding bikes instead of driving into us, and leave it at that.


People on road bikes with skinny tires.  That's us.  This is who we'll be talking about for as long as I can come up with ideas for the blog, so summarizing here won't be useful.  This is going to be fun though.


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  2. Riding on piers and boardwalks can be pretty hectic with the number of people walking and riding bikes.

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