Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Cycling Brother/Sisterhood

This weekend I got in a couple of decent rides - one was sunny and cold and the other was rainy and cold.

On the sunny ride, I left my house without an agenda and awkwardly wound my way north and west, seeking the lower traffic areas of Southeastern Michigan (it certainly ain't easy...) Along my meanderings, I came across several cyclists, representing nearly all the disciplines of our great sport. There were cruisers, mountain bikers, triathletes, road cyclists and even a recumbent thrown in for good measure.

Now, if I had to lump myself into a classification, I would say I lean more road cyclist. As a road cyclist, I can honestly say, we are an elitist bunch. With all that training and sacrifice comes an attitude that's almost a defense mechanism. It's almost as if we have to believe we've crafted our bodies into models of efficiency and strength far eclipsing that of normal man (or woman) as justification for what we do. Maybe that's a bit of a broad generalization, but it does come from real world experience. Let me elaborate.

On my ride this Saturday, as I was saying, I came across cyclists from all disciplines and levels of ability. I typically wave at other cyclists I encounter, offer a friendly "hello" or some other salutation. As I continued my ride and greeted additional cyclists, I noticed that the likelihood of a return salutation was inversely proportionate to the amount of team kit they were adorned in. This decreased exponentially if the rider was on a road bike, especially a more expensive road bike. I came across this one guy at a light, he was heading right while I was going straight. As he stopped to let a car pass through the intersection, I offered up a friendly hello, and all he did was stare att me. Actually, he was sizing me up. What kind of bike did I have? Was I wearing any team apparel? If so, what team? Did I look fast? Was I going to chase him as my carrot? Now that I seemed to have his full attention and on the off chance that he didn't hear me, I offered up a "nice day for a ride." Nothing, wait. Was that a slight head nod?

What is it about road cyclists that they can't be friendly? Do they see it as a sign of weakness? Not sure what it is but I don't like it. I look at our community as one big brotherhood. Whatever your reason for throwing a leg over the bike, we are all in this together. Besides, we all had to start out somewhere, maybe a friendly hello is all the encouragement a new rider needs to form a life-long relationship with cycling.

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