Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What's a Cyclist?

cy-clist - n. – one that rides a bicycle.

That definition is not sufficient. I know it’s not sufficient because I’ve seen quite a few people riding bicycles the last couple of days, and none of them were cyclists. I don’t say this in a superior fashion. I’m not saying that a cyclist is better than a guy who rides a bike, I’m saying a cyclist is different from a guy who rides a bike.

Perhaps this does not make sense to you. Well, you should be used to what I write not making sense by now. Isn't that how this work?

Yesterday I was driving the 2000 pound beast down the road and saw a guy riding a bicycle. All I can figure from watching him is that he was trying to commit suicide, but you can judge for yourself.

Imagine an intersection where two busy roads meet. Now imagine that a lot of cars are turning right from one road onto the other. Now imagine that a guy on a bike who is in the midst of all of these cars is also making that turn but is doing so by taking an irregular and serpentine path so you can’t actually tell where he’ll be from one second to the next.

Is this a cyclist?

Or how about the two guys who were riding along the shoulder of a busy two lane road wearing dark clothing near dusk? (Yes, that’s a sentence fragment. My high school English teacher would not be happy.) In true ninja fashion, these two guys had taken all of the reflectors off of their bikes and had no lights. Or helmets. Deciding to change sides of the road (and apparently believing themselves invulnerable) they suddenly swerved into traffic and shot across two lanes of impending doom. Fortunately for everyone concerned, these two guys were endowed with more than their fair share of luck.

Are these cyclists?

And let us not forget the guy who cut through a parking lot allowing hiM to squirt out into the road (apparently without looking) directly in the path of several rapidly moving vehicles that had to swerve to avoid making him the object of a physics experiment.

Is this a cyclist?

How the guy I saw on my way back to work after lunch? He was riding along the side of a busy two lane road. He was wearing brightly colored clothing and a helmet and was riding hard in a straight line and in a very predictable manner.

Is this a cyclist?

Well, that guy, yeah. He's was a cyclist.

I don’t disparage anyone for simply riding a bike. If you don’t want to buy a pair of shorts that shows off your every asset or a jersey that looks like it was painted by Salvador Dali with a hangover, then don’t. If you don’t way to drink Endurox or chew on Cliff Bars or suck down Carboom, then don’t. You don’t have to wear a heart rate monitor or have a computer on your bike or buy fancy shows that work great when you’re pedaling but which make you walk like a duck on ice skates when you're off the bike. You can just get a bike and ride, and that's great. (I know, it isn't as if you needed my permission anyway. I'm just trying to make the point that, just because you don't shave your legs and talk about gear ratios doesn't make you a bad person. You can just get out there and ride, and more power to you.)

Well, buy a helmet. That would be good. And wear it, of course.

But don’t ride like you have a death wish. You know why? Well, aside from the obvious fact that, if you ride like that, someone may grant your wish…don't do it because most people who drive cars don’t make a distinction between people on bikes and cyclists, and a driver who sees one person riding a bike poorly will assume that all people who ride are just the same.

And, yes, I do know that you can have all the fancy gear and still ride like you don't know what you're doing.

Don’t be that guy who makes it harder for the rest of us.


Thank you.

See you on the road.


  1. LC, you forgot one.
    How about the guy who drives his big SUV to a club ride, peels his 7 grand worth of carbon bike with dimpled rims and SRamRed out of his trunk and proceeds to hammer in front of the pace line gleefully listening to Foreigner on his iPod? He's got all the gear, he's got all the pace, he's got to show it to everyone and he doesn't get it at all.
    Poor bastard, he's great at riding a bike, but he sho' as hale ain't no cyclist.

  2. I did for get that guy...I've met that guy, too