Friday Group Ride #71

There is a long bike path at the bottom of the hill I live on. It serves as a sort of summer super-highway for the recreationally inclined. Joggers. Strollers. Roller bladers. Cyclists. They’re all there.

Yesterday, I took the day off and went for a ride with my wife. We dropped the kids off at school and then flew down the hill, jumped on the bike path and headed west.

Almost immediately, we encountered a pair of women on a tandem, rolling along, enjoying the beautiful weather.

I hate tandems. To me, tandems represent the opposite of what I love about cycling, the independence. Who would want to have someone else doing the steering? Ugh. I can’t even imagine it.

My wife, having listened to me express this opinion before, just smiled and said, “But aren’t you glad they’re out on a bike?” And of course the answer is yes. I fully support and encourage cycling, even when it doesn’t match up with my vision of cycling.

A guy on a recumbent rolled past going the other way. OMG. He could barely hold his line. I often wonder if they actually ask to see your engineering degree when they sell you one of those things. And they’re expensive. Don’t get me started on the slack chain lines and the dopey flags bobbing behind them.

I also dislike hybrids, mixte frames and high end Italian road frames that have been “converted” to fixed gear. I also don’t much care for cantilever brakes, time trials or criteriums (criteria?).

Again though, these are just my prejudices, my petty judgments. They don’t mean anything about cycling or the people who embody them. All good people. All good cyclists. They just expose me for the judgmental, closed-minded zealot I can be when I am taking myself too seriously, which is almost always.

This week’s Group Ride is about prejudices. What are yours? And why do you hold onto them? What, if any, value do they have, and what do they mean about you?



  1. Wayne Sulak

    Very funny…

    “I hate tandems. To me, tandems represent the opposite of what I love about cycling, the independence. Who would want to have someone else doing the steering? Ugh. I can’t even imagine it.”

    I hope the riders in front of me in my pace line do not have your need to steer independently!


  2. Ron Callahan

    Hmmm. Pet peeves…

    – Jerseys that look like Peter Max threw up on them
    – “Pro” riders riding three abreast on a bike path
    – Kids on training wheels with Mom or Dad paying more attention to them than what’s coming towards them
    – I could happily live my life never riding a time trial (again). Did one on a mountain bike once. I won, but…

  3. Champs

    Fortunately we’re sticking with prejudice, or else the list would read like Gizmodo’s 100 People I Hate on Facebook.

    I’m prejudiced against cyclists who:
    * wear flip-flops
    * use seatpost racks
    * ride on the road with headphones
    * flagrantly violate The Rules
    * hybrid-ify their mountain bikes with 26×1 slicks and silly bar attachments.

  4. dacrizzow

    recumbents! bikes are such a cool marriage of art and function. recumbents destroy the 1st idea and maim the 2nd. hipster fixies, although i do appreciate that they are endorsing a bike lifestyle. i think tandems are lame but i wouldn’t mind an old beater tandem to ride with my wife to our neighborhood restuarant or coffee shop. i think the one thing i really can’t stand is all the extremely “crappy” commuter bikes i see in my work building. i don’t mean cheap. i mean like rusty, half-rotted tires and mix matched parts. if it’s your daily transportation you should take some pride in your ride. like all the hispanic kitchen workers on their shiny department store dual suspensions. THAT is cool. i won’t get started on the whole unicycle, tallbike, chopperbike portland thing.

    1. Padraig

      OMG! I totally LOL’d at: “recumbents destroy the 1st idea and maim the 2nd.”

      I’m of two minds on this stuff. On one hand, I really love it any time anyone is on any kind of bike. That’s theoretical me. In practice, however, I find myself objecting to tube socks, Clinton-era Spinergys, jerseys that double as a skirt, helmet mirrors, chains that sound they were found in an Egyptian archeological dig and anyone in a peloton who didn’t memorize the memo on how to hold a line. Guess that’s why I wrote a book on all that stuff. I’m trying not to be a hater, but I hold the lessons I’ve been taught by knowledgeable cyclists in high regard. That knowledge wasn’t easy to come by and I value it more than what I learned in high school English. Says the writer.

      To Robot’s point, I see an item like a guy on a road bike wearing tube socks like the brown M&Ms in the Van Halen contract rider. There’s nothing wrong with tube socks per se, but if I see them, I am immediately suspicious that the rider in question has an incomplete education and with the rides I do, meaning the speeds we go over the courses we ride, that could get dangerous. That’s why it matters to me. That’s why I’m prejudiced and not likely to change soon.

  5. David Hendry

    Just a tiny blurb for us poor recumbent riders. I have gone through multiple surgeries because of cancer, one of which required moving my right pectoral muscle and reusing it to rebuild my neck. This has effectively eliminated my ability to hold a normal position on a normal bike. My beautiful celeste Bianchi circa 1985 is now in the hands of my stepson who uses it to ride and race triathlons and I still get around on a Rans Velocity 2 with all the same joy I used to get from the regular bikes I’ve had over the years.
    They do look pretty dorky though, and they are outrageously expensive for any particular equipment level you might want to use. Still it’s better than nothing and more fun than the car.

    1. Padraig

      David: I feel for you. Glad to hear that Bianchi is still getting love from the family. And let me say, if I was in your predicament (and I wouldn’t wish that on Ratko Mladic), I’d pick a recumbent every day and twice on Sunday.

  6. Mark

    About the only thing that I’m really prejudiced against is ignorant cyclists. Living in a rural area, I’m happy most of the time that I see anyone out riding, whether it’s a nice road bike and lycra, or a beater and cut-off jean shorts. Out here, bikes are seemingly abandoned once the first press of a driver’s license falls into your adolescent little teenage hands, forever relegated to the lesser beings like schoolchildren and immigrant workers.

    I’d be shocked to see someone on a tandem or recumbent, but it would be kind of cool nonetheless.

    What I can’t get past (although I will confess I haven’t tried very hard) is the newbies who think that road cycling began in the 1990s with Lance and have no interest in learning more. Yes, there were riders from North America like LeMond, Hampsten, and Steve Bauer. Hell, Overend and Juli Furtado, for that matter. Sean Kelly was a king for a decade, and Stephen Roche a god for a year. Yes, it is possible to ride a lugged steel frame with downtube shifters and still have a great ride. Or titanium. Although they’re fantastic, a great bike can be made out of things other than carbon fiber. Celeste can even be the most beautiful possible color for a bike on the right day.

    If you’ve just gotten into road biking, fine, no problem; these are relatively esoteric things. But if you’re starting to feel like this is “your” sport, take some time to learn about it. Cycling has just as much richness and history as, say, baseball.

    And while I’m at it, you kids get offa my lawn.

  7. Souleur

    hmm…prejudices? what are mine?

    I really suppose I have no prejudice, like against hipsters..fixies, phattyre guys, singlespeeders, recumbants or tandems…if they are honest to the bike they ride. Most of the above riders really are, without presumption.

    I do suppose it has a condition, as long as i don’t hear them a quarter mile away, rachet away as the cogs and chain fight one another, or as their brakes squall each time applied. Cheap equipement is fine, just keep it clean, sorted and proper as possible. It doesn’t take a masters degree from Park tools to do. A lesson I learned early on, and have continued to pay diligence to.

    I suppose my real peev that grinds me is seeing the rider who is at least 50lb over weight, decked out on a $12k or more ride, i suppose on equipement that they really have little business owning, IMHO. The last one was donned in an Orbea Orca, Campagnolo Record grouppo w/Zipp tyres. He couldn’t hold a 25k average and simply was eyecandy. Ok, so he has the dough, but does he have the ra-me to ride it like its suppose to be ridden?? I simply cannot do that personally, but hey, i suppose the cat 1’s say the same of me.

    I was taught early on, 20 years ago, if you show up decked out, you need to back it up w/an honest ride, honest legs and not let the reputation down. But what do i know? That was 20 years ago, and things change don’t they.

    i have really had to try hard to keep my prejudices where they belong, in the back pocket.

  8. LD

    seems like most pet peeves got covered here……… I would add, though, self important fixie hipsters and amateur racers who fancy themselves Pro riders……. stop looking at your reflection and get out and ride.

  9. Big Mikey

    Good question. It’s tough to admit some of my prejudices; when you say them out loud, they sound kind of silly (recumbents, overpriced rides for out-of-shape people, worn out shorts, etc.). At the end of it all, it’s probably better that they’re out there riding and not inside on the couch.

    But those are prejudices against how people look. When it comes to how they act, it’s all fair game. So, the guy who won’t acknowledge me when I ride past him and say hello, but instantly begins sucking my wheel; the group ride that swarms by me without calling out a warning; the people who carelessly run red lights and stop signs; salmon riders, these are all pet peeves.

  10. MCH

    Lycra shorts that should have been retired many years ago. You know the ones – so worn that all that’s left is the nylon mesh. More like panty hose than shorts. The last thing I want to see when coming up behind someone is the details of ther butt in all its hairy glory. Even worst is being stuck behind one of these guys (never women!) in a pack. Stuck there until you can find a way around, praying for a flat, a crash, anything to get away. Yuck!

    Oh yeah, and seat bags swaying in the breeze, hanging on by the last hook of velcro. Hate that too.

  11. MCH

    Self involved roadies who look down their noses at anyone who isn’t PRO. And bearded guys wearing Bell Biker helmets, riding touring bikes with Zipper fairings – hate them.

  12. Mike

    Cyclists who act as if the bike path is their own private time trial lane, who don’t slow down when passing other walkers, runners, kids on bikes etc. If you want to pretend you’re in the Tour, or training for it, do it on the roads.

  13. Alex Torres

    Triathletes. Dunno how it goes elsewhere but around here they´re troublemakers on two wheels, for the most part.

    Terrible bike handlers, they manage the most absurd and improbable crashes riding alone on a clean, open, wide road. Watch out! But what´s really worse IMO: they don´t even bother improving technique. They run (literaly) away from climbs, descents, group rides, pacelines… pretty much anything that defines “fun” and “cycling” in my book.

    They belive (and act) like they own the road, though they´re too afraid to hit the real road and thus they abuse the parks, bike lanes, and every other alternative training area in the city, scaring kids and mothers while “flying” at 32km/h on the clips with flapping sleeveless shirts.

    They´re consumerism-driven, buying anything that´s “latest”. If some magazine publishes an article from an obscure coach saying that bee stings improve run or cycling times by 0,04%, you´ll see triathletes diving into honeycombs to get an edge. They´re show-offs, my-bike-is-more-expensive/aero/clean-than-yours overachievers.

    Finally, they don´t care for tradition. They have none of it. They ride a bike for training and racing, but don´t care for Tour de France or Paris-Roubaix, they don´t know who´s Van Looy, Kelly or Charly Gaul.

    There are exceptions, lots of actually. Which just proves the rule I guess. I´m not sure it´s prejudice or formed opinion based on real life, everyday observation. But sure, part of it is prejudice because I end up judging all triathletes by the above. I try to fight this thought and feeling, but heck, they hate themselves and don´t get along. How to like someone who can´t stand his/her own peers? I love my cycling buddies, even the ones who kick my ass in rides and races.

    In the end, I just avoid them and their training grounds when I´m riding.

  14. armybikerider

    My prejudice? Besides a lot of the ones already mentioned….my biggest has to be the cyclist that thinks the road belongs exclusively to them. They ride across the entire lane forcing traffic to slow down and pass then wonder why drivers get angry. They blow through traffic lights and signs in front of traffic then wonder why the SUV driver gives them the finger.

  15. Matt

    Petty pet peeves: riders w/o helmets, attacking a yellow/red light, sitting on my wheel while on a solo ride w/o so much as a hello, expensive bike/hairy legs, expensive bike/t-shirt, sitting on a good paceline then pulling through & messing it up, twitchy tri guy in a group ride, tri mankinis, ankle socks, yellers, riders who wait for a group ride to pass through then jump in the break & sit on, not pulling through.

  16. michael

    anyone who rides Zipp`s to work on their “commuter bike“. i hate you.

    anyone riding tri bars in a mass start cycling event, especially on downhills! you caused the worst cycling accident i have ever witnessed in a granfondo last year. you suck.

    anyone riding a silent but deadly E-bike on sidewalks without so much as ringing a bell when coming up behind you. if you are so afraid of the road, don`t get on the fucking thing. and wear a helmet for god`s sake. on the topic of E-bikes, how did something that looks more like a scooter end up classified as a bike? michael = perplexed

    fixie wankers skidding all over the place and ruining good rubber prematurely. it is ironic that most of the kids doing this also self-relate as being eco-conscious and enviro activists.

    people who complain about made in ROC anything. when i look at your clothing or bike, I guarantee that there is one item on it at the minimum that was made in China, and I will find great pleasure in destroying your apostolizing by pointing this out to you.

    parents who don`t put a helmet on their child

    parents who still insist on using those old school bike seats mounting on the rear rack mount. seriousely people, i see waves of homeless folks riding around on beater bikes with kiddie trailers attached on the back for bottle patrol duty. you tell me you can`t afford one?

    rant over, thanks for the outlet!

  17. Vandenberg

    Geez, some of you people are uptight.

    I just had a few months off the bike, recovering from cancer surgery. Not being able to ride for that long made me really appreciate how important it is to me, and how petty some of the stuff we worry about can be.

    You’re worried about some guy with nice bike and hairy legs? Get over it.
    You can’t handle seeing a fatty with full Shack kit and $10k Cervelo? Get over it.

    You could wake up tomorrow and find yourself fighting cancer, and you might not be as lucky as David Hendry or myself. Just enjoy being on the bike, get over your little prejudices and RIDE.

  18. Simon

    Nothing says I’m too stupid to maintain/ride a bike with gears louder than riding a fixie.

    My worst prejudice though, is to do with almost everyone involved with bike advocacy. I get endlessly p*ssed off at the constant linking of riding a bike with veganisn, lesbianism, cultivating a straggly beard, and growing your own deodorant. Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate it…it’s just…you know.

  19. craig

    You’d have a different opinion on tandems if you saw the two women on a calfee tandem at last weekend’s Tour D’Essex century up on the north shore. Not only did the keep up, they were at the front of the lead group for most of the day putting the hurt on a bunch of racers.

  20. Robot

    @ All – As fun as it is to vent, most of us seem to have missed the second half of the exercise: “And why do you hold onto them? What, if any, value do they have, and what do they mean about you?”

    Obviously, most of our cyclo-prejudices are about things being done by OTHER people. I don’t like tandems, but my objection is philosophical. I’ve never been on one. I’ve also never pedaled a recumbent. I am willfully ignorant about these things, so my prejudices tell me that I am willing to judge things I haven’t tried and insult people I don’t know.

    Why? Not sure.

    I do know that cycling needs all the people we mentioned above (well, most of them) in order to grow and change and thrive. On the way in this morning, I was wondering what Graeme Obree would have become had he succumbed (he nearly did a few times) to all the prejudice arrayed against him. How much less rich would the story of the hour record and UCI frame approvals be without Obree and his washing machine bike?

    Before I become too sanctimonious, what I’m trying to understand is why my mind swings like a pendulum with these things. Why can I sneer at a Fred with tube socks and a glow in the dark jersey one moment, and then greet him with a hale and hearty ‘hello’ the next the moment.

    I can get my mind in the right place, when I take the time to do so. I just seldom actually take that time.

  21. Keith

    What am I prejudice against?

    Aerobars on MTB, Aerobars on Road Bikes, Aerobars on Hybrids – do those qualify as “silly bar attachements”???

    People on electric bicycles who crowd/use the bicycle lanes – I don’t know if this is an issue in other areas but in Toronto it’s a pain in the a**

    Cyclists who do everything in their power to get in front of you on the road but can’t hold 25km/h to save their life.

  22. slappy

    self serious amateurs. i’m a bike mechanic and making anyone who comes in feel that their bike will be taken care of is important to me. that’s where the prejudices are reinforced but it doesn’t matter, in every situation their is an opportunity to educate, inform, and help people to be better with bikes. Time on task is the obvious basis to bike awareness and people who haven’t got the time in can always use help. People whose conservative preconceptions keep them so firmly attached to carbon bikes or full suspension or whatever highest cost ‘best’ tech they ride are the ones i tend to be prejudiced against. Open yourself up to some more experience. Sorry if you’re not a wrench who has worked on and ridden everything and appreciated people who love everyone of the different bikes that others scoff at, or not. Have a nice ride.

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