There are things I don’t like about cycling. There, I said it. Not everything about our sport/hobby/obsession is my absolute favorite. I would expect that much of what I dislike, other people like intensely. Opinions are like dead-nun jokes, some of them are funny, but they’re all basically wrong. I am willing to be wrong, especially if it’s funny.
I don’t like the testosterone-fueled banter in the parking lot before the group ride pulls out. I don’t like to ride up on my bike and immediately have some crass joke aimed at me while I try to get my arm warmers straight and my sunglasses untangled from my helmet straps. I realize that some of my friends are so intensely starved for male-bonding that they feel compelled to engage in whatever this profanity-laced jack-assery does for them, but I don’t care for it. It makes me tired.
I don’t like chamois cream. Don’t get me wrong. I need chamois cream, some times more than others. But I hate the feeling of cold squish against my man-zone and the subsequent period during which the cream redistributes itself according to the laws of physics and thermodynamics.
I hate inhaling synthetic food stuffs while trying to hold the wheel in front of me. And when I say “inhaling,” I mean literally breathing in some glob of goo or half-chewed block. You go straight from gasping for carbohydrate-loaded air to asphyxiating in the time it takes to say ‘bonk.’ I also am not fond of the coating synthetic foods leave on your teeth, so that, by mile 50, I feel as though each of my teeth is wearing a hand-knit sweater.
If I never saw a Michelob Ultra commercial again, it would be too soon.
I also dislike the parochialism cycling descends into too often. Roadies disdain mountain bikers. No one likes fixed gear hipsters. Fixed gear hipsters swear they will only ever ride fixed and everyone else is a wus. BMX isn’t cycling, except that it is, and god forbid you ride a hybrid, with your kids, down the bike path. The immasculation attendant to that act will get you excommunicated from the uber-exclusive man club, even if you didn’t know you were a member.
To me, cycling is cycling. All cyclists are my friends. In fact, cycling itself can be too tribal. Let me try this one out on you: Motorists are my friends, too. No, not that guy who tried to run me off the road, but I wouldn’t like him on a mountain bike either. What I mean is that cycling is not a facet of my identity I use to shunt people OUT of my life. It’s a facet I use to draw people in. Fellow cyclists, in all their shapes and predilections, are my brothers and sisters, and anyone is eligible for membership, even if they think it’s cool to imply they slept with my wife last week while I am busy creaming my chamois and loading my jersey pocket with citrus-flavored goos.
Yeah. You guessed it. This week’s Group Ride is about the things we don’t like about this thing that we love. Have at it. Vent your spleen.