Friday Group Ride #442

Friday Group Ride #442

“I’m sending you this because I know you’re a serious biker,” the email started. It is one in a whole sub-genre of my personal communications that begins more or less this way. What follows in invariably a link to article about a cycling movie, or someone getting hit while not wearing a helmet, or a cute pair socks, because…socks.

Let’s leave aside the issue of being labeled a “biker.”

Actually, let’s not. I try not to get pedantic with my friends (or acquaintances or strangers), but I am not a “biker.” Bikers, as I understand it, wear leather jackets and have a harder time getting life insurance. Perhaps those people actually like being called “motorcyclists” or “hog riders” or “road pizza.” I don’t know. I am a cyclist. Again, that’s not a buoy I’m going to cling to in the water-treading, semi-urgency of living my life, but I thought I’d say it, because I always chuckle when someone calls me a biker.

Back to the topic at hand (is there one yet?).

I have a lot of friends who are cyclists. A lot. In meaningful ways, I live on Planet Bike, a strange place inhabited by people who are obsessed with bicycles but usually also earn their living via the bike. As a result, I interact with cyclists all over the world every single day, and even if they are technically work colleagues, I call a significant portion of them friends. Additionally, I have friends who don’t live on Planet Bike formally, but also are cyclists, which swells the ranks of people I know likely to have grease on their pants.

I don’t want to make this complicated, but I make a distinction between cyclists, people who are likely to ride at least once a week, and people who have bikes and do ride them occasionally but aren’t overly bothered if they don’t get to. They are great people. I just don’t think of them as cyclists.

I would say, if I were to take my 100 best friends (that’s a strange quantity and one that suggests I have more good friends than I do), probably 35% of them are cyclists. When I first considered, the number was higher, but a quick mental review made it more realistic. That’s still a lot of cyclists, I think.

This week’s Group Ride asks, how central to your life is the bike, as measured by the people you’re friends with? What percentage of your closest friends ride? Think of the your top 100. How many ride?

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  1. martin

    Top 100 CLOSEST friends? Wow. I probably have a handful. But of my top 100 FACEBOOK friends, maybe 10 are currently serious cyclists – people I see occasionally IRL but on Strava virtually every day.

  2. Michael

    Maybe a quarter to a third. But I rarely ride with other people, so our friendships are typically not BASED on riding, even if we share that interest and perhaps even talk about it. I have tried riding with people just because we both like riding, but unless we are already friends, or are going to be friends for reasons of shared interest outside of riding, I get bored just with the riding. So the bike is pretty central to MY life – I commute on it every day and ride, when things are not icy, for pleasure many days – but it is not a main criterion for choosing friends.

  3. W

    Cycling is my social medium. I met my wife 23 years ago on a group ride, my 3 other closest friends in the world before that in the same way. What has ensued since has led me to break out and make new types of friends–kids soccer and school friends, colleague friends, etc, but I still am most connected with my cycling friends, old and new. My 15 year old sons riding buddies are
    becoming friends–sure we have spent years, making breakfast, driving them to trail heads, showing them the ropes, fixing flats, fixing torn flesh, etc, but now they are all faster than us and capable of any ride we are and more. Im pretty sure the fact that they still welcome us on rides (and not just because we drive the van), despite our obvious age-imposed limitations, makes them friends. Even if not, I know they all became best friends while seeking and finding flow together and that is the magic we had hoped to pass on to them.

    All of us reading this site could jump in a group ride almost anywhere in the world and with a few selfless questions and miles make genuine new friends. While I rarely do this anymore, this potential, more than anything, is cycling for me.

    Have a great day my friends.

    1. Jeff vdD

      “All of us reading this site could jump in a group ride almost anywhere in the world and with a few selfless questions and miles make genuine new friends.”

      Nailed it. More than any “type” I’ve ever met, cyclists will welcome you, embrace you, repair you, support you, encourage you, challenge you.

      On the road, on the dirt, even in a race, a cyclist will be there for you.

      I’m old enough to have a lot of friends. But the best of them, most are cyclists.

  4. Jim

    Please tell me again how by cycling on the road, I am endangering myself and deserve whatever fate deals to me. These people are not on planet bike.

  5. John K Moore

    I’ve moved states several times in my adult life, and one thing I’ve learned is it is always easy to meet other cyclists. Show up at a local bike shop at 8 or 9 on a Saturday morning and you’ll find a group ride, they may be faster or slower than you, but will give you a lead on maybe a better suited one, work that system a few times and you’ll find an ideal set of partners. My best friends in these new neighborhoods I almost always make through biking one way or another, and my very best friends will often meet up around the country for races and events with absolutely no bearing on the main event, but tooth-and-nail competition for bragging rights.

    So through this filter, I’d say 1/3 of my friends are cyclists to varying degrees, maybe more of my closest circle,

  6. Parker English

    Perhaps the main reason I enjoy your columns is that the Planet Bike on which you live is more athletic and knowledgeable than mine, yet we seem to share some reflections and attitudes. About cycling as helping to define one’s sense of self in particular. In the discussion here, you’ve focused that on percentage of friends who’re cyclists. I tried doing that with different friendship criteria, and found a significant percentage under each, tho none close to a quarter. But wasn’t satisfied with how that fit the question of self as cyclist, and subsequently felt tantalized but not inspired by your question.

    Time’s moved on and another question’s appeared. Wanted to reconsider this one first. And think the comment by W pretty much captures what’s vaguely been in my subconscious. On the one hand, cyclists can usually find friends almost anywhere in the world by joining a group ride. On the other, that’s because cyclists usually value selflessness and genuineness, something especially associated with serious recreational cyclists, some of whom are also or have been racers.

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