Friday Group Ride #467

Friday Group Ride #467

It’s coffee, but also beer. It’s rider’s of every shape packed into lycra. It’s a grease tattoo on a calf, a dumb, small hat that no one else wears, and Euro pros describing their sensations.

BMX Bandits. Triplets of Belleville. Stars and Water Carriers.

The Rider. Sam Abt. Phil and Paul (RIP).

Coppi, Hinault, Merckx, Anquetil, Cippolini, Indurain.

In Belgium, it’s fat men smoking and the weekend kermesse. In France, it’s high alps and farmers’ strikes. In Japan, it’s Keirin and shit hot road bikes. In Italy it’s neighborhood bike shops, decades old, generational, with parts you never thought you’d see in real life.

It’s also Strava and Zwift, if not rollers and trainers, and basements.

When I was growing up, it was too tall tube socks and ten speeds and BMX that was mountain biking before bikes were geared for mountains. Every bike was $100, except the good ones.

Cycling culture can be caricature, formulaic, alienating, and it can be the best inside joke you’ve heard. There are depths to this thing, from what you eat and drink, to what you ride, and how you fix it. Styles change. Things persist.

This week’s Group Ride asks what trappings of cycling culture you love and cherish, and which ones make you cringe? Did the images that drew you into the sport continue to excite and inspire?

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11 comments

  1. Michael

    I love warm tights that fit perfectly and fleece/windstopper caps that fit under the helmet and don’t have a brim so they don’t funnel cold air to give me ice-cream headache. And warm booties, of course. I love old shops with used bikes that can be made to work because of their skill and old parts. And riding for several miles seeing something ahead on the side of the road and it gradually resolves into a clueless but talented local road racer who has no spare tube and I have three, and he has never used a mini-pump, and so we pass on the knowledge about how to really ride and he won’t forget.

    1. Jon

      Great comment Michael! I was once that clueless (but not so talented) junior racer on the side of the road who was saved and educated by a veteran rider and I have tried to carry that forward myself. For me it was Sidi Revolutions, Italian steel frames, Fignon, my Torpado Superstrada (that I sold! 🙁 ) discovering the secrets and culture of this mysterious sport, the “outsiderness” of being a cyclist, the sound of Phil’s Tour commentary.

  2. Steven Down

    As a nipper music was my first love. UK punk rock and mod revivalist. I was an eager reader of music papers and magazines, picking up on style pointers and new trends in London as I sat in rural Somerset, dreaming of escape. Backstage photos were always alluring, a chance to see behind the persona and appreciate the toll that wringing out a heartfelt performance had taken on my idols.

    The Face magazine ran a feature on Robert Millar in the early 80s, and the accompanying shots looked so much like the backstage of a frenetic gig that I was instantly drawn in. A man recovering from having given his all in pursuit of expressing himself. That’s the image that best sums up our sport for me.

    1. Dave

      “A man recovering from having given his all in pursuit of expressing himself. That’s the image that best sums up our sport for me.”

      Perfectly said and it is what sums up the sport for me as well.

  3. Neil Winkelmann

    When I get asked what my bike cost, and as usual, I’m embarrassed to say, I wonder for a while whether I’ve bought into the hype just a little too far. But honestly there’s nothing about cycling that doesn’t excite and inspire me. Cycling as a mode of transportation, and its potential to transform our cities that is becoming increasingly inspirational. It’s adding to my love of cycling, not replacing the inspiration I get from the sporting/competitive side of it.

    1. TomInAlbany

      I used to get asked that as well! Now that that bike is 20 years old, no one asks. 🙂

      Agree that all aspects of riding are motivating. I look for more and more opportunities to ride!

  4. scottg

    Attending the Classic Rendezvous for years, seeing wonderful bikes made by
    people who you could talk to and ride with. Long talks into the evening with
    people who you looked forward to seeing every year.

  5. Fausto

    600 mile on a fixed gear to begin the year, then small ring-no 53. Rollers full stop. Covered knees under 70 degree’s and that meant tights because knee warmers were not invented yet. No helmet, but a cap. Wool tops. Belgian white shoe covers. Wheel covers to protect the silk tyres, the good ones that had the split so they could come off with the wheel on. When the light bulb goes off about drafting. Powering over a climb, no shifting. Hands by the stem. White tape is PRO. White shoes when you became fast enough. Track stands. Never crossing your legs at the ankles. No ice cream. Searching for your name in the back of Cycling USA newsletter. Petite Coke and a Snickers to keep the dark hammer away. Suffering with friends is better.

  6. TomInAlbany

    Love and cherish: Teaching my kids to ride and, hopefully, love it. Railing a hot curve on a screaming downhill. Having people tell me I don’t look my age! The endless turning of pedals while I zone out and enjoy.

    Cringe: The Rules. Anyone that doesn’t welcome everyone.

  7. M Burdge

    I like the little tells that show attention to detail and a sense of craft, like tire labels lining up with the valve stem or qr skewers in a graceful position or a spare tube and tools wrapped and held in place with a toe strap or a classy old rain bike with down tube shifters and a mudflap that goes nearly to the road out of concern for your riding companions, but I also like that almost none of that matters if you show up, take your pull, and are a decent person. The part of bike culture that makes me cringe is that far too many bike dudes of a certain vintage persist in being sexist, bitter a-holes who create unsafe spaces for anyone outside of their ‘narcissism-of-small-differences’ world views.

  8. Jeff vdD

    CHERISH: The sound of mass clipping-in at the beginning of a large group ride. CX tread/pressure rathole discussions/debates/arguments/fisticuffs. Selecting kit for the upcoming ride. Wrenching. Riding tubeless.

    CRINGE: Pavement, except as a gravel connector (but even then …). Bad driver/cyclist behavior. Wrenching in over my head. Setting up tubeless.

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