Gateway Drug To The Cycling Lifestyle

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 14

Whenever I talk to someone who has just gotten their first “real” bicycle (there is an entire post between those quotes, but for now lets continue), I always tell them the same thing.

“Be careful.”

They usually think I am talking about crashing and say something like “I got a helmet” or “I am a slow rider, and very cautious.” I am always quick to correct myself. I don’t mean that they are going to get hurt, cycling is pretty safe, especially if you take a couple simple precautions.

I place one hand on their shoulder, lean forward and look them right in the eye as I explain that cycling is going to take over their life. It’s all too easy to fall headfirst into the cycling lifestyle. What starts as a simple “I will give it a try riding to work once or twice” can all too easily spiral into a full blown cycling life vortex.

You get the bike, then the shoes, then the socks to go with the shoes, then you want the new bike pants, you sign up for some bike websites, then you are meeting other bike people, hey they are cute, sure lets go for a bike ride, then you’re both standing over your bikes and leaning in for a kiss…you get the idea.

Before you know it you are riding everywhere, you have lost 20 pounds, your ass looks amazing, and like that all your friends have nice calves, and you spend a lot of time thinking about gear ratios and carbon fiber. You start thinking about getting a fixed gear/road bike/mountain bike/tall bike, because your current ride is nice but what you really want is just one more bike…just one more.

Its not all amazing calves and chain rings. There is a dark side to falling into the cycling lifestyle. If you are not careful you will get increasingly annoyed with your non-cycling friends, “why does it take you so long to get anywhere” “have you really been looking for parking for 30 minutes” “just lock up to a street sign…ohh”

You will show up to events with your giant messenger bag and wonder why everyone else isn’t wearing shorts, I mean come on its 42 degrees out! You will have to explain to every single person you meet that yes you do ride, yes all year round, yes even in the winter. You eat three times as much food as a normal human being, and your friends start to get mad at you because you seem to exist on candy and ice cream and never gain a pound.

If you catch a particularly bad case you might move in with your bike friends have a “bike house” where all the occupants ride, where there is a special room just for bikes, where a night at the bar means you bring the tandem… Don’t laugh, these things are real and happen to people just like you. Some especially bad cases have resulted in cycling weddings, children strapped into bike trailers, and a life long love affair with two wheels.

Sure I tell new bikers to be careful, but then I open up my messenger bag and slip them a bike map, or a spare tube…”Hey kid, wana try cycling, first taste is free?”


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Posted in advocacy, bostonbiker, fun | 12 Comments »


12 Responses to “Gateway Drug To The Cycling Lifestyle”

  1. By Self Righteous Cyclist on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Hahaha. Nail on the head. My “bike house” had a room with 9 bikes (there were 4 of us living there).

  2. By cycler on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Amen to that!
    Sure I need three bikes with Rod brakes…..and I might as well get the cotter press….and the wheel truing stand..

  3. By Cris on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Choose bikes. Choose a frame. Choose a parts gruppo. Choose a route. Choose a fucking big messenger bag. Choose fenders, lights, saddles, and bike pump. Choose killer calves, awesome shoulders and a ‘whatever the fuck I want’ diet. Choose a repair manual. Choose another bike, for a beater. Choose your friends. Choose knickers and a matching cycling cap. Choose powdercoated rims and bartape in a range of matching fucking colors. Choose a project bike and wondering what a cotterless crank is on a Sunday morning. Choose touring on that bike, and pedaling through soul crushing weather, stuffing Clif bars in to your mouth. Choosing getting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in an internet forum, nothing more than an embarassment to the selfish, screwed up posenegers you groomed to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose bikes.

  4. By Ben on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Dedicated bike room with 9 bikes.*

    2 people.

    Whoops?

    (I was surprised when I recounted on Saturday, because I had thought it had 10)

  5. By Marianna on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    We’ve only got 6 bikes for the two of us, but we’ve got two more bundles of joy on the way.

    And last week I wore shorts when it was like 51 and everyone was staring at me and it was like “oh, how sad, they don’t know it’s shorts weather :(“

  6. By Dave Reid on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Sounds fun!… I’m hooked

  7. By Zev on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Hah, we’ve got 5 people in a house, at least 15 bikes. They can barely be contained in one room.

  8. By Ira F. Cummings on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah, you really couldn’t have put it better. I think the best part is trying to explain it to your wife (girlfriend, friend) and having them not understand. Then they get a bike and it clicks. Fantastic.

  9. By mtalinm on Mar 14, 2011 | Reply

    ifc, please provide a how-to manual. said strategy has backfired in my house

  10. By Tommaso on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply

    Wow, you said it! I live on a boat and I’m loving it, but the one reason I can’t wait to move back on land is to expand my bike collection (currently at 2).

    I can already picture it: my faithful commuter (Stallion) and my speedy touring (Quickie) joined by a sturdy extracycle (Beast), and a folding travelling companion (Foldie). Only then will my family be truly complete!!

  11. By Lance on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply

    Loved this post! You’re spot on. It inspired me to post a story of my own descent into the cycling world:

    http://goo.gl/8EJFW

  12. By JonT on Mar 15, 2011 | Reply

    @mtalinm: I think if I wasn’t already a cyclist, this kind of strategy would have backfired on me, too. Come to think of it, even though I am a regular commuting cyclist (typically, 2-5 days a week, all year round, five miles each way plus random neighborhood errands), I don’t feel like this blog post describes me. I don’t have the shoes, the socks, the pants, or any other specialized clothing except for a helmet. After many years of owning only one ridable bike at a time, I finally have two now, but only because it’s often convenient to have a folding bike when I need to take the T to drop off my kid at school when the weather’s not suitable for the trail-a-bike. Though I frequently use my bike for transportation, I hardly ever go on recreational rides.

    For those of you for whom cycling has become an obsession, if you’re happy with that situation, then that’s great! Have fun! Just remember that there are many other kinds of cyclists out there, and many potential cyclists who don’t *want* to take on an obsession but for whom cycling would be a fine way to get themselves from point A to point B.

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