Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The First Rule Of Cycle Club........

From Dale Jr's Twitter Feed- Guess who shamed him for his short socks?
Cycling is a weird sport. Really, truly weird. I know this because when I fell in love with the activity of bicycling when I was but a kid, it wasn't what I found as an adult. Back then no one thought about what clothes you wore or how you put your sunglasses on when you rode. You just rode your bike and had fun. That was pretty much the only rule- fun!

Things got more fun as I got older when I picked up a friend's ten speed bicycle for a bit as he couldn't find anywhere to store it while he was in transition between homes in two different states. During that time I rode his bike along trails and roads I hadn't been on. I often would ride down to hang out at an ice cream stand in a small town, eat my confection, then I would turn around and ride back home. I never heard a negative word about how I was doing all of this. Well, that is, until I started cycling with "serious road cyclists".

Now, I could blame this on "roadies", but that would be too simple. It really isn't roadies, or any other sub-culture of cycling, it is really just endemic to how males in cycling are, for the most part. I cannot speak for the females in cycling, but I do know all about the "rules" of "Cycle Club". Boy do I.....

Those guys I first started riding with on the local training loop weren't friendly. They weren't about teaching you anything, and they figured if you couldn't hang, well then, too bad. Heaven forbid that you wore something wrong, didn't "pull through", or took a flyer when it wasn't appropriate. There was a semi-secret language and all these unspoken, untaught "rules" which made riding with these jerks no fun at all.

Lance doesn't like your socks, Dale Jr. (Image courtesy of Bike Portland)
Ya know, if I hadn't had cultivated a couple of decades worth of "fun cycling" ahead of this group ride experience, I might have just quit the whole deal then and there. I had already spent a small fortune on clothing, the "right bike", and then I got treated like an unwanted step-child by these guys, which was really discouraging. Well, I went and did my own thing for rides after that and never went on another group ride for years. In fact, I still don't do road based group rides.

Ironically, Dale Earnhardt Jr just got into road cycling. He has been pretty open about the process on his social media. He says he feels odd wearing Spandex/Lycra outfits. He says he thinks the equipment "necessary" for road riding is expensive, and he revealed that he was shamed for wearing too short socks by none other than Lance Armstrong. He detailed how his first few rides have gone- he got thrown the bird by a motorist and had a flat tire from hitting a rumble strip due to an unannounced sudden move by a seasoned cyclist he was with. That's pretty encouraging stuff right there. Yep! Makes you want to jump right in and follow along, it does.

Sounds like the rules of "Cycle Club" are still in full effect. Too bad. No wonder folks get turned off by cyclists, or from trying cycling if they get into this subset of dudes that seem to have sucked all the fun out of riding a bicycle.


10 comments:

Roger Kummert said...

I agree many jerks. I decided years ago to forgo many of the mandatory cycling "rules". I rarely wear cycling shorts unless I am doing a 50 plus mile ride. I have a few pairs of commuter pants with convenient pockets and those with a pair of moisture wicking underwear are fine for my commutes and other rides. Clip in pedals went after I gave them up for commuting and slowly removed them from all of my bikes. Bike shoes are expensive and when you have size 15 feet it gets hard to find reasonably priced shoes that fit.I ride with guys and gals that like to ride not pretend they are racers on every ride.I don't use a computer or strava or any of that bs. I like to encourage those new to riding and will go out on rides with them that may take 3 hours to go 20 miles.I'm on the bike. I'm happy!

Roger Kummert said...

Also cycling specific glasses. Get real. I wear my regular prescription glasses or sunglasses.

Smithhammer said...

Making fun of the length of someone's socks? Sounds like even after all the shameful things that have come out about Armstrong, he still hasn't learned a shred of humility. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm surprised. And I can't say I wouldn't blamed Dale for laying him out flat, right there in front of all his lycra-clad buddies. And yeah, it's a perfect example of the element that has turned so many off from cycling.

I have no interest in following events like the TDF anymore, nor participating in any aspect of that part of the sport. Give me dirt to the horizon and decidedly non-spandex attire and I'll happily go in the other direction till my legs stop moving....

youcancallmeAl said...

your weekly impromptu gravel rides look to me to be a far more satisfying way to enjoy the bicycle with a group of friends. plus they provide time for picturetaking,sightseeing,and waiting for the slower riders to catch up.

john said...

I certainly know what you are talking about. I was at a Fat bike race this winter with 100-120 participants and had to question being the only guy I saw with "cycling" clothes on. I did not feel any negative judgement, but it sure made me wonder about my choice of costume. But it does seem like they have a dress code and have an alcohol requirement for membership. So I'll do it my way and have a good time regardless of customs.

Dave said...

Yes John. Even the naysayers have their own look. Read "The Sneeches" by Dr. Seuss and you'll see exactly that all sides are being played.

Smithhammer said...

@ Dave - I'm curious what you mean by "all sides" are being played (and yes, I've read The Sneetches...). Simply because some folks have the radical notion that you don't need to wear skin tight clothing and cover yourself in logos (for companies you likely aren't even sponsored by) in order to ride a bike, these people too are somehow being "played" in a different way? Seems like the definition of not being played, to me. But do tell...

Steve Fuller said...

I'll ride the bike I want to ride, where I want to ride it, however fast I feel like riding, and in whatever I feel like wearing. I'm comfortable being clad in lycra, wearing mountain baggies, or wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts. If the group rides ahead of me and I don't feel like riding that hard, I'll let 'em go. I'll put out an invite to ride and if no one shows up but me, that's fine too. At end of the day, it's just bikes. :)

Dave said...

@Smithhammer-
I ride with both logo/Lycra groups and the plaid bearded IPA baggy group. My point is that most cycling groups do fall in line with their own look and I can't help but think that anyone who would ever show up in khakis would get a huge welcome by either party.
Maybe I'll give that a shot sometime.

Smithhammer said...

@Dave - Right, because if you don't dress like you're sponsored in the TDF for your weekly local ride, then you must be in the "plaid bearded IPA baggy group." I think there is a vast middle ground in that there that defies both of those stereotypes, compadre. But given the choice, I'd personally rather have a beard and drink beer and be comfortable.... ;-)