Freewheeling: Ten things I hate about cycling


First off, let me make something very clear: I love cycling. Love it. My garage is jammed with bikes and bike gear. I own countless cycling guide books. My dresser is overflowing with cycling kit. But like just about everything in life, not all is perfect — even in the two-wheeled world. Thus, I present my personal list of 10 Things I Hate About Cycling:

1. Stereotypes: No single question bugs me more than the ubiquitous, are you a mountain biker or a roadie? My answer is always the same: Neither, I just love riding bikes, all kinds of bikes. Road bikes, mountain bikes, cross bikes, cruiser bikes, fat bikes. Hell I’ve even ridden a few track bikes. They all have their merits, because… they are bikes! So if you’re a self-labeled “roadie” or a unabashed “mountain biker,” consider a little diversification in your life. Says here you’ll be glad you did.

2. Blocked Bike Lanes: Attention drivers of the world, bike lanes are for bike riding, not car idling. Please get out of my way and find a real parking place.

No parking.

3. One-Trick Ponies: Again, I love cycling. But there are also lots of other great things to do in life. Unfortunately I know a lot of people (many of them my friends who shall remain nameless) who have two primary outdoor vocations, cycling and wishing they were cycling. That means even in the dead of winter, these myopic knuckleheads would rather ride their bikes, than, oh say, go ski knee deep powder or Nordic ski, or shoot some hoops, or do anything else that doesn’t involve a drivetrain. My message to them: broaden your horizons people. It’ll be good for you.

4. Standards Confusion: Quick, name all the different bottom bracket sizes. How about the number of replaceable derailleur hangers? Stumped? Me, too. Confused? Absolutely. The only thing I can tell you is that earlier this year I visited a company that makes 175 different derailleur hanger models — 175!

5. Bike Shop ‘Tude: Hey, Mr. Mechanic with the flat brim hat and Red Bull on your breath, just because you know how to rebuild a bottom bracket and I don’t does not mean you need to exude a pungent air of disdain when answering questions or explaining services. Remember that the money I’m paying for parts or repairs is the money that’s going to help pay your rent.

6. Biker-on-Biker ‘Tude: You know who you are, the cyclist who smugly looks down their Oakley Radars at other less experienced or less skilled riders. Just because someone isn’t a Jedi master of the weekend office-park crit or able to bunny hop a Volkswagen does not mean you should view them as a sub-human species that is besmirching your sport. The more people ride bikes the better, even if they have a helmet mirror, don’t weigh as much as a high school girl, don’t shave their legs, or occasionally put a foot down when descending steep switchbacks.

7. Misbehaving Bikers: Again, you know who you are. On the trail you buzz unsuspecting hikers, and struggle to comprehend the uphill-mountain-biker-has-right-of-way rule. On the road you run every stop sign and stop light possible, and ride three and four abreast even when road signs expressly reads, Single File Only. My message to you. CUT IT OUT! You’re giving the rest of us a bad name.

$32,000 for this puppy. No thanks.

8. Ultra Expensive Bikes: Again, I love bikes. I love biking. But I personally don’t think participation in said activity should require a proverbial arm and leg. Message to bike industry: Let’s try to keep things in perspective a little. Ten grand should not be the barrier to entry for our wonderful sport.

9. Disgruntled Drivers: What is it about cyclists that brings out the worst in some drivers? Okay, sometimes it’s for the reasons listed in item No. 7. But many other times, there seems to be no reason at all, except perhaps that the driver has to slow down for five seconds until they can safely pass. Yet this is provocation enough for horn honking, angry yelling, fist shaking, or downright dangerous driving? WTF.

Look, we can share.

10. Grumpy Hikers: In the words of Rodney King, can we please all just get along? Ummm… apparently not. At least not in and around the supposed cycling Mecca that is my current hometown of Boulder, Colorado. See, while we have some of the best nearby road riding on the planet, nearly all of the surrounding trails are closed to bikes. So if you want to go mountain biking, don’t come to Boulder. Beyond that, and my real point here, is that while I do my absolute best to be a conscientious trail user (slowing down, saying please and thanks, not skidding, not riding muddy trails, not spooking horses), there are still many hikers out there who simply wont be happy until I’m gone. You know the type. They never say hello, and their eyes in permanent state of stink stare. Well, Mr. Hiker, it’s time to face the facts, on trails open to bikes, bikers are legitimate trail users.

I lied. There are 11 things.

Editor’s Note: Freewheeling is the ongoing column of features editor Jason Sumner. Once a week (usually), he’ll use this space to prattle on about all things cycling, be them interesting, innovative, inane or in this case, annoying. If you have a comment or question, or just want to sound off, drop a note in the comments section below.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • Dan Gates says:

    You hit all the points so well. Ive been riding and commuting for over 25 years and the thing that i get the most stink for is my $10 helmet mirror. Keep up the great stories and articles.

    • Mike Laughlin says:

      I don’t ride without my sunglasses-mount rear mirror.
      From: Lesses … do I avoid the glass … or swerve out in front of the 18-wheeler in my rear view mirror ….
      To: So, the young punks a quarter mile back in my rear view mirror want to blow me off the road … well, let’s make them respect the olde veteran
      … kick it!

    • DexterRexter says:

      That goofy helmet mirror is the best bit of gear I’ve added to my quiver in years. Can’t believe it took me most of my 25 years of commuting to buy one! Still leave it at home on the Mt. Bike rides so I don’t wear it as an optical insert.

  • EdselFalconer says:

    I hate the rider who thinks that reflectors are all you need to ride at night on the road or bike way. How the &?/@%! am I supposed to see you on a dark section of bike way before I am on top of you coming the other way 2 feet to one side……not cool.

  • Mike Laughlin says:

    Solid list. Might add inconsiderate pedestrians who take up the bike path from edge to edge — (some) roller bladers, mass social-gaggles, side-by-side women with strollers, kids running remote-controlled toy vehicles. Kicker: the “bike path” where these folks won’t accommodate bicyclists … is frequently built and maintained by bike funds.

    • Rider dave says:

      You gotta get your ride in early or else prepare to use your brakes a lot.
      Today heading home at 11 am slaloming through casual bikers 2 and 3 astride, walkers and bladers.

  • Rider dave says:

    I actually I saw that BMC today on a ride and believe me, i wasnt on it. That’s just silly.

  • Cycling in AZ says:

    I would add that bike riders who don’t know to ride with Traffic make life tough and contribute to some of the negativity. I about got taken out by a guy who was coming at me like a game of chicken last week and when I swerved to make room, #9 kicked in and I got honked and yelled at Geesh :)

  • moby doug says:

    I love biking, own and ride bikes of all kinds. But I also hike every weekend in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are plenty of polite mtn bikers who come down the very narrow paths carefully, speaking politely, trying NOT to kill the hikers. And there are also plenty of adrenaline freaks, blindly ripping down the paths no matter what frail old lady or little child may be hiking up them. Some day there is going to be a very ugly collision up there, and the nutjob sociopathic mtn biker who causes it will undoubtedly blame his victims.

  • I'mRight says:

    I read this expecting things like: flat tires, loose sticks covering the trail, etc. but no.
    How about: “I hate riders that expect me to look like you and ride like you”.

  • aclinjury says:

    #7 – Misbehaving bikers. I find that a lot of these folks are the non-newbie guys wearing team kits. They think they’re all badass just because they’re “racers” on some local club. Message to these guys: you ain’t no pro, don’t try to play hero and make the rest of us look bad.

    • T-Bone says:

      Have to agree with you on #7. These riders give the rest of us a bad name. I don’t need that shit, I just want to ride my bike. Don’t be a dick.

  • larryc says:

    good points.hope the article helps promote our pastime & assists the strugdling little Mom & Pop bike shops afloat.keep on bicycling & good health to all.

  • Unshaven says:

    “…this puppy.”

    Unless it’s about a canine, don’t ever use that phrase. Ever.

    Carry on.

  • Bob_Stimson says:

    I’ve never understood the 5 abreast walkers on the paved bike path. The paths that have the dotted yellow line down the middle and they take up both sides of the dotted line… I just might need to replace my bell with an air horn.

  • Tiddle McGee says:

    Who has ever been turned away from a cycling event because they rode a bike that cost less than $10,000?

  • Eddie Diaz says:

    I was expecting a list more objective to cover cyclist, non-cyclist, people working in the industry, etc. Waste of time

  • Old Man says:

    I have a helmet mirror and would not change that for the world: that and the helmet on which it is attached are the best bits of equipment. What burns all of us cyclists the worst is your point #7. I hate those people with a passion.

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