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.
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.
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.
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.
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.