As cycling’s popularity has increased, there has been a cultural shift away from fun and experiences towards a macho world of speed and Strava
I really like his description of cycling:
Cycling can be so adventurous. I always found something ramshackle and joyful in it. It’s a quick way to get about, but one where you feel entirely part of the environment you’re travelling through. You’re fast enough to see stuff, to not get bored of the same view and to get places, but slow enough to chat to anyone you’re with, to stop and say hi to people, to admire what’s around you.
Here's his concern - he feels the sport is taken over by roadies:
Unfortunately, the other side of cycling seems to have been ruined. Ten years ago I would have been proud to describe myself as a cyclist, still a slightly odd, marginal thing to do.
It was a world of peculiar achievement, of anoraks and curly cheese sandwiches eaten on forgotten B-road laybys. It was a world of Sheldon Brown, and tales of Sustrans cycle paths.
You could be a serious cyclist and go out in denim shorts, stop for a spliff and a thermos of tea on the top of Ditchling Beacon, try cycling to Southampton on athree-speed Pashley. All these things were fine, and fun, and if you talked to other cyclists about them there would be moments of recognition and joy at shared love and shared experience.
Now it’s different. Road cycling has become the orthodoxy. Tedious, competitive, sports cycling has taken over. Cycling has become the new golf. It’s what men of a certain age, men with money and power, chat about after meetings.
The focus has moved to sportives, to carbon fibre frames, to Rapha Sky-branded kits, to gels, training techniques, times, pace and cadence. The aspiration is no longer to get lost, to enjoy and to explore: the aspiration is to do stages of the Tour, watch races, spend more money, own the best stuff, be the quickest. And it bores the shit out of me.
So pervasive is this trend that it seems to be sucking the life out of other parts of cycling. It’s hard to find the hippies and the explorers any more. It’s all about the competition and the conformity.
Granted, this is an article about cycling in the U.K. so maybe we are not quite the same? Would you agree with his assessment? Have roadies highjacked our sport? Brett just wrote about a similar situation in his article, "Sometimes We Cyclists Bring It On Ourselves".
It can feel like the roadie vibe often, because that's what sells. There's a lot of extra merch' that you can buy in that type of arena, which in return is heavily portrayed on front cover magazine issues sitting on supermarket shelves. I my self have biked 60 miles in flipflops and swimming trunks with the netting ripped out: milk crate strapped with goodies, let's go. I also done the competitive spandex tight wheel thing, going 40 miles an hour buzzing down hills, there's the finish line, celebration, who finished first. But when I truly look at all the different bikers in Chicago/land, the majority is nowhere near a total meltdown of "aggressive roadies" sucking the life blood out of just plain ole' fun on a bike. actually far from it. I believe one of the other chainlikers mentioned this in a different discussion post , which I liked... "Bicyclists are as diverse as the people who ride them" ...or something like that. On a different note: I'm Thirsty, and this weekend looks awesome for a ride-
I think the author basically misses the days when this kind of thing was what 'cyclist' meant, and I certainly prefer this to roadie hammerfests.
The author's description certainly doesn't apply to cycling in Chicago.
Hell, I just saw "a serious cyclist...in denim shorts" on my way to work this morning.
Ha! Love the visual (denim shorts).
Just ride and don't worry about how "everyone else" is ruining it for you. Ride your own ride, find your own joy. Cycling is amazing.....
I go out in denim shorts, visit seldom ridden trails.
Don't let those "men of a certain age" make their goals yours.
Ride your own ride.
Very nice. Love the kickstands.
I've been doing more "rambling" into new areas I am unfamiliar with. Last weekend I rode a bike route around the Southern unit of Kettle. After more than 20 years of going to Kettle, I saw hiking and horse trail heads I'd never seen before. I also passed two of the campgrounds I've camped at many times over the years. There's something really special about getting out on a bike and taking advantage of the bike routes, checking out new areas. The only thing I regret is that I didn't pack enough water and snacks, assuming I would pass small towns or gas stations. I managed to finish, a little dehydrated and hungry but really happy. I'm really looking forward to plotting my next bike adventure.