The Chainlink

This article, "No more hippies and explorers: a lament for the changed world of cy..."

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".

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What's great about the midwest are the changing seasons, the same trail never really feels like the same trail. Last week I played Hydrologist for the ride, even though most of the passing park's water fountains were off, bummer.  I'm looking for another adventurer or two for a planned small group ride, plus I'll be rambling off to some local areas this summer.  I put together a message with details to ya.

as a father of a newborn and a toddler, i don't have a whole lot of free time these days to think about what the "world of cycling" looks like to me.

i'm just glad that i've structured my life to make it easy for me to be a bike commuter. those little 5 mile jaunts to work and back every morning and afternoon constitute about 95% of my saddle time these days, and i'm ever so thankful to have them. 

i don't have enough time/energy to care about how other people choose to ride.

I wanted to make a thread on a related subject that overlaps with Brett's thread as well- but I'll just post about it here: Road Biker Snobbery.

Bret's thread gets sidetracked with the issue of Barrington Hills being unfriendly to cyclists and this thread isn't quite directly addressing the issue either since it's about general worldwide trends over time.

But anyway, I definitely get a sense of elitism from some Roadies. They seem to think that the different ends of the bike spectrum from Beach Cruiser on one extreme to Road Bike on the other (and everything on between) aren't simply different flavors and styles that are each good in their own way and serve their own purpose but are instead on a scale from worst to best. Or least evolved to most evolved.

Just last weekend I was helping a casual cycling friend pick out a new bike at Kozy's, and the clerk that was helping us obviously had a huge roadie bias.

He tried telling her that road bikes are actually the most comfortable bikes once you get used to them and that anything else becomes very uncomfortable after a few hours (she retorted that she can ride a divvy for hours and she's perfectly comfortable).

She ended up picking out a tourer (a hybrid with a much more upright posture) and he said "in a year you'll be back and you'll want a road bike" or something to that effect.

Which just is the latest of many examples where I've seen roadies imply that everyone who is not on a road bike just hasn't graduated to their level of enlightenment yet. Ugh!

I agree with you - there are many perspectives and riding styles with cyclists. I actually had the exact opposite experience with regards to shopping for a bike. Back when I was getting back into riding, I wanted to get a new bike and was pushed into a hybrid low-end bike. I ended up hating that bike. 

I do find road bikes much more comfortable for me. There are friends of mine that prefer upright bikes and I respect that. As I mentioned, different riding styles for different people. So, from my perspective, I would have appreciated the perspective about road bikes rather than being pushed into a hybrid because it was assumed I wasn't serious enough to complete centuries and metric centuries. Brett helped me figure out what kind of road bike to replace my hybrid with and now, years (and thousands of miles) later, I LOVE that bike more than any other I own. I'm sure your friend will be very happy with her new bike too. 

I am impressed the sales person did provide the different perspective rather than just quickly making the sale. Sure, he may have a different perspective than your friend but he felt he was providing a valuable perspective and taking your friend seriously as a cyclist. He was probably providing a perspective based on his own riding experience.

It's one thing to provide a perspective as one's own two cents and it's another to come off as closed minded (such as implying that road bikes are objectively better) . He came off as the latter by implying that road bikes are what all serious cyclists eventually want as soon as they know what's good for them. I did take her to different bike shops and insisted she test ride all kinds of different bikes including a road bike (which she hated), she ended up getting an Electra Ticino.
I will add that I certainly have my own biases but I try to be upfront about those if someone asks me for bike advice, and I try to give the pros and con's of all of the traditional styles of bikes.


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