I am a runner, have been since I was 13. I’ve been a lousy runner, a lazy runner, a hardcore runner. The point being I’m not a cyclist. I have a bike, and I really enjoy commuting on it and riding when I can’t run. But not being a cyclist, I never did the whole gear thing, I had bike shorts, because, well, they’re important if you know what I mean. But until a few years ago, I didn’t really ride ride. 3 or 4 years ago, I started making the 10 mile trek to work on my bike and back, and I love it. It’s the greatest way to commute. Saves me at least 1.5 or 2 tanks of gas a summer and is a great way to get a workout done on non-running days. And I do love my bike. Not least because the official color is gangrene. But it’s great.
Now, riding the past few years I’ve learned several very funny things about cyclists that I never knew. Riding in groups has a whole etiquette that goes with it, some for safety, but some things you just don’t do. A co-worker spent a lot of time riding with a morning group and he had some great stories. I learned a lot about cars, and the percentage of the road they think they own and the percentage they think you own. One of my favorite things I’ve learned about cyclists is that it’s all about the gear. Which pedals, which outfit, which bike, which shoes, which carbon water bottle holder.
I didn’t have any cycling kit, being a recreational cyclist. I always thought cyclists were very snotty. I would see them wave to each other but they wouldn’t wave to me. I’d be riding along, feeling very sporty in my shorts and race shirt* and my shorts and helmet and my cool bike with drop handlebars, and they’d just ride on by. This continued for years until earlier this year. I was out for a ride and it was warm so I decided, hey, I’ll try out Greg’s jerseys, thinking if it was comfortable, I’d get one of my own. And you know what? All of a sudden, cyclists were waving, saying hello, generally being way less snotty. I was amazed. I ran an experiment where I rode in my cotton teeshirts and a real jersey several times before I was convinced that that was it, that makes you cool.
I now have one jersey, and am clearly in the club.
*For non-runners, race shirts are the teeshirts they give out at races which you eventually accumulate to the point of not being able to open a drawer or closet without a pile falling out. They’re scrub shirts.
PS. Wear your helmet.