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Mon, 02 Apr 2012

every time

As with a great many activities there is an element of cycling culture that is a bit hostile to newcomers. There's always going to be a learning curve in taking up a hobby and there's not much to be done about that but there's a few aspects within cycling which seem to be actively unhelpful.

Possibly the best distillation of this is in Velominati's The Rules which, I hope, is partly satire but contains a fair helping of truth. There is some good advice in there but a lot of it falls into two categories: worship of suffering and style policing.

The former of these is a constant within the road cycling fraternity; every road cyclist wants to be Belgian and regarded as a hard man. And yes, there is something heroic in the ability of the professional cyclist to suffer but I can't help but think that the better living through suffering ethic isn't all that welcoming.

The style policing which is prevalent in mountain biking as well, albeit in a different form from that captured in The Rules, I find the more objectionable of the two. If someone is on a bike they should be encouraged, not told that they have the wrong colour or type of shorts.

There is an argument to be had that I am taking this too seriously but time spent on cycling forums tells me I am not. On almost any topic you care to mention there will people who are serious in their derision of people for breaching some arbitrary convention who then go on to defend it by appealing to circumstances entirely irrelevant to all but the most serious of cyclist.

The core issue I have with this is the underlying notion that the vast majority of people who cycle are, in some way, not proper cyclists when in fact we should be pleased every time we see anyone on a bike. I know for some people the increase in cycling commuters is an irritation but for me one of the cheering things about visiting London in recent years is the stream of cyclists at either end of the day. It makes me happy every time I see it.

Every one of those commuters, regardless of how slow, wobbly or poor their gear selection is someone on a bike and the more of them there are the better it is for everyone else on a bike. Years ago the bags of Edinburgh Bicycle carried a quote from H.G. Wells that forms the tl;dr for all of the above: "Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."

posted at: 22:26 #

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