What bike tribe do you belong to?

The universe of cyclists is diverse and "multi-cultural"

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by Susan Yamane

These articles are written for someone who doesn’t know much about bike culture but wants to learn. I started road biking a year ago and despite what some people may say don’t let AGE (or anyone) be a determining factor if you think you can’t road bike.  You’re only limits are your mind, your health and what you put into it.


If you are thinking about getting a bike you are  going to see a lot of different kinds of bicycles out there. You have to get through the maze of bike shops, brands, then you have to pick your type.  There’s carbon, aluminum, and titanium.  When you are  out there you will notice a bicycle culture and a subculture.

While this is the sport I love, there are many things that I laugh, love and scoff at.  The Adventure Journal’s Steve Casimero in 2012 wrote on-line, “If you really want to get a conversation going  ask them what they think of a road cyclist.”  I’m not just  talking about the bike community but people who may have encountered one on a road somewhere. You have positive and negative responses.

pic1Don’t get me wrong here, my last article may have seemed very critical of the bike culture (and it was).  I love road bikes, races and all it represents. BUT I am concerned with how it is viewed by others.  My goal is to bring awareness, appreciation and a healthier lifestyle.  As one of the legendary cyclists, Eddy Merckx said, no matter how short or how long the ride,  just ride.

As with any walk of life you have groups that like and dislike each other, not just sports teamsbut political parties, republicans and democrats.  They all respect each other but it usually ends about there.

The invention of the bike has a fascinating history.  There’s question as to who really invented the bike but  Gian Giancamo Caprotti who was a pupil of Da Vinci was said to have penned the first drawing.  That was later debunked by and some claim it was German Baron Civil Servant Karl Von Drais  back in 1817.  He does have the first patent for the bicycle in 1818 Von Drais (Draisine) was said to have created a wheel that was 58 inches in the front and 25 inches on the bottom, capable of being steered and he put a padded saddle on it.  Needless to say it was a problem just mounting the bike.  It did not look the way it does now  until the 20th century.

The most obvious is the dislike is between the Fixies and the Roadies.  The Fixie is a single speed  bike. Fixies don’t like the Roadies and visa versa because the Fixie’s feel the roadies all look alike and are conformists and scoff at the need for all their bike gears.  The Fixies is one of the subculture to the mainstream road bike community.

pic3Consider the fixie rider a “hippie” of the bike community, the fixie has been popular among the 20 something millennials but bikes don’t have an age restriction despite  what some may think. The Fixie bike is uncomplicated meaning it has a single speed so less  components and wires making it a lighter bike.  Fixie bikes are not decked out with all the trimmings as a road bike either.  Therefore, giving you more maneuverability and flexibility some Fixie riders feel their bikes make them tougher in general because they have to use leg power without the gears.

The “Roadie” is a pretty tough cyclist despite what the fixie crowd thinks.  Many of them are  serious about their “craft” and compete.   Road bikes have gears, brakes and all suited to make cycling easier and if you are going uphill you will appreciate it.  It doesn’t mean they don’t do the work because anyone who has ever been on any kind of bike knows you have  to do the work.  Bicycles are widely accepted in Europe and have some of the most amazing bicycle infrastructures. Germany has its own bike version of the “autobahn” There is a European heritage to these road bicycles with the drop bars.

Men on road bikes shave their legs… Yes, they shave their legs.  There is no scientific proof but it supposedly makes them more aerodynamic.  There’s nothing getting in the way when you’re zipping down that hill 30 MPH.  The professionals do it.  So when you are in Rome, youmight as well do like the Romans.  Shave your legs!

headerpic (2)Roadies also have their own of “kit” made of lycra or a “skin suit”.  They don’t wear these“skin suits” because they think they’re too sexy for their bike (although some do)  The reason for the skin suits is it keeps you AERODYNAMIC you don’t want anything lose like a sleeve flapping in the wind slowing you down and messing up your GPS numbers.  How cyclists go to the bathroom, tempo cadence, safety and not bonking are a whole different article.

The next group are the Mountain bikers (MTB) most Roadies do not like going on wild terrain like their Mountain (MTB) counterpart.  Although some roadies do mountain bike.  The Mountain biker likes dirt, grass, going off road.  I’ve heard the argument bikes and trees don’t go together.  But don’t tell the mountain biker that!!  The Roadie generally despises them because for one roadies generally doesn’t like getting their bike dirty.

Bike Tribe.  A bike tribe is where you belong to.  It can be a bike shop which holds group rides or a team that competes.  Some of these bike shops can and do hold beginning group rides and endurance clinics.  It can be an independent advocacy group that has its own “tribe” or just a group of riders all under one banner.  Furthermore you don’t have to belong anywhere you can just do your own thing.  It’s a fascinating world.  If you really love it and work at it, you can get fit and get fit fast.  Bike riding is a good way to burn fat because that’s what the bike uses for fuel.  Be sure to eat properly before you’re ride to prevent “bonking” and of course drink water.  Cycling is good for you, you’ll burn fat  and your heart will love you for it as will your legs!

So no matter what you do or what you choose just get out there and ride and somewhere along the way HAVE FUN.    You never really know what you can do until YOU TRY.

Susan Yamane lives in Honolulu and enjoys riding her bicycle.




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