A 1970s Frejus

Define Cyclist

Define Cyclist

by / / 54 posts

We are cyclists, the rest of the world merely rides a bike. What defines us as cyclists? Can a recumbent rider be a cyclist, a unicyclist, a fat recumbent rider with hairy legs and a YJA on? I think yes but am I snob for even asking?

Years ago, I was helping a woman at another research institution set up some scientific equipment. Evidently we kept our small talk very small because it never came up that she was the wife of a cyclist friend, Paul. I had ridden with this guy many times, he used to race a lot, and he always put in his miles. Eventually, he and I put it together that I had been working with his wife.

“She didn’t think you were cyclist, as you didn’t have shaved legs.”

Boom, lightening struck, really, that’s the requisite? I had dabbled in racing fleetingly and shave up for it but unless one was somewhere in the spectrum between racer and ex-racer, I thought it was almost false advertising to shave the legs. I rode nearly as much as Paul, I was probably more obsessed with professional european cycling than he was. Actually, I had to have been a lot more obsessed than him, he had a PhD and could not spend his lunch break cloistered in his office reading Cycling News online, every day, could he? Was I not a cyclist too?

In the 1970s at a big college where I knew no one, I became best friends with a fellow misfit, Mark. He had raced on the boards through his high school years, racing at the outdoor velodrome in Northbrook, Illinois. The Chicago area must have been a hot bed of American cycling back then. High school youth with too much energy could channel it into track racing on bikes when it was warm and track racing on speed-skates when it was cold. We bonded over Jimi, not Eddy but he had a huge poster of Eddy Merckx in his dorm room. I had never seen that before. I dare say he worshiped Eddy. He agonized over still referring to himself as a track racer, though he had not raced in two years. I didn’t understand at the time how important a question this was to him. It was his identity. Let’s see, you haven’t raced in a long time, and you have a bong in your hand, you might not be a bike racer anymore, I thought, but I didn’t get it. He was still a cyclist.

It was his unbridled enthusiasm for bikes and cycling that opened my eyes. He understood a whole universe I was unaware of and even though we were the same age, he became my sensi.

We both dropped out of school that year and the sensi began his work. His Campagnolo-ed up Frejus road bike was always spotless. He taught me by example only, everything about looking fantastic on the bike. He was the one who insisted we take apart my brand new, as yet unridden Peugeot PX-10 down to the ball bearings and rebuild it properly. He was a Velominati long before there were Velominati. As a sad endnote to this, Mark died in his sleep in his early twenties; some cruel syndrome that kills young healthy men for no known reason. One of his track jerseys has always hung deep in my closet. It remains, as the idea of discarding it is still impossible. 

So what makes us cyclists instead of just bike riders? Is it love? Does loving to ride any wheeled (I’m not unicyclist phobic) machine do it? Is it the need to ride where we cross the line? If riding defines us and we are good with that, then we are cyclists. 

// Musings from the V-Bunker

  1. Love it, great writing @Gianni. It is not defined by others, as has already been said, this begs the question….are we a religion…are we a culture…are we actually an entirely separate race? (Pardon the pun)

  2. A neighbor rides a late 80’s Hard Rock to work and to run errands, visit her sister etc. 5200 miles a year. She’s a cyclist.

    An employee commutes 6 miles each day when the weather permits, on a ’68 Schwinn.

    I struggle to get 3-4000 miles a year on some expensive hardware.

    We are all cyclists. If you throw a leg over and pedal it, you’re a cyclist. I’m stymied to think of the words to describe the arrogance of the phrase “serious cyclist”.

  3. Cyclist: [sahy-klist] n. “bicyclist,” 1882; see bicycle + -ist. Saxonists preferred wheelman.

    1: One who travels by bicycle.

    2: One for whom the desire to ride a human-powered vehicle is overwhelming, compulsive, innate, and engaged in without regard for pain, suffering, or other vicissitudes inherent in endurance sports. Failure to observe Rule #4, Rule #5, and Rule #9 is antithetical to this definition. This definition is inclusive of all persons so afflicted, and is not affected by:

    • Donning of the YJA.
    • EPMS use.
    • Being astride a recumbent, trike, or handcycle.
    • Choice of frame geometry or bar height.
    • Inability to make purchases of fine kit due to economic limitations.
    • The deployment of florescent top wraps, spoke cards, hipster douchebaggery, and riding sans brakes in traffic upon otherwise innocent track bikes. (Wait, never mind, this is pushing it.)
    • Otherwise violating rules in an egregious manner.

    As for myself, I follow the fucking rules**, but we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.

    **Well, except for Rule #34, Rule #62, and Rule #29 for self-supported brevets over 300k. See Rule #5 and STFU in the last case.

  4. @VeloSix

    Riding my bike is my therapy. It is all consuming, and I think about it non stop, day and night. I get nervous and sleepless the day before a big ride/race, kinda like a kid on Christmas Eve. I have no idea why I took so long to accept this addiction of mine, I have truly wasted a lifetime of undue stress to my body, that I could have otherwise been releasing through two clipless pedals. (there might be some that claim my obsession requires professional therapy – fuck them)

    Pinning some numbers to my kit and racing my steed on weekends, is quite literally a legal drug. Riding alone, for hours on end, in our East TN rolling hill is nothing short of indescribable ecstasy. The psst, of an air pump, the clicking in of cleats, and the sound of rubber rolling across the tarmac. There is no better addiction.

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and hell yes. All of that. I agree, fuck them to the tenth power. Idiots.

    Tennessee can be a cycling paradise. Wish I was able to ride in East TN more – I’m in NashVegas.

  5. Gianni, great piece! Save for the dropping out of school bit and the decade involved, my induction into the faith mirrors yours quite closely. My sensi taught me the rules entirely by example and sadly as well died young (of myeloma). I haven’t a memento though, save for awesome memories.

    Tangent: riding the “Flatest Century” last year my riding buddy was asked by a teammate’s wife if he was a poser (because he shaves but does not race). “I’m a cyclist…of course I shave,” was a great answer.

  6. It is not the miles you put or the times in a week you ride. Being a cyclist does not have to do with actually cycling imho. You can be a cyclist even if you don’t ride your bike.

    I have a 2 year old boy and a 2 month old baby, a wife and a job. I have not ridden outside the last 8 months. I dont have the time.

    Three times a week I put my Colnago Super on my trainer and I do my training programme for 1-2 hours. I love sweating and aching while pushing the pedals, even if I see the boring apartment opposite of ours. In my agony I smile when i see that gorgeous Sarronni red of the paintscheme or the club on the steel fork. I am not moving a single meter, the view is urban but in my eyes I am in the high mountains of the audax I am trying to keep fit for in 9 weeks. I can see the trees and the river that starts after 30 kilometeres from the start and will keep us company for 12 kilometers.

    When the bike is stored in the balcony I can see its rear as I watch TV. That gorgeous view of the saddle up there going down to the italian carbon seatpost and meeting the frame to that fine thin steel seatstays with the wheel among them is so damn sexy some time that I am carried away and stop watching the movie and watch the bike for a minute.

    Some people choose their proffession to define them. Cyclists are defined by a bicycle. You can be still in your living room and yet in your mind you could be climbing a mountain. You are watching the Vuelta and your heart for some seconds beats faster because you are part of the peloton and you can actually sense Froome and Contador a few meters away .

    We are cyclist because a bicycle can make our heart beat faster even for a few seconds without being on it.

  7. @antihero Agree entirely. It’s not what you ride, but how you ride it that defines a cyclist. A city courier doing 200+ miles a day on his filthy fixie, jumping lights, cycling on the pavement and shouting abuse at other road users is not a cyclist. The busy dad or mum who can only afford a couple of hours at the weekend and looks forward to the ride all week, keeping their bike and kit clean and tries to follow the rules is a cyclist.

  8. What a great question! I believe that there needs to be a certain amount of obsessiveness to truly be a cyclist as we generally define it around here, This past weekend I rode 160 kms in Door County, Wisconsin. A marvelous ride in every respect. Thousands of riders participate over the various distances. All rode bicycles. Were all cyclists? Hard to say. I think many would say they “rode their bike” rather than “I’m a cyclist.” I think many would honestly admit that there’s a difference between the 28 and 50 mile riders and the 100 mile folk (like me) on their expensive bikes with all the kit.

    I know the word snob comes up around here too to describe our attitudes to those less OCD about all things cycling, and Merckx knows rule violations were as common on the ride as blades on grass on a football pitch, but you know what, for some participants, riding 28 or 50 miles was a bigger accomplishment for them than the 100 was for me. They’re wildly out of shape, ride badly maintained bikes and have awful positions and poor clothing choices. But you know what? They literally got off their asses and rode and for that I give them huge props. Are they cyclists? I still don’t know, but they’re doing something on two wheels and that is a good start.

  9. What a great question. I “am” cycling.

    It is my transport. It is my hobby. It is my watercooler conversation. It is my drug. My lover. My worst enemy. My comfort, and my pain.

    When friends or colleagues are shopping for bikes or need bike related advice, it’s me they come to. A holiday a year is devoted to at least one cycling event and one family cycling activity.

    When I’m in my shed, it’s my bikes I stare longly at. When I’m on my lunch hour, it’s here and Cyling News I click on.

    When I pass other cyclists, regardless of rule violations, age, gender or bike, I wave and smile and say “Hello”. For they are cyclists too.

  10. I ride therefore I am.

  11. It’s not what you ride or even how you ride, it’s WHY you ride.

    A cyclist is someone who rides just to ride. Because they enjoy cycling. Someone who didn’t have to ride, but did.

    Commuters are not cyclists per se and people riding to the shops are not cyclists. They may be cyclists by other activities, but these acts don’t give them that status.

    Professional cyclists are just that – professional cyclists. They probably were cyclists when they were young but if it’s just your job and you wouldn’t be riding otherwise then no you’re not automatically a cyclist.

    It’s like being a tourist. If you live there, if you are there on business, or visiting relatives, or hiding in a witness protection program, you aren’t a tourist. If you’re there to enjoy it, you’re a tourist.

  12. I thought being a cyclist was about dogmatic adherence to The Rules…

  13. @Kupepe I admire your dedication. My trainer mysteriously disappeared a few moves back. I am not too sad because I could hardly manage myself while riding using it, plus it gets me outside to exercise even in worse weather. Just yesterday I had no time to ride (I wasn’t willing to wake up early enough to get out) so I had to settle for another unnamed form of outdoor exercise with my 16 month old daughter. It was great.

  14. @wiscot

    That’s right on the money. No one should ever be looked down on for merely “riding a bike.” Those people deserve plenty of credit because, unlike most of their follow citizens, they were out doing something physical instead of sprawled on their asses glued to a TV.

  15. @VeloSix

    (there might be some that claim my obsession requires professional therapy – fuck them)

    Really. I hate to think how many carbone wheel units would go into paying for therapy sessions. What a waste, what a waste.

  16. @Kupepe

    Owning a red Colnago Super, you have met the definition already, I would say. Only a cyclists would own a that. Chapeau for getting on it inside, three times a week.

  17. I think the last paragraph from the ‘musings’ pretty much answers the question. The love and need to get out and enjoy the environment outweighs by far any other constraint – even a definition. Who cares, just ride…….My back yard....

  18. I would agree with most of the above.

    It is what defines me and stops me from going insane. There is nothing like riding the bike and once you realise that you are a “cyclist”

  19. @wiscot

    How about you organize a 100km cogal around Feb 2nd? Only 100km but that time of year around here we can really see who has some Merckx in ’em

  20. I think it’s when you are out and about without a bike, you see a bit of road, especially a climb and think that would be great to ride on. Mortals just see Tarmac, I see a challenge.

  21. @Simon

    I think it’s when you are out and about without a bike, you see a bit of road, especially a climb and think that would be great to ride on. Mortals just see Tarmac, I see a challenge.

    This. Everywhere I go I look at the roads from a “would this be a good place to ride?” point of view.

  22. @antihero

    Cyclist: [sahy-klist] n. “bicyclist,” 1882; see bicycle + -ist. Saxonists preferred wheelman.

    1: One who travels by bicycle.

    2: One for whom the desire to ride a human-powered vehicle is overwhelming, compulsive, innate, and engaged in without regard for pain, suffering, or other vicissitudes inherent in endurance sports. Failure to observe Rule #4, Rule #5, and Rule #9 is antithetical to this definition. This definition is inclusive of all persons so afflicted, and is not affected by:

    • Donning of the YJA.
    • EPMS use.
    • Being astride a recumbent, trike, or handcycle.
    • Choice of frame geometry or bar height.
    • Inability to make purchases of fine kit due to economic limitations.
    • The deployment of florescent top wraps, spoke cards, hipster douchebaggery, and riding sans brakes in traffic upon otherwise innocent track bikes. (Wait, never mind, this is pushing it.)
    • Otherwise violating rules in an egregious manner.

    As for myself, I follow the fucking rules**, but we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.

    **Well, except for Rule #34, Rule #62, and Rule #29 for self-supported brevets over 300k. See Rule #5 and STFU in the last case.

    Because this needs to be read again, and again… and probably make it into the next publication of “the Rules”.

    @wiscot

    I know the word snob comes up around here too to describe our attitudes to those less OCD about all things cycling, and Merckx knows rule violations were as common on the ride as blades on grass on a football pitch, but you know what, for some participants, riding 28 or 50 miles was a bigger accomplishment for them than the 100 was for me. They’re wildly out of shape, ride badly maintained bikes and have awful positions and poor clothing choices. But you know what? They literally got off their asses and rode and for that I give them huge props. Are they cyclists? I still don’t know, but they’re doing something on two wheels and that is a good start.

    Absolutely they are on the path, violations or not. The rider on the old Quintana Roo in baggie shorts because that’s all he had who kept pace with me to finish in the Whistler Gran Fondo in just over 4 hours to the Admin Assistant I work with who climbed on a bike for the first time in years and trained when she could and did not quit… did not give up… and finished that same 122 km in 8 grueling hours, they are cyclists.

    @markb

    @antihero Agree entirely. It’s not what you ride, but how you ride it that defines a cyclist. A city courier doing 200+ miles a day on his filthy fixie, jumping lights, cycling on the pavement and shouting abuse at other road users is not a cyclist. The busy dad or mum who can only afford a couple of hours at the weekend and looks forward to the ride all week, keeping their bike and kit clean and tries to follow the rules is a cyclist.

    And this, which for some reason caused some dust to get in my eyes because it strikes so close to home.

  23. @wiscot

    @Simon

    I think it’s when you are out and about without a bike, you see a bit of road, especially a climb and think that would be great to ride on. Mortals just see Tarmac, I see a challenge.

    This. Everywhere I go I look at the roads from a “would this be a good place to ride?” point of view.

    Yes, I agree. My brain is always cataloging roads for riding (climbing). We might visit friends in Switzerland this summer and I can’t let go of the Swiss cobbled mountain pass. Only the Swiss would do that in the first place. It begs to be ridden. I think they did it in the Tour de Swiss this year.

  24. @DeKerr

    @antihero

    Cyclist: [sahy-klist] n. “bicyclist,” 1882; see bicycle + -ist. Saxonists preferred wheelman.

    1: One who travels by bicycle.

    2: One for whom the desire to ride a human-powered vehicle is overwhelming, compulsive, innate, and engaged in without regard for pain, suffering, or other vicissitudes inherent in endurance sports. Failure to observe Rule #4, Rule #5, and Rule #9 is antithetical to this definition. This definition is inclusive of all persons so afflicted, and is not affected by:

    • Donning of the YJA.
    • EPMS use.
    • Being astride a recumbent, trike, or handcycle.
    • Choice of frame geometry or bar height.
    • Inability to make purchases of fine kit due to economic limitations.
    • The deployment of florescent top wraps, spoke cards, hipster douchebaggery, and riding sans brakes in traffic upon otherwise innocent track bikes. (Wait, never mind, this is pushing it.)
    • Otherwise violating rules in an egregious manner.

    As for myself, I follow the fucking rules**, but we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.

    **Well, except for Rule #34, Rule #62, and Rule #29 for self-supported brevets over 300k. See Rule #5 and STFU in the last case.

    Because this needs to be read again, and again… and probably make it into the next publication of “the Rules”.

    That should make it in the next edition of The Rules. Very well written.

  25. I keep looking at that photo of the 70’s era Frejus and remember riding a Frejus track bike that belonged to a friend. He actually asked me about the whereabouts of that bike a couple of years ago. I told him, “I left that bike at your Mom and Dad’s house back in the spring of 1975. Lord knows what they did with it”.

    That same friend loaned me his brother’s Schwinn Paramount for a ride that we did a few days before high school graduation. It was that ride on that bike some 40 years ago that started me on the pathway of the Velominati, although, it was years before I would realize it. I am a cyclist.

  26. @Kupepe I get it. Up at 4:30AM every day. Two days a week on the trainer and 3 days a week a hybrid of strength and trainer. A ride on Sunday if I’m lucky. I’m come every evening (7:00 PM or so) and go to the garage and touch my #1, caress it, admire it……..Am I cyclist?

  27. “Is it the need to ride where we cross the line?”

    Yes.

    Even though it’s dangerous. And it hurts.
    The danger and the hurt are just bridges between all the long stretches of ecstasy.
    Sometimes we come too close to crossing one line too far.

    Yet still we ride.

  28. @Gianni

    @wiscot

    @Simon

    I think it’s when you are out and about without a bike, you see a bit of road, especially a climb and think that would be great to ride on. Mortals just see Tarmac, I see a challenge.

    This. Everywhere I go I look at the roads from a “would this be a good place to ride?” point of view.

    Yes, I agree. My brain is always cataloging roads for riding (climbing). We might visit friends in Switzerland this summer and I can’t let go of the Swiss cobbled mountain pass. Only the Swiss would do that in the first place. It begs to be ridden. I think they did it in the Tour de Swiss this year.

    That’d be the Gotthard Pass, I believe the name is the Swiss translation of Climbone

  29. @DeKerr & @Gianni

    Thanks gents. Glad you liked it.

  30. Did anyone else notice the plumber’s helper holding up the Frejus? Top marks, photo team.

  31. @Barracuda

    I get a little angry if havent ridden at least twice a week.

    My VMH would agree with that. She often says ” You’re cranky when you don’t ride for too long” whilst pointing to the garage indicating I need to go for a ride. Unfortunately the only reason I haven’t been riding enough is because of factors I cannot control. Sickness, away from home in a location I cannot ride (the bush) so simply going for a ride is not that easy.

    @Gianni…

    The line between cyclist, and one who rides a bike is not clear. But surely it doesn’t extend to a fat recumbent rider with hairy legs and a YJA on? Don’t put me in the same category as they. I struggle enough riding with a good friend of mine who has mismatched wheels (Ultegra rear, RS80 front – to cheap to replace the broken rs80 with like for like!), thick gorilla like hair on his legs and comes well short of dishing out the pain to justify the hair. Yes, he even races from time to time!

    @Zman

    We are all cyclists. If you throw a leg over and pedal it, you’re a cyclist. I’m stymied to think of the words to describe the arrogance of the phrase “serious cyclist”.

    No, I don’t think it’s that simple.

    I would say if someone rides because they like to ride, then then are a cyclist. If someone rides because they have to, it’s cheaper, it’s green etc then I would say they are just someone who rides a bike. Generally the answer can be found by looking at the bike. A cyclist would not very likely have a tired, worn-out, unloved machine in desperate need for a tune up, balding tyres, torn tape etc.

  32. @Gianni

    @DeKerr

    @antihero

    Cyclist: [sahy-klist] n. “bicyclist,” 1882; see bicycle + -ist. Saxonists preferred wheelman.

    1: One who travels by bicycle.

    2: One for whom the desire to ride a human-powered vehicle is overwhelming, compulsive, innate, and engaged in without regard for pain, suffering, or other vicissitudes inherent in endurance sports. Failure to observe Rule #4, Rule #5, and Rule #9 is antithetical to this definition. This definition is inclusive of all persons so afflicted, and is not affected by:

    • Donning of the YJA.
    • EPMS use.
    • Being astride a recumbent, trike, or handcycle.
    • Choice of frame geometry or bar height.
    • Inability to make purchases of fine kit due to economic limitations.
    • The deployment of florescent top wraps, spoke cards, hipster douchebaggery, and riding sans brakes in traffic upon otherwise innocent track bikes. (Wait, never mind, this is pushing it.)
    • Otherwise violating rules in an egregious manner.

    As for myself, I follow the fucking rules**, but we’re all brothers and sisters on the road.

    **Well, except for Rule #34, Rule #62, and Rule #29 for self-supported brevets over 300k. See Rule #5 and STFU in the last case.

    Because this needs to be read again, and again… and probably make it into the next publication of “the Rules”.

    That should make it in the next edition of The Rules. Very well written.

    +1 badge nomination.

  33. @ChrissyOne

    Did anyone else notice the plumber’s helper holding up the Frejus? Top marks, photo team.

    not til you mentioned it, they did good.

  34. @Mikael Liddy

    @ChrissyOne

    Did anyone else notice the plumber’s helper holding up the Frejus? Top marks, photo team.

    not til you mentioned it, they did good.

    That’s too funny. Can’t believe they actually did that.

  35. @wiscot

    @Mikael Liddy

    @ChrissyOne

    Did anyone else notice the plumber’s helper holding up the Frejus? Top marks, photo team.

    not til you mentioned it, they did good.

    That’s too funny. Can’t believe they actually did that.

    I did catch that, quite humorous!

  36. @Puffy

    @Gianni…

    The line between cyclist, and one who rides a bike is not clear. But surely it doesn’t extend to a fat recumbent rider with hairy legs and a YJA on? Don’t put me in the same category as they. I struggle enough riding with a good friend of mine who has mismatched wheels (Ultegra rear, RS80 front – to cheap to replace the broken rs80 with like for like!), thick gorilla like hair on his legs and comes well short of dishing out the pain to justify the hair. Yes, he even races from time to time!

    I will politely disagree with the above. It is certainly an interesting question. I think the person who would rather ride mismatched wheels than go without a ride certainly qualifies as a cyclist. A velominatus, no, but certainly a cyclist. Similar to the overweight YJA wearing gorilla on a recumbent. At least he’s off the couch and piloting a pedal driven machine. Velominatus, no, but certainly a cyclist.

    I think all Velominati are cyclists, but not all cyclists are Velominati.

    I don’t think I can add much that hasn’t been said, but I will echo the above sentiment that we are all brothers and sisters on the road regardless of pedal powered wheeled steed.

    @DeKerr

    How was Whistler? I’ve ridden the Banff GF the past couple years, and it is absolutely spectacular. Not sure if I can get behind the Whistler ride just yet. All that climbing without the benefit of a thrilling descent. I look at a climb and think what a great descent that would be. Certainly I must climb it first, for I must earn the right to descend. But to climb without descending? Tis sheer madness.

  37. @The Vid

    @Puffy

    @Gianni…

    The line between cyclist, and one who rides a bike is not clear. But surely it doesn’t extend to a fat recumbent rider with hairy legs and a YJA on? Don’t put me in the same category as they. I struggle enough riding with a good friend of mine who has mismatched wheels (Ultegra rear, RS80 front – to cheap to replace the broken rs80 with like for like!), thick gorilla like hair on his legs and comes well short of dishing out the pain to justify the hair. Yes, he even races from time to time!

    I will politely disagree with the above. It is certainly an interesting question. I think the person who would rather ride mismatched wheels than go without a ride certainly qualifies as a cyclist. A velominatus, no, but certainly a cyclist. Similar to the overweight YJA wearing gorilla on a recumbent. At least he’s off the couch and piloting a pedal driven machine. Velominatus, no, but certainly a cyclist.

    And I politely disagree also…if it’s the difference between riding and not riding, the Velominatus refers to Rule #5 and hits the road, mismatched wheels and all. It is beyond mention that the Velominatus first exhausts every other available option for preserving the aesthetics of his machine, however.

    I know many hairy-legged heavy YJA-wearing brevet dudes that will ride your ass into the ground and leave you begging for mercy. 400k is a walk in the park to these guys.

  38. You may be a cyclist if?

    Your favorite way to travel is on a bike anywhere, anytime.
    You need to ride.
    You shift your weight back on the saddle as you pull on the front brake.
    You feel naked without a helmet even to the corner store.
    Clipping in is thoughtless.
    Your pedal stroke is round, smooth like butter.
    You ride a straight line because that is what the bike does.
    The word overlap is not in your vocabulary.
    You do or would own more than 3 bikes.
    You never ride on the sidewalk/pavement unless it is at a walking pace.
    You never ride against traffic, never.
    Your line does not change when you drink/eat, look back or take off your gilet.
    Your sunnies go over the straps.
    Your machine is respected.
    Your body is just a means to ride and therefor respected.
    Your can repair tires (in the rain) and maintain the machine.
    You unweight properly and don’t get pinch flats.
    Your bike fits.

  39. Some things that make one a cyclist:

    You have a bike & ride it

    You know what “Shut up legs!” means & who famously said it

    You ogle others bikes like most men stare at nubile young women on the street

    You ride a Bro-set of Grouppo, NOT a Group-San

    You read VeloNews, CyclingNews, INRNG, Velominati, or all of them

    You know who Adam Hansen is & respect the hell out of him

    You believe Mr Merckx is the Prophet & the greatest athlete ever to compete

  40. There is only one true measure of a cyclist, the ability to make ourselves suffer, a great cyclist simply has a greater ability to suffer than you do.

  41. Suffering isn’t the only measure of a cyclist. Think about Rule #6. Some suffering may be inevitable, but the sheer joy of riding the bike is its best reward.

  42. @Jay
    “you’re probably not riding hard enough”

  43. @antihero

    I see your argument, and can not disagree. I shall now meditate on The Rules and add an extra hill repeat session this week.

  44. @The Vid Think of the Whistler GF as a Stage finish on the Col du Tourmalet or Mont Ventoux … only about 1400 m less in elevation.

    However, the view of sunrise over Burrard Inlet as you cross the Lions Gate Bridge and the subsequent scenery of Howe Sound and the Tantalus Range make the steady climb from Squamish more than worth the effort. And if you really need the descent then you stay overnight at ride back to Vancouver next day, or the same afternoon depending on the degree of Rule #10 you choose to apply.

  45. @Barracuda I used to ride at night and flick off the lights when I went through the graveyard and Confederation Park, navigating the turns and big curbs by moonlight (and memory) Pretty stupid. I think I’ll go tonight.

  46. The other night on my way home from town on the 9 bike, I saw my shadow on the ground beside me and then in front of me as the street light receded. I could see the difference in how I move on the machine after a year of commuting, riding with a club, doing gran fondo’s over the season, and generally immersing myself in the rules.

    The silence, the feeling of being at one with the bike, wanting to close my eyes and get more deeply absorbed in the pure motion. It was an insight that showed me I was a true cyclist.

    In the words of Bob, ” Who feels it knows it Lord

  47. This seems as good a discussion as any to make a ‘first post’ in. Long-time lurker, etc., I’ve wasted most of my 45 years on foot, having only discovered cycling in the last four years or so thanks to the tax incentives of the bike-to-work scheme and some colleagues of varying inclinations (one roadie, one ex-racer, one MTBer and one endurance guy who I’ve never seen in long trousers, even at work).

    Those four years started with the struggle of coming to terms with being not just ‘too fat to climb’, but ‘too fat to commute seven miles’, and that took a while. I wore the badge of a ‘goldilocks cyclist’ for a year or so, but now commute by bike when the schedule permits, rather than when the weather graciously allows it, and I seek out excuses to ride, not excuses not to ride. I’ve not ridden on snow yet, but I find myself perversely looking forward to the attempt.

    Alongside the physical training of going out on the bike, those four years have seen me embark on a parallel course of training – regular visits to this site, for one thing, and hours on YouTube catching up on the classic races of years gone by. This year’s birthday haul included the hardback of The Rules.

    Having sprung for a second-hand road bike early this year to enable me to complete a 130km trip to the seaside (Leicester’s traditional charity bike ride distance), I feel my status as a ‘cyclist’ rather than a ‘person who rides bicycles’ was confirmed earlier this month when a red spoke snapped (Bottecchia wheels have an Italian flag thing going on with their spokes), and I devoted the best part of three days finding a distributor for the right kind of spoke, rather than just allowing the LBS to fit a standard white one. Several people asked why I bothered and the only answer I have is that feels like the right thing to do. The bike may be second-hand, aluminium, and mass-produced, but it deserves my respect.

    So I’m not fast, I’m still not that fit, and I certainly don’t think I “look Pro” (although I probably look more pro than I did four years ago). But I think of myself as a cyclist, I feel a sense of community and identity with other cyclists I meet, get passed by and even (precious few in number) pass by as I’m riding. Isn’t that the essence? You’re a cyclist if you think you are. What others think doesn’t really matter that much.

    /self-indulgent mode off

  48. Nostalgic cyclist

    Berruti from Valerio Musilli on Vimeo.

  49. @Nick

    that is a top post to kick off with!

    I know the feeling re the spoke – yes, you could put any old spoke in but it wouldn’t feel right.

    Descartes died knowing that his line “I think, therefore I am.” wasn’t quite right. It took another couple of 100 years before he could have finished it off properly:

    “I think I’m a cyclist, therefore I am a cyclist.”

    David

  50. @Nick 3 days to source the right spoke? Yes, you’re definitely pedantic enough to be called a cyclist in my book.

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