Our cycling community, on-line social media and off-line, has some real bike-snobs in it. I ride the track, road, touring, Time Trials, MTB, eMTB, vintage stuff, and the occasional odd-curiosity bike, so I think I’m pretty representative of all parts of the cycling community. However, we do have some serious cliques and tribes in our global, cycling world. I’m specifically going to ignore on-line and refer to off-line, actual pedalling type of cycling now. I have found that some countries are more cycling-sociable than others, and even in the same country, and across regions, there can be differences. If I’m cycling in North Yorkshire in the UK for example, I could be riding a tandem on my own, dressed in a black plastic bag, and with a wicker basket on the handlebars full of potatoes, and I would still get greeted by the Rapha-wrapped roadie as we passed each other. I’ve noted a similar joyful recognition in the Phoenix area in Arizona.
In Switzerland, it’s a whole different cycling game and a bit ‘hit and miss’ regarding what I’ll get. When I’m riding a certain bike, let’s say an MTB, the roadies won’t even recognise that there’s someone else cycling on the road! If I’m on a road bike, I’ll get a nod or something, sometimes. If there are two roadies cycling together, usually only one greets or gestures and the other rider saves breath for something, as there’s no point wasting breath on another cyclist is there? It is a weird behavioural trend.
On the Swiss-flip side, I’ve been to my most inclusive cycling event ever in Zürich, and you can read about it here if you haven’t already https://diaryofacyclingnobody.com/punk-maskara-iv-the-swiss-spring-classic-race/ I’m not after a perfect world, but as cyclists, we should recognise everyone who’s out there.
Technology on bikes also drives a different fellow cyclist, greeting behaviour. I’ve now removed all electronic devices from my bike as it helps me ‘just enjoy the ride’, although I do have a phone in my pocket if needed. However, there is a group of cyclists that are sooooooo focussed on their power output and all of the data that their Garmin is putting out, they don’t see or care who’s cycling on the other side of the road, even if it was Chris Froome giving them a wave.
Let me give you a great, personal example of the sheer friendliness I expect for all of us cyclists to have. There is a hell of a hill between my work and home and I hate it! It was made even harder one evening when a lady in a nice, summer dress, and with two loaded panniers, came flying by me on her Stromer ebike, but at least she looked over at me, smiled and greeted me with that classic, Swiss-French cycling ‘Salu!’ greeting.
However, I do think that in nearly every place in the world, if one cyclist sees another cyclist at the side of the road with bike trouble, positive enquiry and engagement would take place.
So, when you see another cyclist out on the road next time, even if he or she is riding a vintage ladies bike with a carbon track front wheel, and wearing a vintage leather, pink and white cycling helmet, give him or her a wave of recognition and distant engagement. We are all in the same ‘transport and hobby tribe’ after all.
A few paragraphs ago, I mentioned the subject of bicycle instrumentation and data measurement, and I was recently listening to the album ‘Four Flights up’ by a band called ‘Speedometer’. This track got me thinking about the long and historical evolution of measurement used in cycling. For example, how distance, speed, time, altitude, route variation, planning, post-ride analysis, heart rate, and even the power that our legs individually create are captured and illustrated. Then I moved onto something else, like putting the kettle, making a cup of tea and eating my next piece of flapjack.
Feature photo by the Author
Speedometer photo by Rodrigo Macip