Your lights are on, but you’re not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another ride, is what it takes
You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe
Another bike, is all you need
(Sorry Robert Palmer)
Its an interesting thought… what are the driving forces that take a regular Joe/Joette from having no involvement in a hobby, to the other end of the spectrum where they are waist deep, with their hobby taking over many aspects of their life.
At the outset, lets rule out ‘enforced interests’. By this, I mean a hobby that hasn’t started organically, but instead may (emphasis on that word, may) have started with a school or excited parent shoving ‘said hobby’ down a childs neck. Don’t get me wrong, there are many (guesstimate squillions) of people who love hobbies that may have started from conscription as a child, and ill have to include the stereotype of the ‘parent pushing their 6 year old to be the next Robbie McEwan’.
But back to the point, I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but cycling seems to have the uncanny ability to attract people organically (no brain washing required) from literally every walk of life, and in a short time convert a ‘heathen non cyclist hubbard’ into a mildly addicted cycle nut, and in many cases this transition is driven mainly by that individuals passion alone. It doesn’t matter if you are old, young, fat, skinny, short or tall. Once the passion for cycling has taken hold, its an incredible force.
The main three main categories seem to be-
2) Non competitive/Recreational, or
Or a mix of the above.
Expanding on that point, some of the wide and varying stereotypes I have met over the years in no particular order (this is the part where I pigeonhole):
- Mamil – the most commonly known, middle aged men in lycra. Many of which I know have purchased their first road bike in the last 5 – 7 years.
- Veterans – been round the block many times, and regularly beat the younger fitter riders with their superior race nous (in some circles known as Sparkey).
- Juniors – similar to those tiny kids who fly past you on a ski run, carving like pro, except on a bike.
- Twenty somethings – this is generally the ‘sweet spot’ for competitive club cyclists, no mortgage, fire in the belly, disposable income, no kids, 15 – 20 hours to ride every week and the delusion they still have the time and ability to go pro (not realizing the cut off for pro status is at about 16 years old). For men this is generally the segway to being a mamil (and that’s from experience) , but for some reason there seems to be numerous women who take it up in mid to late 20’s and still make it to pro status (ala Jo Hogan or Miranda Griffiths).
- Bike snob – every sport has its elitists. Any age or gender, Bike Snobs have a tendency of looking down their nose at ‘lesser cyclists’ for varying (shallow) reasons. Some examples of indiscretions; wearing the wrong socks, a poor power to weight ratio, hairy legs, have never raced A grade. Oh wait that sounds like they are describing me.
- Talented fly by night – generally somewhere between 17 and 24 years old, extremely talented. They smash a pb it took you 5 years to make after only riding for 3 months. They either go on to pro ranks within 2 years, or completely dissappear (either hitchhiking or partying) commonly washing up 15 years later as a mamil with embellished story’s of their glory days.
- Pro – Current and ex professional racers. Generally held in high regard by those in the competitive ranks.
- Hipster – strange mix of green peace, bearded wizard, with a touch of flandrian hard man, and may also own a bike with a basket.
- Brunswickian- see fyxo, rides steel and/or singlespeeds, mild fixation with not riding on beach road and what side of the yarra yo live on. Generally friendly and quirky. Commonly sighted at DISC.
- OCD – No matter what, it IS about the bike.
- C grade cyclist – the middle ground between all competitive cyclists, the fence sitter. No particular style, or lack of. Happy where they are, no inclination to move up, down, or sideways.
Now before you lose interest and switch off, there is a reason ive written the above. I believe our sport has an incredibly rich and diverse tapestry of people. They all partake for different reasons; and all have something different to give. Some to stay fit, others for mental health, a source of transport, maybe you may like to release stress with a bit of competitive grrrr, or maybe you would like to meet some new people and broaden your horizons.
Well, my journey started with buying a mountain bike in my early twenties, and a decade later, im the fittest I’ve ever been, occasionally racing my bike, I’ve literally met hundreds of people and made countless new friends. My mental health is all the better for it. It’s taken me abroad, ive have ridden down roads I never would have never been down just for the heck of it. There have been stunning sun rises, sunsets to warm the cockles of my heart, and alpine vistas that ill never forget. I’ve found a stack of great cafes where there have been been plenty of d&m’s as well as trash talk. AND I am about to embark on epic journey to raise money for the cancer council in the name of a dear friend.
Getting on to my bike is one of the best decisions ive made in my life for many reasons.
If you feel flat, fat, depressed and un-motivated, find yourself sleeping in on the weekend with nothing to do and no one to see, then do yourself a favour, and get on your bike.