The rituals, habits, idiosyncrasies and quirks that bond us riders together mean that some things we take for granted aren’t universal to nonriders. Here are 35 telltale signs that you’re officially a cyclist (congratulations):
1. You can’t recognize your biking friends when they aren’t wearing Lycra. And you haven’t known whether to be flattered or offended when one of them has seen you in your street clothes and said something like, “Wow! You look really good!”
2. There’s never room on the top shelf of the dishwasher for anything other than water bottles — and no matter how many times you’ve scrubbed them, they still look dirty.
3. You’ve tried every energy bar, gel and powdered electrolyte mix on the market and have homed in on the exact right combo to keep you from bonking on long rides.
4. The “check engine” light in your car has been on for months, but the most minor mechanical issue on your bike is resolved immediately…
5. …that might be because your new bike is worth more than your car.
6. And that bike has a nickname.
7. You have at least one Facebook profile shot of you posing on or next to your bike with a gorgeous landscape (read: ocean, mountains or vineyards) behind you.
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8. When you’re driving and see a pack of riders, you slow down to a near crawl and give them plenty of room. You know what it means to share the road.
9. You also know what it means to swear like a sailor when an SUV cuts you off or a hater honks and nearly startles you off your bike.
10. Saturday errands happen after your ride, probably while wearing spandex, and quite possibly while clomping around in bike shoes.
11. You could cry when your favorite spin instructor — the one who makes you feel like you’re on a road ride instead of dancing on a bike — has a sub.
12. You can’t help silently criticizing your fellow students in those spin classes. (Bouncing off the bottom of a pedal stroke! Not enough resistance on the wheel!)
13. You know that “Nobody gets dropped” is code for: You will most definitely get dropped if you can’t keep up — but one of the nice ride leaders will circle back to make sure you’re OK.
14. You plot vacations around century rides.
15. Tan lines are inevitable. From permanent stripes on your thighs to little cut-out shapes on the tops of your hands, your tan lines will probably incite laughter at the beach.
16. You don’t notice the grease “tattoo” on your leg until you’ve showered, dressed and arrived at the picnic.
17. You ride to and from work because it’s the fastest way, and you’ve become a pro at getting ready in the office bathroom.
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18. You spend more time on MapMyRide than on email some days.
19. If you’re a woman, you take better care of your favorite bike shorts than your finest lingerie. (Probably because you drop more coin on bike shorts, shirts, shoes and other gear than you do on your regular clothes.)
20. If you’re a man, you have smoother legs than your wife or girlfriend.
21. You actually gasp when you discover your neighbor doesn’t inflate his or her tires for every ride.
22. You embrace fluorescent jackets, vests and shirts. The brighter, the better.
23. You know what it means to do time in the saddle.
24. You also know that those so-called comfort saddles are anything but comfortable after about 20 miles.
25. You start your Saturday rides when some folks are just getting home from the clubs.
26. You’ve felt the shame of having to walk your bike up a hill — and the pride of conquering that climb on your bike after a few weeks’ training.
27. Your physical therapist knows you (and your IT band) so well that you have a standing invitation to the annual holiday party.
28. You have more Lycra in your laundry basket than jeans.
29. You consider the color of your bikes hanging from your ceiling when choosing a new paint color for that room. If you live in a big city, there’s a good chance that room is your bedroom or living room.
30. You’re baffled when your roommate or partner doesn’t understand why your bikes can’t be stored outside.
31. If you have a garage, your car doesn’t fit inside thanks to all of the bike stands and other cycling gear.
32. Some of your gnarliest falls have happened at a standstill, when you’ve stopped but forgot you were clipped in.
33. When your co-worker says he’s interested in buying a bike, you scare him off by asking how many thousands he wants to spend.
34. You judge everything by how aerodynamic it is — from the shopping cart at the grocery store to the canopy on your kid’s jogging stroller.
35. You take a bad fall, know that there’s blood gushing out of your knees and elbows, but your first question is whether or not your bike is OK.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RIDE