Cyclists can be a sensitive bunch. I know because I am one. From the experience of riding on the road for the better part of 20 years, I’ve had plenty of things said to me that have rubbed my Lycra the wrong way.
Whether it’s from another cyclist, a brother-in-law or the brutally rude motorist, here are 10 things most cyclists have heard that would be better off left unsaid.
“IT GETS EVEN TOUGHER UP THE ROAD…”
Whether it’s a ride with your buddies or the random bike stranger who calls out to you on his way down a huge mountain pass, when do you ever want to hear how hard it’s going to be? Chances are if you’re on a climb, it’s already tough, and having to think about it being more difficult can be demoralizing — not to mention downright annoying. It’s just about putting one pedal down and then the next until you make it to the top.
What we’d like to hear instead: Keep up the good work!
“YOU COULD BUY A CAR FOR THAT…”
This comment usually comes from someone who isn’t a cyclist, like an unknowing coworker or a brother-in-law. Yes, while it’s technically true that bikes can cost the same as some used cars, the chances are the offender is exaggerating the cost of your brand new set of wheels. Even if you did spend a few hundred or thousand, what’s it to them?
What we’d like to hear instead: That bike looks fast!
“I DON’T EVEN DRIVE THAT FAR!”
You know the look: When you’re training for a century, or beyond, and explain it’s 100 miles — and whoever you’re explaining it to, say, that coworker or brother-in-law, gets wide-eyed and compares your ride to a long drive. Then insinuates that you need to get a life. As if riding bikes all day is wrong?!
What we’d like to hear instead: Amazing!
HONK! HONK! “GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
Chances are if you’ve spent any time riding on the road, someone driving a vehicle has either honked their horn or screamed at you to move over. This is incredibly rude, but can be even more irritating when you’re actually obeying the laws of the road and attempting to be safe while minding your own business. While some states have laws against riding two abreast when there’s limited space, most laws give cyclists the same right to lane space as vehicles provided you’re doing your best not to block faster-moving traffic unnecessarily.
What we’d like to hear instead: (Definitely not a honking horn.)
“IS ALL THAT SPANDEX NECESSARY?”
Yes, in fact, it is. It’s called aerodynamics and comfort. Not wearing a baggy cotton T-shirt and shorts, but opting for Lycra and chamois inserts instead, is actually way more comfortable. If my tight-fitting clothing bothers you, please divert your eyes and pay more attention to your driving.
What we’d like to hear instead: That new kit is sweet!
“WE’LL WAIT FOR YOU AT THE TOP.”
This warning usually comes just before you’re dropped and left to struggle and suffer your way to the top of a climb all by yourself while the faster members of your cycling group crush you to smithereens. In case your psyche wasn’t already pulverized from being on a seemingly endless climb, seeing everyone else passing you is sure to send your confidence into the pits — or you have you dreaming about buying an e-bike.
What we’d like to hear instead: No words help here …
“HOW MUCH DO YOU WEIGH?”
There’s more to weight than just the scale. See number 5 and you’ll know spandex doesn’t lie. If you’re trying to figure out how much lighter you are than I am (or vice versa), or how much faster you’re going to get to the top of that climb, you’re missing the point.
What we’d like to hear instead: Your thigh muscles are so huge and well-defined!
“JUST PARK YOUR BIKE OUTSIDE.”
Remember number 2? This beautiful carbon steed costs more than your car, sir, and having it sit unprotected beneath the elements for an entire day can be disastrous for the drivetrain. Not to mention it could get stolen. Also, would you leave the windows down on a BMW with the keys in the ignition? It’s basically the same thing.
What we’d like to hear instead: Nice bike!
THAT CONSTANT SQUEAK FROM AN UNKOWN PLACE…
This one doesn’t even involve words. Even more than the hiss from a flat tire, the squeak that won’t go away and can’t be identified has the potential to drive any cyclist — and those around you — insane. Is it my saddle or my bottom bracket? Does it only happen when I pedal? Please, just give it to a mechanic and let him or her figure it out. There is no price you can place on your sanity.
What we’d like to hear instead: Silence.