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The Cyclist Lifestyle

time:  2010-7-20 21:17:02    


Two questions immediately suggest themselves: 1) What is a cyclist? 2) Do cyclists have a common lifestyle?

Research articles and statistical reports avoid "cyclist," perhaps to prevent confusion with motorcyclists, using "bicyclist" or "pedalcyclist" instead. Newspapers, on the other hand, use "cyclist" to describe anyone riding a bike. History can help, as the first recorded use of "cyclist" (in 1881) was as the name of a magazine for bicycle enthusiasts. Therefore, in my opinion, "cyclist" is most accurately used to describe people who are committed to bicycling. Two other terms are frequently used: "biker" is commonly used by non-cyclists, and "bike people," around since the early 70's, is used by cyclists who wish to emphasize the bicycling lifestyle or culture.

It might not be obvious that cyclists share a lifestyle. In January 1998, I wrote a funny piece about the "True Cyclist" in wreck bikes which generated a flood of postings. It seems that all cyclists share many idiosyncrasies (however oxymoronic that may be) which are not understood by occasional bike riders. Someone with a bicycle in the living room, a knowledge of all the back roads, a bicycle-related key chain, piles of road maps and cycling photos, an enormous appetite, and a two-tone tan is a cyclist beyond question. This is hardly a new discovery: one magazine is named Bike Culture Quarterly and one web site Bike People.

There are important characteristics that cyclists (bike people, if you prefer) most always share: a love of adventure, a strong whiff of self-sufficiency (self-reliance), a strong desire for good healthy exercise, a love of Nature and the outdoors, and tendencies to 1) waste less, 2) pay less attention to money, 3) not worry about impressing others, and 4) seek the humble pleasures of life.

Articles on the Cyclist Lifestyle

Why I Ride a Bike   Six very strong reasons for being a cyclist; these are not all of my reasons or all possible reasons by any means.

New Bike for $100!   A simple method of acquiring an excellent bicycle at a low cost: an environmentally friendly method for non-consumers.

Old Bikes  A look at the bicycles that have been a part of my life. Nothing special; just sweet memories.

Some Subtle Clues That Indicate a True Cyclist®  Spotting a cyclist in today's crowd is not as difficult as it may first appear.

Living in an Automobile Culture  The automobile dependent society that we find ourselves living in is not logical because people will not walk or bicycle even short distances but maintain an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle. They say they enjoy driving but their behavior says otherwise. How did we get this way?

I Don't Give a Continental   Expresses skepticism towards the intentions of companies that sell bicycle products; not that they're our enemies per se, just that they have their own motives which aren't the same as ours.

Pedaling for President for the United States  Joe Schriner is trying to get to the presidency by riding a bicycle. His campaign emphasizes issues that cyclists would agree with, such as liveable communities, alternate energy, and less wasteful living.

Bicycling Myths  Just like any other social group, cyclists have myths about most aspects of bicycling, including helmets, drinking water, speed, riding downhill, inflation pressures, leg shaving, packing the touring bike, the saddle, the bike chain, the tire tread, high-tech parts, and cycling in traffic.

Winning Respect from Motorists   The majority of motorists are not our enemies; the same people pass us every day, and we affect how they think about us.

Looking Through the Wrong End of the Telescope   My supposition as to why medical researchers and cyclists come to vastly different interpretations as to the safety of cycling.

Cycling Types and Codes of Behavior   The code I grew up with, that of the eco-cyclists of the 70's, and that of the consumeristic cyclists of the 80's; different cyclist interest groups today; the problem that conflicting codes present.

The True Story of The Decline of The Touring Bike  Sales of touring bikes were weak in the 80's, and the statement was popular that "nobody goes touring any more." However, a look into the cause for poor sales indicates another problem besides lack of interest in touring.

Cycling in the Sixties: A History of US Bicycling in the 1960's  According to most accounts, bicycling reappeared as adult recreation in the 70's, but actually there was a good bit of growth and change during the 60's which made the cycling boom of the 70's possible.

Cycling in the Seventies: A History of US Bicycling in the 1970's  This was the age when safety levers and tubular tires could both be found on a bike club ride, when hair was long and cyclists were green.

Cycling in the Eighties: A History of US Bicycling in the 1980's  This was a more conservative era, when clothes and bikes were more important than politics and when new cyclists started hesitating about riding on the roadway.