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Where does this element come from.......?(25 posts)

Where does this element come from.......?DannyBoy
Mar 6, 2002 4:37 AM
The judgemental elite aloof arsehole cyclist.

I remember when I joined my first club at 16 many people were helpfull but many were aloof, unfriendly and clicky. I had a crap bike and was slow, and they let it be known.

After a few years I got an ok bike and much faster, regular '56's for a 25 mile TT. Then the clickies didn't like being beaten.....

I just posted a query about top end frames and got blasted about being a poser by a guy who doesn't know at what level I ride and how much money I have etc etc? (I'm certainly not a poser as I've just moved to NZ and you'd be lucky to pass another cyclist!)

My question is, at what point are you an acceptable cyclist?

When you have an average bike and roll along at an average speed and can keep up, but not pose a threat? If you've treated yourself to a nice bike, just because you want too, does that make you a poser??? etc etc.

I wonder if other sports get this element.
Of course.Spoke Wrench
Mar 6, 2002 5:59 AM
I "ran" into exactly the same thing in my running days.

Hey, there's two elements at play here. Socializing and competing. Most of us have elements of both in degrees that vary from person to person and also depending on the situation. As novice runner, the faster guys weren't particularly interested in talking to me, but I got lots of helpful hints. As I gradually got faster, I gradually formed friendships with some of the faster guys, but the helpful hints definitely stopped.

Through the years, I've been skoffed at because my equipment wasn't very good and I've been skoffed at because I'm not good enough to deserve the equipment that I own. I'm never going to be able to please all of those people and I don't particularly care to try.

My wife and I have also been sought out by RAAM rider Susan Notreangelo to compliment us after completing a very hilly 50 mile ride on a heavy Schwinn Twinn tandem. Happened 20 years ago and I still smile when I think about it today. I prefer to use my energy to recall those memories rather than the people that I'll never be able to please.
Clicky vs CompetentSlipstream
Mar 6, 2002 6:57 AM
I have seen what you describe happen many times. I was once given some advice by someone in the service business, "I consider it a good day if I get one positive remark for every hundred complaints."

I also believe every biker has a responsibility to NOT fall into the elitist/judgmental/clickish trap, whether you are a competitive or recreational rider.

This board has some incredibly experienced riders that anyone who visits this board can benefit by. Simply ignore the flamers, they are in the minority even though they are an irritant and can create lots of CyberNoise.

I have seen posts that are critical but informative, helpful, encouraging, funny and supportive. There are a lot of people who read this board whom, I submit, are reluctant to comment for fear of being flamed or sounding incompetent. We want them to participate and to get others to join-in as well--we have a responsibility to help build the community and share this wonderful sport at all levels.

Keep a high standard on this board and with fellow riders; if we don't then this board and the rider community will become reduced to the clique described here.

...OK, I'll get off my soapbox for now--you put it better anyway
You are an acceptable cyclist when. . .Underdog
Mar 6, 2002 6:00 AM
You are not a judgemental elelitist snob prick. When you enjoy riding a bike whether you are riding the Tour de France or riding to the grocery store. When you can look at another biker no matter what level they are and appreciate that the same intrinsic fondness for pedaling compelled them to ride today, just like you. Thats when you are acceptable in my book.
Well put.Ahimsa
Mar 6, 2002 6:58 AM
I think those that race tend to be a bit more inclined to act that way, but I understand also that intimidation can be a huge advantage in sport, and thus sometimes it is justifiable to be snooty. You cannot lead the peloton if they do not fear you somewhat.

I think you need both a great amount of understanding and a thick skin in life in general so as not to internalize the actions of others into personal attacks. If someone is a snob, they were that way before you and your bike showed up, so it has little to with you, and you could never please them anyway. Why try?

None of it matters if you enjoy the ride for it's own sake.

I you race and you blow past them on your bike, then it REALLY doesn't matter, does it?

An oft quoted cyclist wrote me this when I asked about people who invest megabucks on gear that vastly exceeds their ability and usage:

"People who invest money in such things also invest emotionally, and are predisposed to conclude that the money was well spent, at least if it doesn't bust."

Good to remember when someone criticizes your set up.


I think all sports are this way.McAndrus
Mar 6, 2002 6:06 AM
The only other sport I ever took part in to this level was basketball. While the purchasable components are much simpler there are still social classifications.

I was in or out of the cliche based on my shoes, my basketball, my shorts, my jersey, etc., etc. I was in or out based on my ability to shake hands correctly. (And, please don't get me wrong: mostly I was in.)

I think all human activities eventually sort themselves into hierarchies based on some complex sociological rules that I don't pretend to understand.
re: Where does this element come from.......?Elefantino
Mar 6, 2002 7:04 AM
California, mostly.

No, seriously, much of it is envy. I know that I get torqued when we get a "I'm-a-beginner-looking-to-buy-my-first-road-bike-and-which-is-better-a-Litespeed-Ultimate-or-a-Seven-Odanata?" post, but that's the way life is.

You're an acceptable cyclist when you throw one leg over the saddle and make little circles with your feet.

re: Where does this element come from.......?CFBlue
Mar 6, 2002 7:25 AM
>California, mostly.

Hey, i resemble that, and other remarks made in this thread. :-)

I realized riding a bike outdoors was more fun than in the gym, stewing in my own juices so i bought an old junker 10 speed and got hooked. 6 months later i had joined the only local club and started on their junior ride, yes they have only one. I bought a new bike, that was heavy and poor fitting and made every effort to keep up with them.

one kind soul told me to ride to Alpine Dam twice a week and i would be with the big boys in no time, but I didn't know where it was, so I went with the club to find out. It was a cold fall morning and all I had for warm clothes was sweat shirt and pants, tied so they wouldn't get caught in the chain. Some arse made comments directed at me, about how you can always tell when someone is in over their heads and shouldn't even try.

It wasn't me how turned back, several properly equipped and clothed riders crapped out before the two and a half mile point was reached. Revenge was mine! The 'real' riders had to wait for a long time at the regroup points for me, and one other determined rider. I am sure they got stiff legs waiting in the cold,but I made it every inch of the way with out walking. A feat I am proud of every time i do it these days.

Thanks to the kind soul.. and much less to the jerk.

now. two years later, I have a light and properly fitting bike, have all the right gear, do in excess of 2000 road miles a year, and try to remember the guy who helped me, and to ecnourage those who i find in need of some.

Same in all sports? Ahhhhhh! New Zealand!tempeteKerouak
Mar 6, 2002 8:58 AM
Well, my back ground was x-country ski. It has always been very laid-back. The comparison versus tight butt downhill poser-racer was always, and still is amazingly evident. How remember Noeway's Bjorn Daehli after the 30K pursuit win in Oslo when he stayed out in the cold, waiting for the last (african) contestant? When I go skying, I always feel like I was the only guy skying last year. Everybody has new gear and stuff, and I get snobbed for not having parabolics. Skying (x-country, downhill, telemark) is one the things I do well. Better than most, I can say proudly. But I use the gear to the end.

That's what I mean by my concept of Possession over Utilisation. Status defined by possessions.

Perhaps a little evident in road cycling. It's the prestige of the sport that does it. There is lots of money in it, there are lot's of posers who define their personnality around it and who will try to reflect who they are by displaying gear, instead of just being. Shallow.

I'll never forget my chance to witness the beginning of international Mountain Bike Racing. And the friendliness of John Tomac, Ned Overend, Max Jones, Englishman Tim Davies, Italia Giovanna Bonnazzi, Austrian Hans Rey, to name a few.

We lived in tents! We played guitar. We'd ride along and swap bikes to try'em out. I was just a little guy from the south shore of Montreal, and Gerard Zadrobilek and Bob Roll would come to us and ASK US about the place. We did'nt have to chase for autograph, we didn't need any, we were part of the show because they took us in.

And now, it's even difficult to get close to local riders?

I hope you have good fun in New Zealand. It's pretty laid back and people are open-minded. Tell me in which city you are. My wife is from Nelson. It is the most amazing country for cyclists. Beats any place I've been to.


Oh, and you are an acceptable cyclist only after you can qualify as a decent human.
Christchurch but......DannyBoy
Mar 6, 2002 5:53 PM
I moved from London to Christchurch a few months back, but am shortly going up to Auckland - better for work - The pace of life's a bit slow, but for recreation it's great.

I spent 6 months in Vancouver a year back, and I find it a bit like that.... Scenery's great.
You'll like Auckland then. Stop a while in Wellington...tempeteKerouak
Mar 7, 2002 9:11 AM
Auckland is pretty busy (by N-Z standards, I s'pose) And there is a pretty nice loop going up on the One Tree Hill, so you can get a good bike work-out even in the City.
(Just like in Montreal with the world cup loop around and over Mont Royal)

Check out the Abel Tasman National Park for a hike on your way to Picton (if you take the ferry and manage to stop) And Wellington is a very nice place for MTB and road biking.

I wish I lived there, maybe in a few years.
maybe here?Woof the dog
Mar 6, 2002 10:04 AM
Ok, here i am returning from a ride, going slow, cooling down. Wet snow was fallin', but I was still riding my good bike. And here it is: some middle aged tall weirdo guy with a close shave on a god-knows-what kind of bike (commuter obviously) lays on the brakes behind on my LEFT. I hear all this squealing and instinctively clutch the brakes a little bit and move even closer to the curb. He says: "thats a nice bike, it must be hard to ride thin tires when its slippery out" So I look at him and say "thanx...and I probably have more traction than you do with all the knobs you have on your tires" He says something like ok, and we depart. See, the point is: do I respect him as a person? Sure. Do I respect him as a cyclist in a general sense? Sure - at least he aint' drivin' a car. But do I want to be around him? NO - what if he crashes me? Who's gonna pay? The point is that from what I have seen a skilled cyclist, especially on a specific group ride, will have all the necessary equipment. A bike jersey, gloves, tights, helmet, cycling shoes - all show me that a person at least knows something about bikes. It doesn't have to be an expensive stuff, but bike stuff nonetheless. It makes me feel safer, but, of course, the real judgement could be done only when you actually see that person riding.

I like helping out new people who start out in the sport. Sometimes you can simply see their experience level by how they behave. They are often unprepared and they don't even own a patchkit or a spare tube so yeah, I am the one who comes over and teaches them how to fix a flat after a ride. But you see, we all have goals, right? My real goal is: to get a good workout riding with hopefully the fast people, and not to have a group crash. I have something to learn from higher cat riders as well, and I'd rather be the one who is getting dropped, which never really happens. So, as much as I like having new people come into the sport, I'd rather not like 'ride' ride with the beginners. As someone I know said: "They don't fit into my plans." That is why I don't go for group rides anymore.

Doesn't mean I am unfriendly. I am patient and helpful with all the newbies, and I am usually the one who stops if some random rider out on the road has a problem.

Also, you can't expect everyone to be friendly all the time. Maybe that person has a bad day. It has to happen on a consistent basis! I know a person who was and sometimes still is a pissy a-hole. Most other time he is nice, however. Also, its just the ins 'n outs of any social group. When you are a newbie and don't know most of people you have to go through that initiation period. Sadly, for some people that initiation period never ends as they expect others to go out of their way: they barely talk, don't smile, and don't look like they're having fun. Do I want to be around people like that? Of course not. A will to establish a good friendly relationship has to come from both sides, not just one, okay?


Woof the dogg.
Forget pleasing peopleTig
Mar 6, 2002 11:31 AM
"No matter what you do, you are always going to piss someone off! Just do what you think is best while being considerate towards others. You're never gonna' please everyone, but remain true to yourself." -my Dad.

Forget snooty elitists. They are no fun and aren't worth knowing in the first place. While riding, I try to give a wave to other cyclists, be they dish washers on their way to work, casual cruisers, cotton T-shirt clad newbies training for an MS-150, or super quick triathletes or cat 3+ racers. I can't stand the separateness attitudes that some rider's think makes them look or feel cool. I try to make up for them by being polite and warm. A good attitude spreads like wildfire, just like a sincere smile. Its amazing how many friends you make, and we can never have too many of those.
Lighten up a bitcyclaholic
Mar 6, 2002 1:25 PM
I am a very active rider in our local club and these kinds of concerns are typical. I remember the couple of years I spent riding only occasionally with the club. I'd come out, nodding to people but generally keeping quiet about things.

I would get dropped on long rides and I would end up riding alot by myself, and I would often feel disappointed that the group I was riding with would attack on a hill and leave me all alone. I didn't realize that this is what happens when you are trying to keep up with the lead pack.

It wasn't until a while later, after I got better, that I would go off with a well coordinated group and drop people. That is a natural aspect of cycling.

It took a few years and some long rides to let the group know me and to learn about how I ride. Included in that process is judging riding style and realizing that a given rider is safe in a pace line. Have a few good (and maybe bad!) ride experiences and the bonding process will happen. Unless they are just a bunch of jerks, making friends in a cycling club is always a two way street.

At a club ride, just be yourself. If you want to ride hard, ride hard. If you want to sit back with the slowpokes, sit back. If you find a pack you can hang with, hang in there and show them you can ride. If you are a good rider, they will know it.

Don't brag or blab or say goofy stuff. If you pretend to be knowledgable about things that you don't know about, the others will be aware of it.

My personal pet peeves really center around toying with people. Unless you are hurting, do your fair share of pulling - especially into the wind. When the paceline cycles around and it is your turn to pull, don't kick up the pace! You should be working in harmony with your new friends.

Also, do you have to beat the "clickies"? After all, it is a club ride. I think it is adequate to demonstrate that you are strong enough to beat any of them, but it is good form to finish together. Any sprint to the end of a club ride should be in fun.

Nice bikes are great. Club cycling gives us all a chance to check out bikes that we otherwise wouldn't see. But having a great bike is not the ultimate goal of cycling.
Mar 6, 2002 2:39 PM
The unfortunate part is that the stigma and sterotyping in the roadie world actually fits many times, thus everyone is lumped into the same category. To many the real threat is to their self esteem and fragile egos. Go figure.

The I'm "OK, you're OK" mantra from the MTB world hasn't made it to here. In fact it seems that the "roadie-factor" is invading their world also. It's more like "I am too OK, but you're not. I think." Probably more focus on self and worth, whereas in the MTB world it's OK to share cool surroundings with anyone who's made the trip.
great replies...I'm happy.DannyBoy
Mar 6, 2002 5:59 PM
In a way i don't really care about this scenario anyway, but I obviously did when I was a teenager just starting out.

From your replies it seems you're all a bunch of great guy's who know the scores on the doors.

Me, I'm happy with what I ride and how I ride it etc etc.

I agree that the MTB bunch are friendlier, to a small degree. I wonder why?
"MTB bunch are friendlier. I wonder why?"Ahimsa
Mar 6, 2002 6:05 PM

That's pretty funny!guido
Mar 6, 2002 8:53 PM
Now I know why mountain bikers seems to be so--unstructured. They're attacking "technical" courses, honing their bike handling skills, having a great time.

Roadies on the other hand struggle more hours to cover more miles, and that may be the reason for their elitism: road biking is harder. Roadies pay their dues (getting dropped) for a long time before they become competitive. Legs can get strong in one season, but it takes several years to build up power and endurance. So roadies are justifiably proud when finally they can work their butts off for hours, delivering performance only dreamed about in the hills--and finish with others who have also done the same extraordinary feat of power and endurance. The most intense tests of physical endurance are also the most conducive to solid friendships, as in war, or overcoming natural disasters.

Road biking takes years to master. It requires well conditioned heart, lungs, nervous and metabolic systems, legs that can deliver a fair amount of power over long periods of time, while still going anaerobic at times, recovering, drinking, eating. In this sense roadies are superior athletes, and they know it, sometimes to the dismay of newbies, mountain bikers, and old farts like me who would just as soon ride with the ladies and chatter the whole time--until Spring, that is!
road snobsdon
Mar 6, 2002 9:22 PM
I make it a point to wave or at least nod to every cyclist I see out there riding. There are precious few of us already, for us to be turning our nose up at each other. we're all cyclists, just of varying skill levels.
I almost went into crying mode at reading this!!!!tempeteKerouak
Mar 7, 2002 9:20 AM
But I suppose there is a fair bit of irony in it.

Road bike athlete are not superior to mountain biker. How can a wise man like you even consider this?

Have you ever heard of John Tomac (National crit Us Champion), Roland Green (14th last year at the worlds road time trial, after winning everything on the dirt), Cadel Evans (winner of a major Tour in Austria) Alyson Sydor (MTB world champion and olympic road star) Miguel Martinez, Ryder Hesjedahl... These are the only major athletes I know of. Imagine all the others...

Come on!
Dream On!grzy
Mar 7, 2002 9:53 AM
There is a pretty solid core of MTB riders who also ride on the road and use every last bit of performance on the dirt as well. Any XC race is a great place to realize that there are many athletes with great motors who happen to ride in the dirt. You're absolutely kidding yourself if you don't think that MTB riding can be very bit as gruelling as a road bike. You got pedals, gravity, hills, and some guys trying to kick your butt. Actually there aren't too many things that are funnier than watching "Joe Roadie" get creamed by a bunch of "MTB pussies". Sure it can work the other way, but if you limit yourself to XC types and not the "Dopin' DH" crowd you'll see that the MTB guys are pretty solid - most of them train on road bikes. Many of the pure roadies are averse to getting dirty, can't handle a bike when it gets all loosey-goosey, and are scared of crashing.

In an MTB XC race you need just about everything you'd need in a road race, plus you need balls to pass when there isn't any room, awesome bike handling skills and the ability to get back up after a wreck. Even without a race you can get pushed pretty hard - my favorite rides are 5 to 6+ hour full-tilt XC single track affairs in the mountains with other fast riders. People who don't have a strong motor don't enjoy this "death march" and tend to bonk, but someone who only rides a road bike isn't going to make it either. Riding an MTB has benifits that cross over to the road and vice versa. To only limit yourself to one discipline is shallow.

By continuing the "us vs. them" mentality with the "we roadies are superior" attitude you continue to support the concept that roadies are elitist pricks. Do you like to ride or do you like to be a snob?
Kinda reminds me of a bumper sticker I once read...Slipstream
Mar 7, 2002 10:05 AM
"It takes leather balls to play rugby."

Is that ever true!

Maybe we need one for cyclists, how about:

"You need balls of steel to ride."
you're a "roadie".floatch
Mar 7, 2002 11:08 AM
To begin with, there is a marked difference between "roadies" and "cyclists". A roadie is a snob, who happens to own one or more bicycles, of the road variety, usually very high-dollar affairs. He or she has matching shiny outfits, a shiny new pair of shoes, and bike-oriented socks. A cyclist on the other hand owns one or more bikes, SOMETIMES high-dollar affairs. He or she loves riding bikes, talking about bikes, working on their bikes, and hanging out at shops. A cyclist is just happy to be outside on their bikes, whether it be a road, mountain, or BMX bike.
Saying things like: "Roadies on the other hand struggle more hours to cover more miles, and that may be the reason for their elitism: road biking is harder" is the cause of elitism. Saying things like that offend those of us who own both mountain bikes and road bikes.
As this post is running long already, I'll say one or two more things. The quote: "Road biking takes years to master. It requires well conditioned heart, lungs, nervous and metabolic systems, legs that can deliver a fair amount of power over long periods of time, while still going anaerobic at times, recovering, drinking, eating. In this sense roadies are superior athletes, and they know it, sometimes to the dismay of newbies, mountain bikers, and old farts like me..." implies that newbies, mountain bikers and old folks (you included) are somehow excluded from the level of enjoyment you derive from riding YOUR bicycle. Basically, it derides everyone but people who ride like you.
Now, I don't know you, but you SEEM like a snob. I might be wrong, but that's how it seems. Personally, I love my many bikes, and love passing guys with shiny outfits.
Flame me at will.
Oh, and you're one to talk, G"weed"o? ;-)Leisure
Mar 8, 2002 2:02 AM
I have no problem with romanticizing the roadie plight; it's part of being passionate for what you do. It's healthy. In fact, I would like to see people doing a bit more of it.
It's overextending however, to say "roadies are superior athletes" (though I realize you qualified properly by prefacing with "in this sense"). First off, it's not universally true. There's more overall variation in conditioning WITHIN each population of riders than there is BETWEEN them. Also, each sport emphasizes a bit differently between conditioning and skill. Being better in a road ride as a dedicated roadie versus a dedicated mountainbiker does not a superior cyclist make. The reverse situation doesn't either.
Noone of any sport should take their accomplishments, real or perceived, as a statement of innate, overall, and final supremacy over all mankind. A person should be proud of their accomplishments for what they are.
My ears are ON FIRE!guido
Mar 9, 2002 8:47 PM
You all are absolutely right, again.

The idea of roadies being better conditioned than mountain bikers has been around since mountain biking started, though, so please forgive me for being the devil's advocate. I'm glad nobody feels that way. I don't either, but I have met more than a few roadies who do feel superior, and that's one reason they're snooty.