People seem to have a predetermined perception about road cyclists: mostly, that we're pretentious dicks. Roadies run signs. Roadies look down on motorists. Roadies look down on any other type of cyclists. Roadies aren't polite, etc. etc.
I used to always defend my fellow roadies - I'd insist that they're just riding defensively, and trying to focus on the ride and their speed. Perhaps they ride professionally, and as it's their job, of course they're going to take it seriously!
Once I started being serious about commuting though, I realized something. Commuters will talk to you. Say hi, ask how your ride was, wish you a good day. Most people out on a casual ride will do this, and even the roadie commuters I meet (I'm one of them!) are kind and courteous when out on a ride to work. I meet the coolest people this way!
The roadies though? The roadies will only glance at you to judge you by your bike.
And you know what? I know exactly why. You get into this strange perception on a fast road bike, something that you don't get riding a fun single speed or a casual commuter. It becomes about speed, about beating the guy in front of you, about being the fastest. When I ride my geared steel commuter to work, I often see roadies out training for a race, and almost instantly I feel like I have to beat them. I have to show them up. And granted, I've passed my fair share of kitted out, carbon riding racers on my steel, fendered commuter. And I'll be damned if I didn't keep up my speed just because I couldn't get passed. And yes, I did start to look at other "regular" cyclists as nothing more than obstacles. It's a strange thing that happens when you're on a road bike, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.
The point is, I can be a completely different rider depending on the type of bike I'm riding. And now that I'm aware that maybe I'm being a bit of an ass when I have the ability to really get some speed going, I'm going to start actively working on keeping my friendly, "hey-I'm-on-a-single-speed-wheeeeee" attitude even if I'm out in the go-fast mindset.
Even though most of the cheery "hellos!" I offer up to other roadies while riding is met with nothing more than a grimace before I shrug it off and
leave them in the dust ride on ahead, I'm still going to try.
Also, I think it's good to change up the ride once in a while. It keeps you humble. And mountain bikers! Mountain bikers are the friendliest people! And really, I think it's because with mountain biking, it's not about speed.
So, if you're out on a road bike today, smile and wave at the next cyclist you see. Heck, even just smile and nod.
|Image via Art By Comics|
2012 Distance Count: 330 Miles | 531.1 Kilometers