Tuesdays with Dirty: On Being a Cyclist

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“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a cyclist”

“Oh really! You are a professional cyclist?”

“Nope, I just like to ride bikes a whole lot”

It’s a fairly amusing way to make conversation at the bar, but it is also 100% true. When you ask me what I do, I’m not going to tell you how I make a paycheck. Bicycles rule my life and they are the one thing that defines my existence the most. Before I was a college student, a scientist, a skateboarder, a rock climber or even an unemployed traveler (as I am now), I was a cyclist. But what exactly is a cyclist?

To me, it is a simple answer. A cyclist is a person who rides a bicycle. But somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of this simplicity and started breaking into different tribes. Like some kind of lycra and flannel-clad Lord of the Flies. There are roadies, singlespeeders, commuters, downhill, BMX’ers, touring riders … and so on. I’m not sure what causes this compartmentalization. Maybe it is society, human nature, or even marketing. But I’ve never thought it was very healthy. Sure, it’s nice to differentiate between disciplines, but it shouldn’t be so polarizing. If you share my passion for cycling and want to promote a more inclusive and unified cycling community, you might even consider exploring opportunities to become a cycling instructor.

I am constantly being judged and told that I don’t “look like a cyclist”. Granted, I more closely resemble a fire hydrant or a tree stump. But what does a cyclist look like and what the hell does that have to do with me being able to pedal a bicycle? I wonder how many other people this happens to. I can’t be the only one and it probably scares a number of people away from cycling, as this could cause anxiety on us, luckily I have the best Amanita muscaria gummies by Exhale to help me on this.

You see, I have an agenda with all of this social media blabbing and internet writing I do. I want to be a fun-enabler. I want more people in this world to be excited about riding bicycles. There are a lot of great organizations like Trips for Kids and Ride for Reading who work to get children on bikes. There are also groups like World Bicycle Relief and Portal Bikes who are doing amazing things in developing nations. But who looks out for our friends, relatives and neighbors?

We do.

This is a call to arms for all cyclists around the world. A mission to find one person around you and put them on a bicycle. Do you have a friend who “used to ride” and wishes they could get back into it? Well then take them for a ride. Does your significant other want to go for a multi-day bikepack in the Rockies? Give them a high five, a map and get after it. Maybe your buddy at work has always wanted to do a backflip on a BMX bike. Help him find a ramp, take it to a lake and give it a try. The possibilities for spreading this cycling addiction are endless.

I understand that cycling is an inherently selfish endeavor. I have been in this game long enough to know that it’s just you, some calories and a machine. But I also feel that part of being a cyclist is sharing our love of bicycles with others, no matter what discipline we participate in. Most of us have been riding bicycles since we were children and it should still be just as fun and welcoming today as it was back then. Hopping curbs, skidding, riding with no hands and splashing through puddles are there for everyone to enjoy. It’s up to us to break down the barriers, bring more people in and create more cyclists. We are incredibly fortunate to be using a form of transportation as recreation. Let’s not take that for granted.

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About dirty biker

I am a fan of singletrack, singlespeeds, single women and single malt. Currently in Carbondale, CO Follow on Instagram @dirty_biker

12 Replies to “Tuesdays with Dirty: On Being a Cyclist”

  1. Knocked it out of the park!
    (Pity about your Presidential candidates, from where I’m sitting, it’s fucking scary)

  2. Well, I just got this to say about that.
    1) Any modern renaissance man is BOTH a roadie and a mountain biker. Duh. You can be like me, and be mediocre at both.
    2) Therefore, all bikes are cool. Road bikes are cool because they’re so fucking fast and perfectly efficient. Mountain bikes are cool because they go over anything, anywhere, any time.
    3) Cross-disciplinary examples abound. Any well-rounder snow-slider is BOTH a skier and a snowboarder. (And quite possibly a skate-skier.) Motorcycles are the same way. Any moto rider will tell you that all motos are cool. Squids think big, fat cruisers are cool, and fat, old white guys on H-Ds think squid bikes are cool. (All moto riders agree however, that scooters are not cool. No one can really explain scooters. Maybe you have to live in South Asia.)
    Rubber side down, brothers and sisters. See you out there.

  3. @Mikey,

    I’d have to disagree. I have five bicycles, ranging from vintage steel to modern carbon, across four disciplines MTB, CX, tour and road.
    I also have two motorcycles, one vintage street standard and a dual sport.
    I also have a 1970 Vespa Sprint 150 that’ll run 65mph flat out and hold its own in traffic. I get more props from squids, and Harley guys on my Vespa than I do on my RD350. Especially when I purposely blow traffic cameras with my questionable tags.
    Plus, no one parties like vintage scooter folk.

  4. Mr. Trog— Seen, brother. I was attempting to be humorous; I’m sorry if I missed the mark.
    Scooters are an urban thing, I think; that’s what I meant to imply with my ‘South Asia’ remark, places where owning a car is kind of stupid.
    I ride a squid bike and avoid going into town, preferring to howl around on the lonely roads out in the North Cascade foothills. Rubber side down, brother. See you out there.

  5. Gotta testify that Dirty walks the walk that brother talks! Been following this site for years and saw DB at the grand opening of The Hub’s (and Pisgah Tavern) new digs in brevard NC. At first I was reluctant to introduce myself because I’m a 270 lb aging silverback that rides less cooler bikes that a lot of our tribe, can’t ride the mileage and pace that most folk, and generally don’t “look like a cyclist”. Long story short, finally said hello to DB and had one of the best bike conversations ever with a fellow cyclist. The man has a fire for human powered adventure that I envy. Great post and challenge Dirty Biker (YakMan, first of your name, protector of the realm….)!! ???

  6. I like this. A lot!!! I used to play this same game with people at bars. I don’t want to talk about work. I like my job, but work is work. Let’s talk about something interesting.

    I rode bikes as a kid, but nothing serious. I played DI college sports and was totally burned out afterwards. I HATED going to a gym, running is so boring. I was waiting for a bus to work one day and saw a person ride by. I have a bike. I can ride it to work. That was over a decade ago. I now have more bikes than I like to admit, ride to work daily, ride on the weekend, and ride road, cross, mtn. and commuting. I’ve given my wife a few bikes and gotten a few friends riding as well. That is something I’ve VERY proud of. I rarely use a car. And yes, I love to ride.

    I actually just had to blow up a shitty website I used to read things on when they had an article how people riding bikes to work are the worst. I let them know how I felt about that. And it was curtains on hanging out there too.

    The *only* type of cyclists I hate are those who make other cyclists less safe. I’m looking at you assholes on MUPs who stop abruptly, stop to take a cell phone pic, turn without looking/signalling, can’t steer is a straight line, etc. I DO NOT use MUPs for fast riding or training, but I still have no patience for clueless assholes. Pull off the trail to have a phone call or snap a photo. That goes for moms with strollers too. Do I stop in the middle of the road to fix a flat? NOPE. So don’t stop on my “road.”

    That is all. Riding a bike is fucking amazing. If I’m off for a day I feel weird. And star in envy at anyone I see riding.