Wednesday, July 02, 2008

8 Conversations With Non-Cyclists

When cyclists talk amongst themselves, its a breeze to break the sportive and cultural barrier. Precisely because there is no barrier.Everyone vibrates on the same frequency, we all understand each other and at the end of the day, its a good talk. Everyone can go home happy.

However, talking with a non-cyclist (anyone who rides at or very close to 0 miles in a year) is a whole new world.Or a black hole. Its like communicating with an extraterrestrial from a 5th dimension.

Our buzz words don't carry along to them, we find it hard to make them appreciate what we achieve on our bikes, they can't see what they're missing and at the end of the day, either both parties leave confused, or both leave comfortable at where they are in life or one leaves with a higher self esteem than the other. That depends on how you handle the situation.


Sometimes, those occasional cycling talks we have with with non-cyclists are fruitful to our own well being and can do us more good than doing the same in a cycling environment.


Well, if you're imagining bicycling advocacy and crap like that, please give me a break.

No, no...that's not the point.

Talking with non-cyclists is an essential ingredient in helping boost our own self-worth and motivations. Being among cyclists all the time won't give you that kind of fertile environment.

Let me try to explain.

The total applause or laurels, praise, gasps and disbelief we get from non-cyclists are relatively more than what we could receive from a bunch of hardcore cyclists.

Because in a bunch of hardcore cyclists, everyone envies each other and wants to be better than the other. Everyone understands that a difficult thing is DO-ABLE. So who wants to hear if he climbed 10,000 miles on a ride last Thursday. Blah, means nothing to me. Its DO-ABLE. We just need more time, more training or more concessions from the wifey at home. Then we can be like that crazy cyclist John Doe who's sporting veins in his calves.

But say you were talking to a complete idiotic non-cyclist about all the mighty things you have achieved on the bike that would be impossible to imagine even if they were high on marijuana.

Be it flattery or genuine praise, you will get something. Chances are, it'll be pretty good. And that something is great because you know that you are 100 and he is 0. As opposed to you being 40 and another guy being 60 when both of you are cyclists, you know what I mean??!

If you don't have a clue to what I'm saying, forget it all.


You can talk to a non-cyclist about cycling for fun and see how they react. Some typical, and some funny behaviors will always creep up from the other side.

I will label a few now.

See if you can relate to them.


Some class of non-cyclists (lets call them Cat 1), upon hearing your confession that you're a serious cyclist will always go something like this :

"Oh you're one of the crazy Lance Armstrong wannabes on the road."

OR :

"Don't you guys shave your legs and wear speedos? Thats funny."

OR just plainly :

"Dude, don't you have a life?"

Some will think you're a motorbiker upon hearing biker. The moment you correct them when you say, no, you're a CYCLIST, their facial expression changes to a weird frown like a toddler's face when it lets go of a poop.

This has happened to me quite a few times.


Category 2 non-cyclists are partially interested in a cycling centered conversation but are utterly confused by our myriad buzz words.

We talk to them about 8 and 10 speed cassettes and they wonder if we have a fancy VCR player on our bikes.

We try to explain the classic "feel" of riding a steel versus an aluminum bike and they think we're really weird in touching our frames as we ride.

We talk about hoods and drops when they plainly don't see an engine compartment in front or notice any rain drops in the sky.

We talk about rake and trail in geometry and they think we're talking about gardening equipment.

Oh boy.


Category 3 non-cyclist's will just self pity themselves upon hearing something unbelievable from a serious cyclist.

They'll squint and have that happy face on like when President Bush smiles on camera.

You tell them that you spend 2 hours on your saddle and they remark they can't even drive for 2 hours straight.

You tell them about how you optimize every gram on your equipment and your body and they will allude something about the spare flabs on their belly.

They might even tell you something about how they're pushing their age and can't hop on a bicycle again like a little kid when in reality, you're just as old as them but look and feel younger because of cycling.


Rebels are category 4 non-cyclists who might be good in some other sport.

Watch out for these rascals, for as soon as you put forward the feats you have accomplished on your bike, they'll match it up with a corresponding story likewise from their sport.

And both of you will go on and on and on about each other's sport and all its different facets and hear about what each has accomplished until a point comes when all you want to do is grab the other person's throat.

I usually try to avoid class 4 non-cyclists. Because if I start having a cycling conversation, it'll only be cycling. And I'm the best in the world. I own everyone else.

Or I would like to think I do :)


In lieu of the fact that there indeed is a world of non-cyclists out there, and in consideration with the above categorizations, I put forward a proposal towards the creation of a regional governing body for non-cyclists.

For instance, here in the USA, it could be called USANCF or USA NON-CYCLING FEDERATION when stretched out.

This organization will cater to the interests of this group and can possibly meet once or twice in a month for a pity party at a designated location.

I also propose a USA Non-Cycling license to be issued to all members here in the States for a minimal fee of an arm and a leg.

It could look something like this :

* * *


  1. Non cyclists always seem to be impressed when I said I rode 25 miles today. I guess it would seem far to someone who can only guage the distance from their experience with a car.

  2. That would be a Cat 3 upgrading to Cat 2.

  3. I always get that too...
    "wow, 30 miles? That's, like, far."
    Meanwhile Im anxious to get the legs and lungs to do a solid 50 miler without feeling like Im going to die.

  4. "You spent how much for that bike? Why didn't you just get a car?"

    My other favorite was on a winter morning when the temperature was just under freezing. Two co-workers asked me how I could ride in such cold conditions, then went on to discuss their upcoming ski trip to Colorado.

  5. Anonymous10:06 AM

    When talking with another parent and standing next to my 9-year old son, they give me a look of disbelief when I tell them we just got to the pool after cycling over 40 miles. He loves his 20-year old Mongoose.

  6. I usually refrain from talking about the cost of my good racing bike sitting at home.

    Its kinda like talking about salary issues with another person.

    There are a couple of issues I find with this.

    One of them I THINK is that the moment you yield to them the cost of your bicycle, they get the wrong idea and are discouraged from getting into cycling in a way right there.

    The other issues vary for different people, but I dont want people to get an idea that hey, I have a lottt of money at my disposal!

  7. 'the cost of the good bike & the commitment to cycling'...if anyone is interested or concerned, i just tell 'em "well, at this point, my good bike is worth more than my car, but look at what it allows me to do...

    ...usually wipes a few self satisfied smiles off the faces of the 'fancy car, not so fit crowd', especially if somebody's girlfriend is asking the 'right' questions...

  8. Anonymous10:00 PM

    Most non-cyclist I run into tend to think I must have lost my drivers license for some illicit act or am destitute and just can't afford a proper form of transportation.


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