When is a cyclist not a cyclist

It’s a strange thing that those of us who like to ride a road bike have a tendency to refer to ourselves as cyclists. If you are a cyclist you might be thinking, “yep…and your point is?” If you are not a cyclist you might be thinking, “I know, pretentious bunch, face it Ragtime – you’re no Bradley Wiggins!”

Well, actually, I am a bit Bradley Wiggins, in that I’m intermittently bearded and past my best, but yes…point taken.

Of course, you are more likely to be a non-cyclist and thinking, “why do all these bike riders think we give a damn about them, and why are they so keen to be classified?”

old time cyclists
Cyclists (Image: Blue Mountains Local Studies via Flickr cc)

If I spent my spare time playing football (as many do) I would not refer to myself as a footballer. Wayne Rooney is a footballer. Lionel Messi is a footballer. I am merely a frustrated office worker who remains convinced that, in some kind of ‘sliding doors’ style twist of fate, the local talent scouts failed to spot my obvious natural talent whilst marshalling the defence of my local under 16 football team back in the early 90’s. My moment was gone.

But at no point have I referred to myself as a footballer.

So what is it about cycling? Are we just pretentious? Do we see the riding of a bike as some kind of noble act which places us on a pedestal above those that choose to get around on foot or by car (pah!), and choose to spend their spare time indoors (idiots!), and their spare money on things other than cycling kit? (fools!) Are there other groups of people who insist on labelling themselves as members of some elevated branch of the human race? What about someone who calls themselves a writer?

Hmmm, it’s a moot point.

Writers are a bit like actors in that it’s widely accepted that to be a writer is often not much more than a slightly ambitious way to be out of work. I don’t think we should begrudge them the small boost to morale to be got from referring to themselves as writers, however much that is stretching the truth.

If I made pottery in my spare time I’m pretty sure I would refer to myself as a potter at every opportunity, and I reckon a clown is always a clown, in costume or not.

It’s a minefield.

Well, it’s a minefield in a world where the accurate classification of people and their hobbies is important.

Which generally, it isn’t.

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15 comments

  1. People like to tell other people what they like to do, and if it makes them look better, then even more so. Cycling is hot and trendy right now and others tend to looks admirably upon those passing by on two wheels.
    So why not identify yourself with what you like to do. I’m a volunteer firefighter – do I fight a lot of fires and save people every day? Not at all. I just hang around with friends and do odd jobs helping out here and there. I enjoy it, so why not tell others what I like. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I ride my bike to work but I wouldn’t label myself as a commuter-they are the unfortunates who wait in queues in their shiny metal boxes on the roads or squeeze into a train to get into work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. hi folks i just wanna add my 2 cents hope i dont offend anyone. im a cyclist. the reason i call myself a cyclist is because i gave up riding public transportation a year ago today an a i save $30.00 a week $1,440 a year yeah thats a plus .an i feel great i even have a smaller waist line. ,i got tied of being a sardine in packed trains. anyway i ride in the rain,an snow all the time an i do all the bike tours ,i wish i was a professional cyclist ha but my time passed.any how i never pass on ridding my bike.i go to work an try to rush through the day just so i could ride my bike.its a passion ill never give up, if you share this passion your a cyclist. all my problems an worries are gone the moment i sit on that saddle an take off. when i die i wanna be buried with my bike lol..

    Liked by 1 person

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