I am an “unserious” cyclist

If you’re unfamiliar with Russ Roca and Laura Crawford of PathLessPedaled, subscribe to their YouTube channel here. One of Russ’ videos that I completely aligned with is “5 Things I LOVE that SERIOUS Cyclists Hate“. Sums up how I approach cycling and how others do not.

Everyone recognizes the “serious cyclist”. Lycra top to bottom. Jersey commemorating a competition. Aerodynamic helmets. Cycling glasses. Carbon fiber frames. Cleated, expensive cycling shoes that sound like tap shoes when worn indoors. Grim countenance. Unfriendly. Snobbish.

An “unserious cyclist” could be the exact opposite of the serious version, but after viewing Russ’ video, it’s more nuanced than that. So here are the 5 things Russ and I love that serious cyclists hate.

  1. Crocs. Russ favors Crocs for riding because they’re flexible, versatile and waterproof. Riding through a stream? Leave ’em on. Drives serious cyclists crazy. I wear tattered sneakers most of the time, and sandals when it’s hot out. I can wear any kind of shoe really – see #2.
  2. Flat pedals. I love my flats. They have studs on both sides that grip my sandals or sneakers. I can change foot positions as needed. Any shoe will do. It’s easy to dismount. But serious cyclists always make a comment when they pull up alongside me during a ride. Something like – “Oh, you’re riding flats?” Or “how those flats treating you?”. Rolls off me like water off a duck’s butt.
  3. Non-cycling kits. I favor loose fitting regular shirts or t-shirts and baggy shorts with chamois liners underneath. I have some Club Ride long-sleeve shirts with snaps so I can easily pop open the shirt if the riding gets hot. The long sleeves protect my arms from sunburn, or I can roll them up for a short-sleeve version. My shorts are mountain bike shorts with five pockets. I carry everything I need and reach it quickly, rather than contorting myself to reach around to get something out of the back pockets of a Lycra jersey. Way too casual for serious cyclists.
  4. Friction shifters. I have friction shifters on my 2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker. When I bought the bike second hand, I didn’t understand why the shifter didn’t click between cogs. My bike mechanic explained it to me, and ever since then I’ve truly fallen in love with my friction shifters. Most serious cyclists I know a) don’t know what a friction shifter is, even though it was standard equipment on 70’s bikes. They favor electronic shifters that are right by the brake levers for rapid shifting, like for a race. Mostly I think they favor electronic shifters because they’re electronic, the latest thing, and expensive. And forget about adjusting your electronic shifters, whereas I can easily adjust my friction shifters.
  5. Rim brakes. Serious cyclists favor disc brakes, especially hydraulic versions, but I prefer a rim brake. This style of brake has plenty of stopping power, but for me, rim brakes are easy to adjust by yourself, no mechanic needed.

Let’s face it – the cycling industry loves serious cyclists. They buy the most expensive stuff – frames, tires, Lycra, electronic shifters. The unserious cyclists, we few, just love the freedom of riding a bike, around the block, the city, the state or the world.