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Old 06-20-07, 12:08 PM   #1
Nate1952
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Spandex, Pain, and Arrested Development

We should be asking ourselves: how are the official efforts at Bicycle Advocacy being blunted ... or contradicted by the behavior of Riders on the street, or by the general trend of the Bicycle Culture which we, ourselves, have had a hand in creating.

When we look at the cultural interface between Bicycle Advocacy and Car Dependence the problem becomes clear. We don't seem to have that much to offer a culture that considers the cost of gasoline to be the price of living, and an "athletic" afternoon to be chasing a small white ball in an electric cart and hitting the aforementioned ball from time to time.

Basically what the Bicycle Culture is offering the rest of America is: Spandex ... Pain ... and Arrested Development.

What intimdates newcomers to the practice of Riding?
- The perceived initial cost of participating: "Looks like I'll need to shell out 3 grand for something in carbon fiber...." (financial Pain);
- Self-consciousness about squeezing into the "required" riding uniform (the Pain of embarrassment);
- The hostility of the PseudoRacers: the traveling treehouse clubs who hunt in packs, declare themselves exempt from all traffic laws, and treat everyone else like dirt (Pain and Spandex are part of the price of admission);
- And the whole mythology of the "serious rider" - riding fixed gear (knee Pain) - or riding ridiculous distances (the Exponential Cult of Pain).

Turning to the periodical shelf, there's not much good news. Since I enjoy both motorized and self-propelled 2-wheeled transport I read periodicals for both.

The motorcycle mags emphasize freedom, assertiveness, rebellion, and chicks who aren't wearing much. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this?

Their cousins, the bicycle mags (with the notable exception of ADVENTURE CYCLING, which has pictures of actual people who seem to be actually having a good time) talk about Pain, and Endurance, and Pain, and Training, and Sweat, and Hurt, and Suffering, and various grossly overpriced titantium gadgets, and bicycle seats that look like they might be illegal under the international rules against torture ... and did I mention Pain? There are also profiles of various pint-sized RealRacers (the photographs show them in Pain). But, with all the talk about doping, who still believes that professional racing is not just an exercise in organized cheating ... who's got the best doctor ... who's got the best lawyers?

And what does the Tour de Hypo have to do with anything anyway? What does NASCAR have to do with the way I drive my car around town?

Good thing I didn't believe BICYCLING magazine about bicycle commuting. Their articles emphasize that commuting is only important as a way to Train: in other words, another window of opportunity for Agony ... another daily chance for public Martyrdom ... and to show off how great my butt looks in shiny fabric. In their rush to present another prescription for Suffering a la Spandex, they missed the whole enjoyment of the practice.

Turning to Arrested Development, take a moment to fire up a DVD of THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN - and take a look at Steve Carell getting ready for work: sock pulled up over his pants leg, handlebars as high as his chin, a look on his face like he just had a lobotomy. The message of this movie: this dork collects toys, and uses a toy - a bicycle - to get around. When Carell has sex - and finally grows up - what will he do? He'll buy a car.

If this is the alternative to the sneering PseudoRacers with their butts in the air, then I guess I'll go back to the racers and the Cult of Pain.

What's missing from our Advocacy effort?
- Simplicity. An integral part of the Beauty of Riding - you don't need to have a pit crew ... you don't need to wear special clothes.
- Economy. Rebellion against the consumer culture of debt and despair.
- Joy. The element which is missing from all Bicycle Advocacy ... the idea that, in Riding, you can consistently experience Joy in a world where so much advertising promises Joy, and so few experiences actually deliver it.

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.
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Old 06-20-07, 12:31 PM   #2
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"Bicycle Culture"? Heck with that. I'm not the product of a Bicycle Culture; I ride like I drive. I'm the product of a Car Culture. Look at how cyclists act in that light, and you'll see a whole new perspective.

For instance, my bike is an affordable Lexus; my jersey bling rims; my shades tinted glass. I run stop signs because I can. No speed limits! Trimmer figure and spandex is like cruising in a convertible - chicks notice me (at least theoretically.)

It's not all the same. For instance, drivers don't talk to each other on the freeway...

Stop driving a wedge between the two supposed Cultures. Put things in terms the (very) dominant Car Culture can understand.
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Old 06-20-07, 12:32 PM   #3
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Riding a road bike in comfortable cycling clothes is pure joy.

I think Armstrong's Nike commercial "Magnet" makes the case pretty well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RhVxgMY91A
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Old 06-20-07, 02:04 PM   #4
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I completely resonate with this post.

Two months ago I decided to get a bicycle instead of a hybrid car. The sympathetic but racing-oriented bike store owner reluctantly sold me a "commuter bike". "You'll go much faster on a lighter frame." I could care less if I stop at the red light four seconds earlier. I ride my bike to work whenever it doesn't rain. If you include maintenance and carbon emission offsets as well as gas, it cost me $8/day to drive to work. My $400 "commuter" has already paid for itself.

The terrible truth of the matter is, it is painful. My thirty seven year old legs are really sore after a ride, and often stiff in the morning. Also typically, my butt hurts, although I'm experimenting with new saddles. I do my 10 mile commute in 50 minutes. It's not like I'm working that hard. But pain is an inescapable part of the equation, at least for me.

The thing that is completely avoidable, however, is how cyclists are expected to look like Flash Gordon, or some other underwear-pervert superhero. I wear my regular work clothes for my commute, but I wear a helmet and sunglasses that make me look like an idiot. There are no dignified bicycle helmets, aside from 'no helmet', which makes my wife panic. There are only aerodynamic lumps which, as far as I'm concerned, may as well be particolored clown wigs that spell out "I AM A POMPOUS JERK" in red lights when you go faster than 4mph. I'm sure that going fast in proper padded shorts on a light bike is enjoyable, but what if you're just riding for the sake of riding somewhere, enjoyably, and peacefully?

P.S. Since I'm all ranting, I would add that I think every hybrid car should come with a decent bicycle in the trunk. If one uses the bicycle instead of the car for trips shorter than five miles, the economics of hybrids becomes, dare I say it, reasonable.
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Old 06-20-07, 02:07 PM   #5
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People need to get over themselves.

Some ride in lycra, some do not.

Who cares?

Both ride. Isn't that good enough for people?
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Old 06-20-07, 02:08 PM   #6
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Speaking as a member of "The Exponential Cult of Pain", it doesn't matter to me whether you are a Spandex greyhound on a $10,000.00 unobtanium bike or a Freddish commuter on an X Mart bike, you're a cyclist! I just like riding ridiculously long rides by most sane peoples standards!
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Old 06-20-07, 02:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
Speaking as a member of "The Exponential Cult of Pain", it doesn't matter to me whether you are a Spandex greyhound on a $10,000.00 unobtanium bike or a Freddish commuter on an X Mart bike, you're a cyclist! I just like riding ridiculously long rides by most sane peoples standards!
About right
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Old 06-20-07, 02:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate1952
We should be asking ourselves...What's missing from our Advocacy effort?
- Simplicity. An integral part of the Beauty of Riding - you don't need to have a pit crew ... you don't need to wear special clothes.
- Economy. Rebellion against the consumer culture of debt and despair.
- Joy. The element which is missing from all Bicycle Advocacy ... the idea that, in Riding, you can consistently experience Joy in a world where so much advertising promises Joy, and so few experiences actually deliver it.

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.
Nate1952 is making an awful lot of assumptions about "We" and "us." Such as "we" are all about advocating for bicycling as a "Rebellion against the consumer culture of debt and despair."
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Old 06-20-07, 02:38 PM   #9
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Dress for comfort and to be visible. Eventually you'll find what you like and will enjoy riding enough to not care what you look like while doing it.
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Old 06-20-07, 03:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfm3
The terrible truth of the matter is, it is painful. My thirty seven year old legs are really sore after a ride, and often stiff in the morning. Also typically, my butt hurts, although I'm experimenting with new saddles. I do my 10 mile commute in 50 minutes. It's not like I'm working that hard. But pain is an inescapable part of the equation, at least for me.
Riding a bike shouldn't hurt, especially after 10 miles as opposed to extreme distances. You might have something or another out of adjustment.
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Old 06-20-07, 03:25 PM   #11
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I only had recumbents the last 3 years, and I get a lot of questions about whatever I'm riding whenever I stop anywhere there's lots of people.

I think many casual would-be bicyclists would enjoy a low-end recumbent bike a lot more than any upright--but there's two problems with that.
....first is that they are afraid of looking "wierd", even if it means not dealing with any riding pain.
....second is that they're hesitant to lay out the $500-$600 such a bike costs.

The sad part is that many of these people already have "normal" bicycles that they never ride, precisely because of riding pain..... And while some are totally unaware that bicycling shorts have padding--many simply do not want to wear spandex clothes at all (especially overweight people) even if they could get such clothes in their sizes; the revealing clothing is enough to keep a LOT of people off bikes alone.

So, after that, I don't say too much.
They don't like the spandex or the pain, but if you tell them about bikes that don't require those things.... -and then they tell you it costs too much. :|

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The bit about "arrested development" I cannot confirm or deny.
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Old 06-20-07, 03:32 PM   #12
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When you buy your bike , no one forces you to buy additonal gear. Wear whatever it is that keeps you going and grow into your new sport. The sport grows on you as you adopt to it. I just suggest be open minded as to what others have to say makes cycling comfortable . Or else your stubborness might prematurely stunt your cycling growth. I predict however, w/o graduating to what cyclist tell you makes cycling more comfortable; you will never be able to tolerate long distance cycling or racing- should that interest you. Your arse will be too sore.

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Old 06-20-07, 03:34 PM   #13
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Interesting premise.

I'm not an expert, but I think if riding a bike is so painful for you, you may be doing it wrong.
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Old 06-20-07, 03:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate1952
When we look at the cultural interface between Bicycle Advocacy and Car Dependence the problem becomes clear. We don't seem to have that much to offer a culture that considers the cost of gasoline to be the price of living, and an "athletic" afternoon to be chasing a small white ball in an electric cart and hitting the aforementioned ball from time to time.
The first step is to stop assuming you're superior.


PS: Please don't advocate on my part, I'm having fun already.
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Old 06-20-07, 04:19 PM   #15
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The first step is to stop assuming you're superior.


PS: Please don't advocate on my part, I'm having fun already.
I'll ad my name to that list.

Anyway, short version: cars are faster, easier, and more convenient. The only way to get people out of their cars is to offer them something faster, easier, and more convenient than their cars, and bicycles ain't it. Tough break.

PS. if you really can't stand life without reading stuff from people who believe the same things you do, get subscriptions to Bicycle Quarterly and the Rivendell reader. Both miles ahead of repetitive trash like Bicycling, yet both can be used to feed your need to feel superior to, well, everyone else on a bike, I guess.

As for me, I'll keep riding what I like, where I like, and dressed how I like, and will continue to not care a whole lot what other people think about it. And I'll keep driving my car when I like too.
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Old 06-20-07, 05:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate1952
-
Simplicity. -
- Joy. .
I'm not sure what you're talking about. I ride because it's fun. Sometimes I ride my fixed gear, most days I commute. I've found that longer rides are really, really fun too. But you need to wear the spandex on a long ride. That way there's no pain.

You think way too much. Do whatever you think is fun. Don't worry about the rest of it.

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Old 06-20-07, 05:27 PM   #17
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Tonight when I ride my fixed gear commuter, I'll think of this thread to remind me that my knees and butt are supposed to be in Pain.
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Old 06-20-07, 06:05 PM   #18
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I didn't even read the OP - but saw others respond to 'pain'

I rode home today in 109F (deep shade in my back patio surrounded by plants, more likely 115F+ 3ft above the pavement)

If you saw the news and the severe weather alerts and warnings to not be outside during this time you would consider doing so to be subjecting oneself to 'pain'

Yet in the 25min of my 3pm commute home (i.e. not even peak commute time) I encountered seven other commuter looking cyclists, none of which were dressed in 'high end commuter' gear, none had 'roadie' gear, just regular clothes, maybe a bit on the athletic clothing side (after all its cooler that way). None looked like they had to ride out of neccessity (decent quality backpacks, decent, but not high end bikes, all had helmets) Four of the seven were female.

The common denominator was that all had a smile and all were beet red.

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Old 06-20-07, 06:21 PM   #19
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I'm 50, and have been riding my fixie for ten years now. No problems with my knees, and I always feel fine after a ride, and in the morning, I'm good for another go. Now,that aside,,,

When people tell me "Oh, I just can't wear those shorts, because,, well, you know". Actually, I don't, but I simply point them to bike nashbar, and the padded cycling undershorts they have sold forever. worn under any pair of baggy shorts you own, and you'll be fine. And with pocket space too. win-win.

As for the motorcycle chicks who "aren't wearing much", well, I don't know what they look like where you are Nate, but around New England, they're on the scary side. No, I'll stick with bicycle ladies.
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Old 06-20-07, 06:32 PM   #20
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You are no fun; what if I like the pain?
I ran before I started riding, I ran a blasted 40 minute 10k, and I ran 9.5 trail miles every Saturday. I love the rush of going fast and that requires pain.
I rode a century 3 weeks ago, it was fun.
I race, it's fun.
I'm skinny, it's way better than being fat.
Like I said, you are no fun.

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Old 06-20-07, 06:39 PM   #21
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Screw you; what if I like the pain?
I ran before I started riding, I ran a blasted 40 minute 10k, and I ran 9.5 trail miles every Saturday. I love the rush of going fast and that requires pain.
I rode a century 3 weeks ago, it was fun.
I race, it's fun.
I'm skinny, it's way better than being fat.
Like I said, you suck
.
Nice of you to prove the OP's point for him.
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Old 06-20-07, 07:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug5150
So, after that, I don't say too much.
They don't like the spandex or the pain, but if you tell them about bikes that don't require those things.... -and then they tell you it costs too much. :|
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But you sure say plenty on BF about how recumbents are the answer for all cycling problems, even problems that don't necessarily exist such as bikes that "require" pain and spandex.
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Old 06-20-07, 07:37 PM   #23
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This thread illustrates some kind of weird dark current that runs through the cycling world. I'm not sure what it is, but it's kinda spooky.....
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Old 06-20-07, 08:02 PM   #24
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"Bicycle culture" is a lot wider than just racer-boys. If that's all you're seeing, it's certainly not because of a lack of other types of riders. But some people do like to ride fast. What's wrong with that? They're not forcing anyone else to.

I'm in both worlds. I'm a commuting racer. And I have to ask: why all the hand-wringing?
>95% of cyclists I see are not wearing spandex. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I do not. But I'm not going to not wear it just so I don't intimidate some fatties. I think everyone should ride, and encourage them to do so. If they're not comfortable with spandex, they can wear whatever they want.

About magazines: Look at car magazines. They're not showing practical cars. Look at most magazines. Nothing practical in sight. Why would most bicycle magazines be any different?

As for the recumbents: it's possible to ride both uprights and recumbents in ways that are painful and not painful. I like uprights for their acceleration and handling. And racing-legality.
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Old 06-20-07, 08:23 PM   #25
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Personally, I only ride fast so that I can get to work on time after I hit the Snooze button 18 times. Or maybe so I can ride to 7 different stores to get all my holiday shopping done--on Christmas Eve. The only reason I wear spandex shorts is so my butt won't hurt from all the riding I have to do. Most of my pain is from arthritis. As for arrested development, I'm not going to deny it, but the only ones I wave a finger to are cagers who try to pass me at a stop sign!
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