I'm fairly new here and relatively new to bicycling in general. My girlfriend and I got into it about a year and a half ago here in Seattle for transportation/recreation purposes --- no serious racing or other competition. I've been into many "scenes", be it cars, or motorcycles, or bouldering, but man, I have NEVER --- EVER --- encountered the level of pretentious, exclusionary, and downright snobby behavior that bicyclist as a group exude. Of course, I have to temper this with the clear fact that not EVERY person who deems themselves a "cyclist" is like that, but by and large it seems to be the case. Maybe it's because I have been lurking on the fixie/single speed forums lately and from what I gather fixie culture is comprised of younger more brash clientele that they get a healthy dose of haterade; they seem to be bicycling culture's motorcycle equivalent of squids.
It disturbs me because it puts the cost of entry that is at best high and at worst intimidating. My bicycling needs are mostly commuting in the city with some leisure rides on the weekends. As such, I have myself a cyclocross bike that I commute on which I threw fenders on along with a set of RevoWheels for lights during our long dark winters in Seattle. I have a mountain bike helmet. I look like I'm kluged together. Some people on forums will say I look like a tool and I've read more than a few bike magazine articles that outline a set of "rules" to not look like a newb or a rookie or an idiot. They all read like self-righteous wind-baggery. My question is always, "Who gives a ****, genius?" Why are people making bicycling this thing that needs rules to be adhered to at the risk of being ostracized and made fun of by people? Have people seriously not gotten over their bullying grade-school playground ways? Riding a self-propelled two-wheeled machine is many things. It's fun. It's good for you. It's good for traffic congestion. It's good for the environment. But most of all, it's liberating. The best part of riding a bicycle is the freedom it affords you. Why do we insist on perpetuating a culture where that liberation comes with strings? I say, don't hurt anyone and have at it. You're on two-wheels, son! You're already part of the club!
I have recently been riding a belt-driven bike and I love it for commuting. I love the smoothness, the lack-of-noise, the lack-of-maintenance. As such, I'm converting my cyclocross back to strictly a fun bike, and will be building a bare-bones, simple, reliable, belt-driven single-speed. May go fixed in the future, but I'm gonna start off single-speed. And I'm not even a young "hipster" with facial hair! Someone call the authorities! I'm pushing my mid-thirties and I'm Asian so I don't even have the ABILITY to grow facial hair.
And get this: I make a good salary and can afford to not kludge my single speed out of used craigslist parts.
So then what is it? Will I be made fun of by the fixie crowd for not scouring craigslist and eBay for parts to frankenstein my bike together? Will I not be REAL enough? Will I stand against the culture that was seemingly spawned from the melding of needs of bike couriers and track racing? At the same time, will I be laughed at by the "legitimate" road cyclists for riding a ss/fixie? Because my bike will likely end up with Gates carbon belt drive (low maintenance), with both brakes preset and functional (safety), and heavy-ass gatorskin tires (commuter bike, needs to flat on my way to a meeting). The components might be higher end, they may not. They may be a mix of low-end eBay/craigslist parts and new components that will be blingy by some standards. Who knows? All I know is that I'm building a bike for my own purposes and my own usage patterns. Why the **** do people feel like they have to judge?
As a car guy, I've always gravitated towards more simple, and raw experiences. My car history is full of lightweight sports cars. A 2nd gen RX-7, an RX-8, two Lotus Exiges, and a Subaru BRZ. My motorcycles have included a Honda CBR600rr, a Triumph 675, a Ducati 1098, and a Buell Lightning SCG. The motorcycles, especially when I jumped on a Buell probably raised a few stares from Harley types because I wasn't old and white and sport bike types because I wasn't old and white. But even so, they still gave me the two finger motorcyclist hello whenver we drove past each other. The point is this: every single machine I've owned I've loved because of their engineering and their philosophy. I valued their simplicity, their spirit, and what they stood for. I like being connected to the machine and to the road. To feel like I'm hardwired into the experience and part of the work, not just being taken for a ride. This is what I value and this is what I'm gonna do no matter what anyone else says.
And I wouldn't put it past anyone else to do the same for themselves.
But being in the cycling world starts to make you think twice about the choices you make for your own ride. Not only that, but HOW you ride. How FAST you ride. How you ****ing dress when you ride. And I hate it --- I don't hate cycling --- I just hate the holier-than-thou attitude cyclist cop to others that aren't like them.
I'd like to say that I'm sorry that I wrote a long rant as one of my first posts. But I'm not. I feel like I should get this out there before I started posting in earnest so that if people start giving me flak about what kind of wheels I decided to put on what frame because they can't get outside themselves I can point them to this post and tell them to **** on their father's dicks.