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Old 09-28-09, 10:51 PM   #1
bborps
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How to not look like a homeless guy?

I just took my first overnight tour yesterday. When going to big stores like Wal-Mart I expected people to be a little surprised by my loaded bike... or maybe even ask me where I was headed.
Instead, it seemed like everyone was looking down on me like I was some lowlife homeless bum. When I talked to people (in exactly the way I would normally), they wouldn't want to talk, or would ignore me.

Sure I was a little sweaty, and wasn't exactly wearing cyclotouring clothes (jeans and a tee shirt), but I didn't look THAT bad.


What do you do to make yourselves stand out as "people with a home that are having fun" as opposed to "poor trashy man who has no job?"
Is it as simple as buying a tight bright shirt and some lycra? Do you just smile a lot and look like you're having fun?

I'm going on a one month trip next week, and would rather not be treated like a piece of trash the whole time.
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Old 09-28-09, 11:26 PM   #2
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When I tour I have wierd facial hair, homeless-style tan, and probably smell (the nose gets used to it so it's hard to tell). I think on the most basic level you can't worry about it.
In my experience, most people don't understand what you're doing when you show up at walmart with a loaded bike. In any case, most people ignore you. If you're travelling on a bike you are abnormal. People who don't fit the mold can expect to be ignore or even sneered at sometimes.
BUT that's why it's great to meet other tourers, they understand what you're doing. You can talk to them about your trip and feel like the worthwhile human being that you really are.
Or, you'll be getting some dinner and someone whose son or daughter has travelled on their bike will see you and sympathize with your mom and buy you food.

Most importantly, I've found that no matter how haggard you look, you'll always eventually meet someone who is happy to chat, meet you on a human level, and maybe even show you around town and make you dinner. You just probably won't meet them at walmart.

Practicaly speaking, a smile and a welcoming attitude help a lot. I do also think that biking clothes help, it shows that you are a serious and deliberate cyclist and not a "trashy" person like you had mentioned (nothing against poor trashy men, but in terms of controlling you image it sounds like you want to avoid that). They might also be a little more comfortable than jeans.
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Old 09-28-09, 11:27 PM   #3
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You're worried about what people at Wal-Mart think about you?

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/
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Old 09-29-09, 12:04 AM   #4
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Smile be nice. I wore a button down shirt I kept in my bag.
shave at least look sorta presentable.
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Old 09-29-09, 12:08 AM   #5
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a shirt with a collar and some buttons. you can even go polo.
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Old 09-29-09, 12:13 AM   #6
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I thought of the same site - you beat me to it
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Old 09-29-09, 02:07 AM   #7
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I try to look reasonably presentable when I'm riding on a tour, and especially if I'm going to be going into businesses where there are other people.

Rowan and I found these great wicking tops at Decathlon in France. They don't look like jerseys, but they do what jerseys do. And I often ride in zip-off pants. You might find similar attire in places like REI.

So here I am riding through France:


http://www.machka.net/pbp2007/2007_Post-PBP.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/1430288...301323/detail/

If I were you, I would not bring jeans and cotton T-shirts on a long ride. They are heavy and take forever to dry. Look into some lighter clothing options like the zip-off pants and wicking T-shirts. They look all right ... I think they create a look of someone travelling ... and they are easy to take care of.

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Old 09-29-09, 02:28 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=BengeBoy;9763038]You're worried about what people at Wal-Mart think about you?

Would not go into a Wal Mart anyway.. How about a bike shop instead...?.. Those are our kind of people.. ?.
.. Americans will for awhile think bike cyclists homeless..They just don't know better, it's their culture and love affair with cars.. Best remedy might be to do all possible to look like a cycle tourist.. You are what you are. Don't try to fake it.
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Old 09-29-09, 05:18 AM   #9
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Why worry about what people think. You are out doing your own thing and that is all that matters. Besides, you are doing more than most people would ever dream of so consider it a good thing.
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Old 09-29-09, 05:24 AM   #10
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I have not noticed that problem. In most cases I would say that folks I met on tour were open and friendly toward me. It is obvious that I am in bike clothes, but I would not have thought that would make a lot of difference. FWIW: I wear bike shorts and bike jersey in a fairly conservative color. I am often sweaty, dirty, and unshaven, but that doesn't seem to put most people off.

I think that the biggest thing is how you act toward others. Being open and friendly goes a long way if it is genuine. If you are working at being friendly it can come off wrong and put people off. Just be your best self if that makes sense.

Where you tour makes a difference too. Most of my experiences are in rural areas and small towns. The big cities I have toured through were not east coast cities. I suspect that may also make some difference.
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Old 09-29-09, 05:29 AM   #11
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Walmarts are a good place to stop while touring.
I think you may had just one bad experience.
I stopped in some on a cross country tour and had no negative comments.
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Old 09-29-09, 05:59 AM   #12
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I don't give a rat's ass what people think of me
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Old 09-29-09, 06:02 AM   #13
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I don't give a rat's ass what people think of me
Post a Photo and let us have some fun.
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Old 09-29-09, 07:38 AM   #14
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99% of ppl are too busy/concerned about their own lives to get involved with a stranger on a bicycle. Especially if that stranger is being a bit pushy about initiating a conversation. The ones who do respond are usually a lot more interested in telling you about themselves than hearing about your life. It helps to be a good listener.

Civilians often assume that anyone traveling solo on a loaded bicycle is probably homeless, especially if they are not lycra clad. They just can't wrap their brain around the concept that we do this for fun. More than once, I've been offered a donation by a charitable stranger. Even had food dropped outside my tent on one trip.

I do make an effort to look presentable with regular beard trimming and keeping my clothes clean. And I do make the first move in meeting ppl, in spite of the fact that I might be rejected/ignored. Been successful just enough to keep it up.
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Old 09-29-09, 08:08 AM   #15
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You won't be taken for homeless if you wear some cycling specific clothes, of course then you'll be pegged as a cyclist which might be worse.

Seriously, I've found that some of the Rapha cycling clothes to be very good on and off the bike and they are so stylish that you'll never be taken for homeless.
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Old 09-29-09, 08:25 AM   #16
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You're worried about what people at Wal-Mart think about you?

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/
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Old 09-29-09, 08:27 AM   #17
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I look like a homeless guy all the time...if that impacts how someone treats me it just makes it easier for me to know how to treat them in return.
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Old 09-29-09, 08:33 AM   #18
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I don't wear the "cyclist's uniform" so I can avoid that stereotype, so I usually wear some sort of synthetic T-shirt and board shorts over my bike shorts. I've found that as long as I keep them somewhat clean, people usually recognize me as a guy going out and having a good time instead of being homeless or too serious of a biker to talk to.

I'm sure it helps that I'm in my 20's and couldn't grow a solid beard to save my life, but people are usually really nice to me and curious about why I'm out there on a bike.
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Old 09-29-09, 09:49 AM   #19
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We haven't had that reaction at all. We just wear normal shorts and tshirts rather than cycling gear, and all has been well. I think you might just have had a bad experience in one place.
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Old 09-29-09, 11:25 AM   #20
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Ditch the shopping cart trailer.
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Old 09-29-09, 11:32 AM   #21
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So... looking homeless will get people to leave you alone ?

Can't see the problem here.

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Old 09-29-09, 11:57 AM   #22
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Firstly, I wouldn't worry too much about what Walmart shoppers think of me. But having said that, I'd guess it was the jeans. I don't know any touring cyclists who ride in jeans, but I see a whole lot of people riding in jeans who appear to be either homeless or maybe lost their licenses due to DUI. If you're doing a one-month tour, I would definitely toss the jeans. They're heavy to begin with, have big seams that just love to rub you raw, and if they get wet you might as well just tie weights to your legs.

But some people will see a touring cyclist and "homeless" is all they can think of. On the final night of my last tour I treated myself to a motel after riding 80 miles in 100+ degree heat. I wore cycling shorts but had on a dirty, sweat-soaked cotton t-shirt. The woman checking me in kept looking at me, then back at my Platinum Visa Card, then back at me, back at the card. I could read her mind - "where did this bum find this card?"
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Old 09-29-09, 12:01 PM   #23
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You should start chewing on your left shoulder whilst grunting, and then ask people entering the store for change...loudly though, not too soft.

That should clear up things.
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Old 09-29-09, 12:01 PM   #24
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Oh, and then yell:

"Somebody stole-d my thoughts!"
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Old 09-29-09, 12:05 PM   #25
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Dey Terk Ur Jerbs!
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