A few times recently, I’ve been asked why I don’t use a particular tool (for ‘tool ‘read ‘bike’) for a particular job, why I don’t wear lycra to work or at times I don’t (wait for it…..) <gasp!>wear a helmet*. I don’t because…..I don’t. I’ve spent time finding out how things work, what they’re really useful for and learnt how versatile cycling kit can be (and sometimes, you don’t need cycling kit at all). Preconeptions about clothing, bikes and suitability for use, are just that. Preconceptions. No insight needed to form them or controls in place to stop perpetuating them. Cycling is the swiss army knife of sport and the transport system, multi-faceted and multi-purpose. So it got me to thinking; What is the image of a ‘cyclist’?
Is it lycra and shaved legs, bidons and gels? Is it baggies and flatties, piercings and tattoos? Maybe. But not always.
Is it neon and helmets, panniers and trouser clips? At times, but sometimes never.
Is it dapper slacks and man bags? Sometimes, but often not.
Do BMXers do the jumping thing? Are Crossers constrained to mud? Aren’t Tourers for the long haul? Whilst fixies are for the short?
It’s all and none of these. Don’t let magazines brainwash you, advertising railroad you or let perceptions drive your choice. Be informed and forge your own path. Take your crosser down a mountain, ride your fixie into the sunset. Ride what you want, when you want, how you want, where you want. Question perceived wisdom. Satisfy your own curiosity. To ride a bike is to liberate yourself from the car and the sofa, from pressure and stress. Make your own mind up. There is little more satisfying than being comfortable and content in your own shoes. Or heels. Or Vans. Or Crocs (!). Whilst you are spinning your own cranks to your own satisfaction, (ill) conceived wisdom – or image – matters for absolutely nothing.
*If I’m out on a training ride, racing, or bouncing down a hill I always wear a helmet. Parks and side streets however…..