You’ve finally found the aerobic exercise that you can love and you’re pumped. You’ve got yourself a decent bike and you’ve got your eyes on another steed – this next bike is pure eye-candy, like this one:
Yes, you’re well on your way. You’re up to a 18 mph average and you feel stronger every day… Better yet, you feel healthy and it is good. Life is exciting and far less stressful.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ve got diarrhea of the mouth, your spouse is going to spit fire the next time you mention new wheels and you’ve resorted to hiding receipts from the local bike shop(s).
Yeah, I know… My wife caught up to me with the bank statement. Damn bank statements.
Anyway, after dropping about ten grand on bikes and gear and having gained a sh!t-ton of knowledge in a relatively short period of time, I figured I’d share a few tips – some that I wish I’d heeded, others I’ve seen. Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure you probably won’t get caught at any of these – who knows, maybe you’re more wise than intelligent. Or maybe not and three years from now you’ll be like, “Oh yeah…”
For riding in a group
1. You don’t have to announce to the group that you’re a noob, we already know.
2. Don’t announce that you’re slow. Yup, we know, but that’ll change (different rules for a no-drop ride).
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Nobody else does, why buck the trend?
4. Don’t, under any circumstances, be an asshole or a whiner – if either is the case, prepare to be tore up every time you ride with the group. Even I, the great and powerful BgddyJim, cannot resist tearing up a whiner.
5. Don’t be cocky. There is a veritable phonebook’s worth of people, locally, who will happily hand your ass to you. Seen it and it is funny.
6. Use the arm flick with your wife (husband) at home. Watching TV and you want your wife to flip to the game to check the score real quick? Classic arm flick opportunity. Just remember to duck immediately afterward. Time for hubby to cut the grass or make the bed? Arm flick. That shit never gets old. Funniest example I’ve ever read: “I use the arm flick to let my wife know it’s time to make me a sammich.”
7. If you’re a strong climber, back off a little on the hills for the group (guilty as charged), that is unless it’s a competitive club ride. In that case, kick their asses (just be prepared for the attack after you drop off the lead – it will happen).
8. You will look like a doofus every now and again. Don’t be punk, laugh at it because it’s funny.
For riding solo
1. Obey the rules of the road. You’ll be hated by an alarming portion of the community just for being on the road, no need to make that portion larger.
2. Ride hard.
3. Stats are cool. Being someone everyone wants to ride with because you’re fun to be around is way cooler.
4. Use the metric system if you can because “I hit 90 kilometers an hour” sounds way cooler than “I hit 56 miles an hour”.
At the bike shop
1. Mess with the mechanics. When they recommend an excellent product (tires, new crank, tire pump, chain lube, etc.) ask, “won’t that make me slower?” Case in point, kid at the shop is two minutes away from his pro mountain biking card – he knows his stuff, recommends a new tire for me because the new minimal tread design is a vast upgrade on wet pavement… “Won’t that make me slower?” It’ll be good for a laugh – unless he’s witty and catches you… IE: “Nah, not enough that you’ll notice.” Dammit!
2. Don’t mess with other customers, no matter how stupid they are. “What? WD-40 is awesome for chains!” Don’t go near that guy. The shop owner has to service dopes too – and there are a lot of them.
3. Unless you’ve spent a considerable amount of cash at the shop, try to avoid taking your internet purchase to the shop to be fixed – or be prepared to pay big to have it serviced.
4. Stop in every now and again just to say hi.
In the general population
1. Don’t get diarrhea of the mouth. Nobody gives a crap that you’re a cyclist so keep the stories to a minimum, two minutes max.
2. Nobody is listening to you after five minutes.
3. Your spouse loves that you’re healthier – at first. Next comes indifference followed by anger and jealousy. Don’t push too hard – he/she will come around after the anger and jealousy turn to inspiration.
4. If your wife won’t get into cycling, buy her a really nice bike. It worked with mine.
5. Don’t talk, ride. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes a braggart.
6. Get used to believing this: What I do is neat but it’s not all that big of a deal. I am a member of the cycling community and I must add to that great group, not detract from it.
The Michigan State Police have an ad campaign in which they challenge drunk drivers, stating they “know all of the tricks”, that if you drive drunk, they will catch and arrest you.
They obviously don’t know drunks very well. Normal people would hear that commercial and think, “Well me without my muff, I wouldn’t want that! I’ll take a cab instead.”
Folks, I’ve been sober for more than twenty years and I can’t help but think, “Oh yeah? You can’t catch me coppah!” when I see that commercial… And I’m a feaking goody two-shoes! I’ve spent half of my life undoing the damage I did for a drink.
If I can’t help thinking that, a practicing drunk would be twenty times worse.
Now, I am a good friend of the MSP – one of their troopers saved my life, ironically enough, when he pulled me over for drunk driving twenty-three years ago, but they’re making a mess with this ad campaign. If you’re listening out there fellas, that one with the guy chained to the DUI keg was a lot better. Just sayin’.