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The Politics of Owning a Nice Bike


The willingness of people to be cruel in their ignorance never ceases to amaze me.  When it comes to who owns what bike, it’s easy to go too far in a hurry…

I was checking out the GCN Show the other day because a commenter on one of my posts suggested I submit my pop-up camper bike rack for the Hack of the Week.  I’ve long followed the GCN Show and hadn’t seen the new edition so I sat in for a spell to check it out.

15 seconds in (or so), the world famous Kevin Grishkot mounted his Cervelo S5 ($5,000 give or take) complete with Rolf Prima Carbon Ares 6 wheels (another $2,300 give or take) and a Casco Speedairo RS helmet (320 € or $360), complete with pull down shades.  Let’s see, aero, aero, aero…  Check.  There’s only one problem:  the world famous Kevin Grishkot’s body is most decidedly not yet aero…

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Now, give that big fella a few years on that Cervelo and I’m sure he’ll be down to a svelte figure (one would assume), and I never begrudge anyone the right to own a really nice bike.  However, you get down into the comments on the show and things get a little edgy, including “Hahaha that cervelo guy. classic middle age men [sic] with a bike not proportional to the fitness”.

I have been given a hard time about my choice of bicycle by more than one know-it-all dolt as well:

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Now, to be honest here, my form more aptly matches my bike (I think):

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On the other hand, one cannot escape the reality that my bike did cost a sh!t-ton of money.  Wheels (and that Godforsaken helmet) notwithstanding, I’m right up there with Kevin.  The main point is not whether a middle-aged person needs a bike like Kevin or I own.  Mine, right down to the matching red Keo-Classic pedals, carbon aero handlebar, and carbon crankset is all about what I wanted.  I’ve described the moment I decided I would own that bike on this blog before.  It was on the main display above the cash register at the local shop…  I walked in looking for a pair of shorts or something, and there it was in all its glory.  I knew right then I would have that bike.  After several months I did.  A few upgrades later and I have a bike that I thoroughly enjoy riding.  Every single time I throw my leg over it or see it in the bike room (yes, I have a bike room in the house – it doubles as a spare bedroom), I think about how lucky I am to own it.

Such is the politics of envy and jealousy.

He’s too heavy to ride that Cervelo, there are pigmies in Africa who could eat for a lifetime on what I paid for my bike, she doesn’t ride fast enough for that Liv Envie…

Here’s the real question for those who would be judge and jury for which bike an individual should ride:  Who the f@ck are you?

What many of these ignoramus judges miss out on is the rest of the story.  In my case, I saved up the money for months and paid cash for that bike.  While I do have a spare bedroom that we keep our bikes in, our home is a modest story and a half country home.  While many in my field drive a $50,000 pickup truck, I opted for a more modest vehicle that does much better on gas…  In other words, I live modestly so I can afford a little more bike than the average person.  In Kevin’s case, all the loser had to run on is that he’s a rotund guy on a nice bike.

Herein lies the rub when it comes to the politics of envy of those who judge whether or not someone should be riding the bike they do:  They never know the whole story, they just go by their knee-jerk reaction and assume that the version of the story they made up in their head is right.  And here’s the best part:  When politicians do it (or worse, those who are gullible enough to place their faith and trust in politicians), they have even less to go on.  In that case, it’s almost entirely about greed, jealousy and envy.

I must always remember that I don’t have the whole story, that I am no judge of character for who should do what (short of lying, cheating and stealing) with the money they make.  I must remember that when I sink to envy, jealousy and greed, I indeed am an @$$hole.

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12 Comments

  1. unironedman says:

    Alas, that is the difference between say, blogging, and facebook. Or worse, YouTube. If you ever want to a sobering and salutary lesson of everything that’s shit in the world, just spend five minutes on YouTube. It’s a moron magnet; the comments, more so than the content. One’s own blog is great as it tends to attract a nice crowd of like-minded people. It’s like having a few friends over for a BBQ. Wading into the swamp that is the social internet is like hanging out in a crap nightclub with loud music and over-priced drinks where everyone is shouting at everyone else, and the night usually ends in a punch-up. I’d say ignore them. It’s too easy for a*seholes to post glib and snide comments. The idiots you encountered are no different and as you point out, either don’t know one end of a bike from the other, or are just plain jealous. Sadly there’s no like-hack for imbeciles…

  2. Dan says:

    One of the beauties of having a Waterford is that the vast majority of people, including cyclists, have no idea that they cannot be purchased off the rack, that they are 100% custom made for the rider! Most have never even heard of the brand. They’re sort of in there with Bilenky and Rivendell.

  3. Tamsyn Smith says:

    Great post. Like you, I cut back in other areas of my life to have the bike I really wanted – I have a modest car and my social life doesn’t revolve around going to bars/pubs/restaurants (although I do go to coffee shops on cycle routes), so I was able to save enough to get a relatively expensive bike. Sadly, that bike is now with someone who probably won’t cherish it in the way that I did (and also probably doesn’t have an inkling of its value).

  4. adarling575 says:

    As the relatively slow owner of a Liv Envie I appreciate this post 🙂 I work hard at a job that pays good money, I’ll spend it where I like thanks 🙂 and I’ll go faster on a fast bike anyway!

  5. I don’t believe in the whole “bike not proportional to the fitness” thing. If you’ve got the cash and it’s not compromising your ability to put food on the table then ride whatever makes you happy. It’s jealousy from (usually) behind a keyboard. Hell if I’d worked a little harder in school I’d be cruising the streets on a custom WyndyMilla or the like, haha!

  6. Eric Kelsey says:

    I went from owning a modest used MTB back in 2014 and im currently on my way to having invested about 17,000 into my three current bikes. One aero Giant propel, an all Carbon Salsa Fatbike, and just bought a new Titanium road frame that will have a set of Zipp 303’s on it. Its funny you mention the 50K truck biggest waste of money ever. Many people say they dont have time to workout but they have 1 or 2 expenisive cars sitting in the driveway. A veichle spends 90 percent of its life parked. A bike is a fitness tool and I give that guy a way better chance of losing weight on an expensive bike then in an expensive car.

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