Cyclists: It Takes One To Know One
By Joe Kurmaskie
Wild animals know their own — from something as slight as a scent on the wind or a growl in the night — and cyclists aren’t that much different. Maybe it is the guy in the business meeting who notices your distinct biker glove tan lines and looks down at his own, then gives you a nod. Perhaps it is that woman rushing out of the elevator who whispers, “On your right” as she shoots by or the guy in line at the bank with the chainring grease marks on his calf.
We know our own. Or we should. Why? For lots of reasons, such as camaraderie, sense of self, and because it is fun to see your tribe uncaged and rolling around out there in the wild. But the biggest reason that jumps out for me is that if we champion all forms of riders, it will help build a more livable community. Selfish? Sure, but the byproduct would be a cleaner, safer and more active population.
If we welcome everyone who embraces the bicycle — be it tandem, trick bikes, recumbents, cruisers, high-end roadies, mountain bikers coming down hills some of us wouldn’t consider hiking up, fully loaded tourists heading across the length of a continent, weekend charity riders, or families commuting to school and work atop their SUB (sport utility bike), or hell, the old geezer going nearly four miles per hour on his beach trike — cyclists could then go from an often marginalized subculture to the dominant species. Cycling could be accepted alongside other forms of transportation — no, with the right spin, it could be sought after the way the world once championed the car culture.
Whether bikes become the next big thing is not entirely up to those who ride them. Peak oil, retrofitting communities to accommodate two wheelers alongside cars, and people’s desires to get moving and be healthy play into the equation, but it’s certain we won’t keep adding to our numbers if we don’t reach out with smiles, nods and a sense of fun...
I’m not saying we should all start wearing name tags, but the next time you’re at the store and see a guy using his bike helmet to carry around ten items or less, give him a nod.
Joe Kurmaskie is the author of five bestselling books including Metal Cowboy, Mud, Sweat and Gears, and Joyride — with Mia Birk. His latest, You Might Be A Cyclist If... is a collection of bike humor and inspiration to keep you rolling. It will be published December 1, 2010. Go to www.metalcowboy.com for more information.