Cycle journeys, mountain biking, city cycling - cycling shapes my life, my mind and my body. Cycling is a varied experience including many different reasons to ride, such as commuting, fitness, or racing. Experience is further shaped by the type of bike and environment.
Some people cycle purely for functional purposes but for some there is a real philosophy and culture behind cycling that unites a sub-culture. Even though there’s no uniform bike culture, many individual people have their own philosophy. You can find some biographies or autobiographies about cyclists who describe their own attitude toward cycling and how it has changed them.
Paul de Vivie (publisher of Le Cycliste, an early champion of derailleur gears, and father of Frenchbicycle touring and randonneuring) devised a code for the wise cyclist:
- Keep your stops short and few.
- Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty.
- Never get too tired to eat or sleep.
- Add a layer before you’re cold, take one off before you’re hot.
- Lay off wine, meat and tobacco on tour.
- Ride within yourself, especially in the first hour.
- Never show off.
The book Bike Snob tries to distill what cyclists have in common and presents the definition of a cyclist as someone who chooses to ride a bike even if they don’t have to. The book argues that there’s no such thing as “bike culture” and summarizes (in a humorous fashion) some of the types of cyclists and how they often view each other.
Velominati declares a list of ‘rules’ for road cycling. This type of “philosophy” seems to be more about creating a sense of belonging than about any inherent truths about cycling–people want to be able to feel “in the club”.
Roadies vs Mountain bikers
One of the biggest “culture gaps” among cyclists are between the roadies and the mountain bikers. The roadies exalt such virtues as endurance, camaraderie, and overcoming “the suffering”, they are also mocked for being a bit vain and having the whole “fashion police” thing. Mountain bikers are made up of more relaxed people bobbing merrily around the forest on full suspension bikes, while taking long breaks.