The Two Cycling Philosophies (Classifications?)

I still consider myself a new cyclist in a lot of ways, and what I’m about to write has been written a bunch of different ways, and probably better ways, in the past by other much more experienced cyclists.  But, hey, there’s nothing wrong about writing down your own thoughts in your own way.  And that’s pretty much the reason why people write blogs.  :-)

A few days ago, I got an email from the local ICE (Idaho Cycling Enthusiasts) mailing list which expressed some views that various people brought up at a recent ICE meetings.  ICE, for as long as I’ve known about the club, dedicates most of its time to the sport of cycling.  And by “sport” I mean stage races, criteriums, time trials, cyclocross, and other competitive cycling events.  And ICE does a really, really good job at putting these events on.  A couple of years ago, I was a spectator at their Pocatello Cyclocross race at the Idaho State University Bartz Field, and holy cow I had a really good time watching those guys peddling around on wet grass, sand, and hopping over barriers.  That was one exciting event to attend.  (ICE hasn’t done that event in the past couple of years, and should totally do that again every year!  HINT, HINT!  ;-)

So, the views that were expressed by some attendees at the ICE meeting were along the lines that ICE was too 100% sports-centered and that ICE needed to broaden its horizons into recreational and family cycling activities.  The response to this from the leadership of the ICE club was, to put it briefly, “sure, we’re open to all kinds of ideas like that, but if you want it to happen you have to make it happen” which is the perfect response to such a request.  That’s the same response I’ve heard over and over again in other clubs that I have led and been a member of.  A club is not a group of people waiting to do your bidding, but rather a group of peers that are willing to help you out with any club-related goal that you want to achieve.  And that is the beauty and purpose of any club.  If you want something to happen, you have to be willing to lead the effort and put in the time and work.

But, anyway, on to the subject of this article: cycling philosophies.  I think broadening ICE into areas of recreation and family cycling probably isn’t the best thing for ICE.  Most cycling clubs I’ve read about are definitely focused on sports, and focusing effort in only one or two areas is a good thing for a club.  Unless your club has a ton of members and the ability to spread itself broadly into several areas, it needs to try and focus in one or two areas.  For the number of members that ICE has, I think it’s got its hands full with all the activities that it currently puts on every year.  And it puts on quite a few big events, and a larger number of small ones.  ICE has my admiration for its immense amount of activity.

So, what we have here are 2 different kinds of cyclists: competitive and recreational.  Sure, they both like to ride bikes, but for very different reasons.  And if you think about it, there are a lot of different hobbies in this world that have both kinds of enthusiasts: cars, fishing, bowling, sewing… I can hardly think of a hobby that doesn’t have both kinds of enthusiasts.  However, the two kinds of hobbyists have two different end goals.  The competitive cyclist wants to get into great physical condition and win races, and the recreational cyclist wants to have a fun, enjoyable experience on their bicycle.  And if you want a good, graphical example of this, go read the Yehuda Moon online comic for a while!  Yehuda, the main character, is all about getting people to ride their bikes to work everyday and enjoy the cycling lifestyle experience, and Joe, Yehuda’s sidekick and business partner, is all about cycling hard and fast on a road racing bicycle.  It’s a fun read.  :-)

So, a possible solution to those who want to have a recreational cycling club may be to create their own club and use the ICE mailing list to advertise it a little.  Would such a club be feasible?  Someone would have to give it a shot and see!  It was a friend of mine that got me into recreational cycling, and if it wasn’t for that friend I may not have overcome the daunting challenge of that first ride to Inkom and back.  I mean, really, for the new cyclist a 25 mile road ride really sounds insane.  But it’s those first beginning hurdles that seem to be the most challenging and that require some guidance, inspiration, and companionship from a peer or two.  The best way to help the new cyclists out could be a circle of friends, a cycling buddy, a club, or something similar.  Would I be interested in being a part of this club?  Sure, I might like to help out here and there.  But at this point in my cycling “career”, my most enjoyable recreational cycling involves cycling by myself or with one or two of my cycling pals.  And I think you might hear the same response from other recreational cyclists.  Every recreational cyclist is at a different experience level, and so they connect with one or two other cyclists that are at that same level and enjoy the same type of cycling (mountain biking, road riding, cycle-camping, etc.).  However, I don’t know if putting together a club of recreational cyclists would work or not.  They’d have to split out into whatever level and type of cycling they want to do.  But I suppose they could all get together and do a cycle camp once or twice a year or something.  Dunno!  But it is definitely something to consider.

So, anyway, there’s my two cents on this subject.  Yes, my conclusion to this subject is “dunno” because, like I said above, I’ve only been a cyclist for 4 years, so I’ve got a lot to learn about all the dynamics of cyclists.  But hopefully this article has been somewhat thought provoking and has led the reader to consider their own philosophies and “classification” of cyclists!  Comment away, my friends!

2 comments to The Two Cycling Philosophies (Classifications?)

  • Susan Matsuura

    I suppose I’ve been a cyclist since I was in first grade & my dad let go of the seat on my bike. I’ve been balancing ever since, but things have changed a lot since then. For the most part, I’ve always ridden by myself–I think I ride to a different tempo, but hey, I get where I’m going, feel good, and I think I’m in pretty fair physical condition. Not bad for an old lady and I can’t ask for anything better than that.

  • Jeff Selfa

    I agree with your assessment of ICE. I wouldn’t mind volunteering (and have, and do) to further the cause for recreational cycling, but haven’t figured out why I would pay member dues for such volunteering. I like the idea of a separate recreational group/club for recreational cyclists. I imagine a few gatherings per year and an on-line forum would be a good start, and may just be all it would need, beyond someone willing to kick-start it.

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