Let's face it, cycling is a fairly nerdy endeavor. Sure, many aspects of riding a bike are cool. Way cool. But there’s got to be a reason why cycling is not surfing, or skateboarding, even soccer for that matter. The culprit? Well, outside of the core demographic cycling is, for many, simply light recreational activity and/or a way to get from A to B. They buy a bike, ride it infrequently, wear their helmet backwards, pant leg tucked into one sock, seat way too low, body armor on every appendage, compression socks, you name it, people on bikes do it.
And it’s negatively impacting our sport. Whether we like it or not, we’re all of the same kin, especially to outsiders looking in, young and old alike, deciding whether or not they should start riding a bike. All it takes is a good waft of dork, and they’re out. This is especially true amongst the self-conscious but ever so influential youth. We need them, want them, and rely on them for the future viability of our sport. When one kid becomes a cyclist for life, there’s a good chance he or she will influence a solid handful of offspring, spouses, friends and proximate associates to do the same. It amounts to, at the very least, sustainability. At the very most, exponential growth. And growth, good cycling friends, is what we want. For, quite simply, it is impossible for the world to have too many people riding bikes (this is not true for unicycles).
So how about some rules. An Unofficial Cycling Code of Conduct (UCCC). A testament of sorts, to keep the supreme geekiness that so pervades our sport down to a minimum. If you are a cardinal breaker of these loosely formed rules, then I beg you to look hard and deep into yourself for change. If you see someone on the street or on the trail or walking through the village breaking these rules, please, ever so politely, slap them upside the head and tell them to get their shit together. Our sport depends on it.
1.) Helmet Way Back
This is potentially the worst affront to the UCCC. Not only because it looks ridiculous, but it’s actually quite dangerous. You see kids rocking this style all of the time. Maybe it’s because they still yearn to feel the wind on their forehead, or their Walmart specials are so bad they actually are designed to sit that way. Or their parents don’t give a crap. Regardless, we all know that if there’s one spot on the noggin you don’t want to smack, it’s the frontal cortex (damage to this region turns you into an a*shole). Please people, your helmet must come down to at least mid forehead. Make the adjustments, get used to it, and don’t let it ever ride Way Back again.2.) Extended Shammy Time
There is a time and place for wearing shorts with chamois inserts. We all get it. The taint/banus/whatevergirlscallit area is the cyclist’s Achille's Heal. It can hurt, get raw, chafed, you name it. Therein, shammy is a good idea. But it should only be worn specifically during ride times. It needs to immediately be removed after the bike is done for the day. The ever present “pre-wear” is equally offensive. You don’t put your hockey gear on two hours before the game. No, please, shammy on, shammy off. This offense is most heinous when conducted without baggy shorts. Which leads us to rule #3.3.) Mega Mismatched Kit
You wouldn’t go out into public wearing a barrage of clashing colors and patterns, would you? A yellow, red and blue striped jersey with pink shorts, white socks and neon gloves? No, most respectable people keep their shit tight. Stuff matches. Why then, do some people, the second they throw a leg over a bike, think they can wear nuclear cat barf and assume it’s no big deal? Spend the time, even a little money, to get a kit that doesn’t make the rest of us go into seizures. Thanks.4.) Put Your F*ckin Seat Up!
This one makes my knees hurt just watching it. Yes, BMX and dirt jump riders are exempt from this affront. But for those with an adjustable seat post you still see it all the time, on the trail, in the streets, people with their seat way too low. When riding a bicycle along flat or slightly uphill terrain, you want nearly full extension of your leg so you don’t completely tear apart the sensitive apparatus that is your knee. When non-cyclists see cyclists engaged in this type of nonsensical behavior, they think to themselves, “Damn straight cycling looks like it freakin' kills.”5). Guys, Wear Baggy Shorts Please
Sure, if you’re a pro XC rider, or you’re logging mega road miles on your $5,000 plastic bike, you are allowed not to wear baggy shorts. But if you’re aren't, why wouldn’t you throw a pair of baggy shorts over top the diaper? There’s some great styles out there, they look cool. You can even get tight ones! They also keep mud, bugs and rain out of that ever-so-thin interface. Not to mention, the world doesn't have to see the shape of your dong. After the ride is over you can duck behind a bush and remove said shammy, leaving you cool, relatively clean and less prone to the classic Extended Shammy Time crotchal clutch and grab. Which, not surprisingly, the girls find disgusting. 6.) Extended Full Face on Top of Head Time
The full face pulled on the upper region of the head serves a certain function perhaps. It’s a hands free move, when one is loading the bike onto the lift, or being interviewed just after winning a World Cup downhill. But for all intents and purposes, it is a dorky look. Especially at 9 p.m., walking home from the bar with your cherry DH rig. You’re hands free, but for what? High fives? Thumbs up? Please, in one little bit of extra effort you can take the helmet off completely, let the world see your beautiful mane, resting the helmet on the handlebar, or even more efficiently, attached to the backpack. 7.) Backwards Mega Dork Helmet
We all know this is one of the worst, a pitiful extension of Rule #1. It absolutely must be rectified and corrected the instant it’s spotted. Good thing they are at least wearing a helmet so you can smack them in the head without it hurting them too bad. Feel free to whack triathletes wearing wind tunnel helmets whilst on training rides, it's the same freaking thing. 8.) Excessive Suspension Humping
Yes, it’s very cool some of us have bikes that go squish. And it’s a neat feeling getting on the bike and pushing up and down, ensuring the rebound and compression settings are just right. But this can be done in private, or quite quickly. One doesn’t need to be squishing and squashing all of the time. In front of pedestrians, it looks weird. Like an extended dry hump into air. And no one likes dry humping. Well, maybe teenagers.9.) Giant Sideburns (Unless You’re Geoff Kabush)
I don’t know where this one came from. But massive chops and shaved legs go together like a 29 inch wheel on the front and a 24 on the back. It can’t fly, makes us all look like dweebs, especially when it’s on the cover of a glossy, multicolored, flash riddled, super posed magazine cover. I’ve seen people dry heave at airports cruising through the bike mag section. Seriously. So, unless you’re one of the fastest mountain bikers in the history of all things, please do not do this.10.) Compression Socks and Shorts
This one is frightening in its sudden growth. At one time you’d think it would be impossible, but now even pro photographers (hint: named after a sandwich) and seemingly regular cycling folk rock this visual atrocity. And it’s awful. No one cares about your circulation, or your want to stave off varicose veins. There’s plenty of time to wear compression socks, like at home, or while you sleep, and if you must wear them during the day, wear pants for crissakes. This god-awful trend is exacerbated to the extreme when said compression socks are worn with Spandex. Throw in a pinched in bum and a spare tire and you want to burn your bike altogether.11.) Shitty Kids Bikes
This might be one of the most upsetting trends in all of cycling. Large department stores should not be allowed to sell kids bikes. Parents think they’re getting the deal of a lifetime, they can’t believe you can buy a dual suspension mountain bike for less than 100 bucks. Little do they know, their efforts to save money come at the direct expense of their child’s safety. These bikes are death traps, with brakes that don’t work, steel softer than camel leather and suspension technology borrowed from a pogo stick. This might be the number one negative factor contributing to the growth of cycling in North America.12.) Body Armor Sans Shirt
Who knows where this one came from, most likely it’s middle aged dudes who decide to wear padding for the first time ever and don’t have a shirt to fit over their new found exoskeleton. Or worse, they think the look is badass. Truth be told, it’s worth stretching a T-shirt over the deal just so the rest of us don’t see the back hair and the bizarro Halo meets Road Warrior weirdness that is that look. Either man up and don’t wear armor, (flesh wounds are cool), or get a jersey.
Story: Mitchell Scott
Photos: Bryce Piwek