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Confessions of a bike geek


At some point, cycling stops being cool.

First bikes are cool. Being able to ride to your friends’ houses or the swimming pool is cool. Jumping curbs is cool.

Then cars enter the picture, and anybody old enough to drive who still gets around by bike loses his cool, and, unfortunately for old guys like me, never gets it back.

And that’s OK.

Long ago I came to terms with the fact I’m not cool, bike or no bike, so my primary mode of transport doesn’t geek me out any more than my taste in music or haircut or clothes.

The thought of an adult male on a bike immediately conjures images of Pee-wee Herman, at least in my uncool brain.

Every now and then, I’ll catch a glance of myself in the mirror before my ride to or from work and shake my head.

Geeky helmet? Check. Dorky shoes? Roger. Cuffed pant leg? Yep. Practical and functional bike-wear? Yes. Cool? Not even close.

Two recent encounters, curiously at the same intersection while headed in opposite directions weeks apart, however, made me wonder if maybe I’m rolling with a little more street cred than I give myself credit for.

The first happened about 1:30 in the morning as I was headed home. Stopped at Seventh and Mass. by a red light, I heard a group of college-aged men headed my way, carousing as if they’d been out bar hopping.

Geeky boy biker fully expected the lads to give him a hard time, but as they passed, one of the kids stopped, looked me up and down, then nodded.

“Cool fixie, dude,” he said before strolling away.

A couple of weeks later, I was headed into work in the evening. Stopped at the same light, a man crossed in front of me, gave me the same kind of once-over, and asked, “Is that a single-speed?”

I said it was.

“Cool,” he responded. “That’s hard core.”

In the latter case, the compliment came around spoonfuls of some sort of ice cream treat, from an older gentleman, a professor-type wearing a tweed sportcoat.

I guess coolness is all relative. I’d never be caught in a tweed sportcoat. Talk about uncool.


Deb Stavin 9 years ago

" I’d never be caught in a tweed sportcoat."

Ha! Famous last words. I didn't think I'd ever wear jeans with an elastic waistband.

Jersey_Girl 9 years ago

LOL at dstavin!

Andrew - Lance Armstrong has made riding a bicycle cool again, even if his isn't a one-speed. Women want to be with him and men want to be him or at least did, while he was dating Cheryl Crow.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

Andrew, is there a brand of bike that you would recommend for a sixty-three year old woman who is five feet? I tried one out at Walmart, but I couldn't place both feet on the floor at the same time, making it difficult when I wanted to stop. Actually another shopper stopped me, and another caught me as I started to fall. I was just going down an aisle a short way. I hear that cycling is good exercise.

Andrew Hartsock 9 years ago

Irish: I wouldn't recommend a certain brand. But I would suggest not buying a bike from a big-box store and instead buying from a local bike shop. In Lawrence, both Sunflower and Cycle Works provide excellent service. Either would help you find the right bike for you — a bike that's appropriate for your size and budget and riding style that is set up and assembled properly. It might cost a little more up front (and then again, it might not), but the service they provide in picking the right bike is invaluable.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

Thank you Andrew, that is exactly what I am going to do. I was beginning the think a short person just shouldn't be riding a bike. I am looking forward to it and nervous at the same time. It has been so long.

RoeDapple 9 years ago

Andrew, Other cyclists understand what and why you wear what you do. Your attire is at home on the bike, but might not be right for preaching Sundays sermon. In fact the minister would look as much out of place on the bike as you at the pulpit........... To a degree, we're all in costume

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