Something about it has been bugging me ever since I read it — aside from her insistence that cyclists could best share the road by staying the hell off it. And what bothered me was that she was about the two-millionth person I’ve seen refer to a certain class of cyclists as spandex-clad Lance Armstrong wannabes.
Sooner or later, it’s bound to turn up in just about any blog, discussion, comments or forum in which someone, anyone, complains about cyclists. In fact, Google the exact phrase “Lance Armstrong wannabe,” and you’ll get about 37,800 hits.
Okay, 37,801 now.
It’s become so common that I thought some bike hater like Rush Limbaugh must have trademarked the phrase by now.
Problem is, it’s not the least bit accurate.
It assumes that everyone who rides a road bike — particularly if they wear clothes designed for high visibility, wind resistance, moisture wicking, comfort and minimal chafing — fits into one easily defined category. And that category is defined by a desire to emulate the world’s greatest cyclist.™
I mean, I admire the guy. I’ve loved watching him decimate a peloton over the years. But just because I ride a road bike and wrap myself in skin tight, bright colored clothes that look like an explosion at a tutti frutti factory, it doesn’t mean I want to be him.
Then again, considering that I bought my first adult bike when Lance was just 9 years old, it’s entirely possible that he might have wanted to be me at some point — however briefly. Besides, the only rider I ever dreamed of emulating was the incomparable Eddie Merckx. And that only lasted until I passed my first driver’s test.
The simple fact is, if you get a half dozen road bikers together, you’ll get at least that many different types of riders.
Some race. Some ride fast, some ride slow. Some spin around the block, while others go for ultra distance. Some prefer group rides. And some, like myself, prefer to ride alone.
Which doesn’t mean I’m entirely anti-social.
Some run red lights and stops signs — sometimes only when it’s safe, and sometimes with a riding style that would make a kamikaze cringe. Some are rich, some are poor, some are courteous, some are not. And most fit somewhere in between.
About the only thing we all have in common is that we’re all unique in our own unique way.
Calling us all Lance Armstrong wannabes is no more accurate than suggesting that donning the old Stetson I inherited from my dad makes me a John Wayne wannabe. Or that a truck driver’s baseball cap means he really wants to be Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez.
And I don’t think all those people wearing Lakers jerseys around this town really want to be Kobe Bryant. Although I’m sure most of them wouldn’t mind his paycheck for a week or two.
It’s stupid, it’s lazy and a sure indication that the user doesn’t understand what the hell he or she is talking about.
But other than that, I don’t have a problem with it.
Alex Thompson calls on the League of American Bicyclists to get their Santa Monica bronze-awarding act together. LA Eastside notes today is the city’s 227th birthday. But it doesn’t look at day over 215. Really. Bicycle Fixation says there may be hope for L.A.’s 4th Street Hudson River. San Diego is about to get new bike and pedestrian bridges, while Contra Costa calls for a network of multi-use bike and walking trails. Portland is working on 15 miles of new bike boulevards. The Springfield Cyclist achieves his life’s goal of being a pain in the a$$. Finally, a Kansas college students says those damn bikes can just ruin your whole day, and it’s their fault if you spill coffee on your pants. Really. A Toronto bike cop says you are, in fact, entitled to the whole lane. Anger rises over a British researcher’s suggestion that more people died from taking up cycling afterwards than died in the 7/7 terrorist attacks. Even north of the border, sharing the road ain’t always easy. Finally, a drunk-driving, hit-and-run scumbag and his wife try to blame his permanently disabled victim. There are no words…