Listen up! This is a tongue-in-cheek overview of some of the more interesting and dedicated cyclists you may see and meet. No offense is intended. We're just trying to have some fun and brighten your day. We fit into a few of these categories, too! No cyclists were harmed researching this article. Credit approval required. Your tire mileage may vary.
Cycling is a splendid and wonderful activity; our absolutely favorite thing, in fact. If you've been a cyclist for very long, you're probably evolving into one of the many species of wheel men and women. You're not alone, it's happened to all of us, too.
When we're new to the sport, we're not quite sure where we fit in. Gradually, a transformation takes places and we become fanatics, we use cycling jargon that only our compadres understand, and we lust for bikes that make us faster, more comfortable or better riders. Lots of other velo aficionados share the characteristics we develop, too. You and those that you have so much in common with become a species. So, here's a field guide to a variety of the creatures that inhabit the two-wheeled forest. Be sure to let us know which one you think WE are when you come in!
|Urbanicus Messengericus (UM)|
| ||Found in heavily urbanized areas, this phylum of the cycling family has more tattoos than T-shirts. Fond of bragging about how long he or she held onto a furniture delivery truck, Urbanicus Messengericus is an extremely brave creature with absolutely no fear of vehicles higher up the impact chain, and with amazing reflexes and peripheral vision, which let him dart in and out of traffic like the marble in a pinball machine. The bike of choice of UM is a fixed-gear track bike, preferably with cow-horn bars. Yet, any bike will do as long as it is heavily covered in electrical tape which makes the bike less appealing to other predators and protects it from Messengericus's second-most-important piece of equipment: the heavy lock. Despite aerobic prowess, cigarettes and other smoky pleasures are not frowned upon. Messengericus thrives in many different climates and seems virtually immune to extreme heat, cold and traffic police. Best of all, he's living proof that cities are made for BIKES, not cars.|
|Montis Extremus Velocitus (MEV)|
|MEV's apartment walls are decorated with pictures of her launching mountain bikes, cliff diving, displaying off-road rash and passed out at parties. She has a photo of the computer on her freeride rig displaying a maximum speed of 63 mph. She makes buttering six-foot drops look SOOO easy. Her 24-hour race participation is simply an excuse to drink beer. She could turn pro on the national downhill circuit but the travel expenses would cut too deep into her tattoo money. She tends to flaunt scars like badges of courage. She can't fly without being hand-wanded at security checkpoints because all the screws and plates holding her bones together set off the standard metal detectors. And, despite being the last one to leave the party, she's always first up to ride!|
|Gearheadicus Stubbornous Erectus (GSE)|
|This species is easily recognized by their Bell V-1 helmet, which now offers no protection at all because it's 25 years old. This rider typically has a gear chart taped to his stem, even though he's memorized the gear inches for every cog combination on his bike to the hundredth of an inch. And, he complains that bikes with triple chainrings no longer feature half-step gearing, while insisting that there's no reason for integrated gear/brake levers when his ancient bar-end shifters work just fine. He always carries a tape measure for confirming every fit dimension on his bike everywhere he goes. He's certainly a great cyclist to know, though. For every organized ride within a 400-mile radius he can tell you the road conditions, usual rest-stop locations, which motels to avoid, and point you to the best restaurant in town that serves cycling-friendly fare. Plus, his MacGyver-esque on-road improvisational fixes have saved more rides than a traffic jam of sag wagons. Females of the GSE species are rare, but they do exist.|
|Temptressicus Egoicus Obliteratus (TEO)|
|This creature is strictly female and exceedingly dangerous. Not only is TEO not intimidated by riding with the guys, she savors the opportunity to hammer anyone with a Y chromosome into the ground. Her favorite tricks for toying with her prey are especially dangerous to males of the Novus Racerus Infestus species. A favorite tactic is to pass one of these poor souls on a hill just fast enough that he thinks he'll be able to keep up (his pride won't let him let her go). Listening to his breathing behind her, she gradually picks up the pace until his gasps sound like a thoroughbred's at full gallop. After fifteen minutes of this torture, she shifts up two gears and rockets out of sight. She's a master of the backhanded compliment, too. "Well you LOOK really fit!" "That's a great new bike. I'm sure you'll grow into it." A percentage of males will never touch their bikes again after these "humiliations" from TEO.|
Unsolicitus Advicius Annoyeratus (UAA)
|Unsolicitus Advicius Annoyeratus can be quite annoying. Almost always male, he tells you everything that you're doing wrong, at least in his eyes. According to this pesky fellow, you're never running the right tires, picking the right line, braking correctly or cornering properly. His sense of timing can be atrocious, too. While you're struggling up a super-steep technical climb is not the time to tell you that you should have started the climb in a different chainring. Of course, he's not going to let a little distance between friends stop him from issuing advice. Why should he, when he can shout instructions at the top of his lungs? Of course, he IS a good source of information about what's new in the cycling world, as he has every new gadget that comes out on his bike within the first week! Just be sure and view his take on it with a grain of salt. Make that a CUP of salt.|
|Temptressicus Chatticus Non-Stoppus (TCN)|
|This common species resembles TEO in some ways but the first thing you'll notice is her non-stop banter. It never has anything to do with bikes, though, unless it involves color coordination. Highly social even during rides, she often amazes the group with her ability to converse about any subject (other than cycling), form complex sentences, even while maneuvering through tight singletrack, and her exceptional ability to always pick the cleanest line (literally). She's always surprisingly dirt and mud free after every ride. She has quite a few strong points, too. Her outgoing nature brings new riders into the sport and helps build bridges between trail users. She's also exceptionally skilled at finding coffee shops and restrooms on road trips; both of which can be invaluable on long hauls!|
|Trailbuilderus Avidifferus Proficienatus (TAP)|
| ||Trailbuilderus Avidifferus Proficienatus can be found at your local trails 24-7, and if you enjoy off roading, you should be happy he's there! His bike is packed with everything he needs to build, reroute and redesign trails. And, he's always ready to cut as much trail as authorities will allow. Plus, he knows amazing and ingenious ways to turn muddy, miserable and impassable routes into smokin' singletrack trails. Of course, he's strictly by the book when it comes to trail etiquette and he'll let you know if you're out of line. Many who encounter TAP come away with the knowledge that a lot more goes into building trails than they realized. Yet, his language can be a bit strange at times and frequently includes terms such as "sustainability," "contour," "fall line" and "grade reversal." Be sure and join him at the next trail day. You'll be glad you did!|
|Novus Racerus Infestus (NRI)|
|NRI insists on riding hard on just about every training ride. Females of the species are rare, but they do exist. He spends hours researching training methods, but can be swayed to do what his buddies say instead. He tends to inflict injury upon himself. For example: crashing while raising his arms in "victory" at the end of group rides, straining his hamstrings from frequent saddle repositioning looking for easy speed, or injuring his knees from pushing too big a gear. He knows all of his measurements, including ones you've never heard of — in millimeters. But, he's hard on the average group ride because he can't help but push the pace even when his pre-ride comments told how tired, out of shape and injured he was. While Novus Racerus can be a little intimidating, he's actually a good guy to know. He's perfectly willing to give you a free ride while he fights a headwind for miles and his intensity and focus can even inspire you to ride better. Just don't take him too seriously.|