Trek Women
May 19, 2008

Bike rider v. cyclist...

Astana What's the difference between riding your bike and cycling?

A while ago, I traded emails with a guy who considered himself a “happy kind of biker” who enjoys sunny days and ringing a bell and remembers putting playing cards in his spokes. He wrote, “I’m not in the same league as you.” That made me a little sad to tell you the truth because I’m pretty happy on a bike. Am I e-league-ist??

Then, I tried to think back to the last time I went for a non-commute ride when I wasn’t concerned about pace, form or distance. I couldn’t*. Plus, I own specially designed gear and I usually check out the rides of others on the paths. Are these the signs of a cyclist?

Mostly, I tend to think of myself as a Type A bike rider who rings her bell so that people will get out of the way. I mean, kindly move to the right so I can pass on the left**. Hmmm. Do bike riders get annoyed or is that reserved for cyclists?

Is your “league” (bike riding v. cycling) determined by your attitude or level of performance? Do you have to be "good enough" to earn a cyclist title?

What do you think?

*Technically, we rented bikes in Amsterdam to have fun and cover more ground/distance.

**I had a near-zero speed fall 2 weeks ago when a family blocked the path, wouldn’t move and I overbalanced getting my foot out of the pedal while veering onto grass. 

>>>And just so I don't come off as a member of the jerk league -- I make it a point to give lots of warning and heads up when I'm going to pass and I say thank you. But, there's no need to give me a rude gesture because I've asked you to move over so I can go by.


I rediscovered the bike at the age of 50 and a friend talked me into triathlons. I'm a marginal swimmer and I hate to run. As far as riding, that was something I did in college cause I didn't have a car.

Have I turned into a cyclist? I do own great gear and I'm pretty sure that that the combined cost of my husband and my bicycles is more then the car we drive around town. I've had runners in the bike lane give me the finger as I call out "on your left" and go whizzing by. Does that make me a cyclist?

I still get dropped off the back of a peloton when I train for triathlons and I know for a fact that the 60 and 70 year old women in the Red Hot Ladies...a cycling group I started with a friend for women 50 and over still beat me up a hill. Maybe a cyclist just means that we have a passion for riding however fast or slow, or what kind of equipment we have.

Posted by: Pattie Dunn | May 20, 2008 7:59:25 PM

Hi Pattie!
First of all -- way to go triathlete!! I love the name of your "cycling" group - Red Hot Ladies - yeow.

I thought it was an interesting thing to ponder -- I would say all cyclists are bike riders; but, are all bike riders, cyclists? I'm not making a judgement call - that cyclists are somehow the elite. Getting out on a bike at all is what really matters.

But for some reason, I get squirmy about considering myself "a cyclist."

I like your definition - anyone with a passion for riding is a cyclist.

Posted by: Laura | May 21, 2008 8:18:24 AM

I see a big distinction between cyclist and bike riders as being those of us who have a brain we want to protect and those who don't (ie... wears a helmet). I'm not elitist at all -- I'm not that good. But, I do tend to look at people not wearing a helmet as not being the smartest riders.

I also find myself being too serious -- worrying about how fast or far I'm going instead of just having fun and smelling the roses. Memorial Day I did my first ride with a local club and I chose the slowest/easiest since it was my first ride. It was GREAT because the pace was slower than what I normally do, I hung back and kind of played sweep to the guy who's chain jumped off, and I felt more relaxed than any other ride even though it was 30 miles!

Posted by: Ginger | May 28, 2008 3:00:22 PM

Good for you Ginger for trying something new!

I get nervous about club rides. I'm so used to riding with Russ and Wayne that I know exactly how they're going to react in a situation, when they slow down for lights, how they ride up hills, etc. I don't have to think about it. With new people, you just don't know what they're going to do or how you fit in. I definitely want to start doing some more of them even though the guys aren't interested.

I'm happy you had a wonderful experience!

Posted by: Laura | May 28, 2008 7:46:46 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.