Long ago, I learned my approach to cycling is extremely uncool. There are many aspects of my bike, fashion, etc… that immediately point me out to serious cyclists as someone who does not belong in their inner circles. I have already shared one such sign with you. It is because of these clear signs that I will never be invited to the coolest cycling parties or enjoy the unabashed admiration of other cool cyclists.
Somehow I am still able to sleep at night.
I would like to share another aspect of my cycling nerdiness. It is silver, weighs approximately 2/3 of a pound and keeps my bike out of the dirt. I am speaking, of course, of my kickstand.
Of all the things one might do to signal his unwillingness to conform to cycling cultural norms, installing a kickstand has to rank at or near the top of the list. This is akin to wearing pocket protectors in the office or black socks with your flip-flops at the beach. You might as well have a flashing red light over a sign stating, “Behold the Loser Cyclist!” dangling from your handlebars. Much like orange safety flags, kickstands are the preserve of young children. They identify you as someone who hasn’t a clue as to how to properly rig your bike.
“But Steve,” you point out, “the uber-cyclists have state-of-the-art bikes that cost thousands of dollars. How do they properly take care of them?”
Glad you asked. There are only two acceptable ways to store a bike worth more than many peoples’ mortgage payment. Option 1 is the “Throw It On The Ground Method,” demonstrated by this lovely couple:
You might think this is the exception, or even a rule that only applies to mountain biking. I assure you this is perfectly normal, nay expected behavior. Any damage to the bike is far less significant than the damage to the cyclists’ egos which would certainly result from employment of a kickstand.
Option 2 is the “Lean It On Something” method, demonstrated by this gentleman:
While still quite cool, this method is less desirable than Option 1 because it exhibits some level of regard for the bicycle. Certainly the paint and handlebar tape will be destroyed over time, which is nice, but the main point is THERE IS NO KICKSTAND. This is what is paramount and I cannot stress this enough.
Why the strong aversion to a device which serves a worthwhile purpose? As is the case with dork disks and other taboo items of the cycling culture, reasons are often listed. All of them are flimsy. The most common rationale given for this rule is the weight of the kickstand – which weighs about the same as a pair of pedals or a tool kit. If you’re competing in a time trial, I can see your point. That accounts for a fraction of the folks who follow this practice. Some cyclists will actually carry a portable stand in their jerseys, thus bringing the very weight they hoped to rid themselves of, while making their jersey less comfortable and forcing them to remember one more thing when they prepare to ride.
The reasons for this and other cycling taboos are often silly, but that is precisely the point – in order to be considered a seriously cool cyclist, you must ascribe to a series of arcane behaviors which help set you apart from the normal world. The fact that these behaviors are counterintuitive only reinforces their importance. It’s kind of like pledging a fraternity – by agreeing to the somewhat silly and arbitrary rules, you gain entrance to a subculture and are thus considered to be part of the group, ie., cool.
Cycling is awesome and I’m thoroughly enjoying my rides. Sadly, I also enjoy my kickstand which – even as I type these words – is keeping my bike off my garage floor. There’s a lot to be said for a piece of gear which can help keep your paint and tape intact and your chain out of the dirt. If it causes some to turn up their nose, that’s ok – I still appreciate my stand.
And I’ll have to look into getting one of those orange safety flags. They look pretty sharp!