As I type these words, I am sitting on my front porch waiting to distribute Halloween candy to the trick-0r-treaters of the neighborhood. This alone makes me uncool in some cycling circles. Apparently, many cool riders participate in a Halloween evening ride which removes them from the “bothersome” kids . Once again, I gladly find myself on the wrong side of a cycling tradition.
But that’s not the subject of this post. Today’s post concerns my new road bike, the 2011 Trek 2.1, and how it makes me uncool. One might think that a new road bike would give me many cool points amongst the uber-cyclists, especially when one considers that my previous bike was a Specialized (gasp!) hybrid. On the whole, this is very true, but it is important to understand that cyclists have an increasingly specific set of discriminators which help them to categorize fellow cyclists. Cycling has a long history and is full of tradition. This tradition creates a series of rules and expected behaviors, many of which are perfectly reasonable and many others less so. An organization called The Velominati has helpfully compiled many of these rules into a simple 82-point reference which can be found here. Enjoy.
With my Trek, I have committed at least three faux pas which deducts cool points amongst discriminating cyclists:
Saddle Bag. What’s wrong with a bag to carry your stuff? Everything, if you are a fanatical cycling aficionado. The pure cyclist has absolutely nothing on his bike with the possible exception of a cycling computer. Everything else – pump, spare tubes, car keys, cell phone, energy bars, cue sheets, and anything else a cyclist may wish to carry is to be stowed in one of the three pockets on the back of the cycling jersey. No exceptions. Ever. Sadly, I am not quite willing to part ways with my saddle bag although I will point out that my bag is a rather small one and this helps (to a degree) mitigate against the reprobation which is my due for this violation.
Reflectors. Notice the reflectors on my bike’s wheels? They’re shameful. Likewise, there are reflectors on the front handlebar and the seat post. You don’t need reflectors on the Tour de France so you certainly don’t need them on your road bike. Additionally, each reflector weighs several grams and cyclists spend hundreds of dollars removing each and every non-necessary gram from their bike. It’s a slap in the face to those riders to leave your reflectors on your bike. Despite this, I find it difficult to part with them. They hurt absolutely no one and might one day actually reflect light in the direction of a motorist/cyclist who would otherwise collide with me at an unacceptably fast speed. I think I’ll keep them.
Valve Stem Covers. My bike has very cool Presta inner tubes. I’m not sure why these are cool other than the bikes you get at Wal-Mart never have them and therefore this helps set your bike apart from those bikes. Presta valves are featured on tubes which can hold large amounts of pressure (at and above 120 PSI). Road bikes typically require this kind of tire and therefore Presta valves are a sign of coolness. Anyway, the valve stems on these tubes have screw-on covers. On my bike they’re red. I’ve read that these covers are required to meet with U.S. shipping regulations and serve no other purpose. At least that’s what I read on the Internet so it must be true. Still, I cannot bring myself to discard the things, so I keep them on and somehow bear the burden of the shame they bring upon me.
I’m really enjoying the Trek 2.1. It’s a great bike and it’s held up quite nicely over the first 500 miles. Although there are tell-tale signs of uncoolness on this bike, it could have been MUCH worse: when I bought it I briefly considered having a kickstand installed. Oh, the horror!!!