It has been some time since I discussed my lack of coolness in the cycling community. I have chronicled my chronic use of kickstands, my refusal to shave my legs, and my insistence on the use of reflectors and saddle bags. I try not to dwell on my idiosynchracies, but I am occasionally forced to confront them. My recent pedal in Tampa – as evidenced by the above photo – requires an explanation. As you can see, I was wearing a Camelbak.
And the horrible truth is that I often do.
That Camelbaks are absolutely unacceptable to serious cyclists, there can be no doubt. Even the Velominati has taken the trouble to codify this as one of the 82 immutable rules of cycling:
“32. Hydration packs are never to be seen on a road rider’s body. No argument will be entered into on this.”
While the rule is ironclad, the rationale for it is less so. After all, what is the harm in carrying fluids? Especially when the fluids are contained in a nifty pack that provides a helpful drinking tube and copious amounts of storage space for all manner of odds and ends? I’ve been known to store cue cards, ID, money, keys, food, my GPS, and many other items in my Camelbak. What is the harm in that?
Plenty. There appears to be at least two main reasons why this rule is in effect for road cyclists:
1. Mountain Bikers love hydration packs and whatever a Mountain Biker loves a Roadie must detest. How else to maintain the ancient rivalry? Mountain Bikers need the packs as they routinely find themselves far from civilization, whereas a proper road cyclist is supposed to nip into the local coffee shop or bistro and refill his water bottles after ordering an espresso.
2. Road Cyclists are supposed to carry absolutely everything they need in the three pockets on the back of their jersey. This shows how tough they are and how cycling is completely and totally about only themselves and their bikes. If you can’t have a saddle bag that is slightly larger than a coin purse, then you certainly can’t have a monstrosity like a Camelbak slung over your shoulders.
Truth be told, I brought little shame upon myself during my ride in Tampa. I saw no Roadies during my entire trip, therefore there was no derision or unpleasant looks sent in my direction. Had a Roadie pedaled past me, he still would probably have cared little about this violation. I was riding a cruiser bike and would therefore be immediately relegated to subhuman status, not worthy of even being critiqued for violating uber-cyclist etiquette.
Still, Loyal Reader, I feel compelled to inform you of whom you are dealing with in this blog space. Your author’s violations of cycling dogma are significant and pervasive. I encourage you to read on, but do so knowing that you are keeping company with an unsavory character and risk damage to your own reputation through association with the likes of me!