When I first started biking as my main form of transportation, I was scared. Not just of all the 3000 pound cars I was up against, but also of the other riders. I was terrified of doing something wrong, something embarrassing or dumb. I haven’t felt so insecure since middle school–I was the new kid in school and all the other cyclists were the popular kids.
And just like in middle school, there are sub-groups within the popular kid clique. There’s the rich kids (with their super light bikes, spandex, clip-in shoes), the too-cool-for-school kids (the hottie bike-messengers and fixie riders), the preps (with their panniers stuffed with blue prints, riding in a suit coat and sensible jeans) and the super babes (that somehow look amazing and straight out of Copenhagen in their super chic outfits and heels…what?!?)
I don’t have a fancy bike, I have a bike I got from a guy on Craiglist. It’s too heavy for me to lift and it squeaks like a tricycle in the opening of a horror film. I like it because it’s yellow.
I don’t have fancy bike clothes. I usually wear some mix of workout clothes and pajamas for my daily commute. I wear Saucony running shoes because I have super wide feet. My helmet came from my parents many birthdays ago, probably from a Midwestern big-box store. I like it because it’s purple.
I don’t have fancy bike gear. I have lights. I have reflectivey things. I have brakes and two tires and a seat and handlebars. All of which I think are ergonomically incorrect for my body. But all those parts work together to get me where I need to go.
Hey, you remember what happened before middle school…? We were KIDS! And you know what we did when we were kids? WE RODE A BIKE! Any bike! Most of us probably grew up riding a crappy department store bike that our parents spent very little money on knowing we’d outgrow it in a year or two. We didn’t care about the specs of the bike back then. As long as it was the right color and had a bright pink squirt bottle attached, it was perfect!
AND WE HAD FUN!
All this is not to say that you shouldn’t invest in quality gear or learn as much as you can about your bike, nor do I think less of people with fancy bike stuff. All I want is for anyone out there who is scared to jump on their bike because they think they don’t fit the mold, or they think they’ll look stupid…to just do it!
I’m a freckle-faced girl with hairy pits AND I’M A CYCLIST.
Whatever you look like, THAT’S A CYCLIST!