Cyclists Not All Tree-Huggers, Left-Wingers and Other Stereotypes

Holey car, an artsy pun on holy car or car ownership. Part of "Oh Canada", art exhibit. Calgary, AB 2015.
Holey car, an artsy pun on holy car or car ownership. Part of “Oh Canada”, art exhibit. Calgary, AB 2015. Photo by J.Chong

I never mounted a bike because I wanted to save the environment. It doesn’t mean I am indifferent to  water shortage crises and polluted air.  But I’m not cycling daily for a save the earth crusade.

Just Never Comfortable Driving a Car
No, I’m just a person who was never comfortable with driving a car. I didn’t want to cope with fast highway driving and myriad visual distractions beside, ahead and behind me, as a driver. So I gave up my driver’s license in my early 20’s.   So car-free was a choice for my own safety and others.

On top of the stereotype, that all cyclists are tree-huggers, is the branding of cyclists, as left-wing political nuts who hate urban sprawl, freeways, pick –up trucks, guns.  How wrong could you be about cyclists?

Some cyclists like to live in suburban sprawl areas. Northeast edge of Calgary, Alberta. Nothing like prairie space, er, sprawl. Photo by J.Chong 2013.
Some cyclists like to live in suburban sprawl areas. Northeast edge of Calgary, Alberta. Nothing like prairie space, er, sprawl. Photo by J.Chong 2013.

Cyclists Can be Gun-Lovers
Let me tell you, guns and bikes do mix in some cycling circles. At least in their conversation.

Museum display of bikes and guns, used during WW II. Copenhagen, Denmark 2010. Photo by J.Chong
Museum display of bikes and guns, used during WW II. Copenhagen, Denmark 2010. Photo by J.Chong

For the past decade, I’ve occasionally hung around in an Internet forum of primarily American guy- cyclists.   I can’t even begin to tell you, the number times some of these guys who have casually bragged about their gun(s) locked safely away inside their house. There is no way, they could ever have their gun(s) fired off by accident in their family.  Whatever.

Gun-love among some cyclists was an eye-opener to me. Some cyclists own several guns even though they genuinely are professed liberals, think flying the Confederate flag is dumb-ass backward,  understand and want better public health insurance in the U.S. Or may be not.

Trashing Other Cyclists
At times, there may be the trashing or restrained belittling of other cyclists. Cyclists in jeans or skirts, airily sniffing at cyclists who wear consistently wear lycra-Spandex and cycling tops. And vice versa. Thankfully in cycling-intensive cities, these internal divisions tend to fall apart.

Watching Tour de Alberta bike racers whizz by. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong
Watching Tour de Alberta bike racers whizz by. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong

There are some men who are ricocheting off the wall with comments that are insulting to female cyclists, ie.  “ride like a girl” or  getting “chicked” by women cyclist –meaning getting passed by a woman cyclist.  Why pity the bruised guy ego?  Unless it’s a little boy who needs to learn little girls can ride well too.  Or you are all riding in a group, in a spirit of mutual support.

Misled by Woman Cyclist with Bike Handlebar Basket
The world of women and girls on bikes, is as diverse as men.  Women who crochet, bake bread and sew, can be tearing up the hill and tracks as much as women (or are the same women) who have  jobs as professionals in health care or engineering.

Happy with her heavy bike cruiser. But she may also have a speedy racing bike in her bike stable too. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong
Happy with her heavy bike cruiser. But she may also have a speedy racing bike in her bike stable too. Calgary AB 2013. Photo by J.Chong. Don’t be misled.

Never underestimate  the woman riding leisurely in a fluttering long skirt on an upright bike with a woven straw handlebar basket . She may also have 3 other bikes in her stable.  Maybe even a carbon racing bike, worth over $3,000.  Women who cycle a lot over the years, may end up buying and riding a second bike a few years later. Or sooner than that  –when she realizes  she needs a better bike for riding agility, comfort and speed.  I see this a lot in women’s cycling circles.  If they can afford it, they will buy a second bike.  It’s cheaper than buying several pairs of leather shoes, several dresses or a second car.

Cyclist is More than Their Clothing
I’m certain with my preference  for wearing  cycling jerseys most of the time, has led some observers believe that I’m more sports-oriented cyclist. While I do find cycling convenient for fitness, bike vacation trips and  commuting everywhere , I’m  often slower  than some other cyclists whizzing by.  I wear cycling clothing, because I just don’t want to ruin expensive dress tops with sweat rings. I’m neither racer nor hipster-cool fixie bike cyclist.

Already bucking the lycra-spandex trend while learning bike safety during Bike to Work week. Revelstoke, British Columbia 2015. Photo by J.Chong
Already bucking the lycra-spandex trend while learning bike safety during Bike to Work week. Revelstoke, British Columbia 2015. Photo by J.Chong

Ties that Bind Cyclists
What tends to be a running thread that touches all cyclists:

  • love riding their favourite bikes in all sizes, shapes and colours.
  • need to be safe on the road and wherever we cycle.  While some cyclists are spinning out their bravado carelessly in flips and dives down the trails, through snow or among congested car traffic, they do know at the back of their mind, they want to be alive.

They want to be comfortable when Nature blows rain, wind and snow while they are cycling. After all, cyclists are just people, like you.

Eating more food is common among cyclists. Muse Winery, Saanich. Vancouver Island 2014. Photo by J. Becker
Eating more food is common among cyclists. Muse Winery, Saanich. Vancouver Island 2014. Photo by J. Becker
Advertisements

36 Comments Add yours

  1. Glad you’re dispelling stereotypes in something your passionate about. It’s something we should all do more often. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for visiting here. Best wishes on your writing! What stereotypes are you more passionate about?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Much less stereotypes and more the lack of diversity in fictional characters and in children’s books. I’d like there to be a more representative display of the real people of all shapes, sizes, colors, backgrounds, though in writing, I don’t know how to tackle this because I don’t want to misrepresent someone different than myself somehow but I’m working on it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          It’s possible to write even if you don’t belong to a particular “group”. It helps to steep yourself in another culture or learn another language (that will really bend your perspective) …even the immigrant neighbourhood down the street is a simple thing to do. Or you write as a friend narrator. With children’s books, it must the challenge to entertain well and teach as a second objective. Otherwise book sounds too preachy.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    I’ve never heard about the stereotype with guns, that was an eye opener to me. In Australia, there’s a stereotype that if you ride a big fancy motorbike, then you might be part of a (underworld) gang. Often, I wonder how safe is it for women to wear skirts while cycling. Here in Melbourne, I’ve seen some of them don long boho-chick skirts and dresses that reach almost halfway down their bike in the summer. Then again, they are the ones who cycle slow compared to other riders whizzing by them. Didn’t know you find driving distracting like me too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Do you drive Mabel? No, what I meant was that many people may think cyclists are not gun-owners. But as I found out, some are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        I have a license but don’t drive often since it’s not convenient to drive around the city area. Always more convenient to get to work by public transport.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Sue Slaght says:

    Bravo Jean! I love this post. Like you I almost always wear a cycling jersey but I don’t think that really reflects who I am. I’m the one stopping every five minutes to take photos and certainly would be considered slow by any hard core cyclist. Love the photos , especially the little girl on her dress.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, the little girl is a charmer and she looks happy. Shame on you, slowing down a cycling group with your picture taking. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Saw an interesting old bike yesterday with extra struts on the bike. It turned out it was a Dutch priest’s bike, so his cassock didn’t get caught I. The spokes. horses for courses? Living in a country with very limited gun use I just don’t get gun culture at all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jean says:

      Hi Fossil: Never heard of a bike specifically for a priest. Couldn’t have been that much different from a women’s bike to protect skirts. No, I don’t understand the gun love either. However it appears in Alberta where I live, there a few more people who will openly tell you that they own a rifle for wildlife hunting. Well, so they say. I personally do know some people who hunt. Whereas when I lived in Ontario and British Columbia, I knew no one who hunted/had a gun.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love both cycling and driving my cars. I always felt comfortable with both but I use the bike to do something for my health and enjoy nature when going around the countryside.
    It is interesting to see that many cyclist love also guns. Thinking about all people I know only one pops up who has rifles and thats because he was a weapon smith and restaurated old weapons from both World Wars. I guess attitudes towards guns are very different in Europe compared to North America

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Just to let you know, there is a difference in general about guns and right to own guns between the U.S. and Canada. The law is quite different in the 2 countries. Canada is much stricter. Also attitudes among majority of Canadians in their attitude about personal gun ownership is quite different. We’re probably closer to the British at this time, in terms of our attitudes.

      The American Constitution gives their citizens right to bear arms …then the law goes into detail. Then there are variations across different states.

      The National Rifle Association in the U.S. is a long-standing lobby group that advocates U.S. citizen’s right to own guns, etc.

      Canada’s constitution does not contain this. However our federal law covers guns. We don’t have variations of law, at the provincial level –a good thing.

      As reported in the press with articles (and photos) from the Canadian police at press conferences, there is the problem of gun smuggling from the U.S. (and probably vice versa).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I knew about the differences but how you descibed how many appearently like guns / have them in their house (why you need a weapon if you are not a hunter? ) made me think that it is more closer between Canada and USA than I thought before.
        It is good that there are such big restriction when it comes to guns. In my opinion they are more useless than anything else when trying to lower crime rates. Just comparing USA and Japan is a very good example I guess 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Jean says:

          Yes, Japan is a good example. Some people like to collect guns. But then I still don’t get it either. There is a cyclist in this thread, who responded here and he has guns. Ask him..

          A few years ago, there were some strange U.S. citizens who stood on their side of the U.S.-Canadian border in Washington state..and they armed themselves. They acted /wanted to be their own militia/vigilante group.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I believe I would still not understand even when told by a person with guns, it is just not my mindset I guess.

            These kind of armed groups seem to be pretty weird or lets say crazy and I wonder often what their aim is. Sometimes these groups also pop up in German or Finnish News but there is never any real info given

            Liked by 1 person

  6. Dan In Iowa says:

    Well written! I’m not a tree hugger either….at all! I’m a conservative, right wing Christian that rides over 6,000 miles a year on a bike. I see soil conservation and cutting down on air pollution and water pollution as just smart stewardship. I own a couple of guns, vote, go to church, and ride a bike! In other words, I’m just a normal Joe (Dan in my case) that rides bike……a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Good to see you Dan. Smart stewardship should be everyone’s mantra on our natural resources, air, water and for agriculture. I’ve just become more aware/concerned about the environment as an after-effect, especially when cycling brings you a lot closer to anything unpleasant: there’s no metal body or windshield or air filter (unless I wear one) that protects a cyclist.

      I do live in Canada’s producing province for oil and gas. We have the tar sand/oil sands about 900 km. north of us. Fracking is a serious matter for us. Of course, there are people who work for these firms and cycle to and from work. So even if I didn’t bicycle, just these issues loom in our area.. our local economy is feeling the oil price downspin.

      I tend to be left of centre. 😉 However Mother Nature just wants care and respect long-term.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lani says:

    What a great idea for a blog post. Stereotypes can be fun for comedic purposes, but otherwise can be a dangerous game to entertrain. I love what you said about girls in flouncy skirts (don’t be decieved!), although these days I’m that girl because that is how I’m commuting to work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Stereotypes cause unnecessary tension and conflict. And it can be real danger for cyclists and drivers in terms of on the road interactions. How’s Cambodia? After Thailand, surely stereotyping in your part of the world is less?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lani says:

        I’m working on my Cambodian post. Coming soon! But yeah, stereotypes they’re everywhere and SE Asia is no exception. In some ways, it feels even worse among the expat community.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          Am all ears to hear about Cambodia so far. Expat community by its peculiar existence, would have some stereotypes about one another, homeland or locals. On one hand it’s a privileged position: you don’t have to live there. You chose to live there and could technically leave. So already that sets up stereotypes /impressions from locals…

          Liked by 2 people

  8. Who knew there was such a dramatic subtext to the life of cyclers? =) The food looks awesome. =)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jean says:

      These are only a few stories. Cyclists who wear helmets vs. those who don’t wear helmets is another flaming war.

      We had a delicious carrot soup and for me, it was accompanied by a sandwich stuffed with fresh local baby shrimp, etc. Doubtful that winery bistros in Germany one would find a lot of local fresh seafood on their menus.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. livelytwist says:

    Indeed, cyclists are just people, like you. Here in The Netherlands, cycling is so common that statement rings true. I can’t imagine cycling exclusively though. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jean says:

      I have visited the Netherlands about 2 years before I returned to cycling…so I never paid attention to the cyclists nor bikes. It just never registered in my brain when we were there. I was too caught up with the architecture, the fabulous artwork I saw in the museums, etc. I was with a sister in Amsterdam, The Hague and Gouda for about 6 days. My partner has been to the Netherlands twice in the last 8 years or so, specifically to look at cycling infrastructure and meet some Dutch cycling infrastructure folks.

      It’s really slow to change mindset, that cyclists are like anyone else…but it is happening SUPER SLOW. In Vancouver BC, certain areas close to downtown in non-winter days, count 7,000 cyclists daily at certain junctions. That’s a lot for a North American city.

      I guess cycling for you fits best when you have abit of time and don’t have to worry about kids, huge loads of groceries, etc.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Right! We bike to eat!

    People do like to stereotype. Thank you for setting the world straight. Bike on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Been cycling much around your area, JB? Nothing like cycling along, oblivious to clichés.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! It’s summer. Cycling a breeze. Now to keep up the momentum when it cools down.

        Like

  11. We’re not? News to me

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      🙂 Your blog reflects your cycling interest and trying to cope. Impressive to have delivered over 2,000 babies.

      Like

  12. I enjoyed reading your most as a fellow cyclist. I have been looking for a blog who writes about cycling and I stumbled across yours. Thank you for putting some of the stereotypes out there. I cycle to keep healthy, eat the occasional donut and do my bit to cut down on pollution. I know this post was from a few months ago, so how is the cycling going?

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Yes, me. I eat the occasional donut also. A donut becomes god-sent if one is cycling for many kms. out in the rural areas and if one hasn’t packed enough food on a touring bike ride with loaded panniers. 🙂 We’ve had a strange, warmer winter with a lot less snow. So have cycled several times per wk. for work and shopping. Our winters normally dip down to -15 degrees C, even -35 degrees C several days every winter.

      Like

Chime in with your thoughts here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s