Get pedalling, but beware bicycle bores

DAVE ARMSTRONG
Last updated 05:00 02/01/2012
Cyclists
Get pedalling: Road cycling bores can be found congregating at city cafes on most Sundays around brunch time.

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Dave Armstrong

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OPINION: Happy New Year! I hope you had a good one, and took advantage of the glorious weather we had last week.

After being expelled from the house on Boxing Day for talking too much by an exhausted wife who had cooked a brilliant Christmas dinner for 13 people the day before, I cycled around the bays.

As I passed through Scorching Bay, with hundreds of picnickers enjoying the perfect Wellington day, there was no place in the world, or other mode of transport, that I would have preferred at that moment.

Cycling in Wellington makes good sense. If you commute by bike, you usually arrive earlier than by car, and you get a good free workout as well. I'd estimate that compared to commuting by bus, cyclists save about $2000 a year. Triple that amount compared to travelling by car then double it again if you include parking.

You'd be justified in worrying about cycle safety with our city's narrow streets. Apparently more lives are saved by cycling due to cyclists' improved health than are lost by accidents  though try telling that to someone knocked off their bike.

But by far the best thing about cycling is that it gives a whole generation of Wellington professionals something to be really boring about. It's the new golf.

Road cycling bores can be found congregating at city cafes on most Sundays around brunch time. They often wear bright, expensive and ridiculous one-piece Lycra suits covered with Italian or French writing. Classy.

Their aerodynamically designed helmets resemble the top of a certain male organ, and as they loudly order a demitasse or macchiato after their epic 100-kilometre ride, talk of gear ratios and derailleurs is de rigueur. 

Any bike that costs less than $5000 is absolute rubbish to a cycling bore, as is stainless steel. Your bike must be made of platinum, carbon, Teflon, uranium or plutonium to be fashionable. And spokes are for sissies.

Call me old-fashioned, but I quite like pedals. But a cycling bore will insist on garish glorified ballet shoes that somehow magically attach to the bike. They also clomp on the hard cafe floor when the cycling bore storms across it to complain that his decaf soy latte isn't hot enough.

Cycling bores often work in stressful occupations  law, IT or graphic design  and I admire the  way that they bring that stress into the gentle art of cycling. No-one in their cycling ''peloton'' can travel less than a certain speed and the training regime is as sacred as minimum chargeable hours.

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If you say something like ''oh, look at the pretty tui'',  when pedalling behind a cycling bore,  they will steadfastly ignore you as they crouch down to avoid wind resistance then make sure you are not in their slipstream. 

You would assume mountain bikers would be more anarchistic but the mountain-bike bore is a similar creature.

These extreme adrenaline junkies see a broken collarbone as an initiation rather than as an unfortunate injury.

Older, overweight, mountain-bike bores love using terms like ''gnarly single-track'' to make them feel young again.

Only wimps brake on a downhill and if you're not totally mud-covered after a ride, you have failed.

A mountain-bike bore must  have really knobbly wheels  small knobs are a sign of weakness. I consider riding up to the Brooklyn windmill a massive achievement, but for the mountain-bike bore, this is simply the starting point of their ride. And remember, any hill with a gradient of less than 70 degrees is ''boring'', and if you stop to admire the view over Cook Strait as you descend your near-vertical slope, you are probably in the way of a mountain-bike bore at full speed, so watch it.

And you're not a real mountain-bike bore unless you do all this at night, without a light and at breakneck speed.

So this year, consider resolving to trade your expensive gym membership and parking problems for a bike. But do it in ordinary clothes on a cheap bike and at your own pace. That way you'll add to the critical mass of sane cyclists on our roads. After all, bikes were invented long before Lycra.

- The Dominion Post

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