As a stalwart cyclist, I have accepted the fact that I will be ostracized, ridiculed and occasionally physically accosted by the general Alberta population, and really, I don’t blame them sometimes. With our garish lycra club kits and general anarchistic attitude towards traffic laws and motorists, cyclists are generally viewed as enemy number one along with those pesky raccoons and crack smoking mayors. This is why it has been a pleasure to reap the benefits of the sunshine coming out of people’s intrigue and affable attitude towards my fatbike. Unfortunately, the derision and vitriol is now coming from my fellow cyclists.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been riding my full carbon Devinci Leo road bike with full Sram Red and Shimano C50 wheels thinking I was the BMOC (Big Man On Campus) singing “I’m Walking On Sunshine”, when a truck drives by and someone yells “loser” dashing my good mood. Then I think to myself: “Didn’t that gentleman realize how achingly expensive, light and laterally stiff this bike is?” The answer is, of course, no, as all he saw was some goofball in a gymnastics outfit occupying his God given driving lane in truck dominant Edmonton. I try to ignore the rolling of the eyes of people in cafes as I waddle in with my clicking cycling shoes, clutching my Garmin in my hand like Gollum and sitting down exposing my private parts for all to see. Surprisingly, nobody has asked about my new Enve carbon wheels which costs more than my car. It really is a sad and lonely existence we cyclist endure.
Then like Cinderella with her fairy godmother, redbike gifted me my BearGrease, and now, I feel like I’m the prettiest girl at the dance. Fairly close to a daily basis, I have people approaching me to talk or ask questions about my bike. Most are obvious comments like “Those are some pretty big wheels” or “That bike must be good in the snow”, and some are just plain expressive like “Sweet”, “Awesome” or “Rad”. I even had some people in, God forbid, trucks who gave me the thumbs up instead of the customary middle finger or the slow pathetic head shake. People have crossed the street to see the proportions in closer proximity and take pictures of it. Yes, I have had multitudes of people stop me to take pictures of my bike, and it was pretty obvious that they were not cyclist keening on the newest cycling technology. It’s just a very common Alberta saying, bigger is better, so Albertans love the fatbike.
In those rare moments when being a cyclist is actually cool, I thought my fellow cyclists would revel with me in this minor victory of public opinion. And in some cases, yes, but surprisingly in some cases, it was a resounding no. Now, I’m not talking about people who just decided that fatbikes are not something they are interested in as I respect people’s right to voicing their opinion on anything, but I’m talking about people who disparage in a vitriolic or acerbic tone about people who own or even appreciates fatbikes. Last month, a friend of mine introduced me to a fellow cyclist when the topic of fatbikes came up. I thought we would have this convivial discussion about fatbikes, but then it turned into a personal attack where he implied that riding a fatbike was emasculating and that it was unnecessary for winter riding if you had his particular set of skills on a bike. It was obvious that he wasn’t looking for an informative debate, but he was just attempting to be truculent and belittling. We exchanged some moot verbal comments when it was clear that we were debating opinions that were very unwavering. I tried to defuse the situation by deciding together that it wasn’t fatbikes he hated but fatbike owners, of which, he had some validity. It ended out that he was a fascinatingly obstinate person whom I probably could have some fun debates and conversations with as I tend to find wishy washy people boring. Anyways, as it turned out, there were other cyclists I would run into who just had this latent hatred towards fatbikes for some reason or another. I was ever so fascinated by this fact. Why does the general public find fatbikes interesting but some cyclist find them such an annoyance that they would personally attack someone who owns one? Maybe we are just so vulgarly emphatic about them that we just annoy the crap out of some people, but are cyclist prone such petulant behavior? Like hipsters hating anything that is popular?
Looking back at the way cyclists reacted to full suspension bikes, disc brakes on cyclocross bikes, 29ers, 650B, dropper seatposts, etc, it’s obvious that we are our own sharpest and harshest critics. I suppose that’s what makes us so interestingly unique in our goofy bib shorts and gram counting. We are critical of things we don’t fully understand and we like it like that. Maybe we make fun of each other because it’s our way of controlling our spending so we just don’t go buy every new thing that comes out. Overall, I find that cyclists are very forgiving about our transgressions and can be contrite about our past opinions if we decide to change them. I used to think full suspension bikes were a fad back in the day. So, I will make a solemn promise that I will stop telling you how awesome fatbikes are if you stop telling me how lame they are. Until you change your mind.