Tuesday, 26 November 2013

I'm not a proper cyclist

We moved to Victoria in February, and left the car behind.  We managed to get around by foot and by bus, occasionally resorting to using the Car Share.  And finally in July, I started cycling.  My sister solved my bike purchasing dilemma by giving me a reconditioned mountain bike (hooray, free bike, and almost as important, hooray, no need to wade through all the confusing research about what type of bike I need!).

I've been cycling to and from work almost daily ever since, but I don't feel like a proper cyclist.  I have a helmet, reflective vest, flashing white light for the front and flashing red light for the rear.  Oh, and a bell!  But other than that, I'm not invested in the proper cycling look.  No skin-tight cycling shorts.  No wrap-around sunglasses.  And even the Canadian Tire cycling gear that I use would never pass muster with a proper cyclist.

On the road, and on the cycle path, I am definitely the slowest thing on wheels.  I don't think I've passed a single moving bicycle in the 5 months that I've been cycling.  I make a point of using my cute little bell when I pass pedestrians - I know that when I'm walking, it's nice to have a warning before the whoosh of a cyclist zipping past.  I'm not aware of proper cyclists using bells, however.  There's typically no warning of their approach, just the whoosh of their slipstream as they thread a path between pedestrians, slower cyclists (i.e., me) and other obstacles.  On rare occasions, you may hear a gruff, "on yer left".

I confuse pedestrians when I stop to let them cross the street in front of me, or otherwise follow the directions of traffic control devices.  If I'm on my bike, I go only when other wheeled traffic can go, and if using a pedestrian crossing I dismount and walk my bike across.  I try to avoid sneaking up beside motor vehicles, although if I'm in a bike lane I'll go as far as that allows without feeling guilty.

I suppose I should just lighten up and not worry about the proper cyclists.


  1. Miss Sarah at http://www.girlsandbicycles.ca/ would counter that there is no proper cyclist. She makes cycling very stylish, practical and social. I deeply admire both of you in your commitment to winter cycling.

  2. I guess I'm not a proper cyclist either, then...

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. I'm still cycling - the bike gets me to work in less than half the time of walking. I'd just feel more comfortable if there were more casual bikers like me; I feel a bit intimidated by these legions of ultra-serious Ryder Hesjedal types zooming around. And cycling in Victoria in winter is not so intimidating as cycling in Chetwynd or Saskatoon in winter!

  4. There are more. You just don't see them because, going the same speed as you, you never overtake any and they never over take you....


    I like the line "I think you have confused me with a cyclist. I just ride a bike"

  5. Thanks, Tim. Good to keep things in perspective!