Guide to cyclist-watching

Overall, cyclists are harmless creatures, they are relatively easy to type and even easier to view. In the woods, for example, you might be fortunate enough to spot the daring Mountain Screecher, on a highway you may spot a migrating Touring Endurant. On city roads watch for the rambling Commuter and the brightly-feathered Lycra Bastard (who is about to run down the Commuter). Use common sense when approaching cyclists. They tend to be friendly, and will quickly attach themselves to you if you offer them beer.
The natural enemies of the cyclist are the automobile and the pedestrian. The automobile can cause smog-gagging, concussions, broken bits, apoplectic fits, bad language and middle-finger sprains. The pedestrian, a lesser enemy, causes only the last three items, but lots of them.
Here are some of the more common cyclist species:
The Mountain Screecher
The insane Mountain Screecher is a fairly elusive creature, and is not often seen on city streets. If you go farther afield, in the woods, you may catch glimpses of them as they fly past overhead. If you do see one fly over, listen closely for the Mountain Screecher cry, it is distinctive and goes something like this: “wheeeeeeeee, wheeee . . . oh #[email protected]&, ooooooh nooooooo, aaaaiiiiieeeee, *crash*, hahahahaha, cool, let’s run it again”. These are fearless creatures, and terrifically fun to watch, if you’re lucky enough to spot one or a group of them. Excellent sighting grounds: Crawford Estates, Silver Star Mountain (summer), Whistler Mountain (summer).

The Lycra Bastard

The brightly coloured Lycra Bastard, sleek on an even sleeker road bike, moves at the speed of light, and usually travels in a pack. This is a highly visible cyclist, the lycra screams out at you, and this is a good thing since no matter what road the Lycra Bastard is on, in his mind it is the Tour de France, and god help anybody who gets in his way, be it another cyclist or a pedestrian or even a car. The Lycra Bastard will not go around them, he will ride right through them. Lycra Bastards travel approximately an eighth of an inch from each other, which is generally believed to be a protective move, a way of looking larger to predators. The call of the Lycra Bastard is; “on your left” and “on your right” which is called out 1/4 of a nanosecond before passing anything slower (read: everything). Sighting grounds: Roads and highways, rarely seen on multi-use paths.
The Sidewalk Sally
The Sidewalk Sally is a timid creature, fearful of their natural enemy the car but not fearful of their other natural enemy the pedestrian. Sidewalk Sallies are problem cyclists, and are like the Canada goose in that there’s nothing much to watch but definitely something to avoid walking near. 
The Wrong Way Wanderer
Another problem cyclist, the Wrong Way Wanderer rides on the wrong side of the road, riding toward traffic, making car drivers edgy and forcing legit cyclists into the middle of the road where they are sometimes broken into little pieces by the edgy car drivers. (Note: for excitement, watch for a meet-up of a Wrong Way Wanderer and a pack of cranky Lycra Bastards.) 

The Touring Endurant

The Touring Endurant is generally recognized by a) the extraordinary amount of stuff packed on their person and bicycle, and b) the look of quiet desperation on their faces as they think of places they’d like to be other than 100 miles into a 500-mile tour on a hot day in heavy traffic. The mating cry of the Touring Endurant, a cry that can be heard for miles, goes more or less like this: “You IDIOT, you lousy no-good rotten bastard, why did I ever let you talk me into this?”
The Little-Big Biker
The Little-Big Biker is an extremely agile youth on a little bitty bike that seems approximately ten sizes too small. This cyclist is commonly seen at skateparks. Bikers with a don’t-diss-me attitude, these creatures are actually extremely friendly and enjoy an audience for their very cool performances. Sighting grounds: Skateparks, BMX tracks.

The Commuter

The Commuter has several subtype species defined by choice of bike: 
  • City or Fixed-gear bike: Hipster with add-ons such as strange-but-totally-deck facial hair, retro-floral scarves, ironic t-shirts, Converse sneakers.
  • Hybrid bike: Business attire, briefcase, serious look (is often a lawyer, think about that for a minute before mowing him down, Lycra Bastard).
  • Mountain or Touring bike: Regular clothes, possibly sporting pony-tail, has a haunted ‘I’d rather be riding the mountains’ look.
Sighting grounds: City streets, business districts, Starbucks.
The Old As Dirter
The Old As Dirter can be spotted on a Surly Long Haul Trucker these days (it knows that the ‘Long Haul Trucker’ is by far the coolest name EVER for a bike). This cyclist is recognizable by the extremely blue air that surrounds it when Lycra Bastards try to mow it down or when car drivers cut it off. The call of the Old As Dirter is a kind of incessant low-level muttering sound that goes something like this: “@!#%#@$%$#%”.

More Old as dirt. Twice as gritty. articles

About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading so many thought-provoking words, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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