What cycling styles & characters are you likely to encounter next time you are out and about…and which one are you?
I’m talking about the misguided souls who devote an often-inordinate amount of time, expense, and mental capacity to turning the pedals. We know from experience that there are myriad different cycling styles & characters out there and every club, pack and social ride will feature a heady blend of personas.
So, if pro-peloton features the GC rider, domestique, sprinter, puncheur and mountain goat how do we categorise the mere mortals? Applying the rule of five here’s our take on the cycling styles & characters you are likely to come across when next out on the road.
‘Il Meccanico’ – The Mechanic;
• Easily spotted as generally found using an aero helmet on your local roads and will smell of lube
• Level of bike tech (and expenditure) would make a Grenadier blush…will hyperventilate at any suggestion of Di3 being on the way
• Pre-ride routine begins minimum 48hrs before depart and involves a complete strip down and rebuild of bike, usually resulting in mid-ride grumbles about ‘indexing’.
• A worthy road ally as, barring a snapped frame, can fix anything roadside (snapped frame fixing can only be done once back at the pickup). Be aware that without strong intervention this can often turn into a 2hr road side service as the mechanic picks out other set up failures.
• Warning – on particularly sunny days watch out for temporary blindness from the machine polished chain….NEVER look directly at the chain
‘De Wetenschapper’ – The Scientist;
• Likely to be last to arrive at the start due to last minute tweaking of tyre pressures brought about by 1% change in humidity
• Identified by the various charts taped to handlebars and top tube detailing gear ratios, fluid intake times, gradients, historical average winds speeds and traffic light sequencing for the route
• Pre-ride routine can be hard to call, hydration and nutritional tailoring can often begin weeks before the 30km club ‘cake ride’. Final steps include 3 hours of bikram yoga and application of 2kilos of Nasa-grade sensors and monitors to both man and machine
• Valuable road buddy, always armed with an array of nuts, gels, juices, caffeine pills, homemade paleo seed bars and adrenalin shots should you arrive only with a jam sandwich (although be prepared to answer various probing questions about your diet, medical history and ancestry before the right Ecuadorian heirloom banana is presented to you)
‘L’ombre’ – The Shadow;
• Hard to spot, natural habitat directly behind your back wheel at all times. If you see someone standing behind various riders, checking the wind before you set off this may well be a Shadow
• Best time for spotting is normally around 50 meters from the end as can suddenly appear on your shoulder looking remarkably refreshed (despite the block headwind you’ve been slogging through for the last hour). Will likely be a fleeting glimpse as they sail past
• Limited value on the road however have been known to offer a few words of ‘encouragement’ from behind, which can lead to you finding fresh impetus borne out of sheer bloody rage
‘The Power Ranger’;
• A frightening combo of the above. Easily identifiable – look for the perma-tan, achingly coordinated sunnies, jersey, helmet trifecta and impeccable sock game. Whether the route features more left or right turns will determine which uber spec bike is chosen for the occasion
• Ride prep unnecessary, the Power Ranger lives in a state of permanent readiness where every daily action is simply calibrating the mind and body ahead of the next ride. Learn more about this (and which Moldovan mineral water you should be drinking 3 days before your ride) from their nutrition diary (yep)
• Questionable value on the road as they like to be ‘in the breakaway (solo)’ or ‘up the road’. May stick with the group if conditions are poor but will be third wheel…always third wheel (ask the Scientist why when you have a spare 90 minutes)
• While you can often find multiple examples of the other three types of rider there can only ever be one Power Ranger. Should another present themselves chaos will ensue as each desperately tries to fit aerobars. Agreed ride pace will consign itself to the dustbin at this point. As a solution ask one to assume role of ‘ride leader’ (highest honour for the Power Ranger) but beware, this will lead to a deluge of obscure road signals for duration of ride
‘Il Cavaliere Facile’ – The Easy Rider
• The most common rider and one which most people identify with. It can be pouring with rain, blazing sun or a full on windtunnel and you’ll still see the Easy Rider chatting with other riders, pulling a turn or sharing a flapjack. Some rides they’ll be knocking out PB’s at the front, a week later they’ll be hanging off the back regretting a ‘bit of a late one last night’
• Bikes vary massively, some battered, bruised and requiring a bit of TLC (like their owners), others will be custom builds and there will always be a few ‘once in a lifetime’ (I promise) machines knocking around
• Pre-ride prep is a lottery, sometimes channelling their inner mechanic or scientist, other times diving out of bed and arriving coffee in hand, sockless. Last minute prep often involves asking a complete stranger if they have spare helmet
• Essential to every ride, can be a purely social coffee and cake ride, a personal best attempt or first go at a century. Regardless they’ll be there to keep bunch together, give bit of encouragement when it gets tough and get everyone to the end.
• Irrespective of finishing position will always be first to the coffee shop / bar
In truth there’s a bit of each rider in all of us, sometimes our inner scientist is more dominant, other times the mechanic takes over and occasionally the planets align and we find ourselves as a Power Ranger clicking off the miles and smashing our PB’s.
This is the beauty of cycling – even though the route, and the people on it, may be the same every ride is different. Conditions change, we perform differently, and last week’s Mechanic is this week’s Easy Rider. And lets be totally honest – it’s awesome when its our turn to be The Shadow.