Bicycle touring is an unbelievable outside journey and virtually everybody I do know who has ever given it a strive has come again and stated it was one of many biggest experiences of their lives. But when bicycle touring is so nice, why is it that so few folks really learn about our “sport” and select to take part in it?
There are a selection of various causes for this, however at present I wish to focus of simply considered one of my theories – the best way that bicycle vacationers come throughout to most people.
I imagine that if we’re ever to get extra folks (particularly younger folks) concerned on this “sport” we’ve acquired to vary the best way bicycle touring is perceived by the non-cycling group. In a manner, I feel we’ve acquired to make bicycle touring “cool”.
Sadly, “cool” isn’t precisely inbuilt to our persona. The phrase “vacationer” alone (as in “bicycle vacationer”) is sufficient to flip many individuals off. Along with being labeled as vacationers, we’re appeared down upon (or a minimum of ignored) as a result of we don’t win races, we don’t do tips, magazines don’t characteristic us, and for probably the most half, most people doesn’t know we exist.
So, once I got down to uncover what the typical particular person thinks of bicycle vacationers, I invariably got here again with three frequent stereotypes:
The Homeless Bum
By far the preferred phrase that got here up in my analysis was “homeless.” The phrase “bum” adopted carefully behind.
It appears that evidently whether or not you pack your belongings in a backpack or on a bicycle, folks invariably view you as homeless. And when most individuals image a homeless particular person, they consider a grimy, smelly previous man who has been dwelling beneath a bridge, pushing his belongings round in a procuring cart and begging for cash to help his drug behavior.
The phrase “bum” definitely doesn’t drum up the photographs that I first consider once I think about the lifetime of a “bicycle vacationer” (i.e. journey, marvel, nature, schooling, international citizen, and so forth.).
One other picture that appears to spring to the entrance of many individuals’s minds is that of the “hippie”. That is the “all-grain granola” bike owner who rides a motorcycle as a result of it’s good for the earth. This particular person wears garments comprised of hemp and feels it’s her accountability to let the folks round her know that their automobiles and their life-style (on the whole) is destroying the planet.
For many individuals, biking is only a enjoyable technique to get about from one place to the subsequent. The truth that it helps the surroundings in some small manner is of little to no significance.
However some folks, it appears, take this notion of “bicycling is sweet for the planet” a bit too far by pushing their lifestyle onto these round them. Whereas these folks have good intentions, their pushy methods appear to make some members of most people view cyclists as a clan of self-righteous, lengthy haired, inexperienced peace, save the planet, pot smoking hippies.
The Spandex Sportsmen
Lastly, once I requested members of the non-cycling group to explain what a bicycle vacationer seems like, they typically instances got here again with two related phrases:
1) Tight shorts
2) Shiny colours
Cyclists, it appears, are identified for sporting tight spandex shorts (which some folks suppose are too revealing) and shiny flashy colours (similar to neon yellow, neon pink, neon blue… or absolutely anything within the neon to fluorescent vary).
Possibly cyclists get this picture due to the recognition of the Tour de France and different televised bike races the place spandex is all however required? Or possibly the general public views cyclists as shiny and tight arduous our bodies as a result of the one cyclists most (American) residents see are these loopy few courageous sufficient to get up at 5 AM on Saturday morning and journey round within the chilly with a small group of different spandex clad loonies?
Regardless of the case could also be, cyclists (whether or not they be “bicycle vacationers” or not) are sometimes instances considered as neon coloured flashes of spandex and pores and skin.
However Do Bicycle Vacationers Actually Match These Stereotypes?
There’s no denying the truth that a lot of most people has a picture of what bicycle vacationers (and bicyclists on the whole) seem like. After I requested members of my family, pals I had grown up with, and strangers off the road what photos first got here to thoughts after they considered “bicycle vacationers”, the fore talked about photos have been introduced up many times.
However do bicycle vacationers actually match these stereotypes?
In a manner, many people do. Not all of us, however many!
Take me for instance. I’ve been responsible of a minimum of two of the three talked about stereotypes.
Right here’s an image of me on my first bicycle tour (on the far proper), trying (in my mom’s opinion a minimum of) like a homeless bum. Pay attention to my soiled brown butt and padded down helmet hair (to not point out that CamelBak I’m sporting):
And right here’s me on my fourth lengthy distance bicycle tour down the Mississippi River – trying a minimum of a bit like that of our spandex sportsmen mentioned above:
So, I’m responsible of it too!
However Are These Stereotypes Actually That Dangerous?
The very fact is, trying like a bum, a hippie or a neon yellow gentle bulb isn’t actually hurting anybody.
However many individuals (younger folks particularly) do care about the best way you look. And as I’m discovering solely now (at age 25) seems are necessary!
The way in which you look says quite a bit about you. Individuals make judgments about you based mostly off the picture you place out. Trying the correct manner can imply the distinction between touchdown the job, getting the woman, signing the contract, hitching the journey, being invited to dinner… and 1,000,000 different necessary moments.
The way in which you look says one thing about you – whether or not you prefer it or not!
The Manner We Are Perceived By The Public Has Received To Change
I may very well be unsuitable right here, however I feel the best way most people views cyclists has acquired to vary!
As it’s possible you’ll or could not know, my massive objective right here at BicycleTouringPro.com is to get extra younger folks concerned in bicycle touring. Touring by bike has made a huge effect on my life and I feel the game might positively affect different younger folks as effectively, if solely they 1) knew that bicycle touring existed and a couple of) weren’t immediately turned off by the game due to the picture given off by present bicycle vacationers.
In a future article I plan to launch my ideas and concepts on how I wish to see bicycle vacationers perceived by most people. I’ll talk about intimately the best way bicycle vacationers may very well be perceived and I’ll element my methods for making these modifications come to fruition. However within the meantime I’d like to listen to what you need to say.
Do you agree with my findings concerning the notion most people has on cyclists? And what do you suppose may very well be accomplished to vary the best way bicycle vacationers are perceived by the non-cycling group? Let me know by leaving a remark under.
Homepage photograph by Brian Boulo. Homeless & sporty bike owner images by DBKing. Hippie photograph by David Masters.