I thought this video was really interesting, because I really believed what it is trying to say. The video is a ad by Transport for London, which has been making a big push to increase cycling as of late. The video’s message: that the Tour de France can help to inspire the next generation of cyclists, and not just sport cyclists, but also utility cyclists.
As I watched the video, I was actually inspired by it, because I believe that it can work. I believe that sport cycling can inspire people to cycle…and not only for sport, but for a wide range of purposes.
But being an avid follower of bicycle blogs, I have seen a ton of criticism of sport cyclists (ie. the ones that wear lycra and ride race-type bikes) by utility cyclists (ie. those who use bikes for transportation), as well as the reverse. The criticism goes both ways. I am certain that some of the criticism is quite well-founded and true on both sides. Yes, there are certainly cases of sport cyclists being jerks. Yes, there are also certainly cases of utility cyclists being jerks. But all too often when something unfortunate happens, people are judged and grouped in with others simply based on their choice of cycling garb and bicycle at a given time. What purpose does this serve? As far as I can see, it serves to solidify the notion that there is such a thing as a “sport” cyclist or a “utility” cyclist or a “recreational” cyclist. As if cyclists didn’t already have enough to contend with, there are some who seem to want to content with each other as well.
I am a bike racer. I raced mountain bikes professionally for a few years, and I now race primarily on the road. I love bike racing. I love the pain; I love the exhilaration; I love the people I meet; I love the freakin’ lycra; and I love my race bike. I also use my bike and associate with others who do the same…hence this blog, utility cycling. I love the satisfaction; I love not having to drive places; I love the feeling of hauling a load of groceries home; I love getting to work with my power; and I love my commuter bike. So yes, that’s a lot of love, and it’s all for cycling, and who cares what kind! I think cycling culture is important, so it’s great to embrace whatever aspect of cycling you love most, but at the same time, let’s all just try to get along and be nice to each other. Because after all, a good ride is made better by seeing others riding too.
So that’s why I like this video, because it is trying to say that it is possible to blur the lines between sport and utility. My only criticism – where are all the women?! But anyways, get out there and enjoy the ride! And be sure to wave to the next cyclist you see, no matter what their choice of garb.