Default Status- Café Racer

A few days ago an Article popped up in my facebook feed.  Opinion: Keep the golf out of cycling.  And it reminded me of a Post of mine that totally blew up Back in September.

Lizanne
This!

This is what’s wrong with cycling in Australia.
A general hobby cyclist debating the needs for aero wheels and a power meter.

You don’t need aero wheels to help you up costal hills, and a power meter will only bog you down with numbers and make the ride less enjoyable.

I hate how the pinochle of cycling is di2.

I’m starting to ‘enjoy’ cycling as a hobby. This includes touring gear and camping with friends. None of this looking like a racer; but not being a racer nonsense.whats-wrong-with-cycling-in-sydney

I posted it as a bit of a rant while on the train.  But what Monika Sattler wrote really said what I was trying to say, just in better words.

“The capitalism-induced search for a new status symbol has changed the reason why people ride bikes. Cycling has become pretty, elitist, materialistic with a seemingly insurmountable wall to be climbed to be accepted into a group. Until then, you will be shamelessly ignored as a hubbard or fred.

That scares me.” – Monika Sattler

I am a very similar rider to Monika.  We both come from overseas, and have a history in various forms of riding (and not just road).  We are both female, and fast.  This gives us a unique insight into two very different worlds; the one of a minority, and then the one of elite café racers.  I am not judging.  I’m just making observations as a bit of an outsider.  I am new ish to the road scene; I bought my first roadie in 2010 (steel) and my first carbon roadie in 2013.  I wear nice kit, and have the bike gear to go with it.  But deep down inside I’m a rough commuter.  I wear baggy t-shits and ride a fixie.  That’s what I feel most comfortable in.  I also have a ridiculous skinsuit collection.  That’s for the track.  And if you ever decide to wear one, they are just as comfy as the baggy t-shirt.

best rapha.jpg

wearing my best rapha on a rainy day, riding a fixie

I started noticing a change a few years ago.  I used to have this ride, where most of us were on fixies.  The rest were on steel frames.  But gradually this group started to evolve, and eventually I felt the need to buy a carbon roadie just to fit in.  At this point I was racing.  So I could justify the need for the upgrade.  Then one day, I was on another ride, best kit, and best bike.  It was a little damp, and the guy next to me said, nice! Is that your rain bike too?  The guys I rode with were awesome, but at that point, I realized I was heading down a path I didn’t really want to go down.  I didn’t have the money to keep buying upgrades.  I was spending on credit cards to keep up with the status.   As I kept riding, it was the small things that raised red flags.  People noticing I only ran 105, I was never wearing the newest and latest kit, and the loneliness on rainy/drizzly days (one does not ride in white shoes in the wet).  We would sit in all the cool cafes and make fun of the ‘hubbards’ on other tables.  It made me feel like I was somehow better than them.  Slowly I had become the ‘elitist’ cyclist that everyone complains about.

group ride.jpg

‘a group ride’

But that’s just the way it is.  Default status- Café racer.  You don’t start out that way, the groups are welcoming.  But there is this push towards carbon bikes, carbon wheels, designer kit, power meters.  This push is so influential; it’s hitting the commuter market.

Remember that post at the start, the general hobby cyclist riding for fitness?  Well this dude looking to upgrade for his commuter, and didn’t really know what he wanted, he just had the urge to upgrade.

commuter.jpg

Once again, good for him.  If people have money and want to buy all the gadgets good for them, good for the industry.  But it’s the compulsory consumerism that puts cycling and cycling culture on a pedestal.  As cycling turns into the new golf, the price of entry level keeps increasing.  There are exceptions to this (many exceptions), but the overwhelming image cycling is projecting is one of ‘elitism’.

high end bikes high end kit.jpg

Feel free to argue, but look at any comments section on a cycling article.  Most of the anger is directed towards lycra louts, and those on road bikes.  It’s like the slow riding shopper on a cargo bike, or the dude in baggies on a mountain bike does not exist.   Ditto with the helmet debate, you hear about racers, MAMILS in packs, racers, aggressive riders doing the wrong thing.  It’s never about the girl on a cruiser, riding in a dress, on a cycleway, heading to the shops.

commuter2.jpg

I’m all for getting people on bikes, and if making it a status symbol gets some people riding, great!  But look at other countries, default is commuter, default is utility, default is not café racer.  (and it’s not just happening in cycling)

Let’s try this.  You are in Sydney, sitting at your desk at work.  A mate comes up and says they are a hobby cyclist, riding for fitness and general well being.  They are looking to do some weekend coastal rides.  What do you imagine them to look like…

cyclist

Would you automatically recommend a wheel upgrade and a power meter to make the riding more fun?

I don’t actually know the original poster, but somehow he got the idea that all this stuff is necessary.  And I believe stuff like this is making cycling look less appealing to those that can’t afford to be one of the cool kids.


Read the comments on the article that sparked the debate ella cycling tips.jpg

Read the follow up here

ella cycling tips 2.jpg

Non café racers exist in Sydney.  Read a how to ride in style – Every Day!
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Feel good reading


Read the full Blow up here

*thanks to all my friends who contributed to such a fiery debate! you guys rock

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