I did a lot of thinking on my ride this AM. And what I came up with is that cycling is way, way too much of a status activity.
I don't know. Maybe it's because of something my wife said to me last night - "Did you know the bike shop has studded fat tires in stock? They're $450 for a pair." Then this morning a guy on a fattie rolled past with studs on. You know how much ice it out there right now? None. That's how much. So why roll studs?
Normally I wouldn't think too much about this, except for the fact of the rest of this rider's gear. It was in the mid-30s today, no rain, no wind. A nice day. And here is where I'm going to come across as a judgmental bastard, but so be it. This rider on studs rolls past and is decked out in full balaclava, fancy coat, pogies, high end shell pants, shoe covers - the whole outfit probably cost as much as my bike in total.
And first my thoughts were just that this is someone who doesn't ride everyday year round, good on him for getting out in the cool and dark.
Then a roadie passed me in full kit and somehow my thoughts turned to the displays that so many of us put on when we ride. And how many of us judge others by what they ride and wear.
I can only speak from my own experience, but I think I representative. When I first started bike commuting, I rode a standard, full suspension mountain bike. Year round. In the summer I'd get stares when I rode it on the MUP instead of a road bike like every other rider. In the winter I'd get stares because I wasn't riding fat like the other riders. I'd get stares because I wasn't wearing the appropriate kit. I was a dirtbag rider.
Hell, I still am a dirtbag rider. I ride fat now and in the summer I get stares because I'm on fat. In the winter I'll get stares for some other reason.
But here's the thing. I do the same damned thing to others. Instead of looking at another rider and saying big up for being out here, I immediately think about the tires he's rolling (in my opinion not because they are needed but rather to say Look at me, I'm riding 450 dollars of rubber), the kit he's wearing, and how he's super over dressed for the conditions.
Why? Why do we judge others immediately? Better question. How do we stop? If you want to spend 140 bucks on Surly's awesome wool jersey? Go for it. I'll spend 9 bucks on a second-hand I/O Bio merino jersey.
See what I did there? Had to go with a name brand.