There’s this thing on YouTube where you take whatever group of people you want and add “Shit that <group name> says” to it and then proceed to try to satirize the group through presenting the common lingo of the group in humorous or semi-ironic settings and situations.
Generally speaking these videos are cheap rip-offs of some original that has since been lost to time. Or maybe the original was a simulacrum anyway? Regardless. There are a few good videos of “Shit Someone Says” and then there are the shit videos.
I’m partial to the “Shit Cyclists Say” videos. Because I can relate. And because I’ve had people say similar things to me.
I don’t consider myself a cyclist. Not in the common definition, anyway. I ride a bike. Yes. This is true. I ride a bike on pavement and roads, but don’t ride a road bike. I ride a bike on trail and dirt, but don’t ride a dirt bike(?). I wear some cycling specific clothing, but also am fond of wool zip cardigans that might look somewhat jersey-ish, but rarely wear an actual jersey — helpful hint folks, if you have ANY sort of paunch at all, the jersey only enhances that — yes, it does make you look fat.
I do consider myself a cyclist. I ride daily. I ride for pleasure and for fitness and for joy and for transportation. I can hold my own with many of the other riders out there. I can hold a line and I can gut out the long climbs.
I got a new bike a while back. A nice bike. I like it. And like any modern day hunter/gatherer, I have taken to the interwebs to hunt for every tidbit of fact, conjecture, and opinion I can about this bike. I’ve even thrown my own opinions into the miasma that is internet forums. I should be riding, but, alas, I have to spend at least some time each day in the office “working” so, internet forums it is.
This increase in web-perusal has had the effect of reminding me of all of the shit that fat bikers say. That is folks who ride fat-bikes — not fat people on bikes. Though there are some fat fat bikers, like me. I just don’t want anyone to think I’m disparaging the portly.
Now that that’s outta the way, here we go:
“How big a tire can this frame take?”
“Should I go tubeless?”
“I need more float.”
“Can I put a 5 incher on here?”
“I’m totally going tubeless.”
“Can I get that in carbon?”
“How much PSI you running? You’d get more float with less.”
“I need the big tires for float.”
“I’m upgrading to carbon.”
“Does this come in carbon?”
“The float on these 5 inchers is amazing.”
“No, man, 3 PSI is where it’s at – float for days.”
“You need to upgrade to carbon”
“My bike’s so light – 28 pounds. Yeah, I bought it and upgraded everything but the frame to carbon.”
“Naw, it’s only got 200 miles – all snow riding on it. Selling it cause I’m going all carbon.”
“I’ve got about 200 miles on it. Yeah, had it for two years.”
“Stock components? They’re so heavy. I’m upgrading to carbon.”
I hate it when guys at the bike shop tell me how heavy my bike is and then try to sell me something lighter — usually in carbon.
First, I am a fat ass. Dropping a few ounces on the bike ain’t gonna do shit until I stop carrying around about 50 extra pounds on my gut.
Second, since when did Fred-dom come to fat biking? The interwebs are alive with the sounds of folks singing the praises of all of the new gear and technology coming out for fat bikes. And it is a good thing. More choices means more people getting into it. Maybe.
But all over you can read of folks buying a new 1500K+ bike and immediately talking about all the upgrades they are going to do. And it seems that the more expensive the bike is out the door, the more upgrading the owner “needs” to do to get it “ridable.”
I get that a bike is a personal thing and that people do spend a lot of money getting it to be an accurate reflection of them as people. I also get that a lot of cyclists have the mentality of needing N+1 bikes where N is the current number of bikes owned. And the +1 is, well, just that.
Of course, I am not immune. Marketing is a powerful force.
Peer pressure is an even more powerful force.
You might notice a theme developing: Technology enables everyone to have a voice, but in doing so leads to some bad juju — the lack of authoritative voices, the reasoned and well argued position being overpowered by the loudest and most fear-inducing voice in the room, and the continual reminder that unless one is part of the crowd, one is utterly inadequate.
The shit fat bikers say is the same shit that cyclists say is the same shit metal heads say is the same shit that hip hop kids say is the same shit that soccer moms say is the same shit that anyone and everyone says and it tends to boil down to one thing: I fit into the crowd because I have bought the products that identify me as part of that crowd.
Fitting into a crowd is good — to an extent.
When I was twelve I started smoking. Cigarettes. At the time I tried to tell myself that I started because I was curious about it and when I tried it, I liked it. Looking back now, I can see that it was much more about the crowd I was surrounded by. In my neighborhood there were many kids around my age and many single-parent households. In these households the single parent, the mothers, were seldom home. There was lots of mischief. Some of that involved swiping smokes to pass around the circle in one of their garages.
At first I passed. Then I didn’t. I didn’t take my first puff with the group. I did that on my own, stealing one of my aunt’s packs of Virginia Slims. But eventually I did smoke with them in that garage.
Clearly, I was trying to fit into the crowd I was with.
As social creatures, we naturally do this — slightly alter behaviors and interactions to fit with the group with which we try to integrate.
Yet in this age of constant bombardment of information and opinion, where the groups with which we try to integrate are so much larger, it seems that we are constantly pushing for more, more, more in our need to fit in. Capitalism?
I always thought that when I got out of Jr. High I’d be through with Jr. High shit like trying to prove that I’m cool enough for the group. It’s just changed. Now, instead of a sweet pair of parachute pants to show my coolness, I have to buy, buy, buy the most expensive, newest, most hard to get thing there is for whichever group I want to be part of.
And then go opine about how crappy said item is in all of the interweb forums dedicated to the whims of that group.
There was a point to this whole rant. The point is this: Forget fitting in and following the leader. Everyone wants to follow and the leaders we are following are drunk on the power we’ve given them. Take that power back. You don’t need parachute pants or a carbon whosit to be cool.
Read more from Phil B. on his blog, Multimodal Alaska Adventures.