Most cyclists (and non-cyclists) have encountered the stereotypical “snobby cyclist.” Generally clad in Lycra and riding a high-end racing bike, the snobby cyclist tends to be disdainful of anyone who is slower than he is on a bike. Non-cyclists might as well be scenery to the snobby cyclist.
A bad reputation?
There is no beating around the bush: serious road bikers have a bad reputation. Many people who’ve interacted with the stone-faced hardman who passes them everyday on the bike path haven’t had a good experience.
They don’t return your nods or waves and don’t respond to your words in passing. Their judging stares seem to deride your old bike and non-fashionable cycling attire, and their cold demeanor seems like nothing so much as an aristocrat looking down on a serf.
The truth about cycling is, of course, much more complex. Some headlines and misleading exaggerators would have you believe that all road cyclists are snobby, but of course, this nowhere near the truth.
Even if you just look at the numbers, cycling is nearing parity across all racial groups. If you look at cycling across income brackets, the story is nearly the same. Split the nation up into four income brackets, and around 25 percent of cycling trips are made by people in each. In fact, poor people (the lowest quartile of income) make up some 31 percent of cycle trips.
The problem could be simply that a few snobby cyclists make a bad name for everyone else, but there is no data available for “snobbiness.” We’ll probably never know.
With that said, those of us who don’t aspire to the competitive cyclist mold have to learn to deal with the relatively few people who do fit the snobby stereotype. So without further ado, here are our five methods for dealing with snobby cyclists.
1. Cultivate self-approval.
If you like yourself, it matters a lot less what other people think of you. That’s why it’s good to cultivate self approval. Evaluate what aspects of yourself you like, and stick to those. For those traits you don’t like, work to change and improve.
Self-improvement is an important step to self-approval, but ultimately self-love is built on accepting yourself as you are. Work to build that self love, and it will help you to ignore snobs on and off the bike.
2. Get some good, like-minded friends.
We all care what other people think of us; we’re social creatures, after all. But the opinions of those who you don’t know will be a lot less important if you have a supportive group of friends and loved ones. Look for people with the same interests and lifestyle as you, and with personalities that you can get along with.
Good friends will support you in the face of snobs (again, on or off the bike). Get some good friends, and you’ll be able to ignore the haters easier than ever before.
3. Own it.
Once you have a modicum of self-approval and a supportive group of friends, it’s time to “own” the way you are. Embrace what makes you different from the snobby, rude riders — whether it’s your old, beat-up bike, your slow, leisurely pace or your distinctly non-Lycra apparel.
4. Go your own route.
The meaning of this tip is physical: just avoid the routes that are populated by snobby riders. Most of them tend to congregate in the same areas, riding the same route again and again and showing off their shaved legs and flashy gear. Taking a back way can be more enjoyable!
5. Be bigger than them (and have a bit of pity).
When bullies, snobs and haters treat you poorly, they are generally acting out their own problems. Whether they have issues in their past or psychological distress of some other kind, their behavior reflects poorly on them — not on you. Don’t let them get to you.
In fact, you should feel a bit of pity for them. If they find pleasure or righteousness in demeaning others, all it means is that they probably don’t experience true friendship and the joys of good relationships. Too bad for them!