Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hierarchy of cycling in Columbia - where do you fit in?

A couple of weeks ago the Daily Tribune's cycling correspondant, Robert "The Spokesman" Johnson wrote an article regarding the legality of riding a bicycle on the Interstate in our great state of Missouri:
In the article, the Spokesman does a bit of mythbusting and informs us that in actuality, it is entirely legal to ride a bicycle on Missouri highways.  This was a great relief to me since I do like to frequent the Interstate on my velocipede, as I just don't tend to get as much excitement riding on the trail and crave that "Frogger" experience.  But, in truth, there are times and places when one must briefly ride along the shoulder and it is helpful to know that the Po-Po aren't going to taze me while doing so.  Surprising to none, this article, like every single article ever written by Mr. Johnson, was pounced upon by the bicycle-hating throng of COMO citizens in the comment section. 
"My kids grew up in an era where they were taught good, sensible manners on how and where to use their bicycles.  They most certainly didn't ride them in traffic or on downtown sidewalks....  There were plenty of places to ride bikes - like to school and back and probably stopping at wherever they had an after school job which they also learned what the phrase "work ethic" meant."

Hey - I think I remember that era when bicycles weren't ridden in traffic.....I believe it was the late 19th century, as long as you don't consider the long lines of oxen-pulled wagons backed up on Stadium as 'traffic'.  That said, I too am infuriated by those cyclists that both ride on sidewalks and have no work ethic.  I think they are called "undergrads".  Anyway, one individual decided to fire back at "1crossfire's" comments with some of their own thoughts.

In contradiction to "1crossfire's" cycling generalities, reader "bethatasitmay" breaks down COMO cyclists into 7 basic categories:

1. Children who may or may not know proper cycling technique depending on what they've been taught....we may consider them the tabula rasa of the COMO cycling world.

2. Homeless people or people with suspended driver's licences....ie people who have to suffer the cruel indignity of getting somewhere by bicycle because they have no choice.

3. "College students who just started riding a bike at college for the first time since they were 10" (and still are wearing the same jeans they were wearing when they were 10....I think they call them "hipsters.")

4. Serious bike commuters concerned about fitness and the environment (Liberals)

5. Trail only riders (Conservatives)

6. Serious competitive bicyclsts who are training for the Apple Cup race.....(even through it was last held in the year 2000 or something.  You can never be sure when it might return - and serious competitive cyclists will be ready....)

7. Touring bicyclists from out of town who have "ridden with their baggage from all parts of the country."  which kind of makes COMO sound like the Field of Dreams of cycling.

Really - what "bethatasitmay" has done in her response is to inadvertently fashion a hierarchichal tiering system of COMO cyclists which is pretty perceptive.  I've taken the liberty of restating this in graphical form (click to enlargen).
Whereas the lowest form of COMO cycling is practiced by children, drunks and hipsters, one may climb the evolutionary cycling tree toward the ultimate goal of cyclist enlightenment through baggage toting tourism requiring rides through town ONLY to find lodging.  I'm sure this will make the burgeoning randonneuring population incredibly proud.

However, this begs the question of where in the hell this guy fits in?
He's got baggage, but could definitely teach a hipster how to grow some facial hair...and his co-pilot is most certainly smarter than the average dumb kid.  I'm stumped.

Oh yeah - and I almost forgot.  I have to go away on business - so that's all for this week.  See you next week, kids!


  1. I can't believe you got a picture of that guy with his dog. I once saw him, but convinced myself I was hallucinating.

  2. PooBah, will you have my babies? Actually scratch that, you have no choice. You will have my babies.

    Then be sure to teach those babies "serious bike safety" when they are of age. No kid of mine is going to be some reckless heathen hell on 2 wheels.

  3. Biking in Columbia seems to be getting more and more difficult as the population keeps growing (at least on the periphery roads).

    Eventually the cars will become so thick that they will stop moving and biking we become easier again (a little hyperbole, but not much).

  4. The Schwinn Joyrider bicycle trailer has become a popular choice for families that want to enjoy time outside with the children while getting some kind of physical activity.