I'm reluctant to ever say anything negative about the cycling community, we're small and usually under fire already, so saying anything negative feels like betraying "my people," but today I realized that isn't the case.
They aren't my people.
Let me explain, you see the cycling community here is really two communities; the first simply owns a bike, loves to do cycle, knowledge level varies, and is really on their bike because that's their preferred mode, the second community is a horse of a different color. The latest model? The most high end accessories? All of them are necessary to the second group or why don't you just walk you pleb? If you explain you are happy where you are there is subsequent snubbing. Show up in anything less than a $1,000 bike and you might as well be invisible.
I'm a member of the first community. Speed isn't a priority, seeing the world around me is, the hills take time to go, but so what? You get there. Want to wave? Go for it. Want to stop and say hi to someone? You're going slow enough to have a conversation. I like where I'm at in the community, and its why I'm going to be taking a prolonged break from any cycling events.
No more Mass rides, no more charity events, no more participating for the sake of it. I'm not the sort of person who is welcome, nor would I want to be welcome by that second group.
Two Seattle events later and you know what I see? Cyclists flagrantly discarding signaling, no one using a bell or voice to pass. Oh, and no wonder people hate cyclists, if you blew through lights, neglected to signal in a car, or barreled past vulnerable users in a car you'd be a danger. You know what? Doing that on a bike makes you a danger too. There is an arrogance to the cycling community that I can live without and apparently a lot of others can too.
On my way home from the Cranksgiving event the bus driver, an Austrian man from his accent, though I don't know, commented on how clear it was that I loved my bike. How obvious it was that I was more dedicated than a casual rider, and how much he too loved to just ride. I asked him what he thought of my ride, "oh people will tell you its no good," he said, "but they don't get it. They don't realize you'd have to drive that bike off a cliff to really break it," I laughed, but he continued, "you will run into people here who need to be fast, but they won't be happy even on a bike, they aren't in love with the bike, a bike like yours shows you love to bike more than machine,"
He was right. I do love to bike "more than machine" I don't love the mechanics, I love the sensation. I don't love the gears, I love knowing I'm the engine. I ended up ditched and snubbed by Seattle, but I found something much more important. I found my actual people. I'm so glad to meet them and not be alone.
Update: Just to be clear, even though I didn't finish the ride I did donate to Rainier Valley Food Bank anyway. You can do it too on their website just click on the "Donate" button in orange to give funds. Happy Thanksgiving