A recent Google search for road cyclists gave me some very interesting autocomplete suggestions. After the pages based on my earlier browsing history, the first two autocomplete suggestions were “road cyclists are snobs” and “road cyclists arrogant.”
Why would these show up first? Probably because there are a lot of previous searches for those phrases. Here’s what Google says about autocomplete:
“How do we determine these predictions? We look at the real searches that happen on Google and show common and trending ones relevant to the characters that are entered and also related to your location and previous searches.”
Are we arrogant snobs? Even if we might not think so, it appears that a lot of other people searching on Google do.
In my experience, riding both mountain and road bikes since the late 80s, I’d have to say that mountain bikers (and more recently, gravel riders) are generally friendlier and more inclusive than most road riders I run into.
Group rides for new road riders can be very unwelcoming, with other riders looking down their noses and judging you for your bike, your pedals, your apparel, your weight, and sometimes whether or not your legs are shaved.
It’s also not uncommon for roadies to yell at new riders who join a group ride about things like holding your line, whether or not you pulled through correctly or sped up or slowed down the pace, or called out a pothole. These issues are actually important, because we are riding at speeds over 20 mph, inches away from each other, and unpredictable riding can cause a dangerous crash. But new riders have to learn these rules, and angrily yelling is not exactly an inclusive way of teaching.
I still remember clearly about 12 years ago, when I was coming back to cycling after taking a few years off. I was still overweight, and was riding my road bike with mountain biking shoes and pedals. A few months in when I would show up for some of the faster group rides to try to improve my fitness, other roadies would pretty much act as if I were invisible and not acknowledge my existence at all.
That said, I’ve also experienced plenty of road riders stopping or calling out and asking if I needed any help or a spare tube when I have been on the side of the road changing a flat. I’ve seen a friend come up on a bike crash that had just happened, leap off his bike and use his skills as a former EMT to check the rider who crashed for concussion and call an ambulance for her and wait for it to arrive after he determined she shouldn’t ride home.
It’s also difficult to have a casual conversation when the pace picks up on a bicycle because of wind noise and the physical effort involved. How much perceived unfriendliness is just a side effect of hard riding?
What has been your experience? Do you think that road cyclists are any more or less snobbish than other types of cyclists? Or are we all about the same?