LOTW runs for seven days, with the week’s most brilliant submissions picked and posted every Monday on surfingmagazine.com. There are two ways to write in: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the Write a Letter tab on our Facebook page.Surfers can be kind of clique-y. Especially good ones. Apparently, so can bicyclists.
I’ve been a surfing snob since age nine, but I’ve only just gotten into bike snobbing too. Like, really recently. At 20 years old, I just got my first bicycle this year. It’s a Cannondale CAAD9, and at $1400 and change, I assume it must be hovering near top-of-the-line. The salesman to whom I paid full retail for it was all, “This is a great bike.” His name was Brandon. He seemed like a straight shooter.
I think I’ll be a good bike snob because it’s pretty much the same as being a surf snob. Surf snobs geek out on board design, we openly deride those who surf poorly, we group up to bitch about the mainstream’s fair-weather love of surf culture and to mutually confirm our own awesome core-ness. This is all very closely related to bike snobbery — like an illegitimate half-brother conceived with the nanny, perhaps, but still part of the same Snob Family.
But a strange thing has happened on my way to utter bicycling elitism. Here, six months deep in what is so far an abusive, Chris Brown/Rihanna-type relationship with two-wheeled self-propulsion, I find my role is reversed vis-a-vis its 11-year trend. In surfing, I am a shark; on bicycles, I’m a minnow, or maybe a really weak and diabetic and retarded shark who can’t swim fast or up steep hills on his bike. Do you understand? I suck. I can only go for like two hours before I start to question why anyone does this in their free time. I’m at the bottom of the bicycle chain, so to speak (which chain I’ve recently identified as the vandal in my ongoing black-smear-on-calf investigation). When cyclists and cycling websites and the invariably scornful staff of my local bike shop talk about trendy novice riders toting bicycles as image accessories, I know they’re talking about me. Fuckers.
Still, I approach this endurance sport with the uninformed yet furiously eager enthusiasm of a first sexual encounter. I ride a bike as often as my weak, skinny legs allow; I read cycling blogs and smirk at jokes that I don’t understand and that are in all likelihood made at my personal expense; I over- and misuse the few cycling terms I know: Anyone wanna talk about fixies? Is it cyclocross season yet? Should we embrocate? Fuck yeah!
As a surf snob, I’d never have guessed this, but it’s really quite liberating to be an uninitiated dork in a big new community. Is this how high school was for those ugly kids we used to laugh at? Was it this much fun? Man, they must have been loving it. I’ll have to ask at the reunion. But acting elite at something all the time (like I always have with surfing) is hard work and a lot of pressure. You always have to be “on.” Always ripping. But bicycling asks none of that from me; it just gives and gives and gives. I’m filled with pride at the top of a modest incline, or when my cleats clip in successfully at a stoplight, or while admiring a nascent thigh tan naked in the bathroom mirror. Sucking at something, it turns out, is great fun.
I’ll leave you with a quotation:
“Why is it that the losers are always in it for fun?” — Val, from the Disney Channel original movie Brink
Blake G. of Los Angeles
“What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it.”