Saturday, August 15, 2020

Never Will I Ever, Vol. 1

Cycling is not the same thing for everyone. I know mountain bikers with zero interest in any other kind of riding. I know roadies whose tires will never touch dirt, grass, or gravel. I know commuters who can’t understand what all the sweating, heavy breathing, power meters, and Strava segments are supposed to prove. For this blog I try to be open to almost everything that can be called cycling, even if I don’t find it especially appealing. In my life as a cyclist I am fortunate that I can enjoy more than just one discipline. I’ve done traditional road races, time trials, cross country mountain bike races, gravel races … even BMX if I can count my childhood in the 1970s. And outside of competition I do really enjoy simply riding around, on country roads and rec trails most particularly.

But I have my likes and dislikes, my preferences and prejudices. Some things in the cycling universe are so distasteful to me that Never Will I Ever associate myself with them. Submitted for your consideration are these five pieces of the ill-fitting jigsaw puzzle we call cycling, and I’m labeling them Vol. 1 because I fully expect to find more things to hate in the not-too-distant future.


If I were riding for transportation, then an e-bike might be a good choice. But I ride for fitness and competition. I want to get stronger and faster. If I can’t do it under my own power, then I can’t do it.


They’re just too dorky. Sorry. As with e-bikes, if I ever get to the point where I can’t ride a proper bicycle, then I’m done being a cyclist.


Like any brand, Specialized has supporters and detractors who argue the merits of its product line. I don’t have a problem with Specialized’s technical specifications—its stuff is almost indistinguishable from that of Trek, Cannondale, Giant, etc.—but I do have a problem with Specialized’s business practices, and for that reason I refuse to patronize the company. Get out your Google if you don’t understand my objections; I’m probably leaving myself open to a lawsuit if I enumerate them here. Goodness knows, Specialized has lawyers.


Fine products, no doubt, but worth the high price tag? I can’t be convinced. Short-sleeve jerseys at $195, bib shorts at $270, sunglasses at $180, shoes at $355, socks at $30 a pair … you must be out of your mind. I’m going to keep outfitting myself with Aero Tech Designs, Louis Garneau, and one or two other high-quality, high-value brands. That may hurt my chances of being invited to tea at Buckingham Palace, but at least I won’t lose $1,000 of kit in my next crash.


Preventing crashes should be a high priority for any cyclist, so why do so many shut out the sounds that could warn them of danger? Earbuds have no place in cycling. If you’re that bored, then maybe you should find something else to do. And I don’t care where you’re riding. Even on a rec trail, earbuds are a bad idea. You may not have motor vehicles to worry about, but can you hear another rider coming up from behind? Can you hear that rustling in the weeds that could be an animal ready to dart across your path?

There! That’s better. Good to get it off my chest.


  1. Do you have a link regarding Specialized? I'm not finding much other than an old lawsuit regarding trademarks.

    I passed an e-biker on the Bugline last week and it confirmed what I thought of most e-bikes: They're really just motorcycles with pedals. The man wasn't pedaling at all and doing > 15 mph on the trail.

    I'm in agreement with you on your list. For those who wear earbuds while riding, AfterShokz seem like a reasonable option for keeping safe while still being able to listen to music or podcasts. I bought a pair of the waterproof high-end AfterShokz and they work pretty well, although they can be hard to hear of the ambient noise around you is loud.

    1. Well, let’s see, there’s …

      for starters.

    2. Ok. If you're going to boycott Specialized for enforcing their trademarks, you're going to have to boycott pretty much all name brand bike manufacturers.

      For the "little guy" (like us), this seems harsh. But trademarks exist for a reason and if you own one and are making money from it, you'll view these stories in a completely different light.