How to Live With Insufferable Cyclist Syndrome

SHARE THE ROAD: Cycling to work is a great thing. Be sure to spread the joy. (Photo: Wootang01/Flickr).

Great! You tried out Bike to Work Day and decided that cycling to the office is a winner. So now you're biking back and forth a few times each week. You're saving money, reducing your environmental footprint, and feeling the healthiest in years. And people hate you.

While we're not doctors here, we'll risk a diagnosis: you have Insufferable Cyclist Syndrome.

There's no shame in this. We suffer from Insufferable Cyclist Syndrome, too. While there's no known cure, there's no reason ICF sufferers shouldn't live normal, socially popular lives. We've put together a list of five rules for the insufferable commuter cyclist who wants to keep his friends and family.

The best bicycle evangelism is a healthy, productive you. There's no need to insufferably hector a co-worker about what their SUV commute is doing to the environment. They know. Evangelize by example: folks around the office are going to notice your energy, great attitude — and shrinking midsection. You'll be asked your secret soon enough.

No bike is pretty enough to block a hallway or access to office workspace. For cyclists, this is hard to accept. Beautiful as our rides might be, if you're bringing them indoors, they need to be out of the way. Your co-workers won't appreciate brushing against a greasy chain, and the fire marshal will probably take a dim view of blocked exits and passageways.

Be punctual. One of the great things about riding your bike to work is that the commute time is actually more predicable than driving a car. You're far less likely to be effected by traffic jams and slowdowns. But there are some things that take time, too: securing the bike, cooling down and changing clothes for work. Leave early enough to accommodate all these things. Inconveniencing your co-workers by letting bike time cut into work time will quickly make you — and cycling — unpopular.

Lose the helmet indoors. Yeah, we think that slick new lid is wicked cool, too. Unfortunately, most people find cycle clothing to be a little weird. Slip into street clothes as soon as convenient once you get to the office, and save that bike geek chic for the weekend riding group. Unless you just like people staring at your lycra-clad butt.

Ride legally and predictably. There's nothing that a motorist finds more insufferable than a cyclist running red lights, riding inconsistently and generally thumbing their noses at them. It's not just bad cycling PR — it's dangerous. Don't be responsible for a motorist taking out their frustration over your gonzo cycling on the next rider. Be fast, be smooth and be legal.

In short, be a good ambassador for cycling. We all demonstrate the symptoms of Insufferable Cyclist Syndrome from time to time. But cycling is about balance — on two wheels, and in our relationships with others. Have fun! We'll see you down the road.

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009