They seem to be almost opposite ends of the spectrum in the cycling world: The lycra crowd and the tweed crowd. We also unfortunately know the stereotypes.
The lycra-clad weekend warriors dropping $10,000 on bikes they only ride on sunny Saturday mornings, picking routes that allow them to blindly blow through stop lights and block traffic in an effort clearly targeted specifically to annoy drivers.
The tweed folks riding around on odd bikes with lots of baskets, and children hanging on for dear life in the baskets in a way that every non-cycling American with common sense can immediately recognize as blatant child endangerment.
(And yes, if there was any confusion let’s be very clear that both those statements were made sarcastically)
I’ve talked about it before. The cycling world as a whole seems to have a habit of dividing itself up into subgroups. But that leads to the question – is there really a divide between these two groups? Maybe not. Maybe that woman with the wool skirt and boots pedaling the cruiser at 3mph on Wednesday is out there in her team kit hopping hurdles in the local cyclocross race on Saturday. Likewise, perhaps that guy with the full-on pain face as he grinds up the local climb on Sunday can be seen sporting cargo shorts as he pilots his Xtracycle across downtown streets commuting to work on Monday morning.
I’m sure if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you can get a feel for where I fall in this spectrum (hint hint), but I truly can’t speak for anyone else. I did, however, happen across an article over at Sac Cycle Chic that provided a hint that yes, Virginia, there is a happy medium.
The author of Sac Cycle Chic is decidedly in the “Tweed” column – at least as far as her blog goes. Oh yea, and the fact that she helps promote the rather successful Sacramento Tweed Rides is a big hint too. But it wasn’t what she said or did specifically, but rather the well written interview of one Blair Anthony Robertson that caught my attention.
The article itself in an interesting read, especially for local Sacramento residents such as myself (seriously, go check it out.) However, it was Blair’s description of his bikes, and the accompanying photo, that struck me as a bridge across the tweed/lycra gap.
First off, it was a custom-built steel frame produced by Sacramento’s premier frame builder Steve Rex. The photo (see SCC article) clearly showed a Brooks leather saddle on top of the bike. Brooks saddle, steel frame – very tweedy… But I read on. In response to a question about which bike was Blair’s favorite:
My favorite right now is the Rex. It’s a steel bike with lots of cool components, including a white stem and white FSA carbon handlebars.
Now wait just a second… FSA carbon handlebars? Carbon fiber and Lycra are like inseparable twins, aren’t they? Carbon fiber bars coupled with a leather Brooks saddle? What’s next – cold fusion? World peace? Could this Mr. Robertson be the missing link?
More likely the “divide” is not nearly as divisive as it may appear. So let’s drop the race face and unwrap the scarf – all of us. Smile and nod to your fellow cyclist – no matter what material they choose to ride in. If your hands are gripping cork-ended mustache handlebars, or foam-wrapped drop bars, raise one and wave at that other two-wheeler that passes you by.