Bike vanity

When I bought my Giant, I was going to have a kick stand put on it. The guys at CC looked at me, seriously, and, shaking their heads, said, “You don’t want to do that.”

“Why?” I asked.

“No one does that with a road bike. You don’t need that,” they said. “Adds weight, anyway.”

Feeling the fully the pressure of not looking like “real” road cyclist, I went along with their suggestion and did not install a kick stand on my bike. Now I lay my bike on the ground or search for a tree, building, or sturdy object to prop it against whenever I’m not using it, like every other road cyclist. At times it seems it would be easier to just have a kick stand–as my hybrid does–but that is not the Road Cyclists’ Way.

Last weekend, I put a pannier rack on the back of my bike. I’d bought it in August, hoping to use it for lugging my clothes should I chose to commute to work, but I spent the next several months struggling with my inner need to feel acceptance by my fellow cyclists mixed with fears of losing my (*cough* *cough*) awesome speed under the *heavier* weight added to my bike. Even though I’d bought a rack that claimed to be lighter weight than average (and it does seem to be).

Because I wanted to use my rack pack to carry my over sized camera on the Fall N’ Leaf ride, and I knew I’d be stripping clothes due to the early morning chilly conditions that would evaporate into 75-80 degrees, I decided to suck up my pride and finally install the rack. Perhaps with all its hills it wasn’t the best ride to try out extra weight (I’d like to think it was the reason I had to walk up the hardest hill on the ride). But when the varying weather of fall comes in, it’s more logical to tote a pack because you need to be ready for anything–rain, wind, sun, heat, cold. If you start out dressed for the chilly morning, chances are by noon you’ll be down to your shorts and short sleeves. It’s easier to have the pack to stuff your stripped clothes into and also carry extra clothes for if the weather goes south quickly.

See, I had to justify putting the rack on my bike to myself before doing it. I was afraid that by adding it, it would make my bike look less cool. I know I needed it, but my own bike vanity and fears of being deemed less of a cyclist kept me from putting it on. It probably seems stupid to the casual cyclist–most people find it quite practical to add a rack to their bikes. But, again, it’s just generally not the Road Cyclists’ Way. In fact, some bikes do not come with the pre-drilled holes to allow the installation of a rack (I think LeMonds are one of them).

Well, I told myself that I could remove the rack whenever I wanted to quite easily. Michael demonstrated this aspect of it to me and I did one practice removal and replacement to prove it to myself. The first several times I showed my bike to members of my bike club, I stated, “Well, you know, I can remove the rack.” Fortunately, a lot of people asked, “Why?”

I got a bit of a complex when I took the bike into CC on Friday to get the gears adjusted. I brought it into the shop and said apologetically, “Don’t make fun of me for putting a rack on it.”

One of the guys said, “There’s nothing wrong with that! That’s what OCRs are made for.”

Which, of course, made me worry that my bike still wasn’t road worthy enough to be considered a “real” road bike. How arrogant of me! Just who am I trying to measure myself up to? I love my bike, I enjoy riding it. I’m not a racer; weight is not something that really makes or breaks my abilities to go. I’m generally a 14-15mph rider by average. I like to do long rides, but casually. I’m never in a race to complete. I’m out there to see the world. I’m what is called a “touring cyclist.”

So I’m trying to ease up on my worries. And ignore the fact that the back end of my bike does feel a little heavier to lift (not having a bike rack, I’m always lifting my bike into the car). But maybe it’s my imagination. I still got up some nasty hills on Fall N’ Leaf, even though I was lugging my camera and stripped clothes.

My bike kind of looks cute with the rack on it. No one but another road cyclist would really think any less of me. And I think I’m really reading too much into that assessment. Well, I could still remove it… and maybe get a smaller camera that can fit in my back pocket…

My bike; leaning, of course. (Isn’t she cute?)
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4 thoughts on “Bike vanity

  1. No, that’s okay. We don’t want to go <>that<> crazy on the cozy look. Besides, it would disrupt the beauty of my bike =) It’s bad enough I have to carry a bike pump on the frame, which disrupts the beauty of the Giant logo on the one side. ;)

  2. There’s nothing wrong with the rack. But that’s as far as I’d go. If you add fenders, a generator light, rain cape and spats the rest of us might be able to keep up with you.

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