For exercise I ride my bike. The two wheels with pedals variety. My knees won’t let me play football or run anymore so cycling (and skiing in the winter) is my primary exercise. And it’s a very enjoyable one. I ride about 140 miles per week and average 19 – 21 mph*. Not bad for an old guy.
I also wear the funny tight black shorts and pro team jersey that are, for better or worse, a practical necessity. The need for the shorts is rather obvious. There are three reasons for the jersey; a loose jersey flapping in the wind not only becomes an annoyance, but actually irritates my skin after a while, I need the lower back pockets for mid-ride food and sometimes an extra water bottle, and the sharp lines, letters, and bright contrasting colors of the pro-team jerseys are much more prominent to drivers than solid color, striped, or similar jerseys**.
Maybe 3 or 4 times a year someone will yell some snide comment out their window along the lines of “you look like such a dink in that outfit.” Well, duh. Like I don’t already know that. Do they think I have no fashion sense at all?
It’s interesting to me who makes these comments. It’s always some large ‘tough’ guy, usually driving a large pickup or SUV. Most are in their 30’s or 40’s.
I usually just ignore them, but a handful of times I’ve looked at them quizzically and asked “and your point?” which always leaves them sputtering for a bit while they try to figure out what their point is. On two occasions I’ve been invited to pull over so they can “show me their point by beating my face in.” “And that will prove what?” shut one up. The other required me to add “that you can beat up an old skinny guy?”***
We may have learned everything we needed in kindergarten, but apparently some people think they’re still there.
So, what is their point? Why do they feel the need to say something? Do they think that they’re helping me in some way? Does it make them feel better?
A couple of psychologist friends told me that comments like these are rooted in these guys having some kind of inferiority complex. Really? Because I have a nicer bike than they do? My cycling jersey looks better than their Brett Favre jersey? They’re jealous of my new svelte figure? Problems in bed so they’re taking it out on me?
How come women never make comments like this? Or people driving Lexus’s, Porsche’s, or Mercedes?
Not all big ‘tough’ guys driving trucks are this mature. Most people driving pickups are actually quite courteous and always move over a ways when they pass. Many will even wave me through at intersections so that I don’t have to stop (a royal PITA with clip-in pedals).
I have a number of friends who look the part of the guys who have the inferiority complexes. They’re rather big, pot-bellied, maybe a bit Neanderthal looking (and proud of it), and drive pickups. They’re also among the nicest people I know. They’re mostly trades workers who are quick to offer their skill, muscle, and expertise. And these guys have no inferiority complex. Nor any reason to have one. A couple have even taken up cycling. Lycra shorts and all.
BTW, though I’m skinny now, I still drive a big, decade old, V-8, SUV.
* For the exercise types reading this; I’m currently riding a Scott Addict with HED Ardennes wheels and a Garmin 705. I typically ride about 25 – 40 mile loops 3 to 5 days per week and average between 190 and 203 watts with a peak this summer of 880 watts in a sprint. My average heartrate for these is 152 and I usually see a max of around 175 on each ride. My highest heartrate this year was 182.
** Being seen by drivers is extremely high on my survival list and experimentation with a number of jersey’s has indicated that the pro team jersey’s appear much more visible based on the number of cars that pass way too close in different jersey’s. Even within the pro team jersey’s we’ve found that the ‘Saxo Bank Swiss’ and ‘Aqua Sappone’ jersey’s are the best. A psychologist friend told me that the large lettering itself actually probably helps a lot since it triggers thought processes in the drivers brain whereas solid colors, stripes, and other designs do not.
*** I’m not very thrilled with the old part, but I’m quite proud of the skinny part. I used to be more like these guys. It took considerable discipline to change my diet and exercise to lose the weight and keep it off.