Fringe Cycling

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Even though what I do routinely on Saturday mornings seems quite normal to me, I am occasionally reminded that I am a fringe cyclist. For example, during a ride on the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday, someone came up and asked me sincerely if I am homeless. Even though I’ve had a similar experience before, that caught me by surprise.

What I do with a bicycle must be way off on the edge of the bicycle use bell-curve. I had a different kind of reminder today during an outing to seek and watch racers of the Texas Chainring Massacre (TCM) gravel race near my home. It was a reminder delivered to me by “fellow” cyclists.

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Many of my bicycle outings include a stop for a coffee brew-up. I thought it would be great to try and find the race course for the TCM, select a good roadside viewing spot, brew some coffee, and watch the parade of gravel grinders go by. To me, the combination of being outside with a bicycle and fresh coffee is about as good as it gets. But it must not be so for most bicycle enthusiasts.

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Two interesting things happened as the racers sped by. One of those things was the classic double-take when they glanced over…and then again…when they realized I was really sitting behind a kettle on a stove. The other interesting thing goes to the very heart of the culture of group rides.

As the racers approached, the first thing they noticed was a cyclist on the side of the road. Their immediate instinct was to stop pedaling, lean over, and ask if I had everything I need. It is common practice to help a fellow cyclist avoid being stranded on the side of the road, if one can. I don’t think they imagined that someone would be there on purpose. But I had an answer for them.

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Why, yes…I certainly do!

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