Footbiking still resists dilettantes

Kohler ad screenshot

In this age of social media, any fool with a Twitter account (or do I repeat myself?) can see without effort what the cool people are up to, and if they have more money than brains (also not a rare occurrence), can join right in.

When I raced bicycles, in the ‘eighties, those who showed up had learned the considerable minuitiae of the sport from mentors over years, so that by the time most reached the starting line they had been learning about bicycles and the sport for at least a decade, and subsequently devoted most of their resources and time to the sport. Many traveled just to find foreign magazines at international newsstands (I was fortunate to live near Hotalings in Manhattan where I bought Miroir du Cyclisme and the British newsprint mag Cycling) and struggled to learn enough of their languages to make sense of them.

Now the growing presence of serious cyclists I see on our Beach Road are posers on expensive cognoscenti bikes (Cervelos seem especially popular) wearing their superman pyjamas replica pro cycling jerseys and frowning like Lance Armstrong. They especially never even acknowledge the presence of our many local utility cyclists, who ride around on perfectly appropriate beach cruisers – for transportation.

Footbiking, in the USA, has resisted this corruption, maybe because the term kickbike has already been stolen and now refers to nasty parties. And in the footbike-sporting countries of Europe and the South Pacific there is a strong and traditional family-oriented racing culture, which seems to be growing in spite of the easy availability of trendy static.

This rant was set off by a national Kohler commercial about a city yuppie who, kicked out of his apartment by a girlfriend, collects his most precious possessions to crash with a friend. These possessions comprise mostly Kohler appliances and fixtures – and his trusty hipster fixed-wheel bike complete with bullhorn handlebars and colored rims. That inclusion into today’s shallow zeitgeist would be enough to cure me of fixie bikes even had I not found (through the internet, I must confess) footbiking, which, thankfully, still resists dilettantism.


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