Urban Cycling

How to Spot a True Cyclist: 8 Unmistakable Habits

Cyclist drinking water

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When you really get into something, and we mean really into it, it’s easy for it to dominate your everyday life. Cycling can be like this. For diehard cyclists, everything can be distilled into things like riding time or component suitability. 

Has it altered your psyche? Has it altered your DNA? We’re not 100% sure, but what we do know is that these eight tell-tale signs will help you spot an experienced rider a mile off.

Yes, yes, we’ve included the inevitable Strava one and the one about the bad tan lines, but have you considered the last one? No? Didn’t think so!

cyclist snacking

1. Eating, Always Eating

Cake, pastries, sandwiches, fruit – whatever’s in front of them, cyclists are hoovering up. While all physical activity can leave you gnawing the hind leg off a donkey, there’s nothing like the all-consuming hunger that comes knocking after a long bike ride.

True commuter cyclists are a similar breed. Their frequency of riding means they’re usually found at the office canteen enjoying a second breakfast or hovering over Peter’s chocolate cake, which he kindly brought in to celebrate his birthday.

Want one piece of advice from us? Never get between a hungry cyclist and their food. Because if there’s one kind of true cyclist you don’t want to experience, it’s a hangry one.

bicycle with pannier bags

2. Weight: Durability. This Is a True Cyclist’s Ratio

This one might be for those with a penchant for lycra over leisurely cruising, but true cyclists tend to evaluate every bike, component, or clothing purchase by comparing its weight to its durability.

If there’s one sporting activity (we hate to use the term sporting because cycling really shouldn’t always be viewed as a sport) that obsesses over weight, then it’s cycling. 

Cycling up a hill weighed down with a rucksack full of hardback books. Wobbling home from the shop with two panniers worth of food shopping. It’s amazing how weight can quickly transform a bike ride from the sublime to the sad.

Perhaps that goes some way to explaining why true cyclists worry about the weight of things so much. While it could be said that there’s a direct correlation between the weight and durability of bikes and other cycling items, you’ll no doubt find true cyclists huddled in a corner discussing this to the cows come home.

Cyclist brake lever

3. Squeezing Brake Levers

What is just so irresistible about brake levers? We (whether we are a true cyclist, we’ll leave it up to you to decide) love giving them a quick squeeze. We’re just drawn to them like a moth to a flame: road bike, mountain bike, hybrid- electric even.

We’re not sure what we really get out of this, but those levers just aren’t going to squeeze themselves, are they?

Bicycle with Strava

4. Recording Every Ride on Strava

According to our internet sleuthing there are over 100 million users of the activity app, Strava. While downloading the app to their phone might already take a regular cyclist into the realm of true cyclist, it’s perhaps their frequency of use that takes them to that level.

Riding down the road to the bar. Yep, that’s getting recorded. Taking a child to nursery – oh, that’s getting tracked. Holiday e-bike ride in another country, well, why the hell not? A mile is a mile, and on Strava, it all adds up, right?


5. Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM – Pick One

True cyclists are a tribal bunch and nothing gets them more excited than choosing (and sticking by) a component brand. They might change their tune if they own more than one type of bike (Shimano for the road bike, SRAM for the mountain bike, if you please), but they’re unlikely to have a change of heart when considering a new bike.

The great triumvirate of cycling component brands may be watered down as upstarts like FSA, Microshift, and L-TWoo attract riders’ attention, but they still dominate the market amongst the experienced riding fraternity.

Female cyclist on bicycle

6. Calculating Distances by Using Riding Time

True cyclists like to ride their bikes a lot. Whenever they can, multiple times a day, ideally. So when a quick trip to a mate’s house or a visit to an unknown shop is on the cards, don’t be surprised if you find said cyclist contemplating how long it would take them to ride there. 

After all, what’s the point of sitting in traffic or being crushed up on public transport when you can enjoy the freedom and fresh air by riding your bike from A to B and back again (hopefully!)?

cyclist with suburn

7. Rocking Questionable Tan Lines

You’ve probably seen them. Cyclists with tan lines. Pasty white, sullen-looking skin peeking out from underneath a T-shirt or a pair of shorts – the length clearly different to the person’s usual attire. If there’s one outdoor activity that’s guaranteed to help you take on a tan, it’s cycling. 

Only a true cyclist would be proud of these tan lines. In our experience, a beginner cyclist would be embarrassed by clearly defined sock tan lines, but it’s funny what a few thousand miles can do to your outlook!

cyclist drinking water

8. Choosing to Drink From a Bottle, Not a Glass

It’s a familiar scene – the weekly (perhaps daily – ugh!) video call with your co-workers. After exchanging pleasantries with everyone and telling Simon that he’s on mute for the ONE-MILLIONTH time, out of the corner of your eye you spot Sophie reaching for a drink. Is it a cup of coffee? Is it a good old-fashioned glass of water? 

No, of course, it’s not because Sophie is a cyclist, and true cyclists only drink from bottles of bidons. Glasses tend not to have the capacities of bottles. Plus, why bother using a glass from the cupboard when you’ve already used a bottle to quench your first on your early morning ride to the office?

Bonus points if Sophie drinks in a manner akin to drinking while riding a bike!

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