This week’s question touches on a topic I’ve had many conversations about over the years. It comes from reader Steven Case:
“I do most of my commuting by bike and I also do a fair amount of bike races. In some interactions I’ve had with bike commuting advocates, I’ve felt a vibe of negativity towards bike racers/races. Have other people felt this vibe or held a grudge like this? Are there things bike racers may do that help or hurt the cause of commuting by bike? Is taking a car to a bike race really that bad?
I am interested in what other people think about this issue.”
Me too Steven. Thanks for asking about it.
There’s definitely a disconnect between those that think of bikes only a tool for transportation and those who see it solely as a tool for competition. I think Portland is way ahead of other bike cities in how our racing and commuting scenes overlap, but a divide still exists.
I know some folks in the advocacy world that just can’t figure out why, for instance, someone who lives in Portland would drive a few miles to PIR to race their bike. Why not just ride there?
And yes, there’s even a somewhat derogatory term, “car-toppers”, to go along with it.
Then again, as someone who used to be very serious bike racer, I can relate to people wanting the creature comforts of a car at the race venue, no matter how close they live to the event. Many racers have extra wheelsets and lots of other gear/food/clothes that would be hard to carry on their backs. Others have strict warm-up and cool-down regimens that can only be properly adhered to on a stationary trainer.
But enough of what I think; let’s open it up to the community. What do you think? Have you experienced this “vibe of negativity towards bike racers”? If so, do you think it’s warranted?
– Check the archives for more Ask BikePortland.