Are you a cyclist or a bike rider?
I ask this question because my Dad, a keen cyclist in his youth, made a clear distinction between the two. Simply put, a cyclist is one who rides for sport, probably covers long distances at speed and takes his cycling seriously, whereas a bike rider is someone who rides a bike from time to time more as a leisurely means of transport.
Before he married my mother Dad used to go touring on his road-racing bike for his summer holidays, stopping overnight at youth hostels, sometimes on his own and sometimes with a friend. As a small child I remember that he would cycle quite a long way to work and back before graduating, via motor-cycles, to cars.
My mother also rode a bike but by Dad’s definition she was a bike rider. She used a ‘sit-up-and-beg’ ladies cycle with a wicker basket on the front to go shopping or visiting friends. My sister and I always had bikes, again ‘sit-up-and-beg’ types with which we used to sometimes accompany Mum, occasionally to ride to school or visit our own friends. Often in the summer holidays a bunch of us would take a packed lunch and a bottle of lemonade and go out for the day on our bikes, riding round the lanes – it was safe to do so in those days. Never at any time would I, according to my Dad’s criteria, have been considered a cyclist, merely a bike rider.
My husband was also a keen cyclist in his younger days, riding out regularly with his cycling club. We have always had bikes and sometimes rode out as a family once our eldest son could ride on his own. I had a kiddie seat on the back of my bike for our youngest son and our daughter rode on a seat on my husband’s crossbar. I admit I did find this a struggle with the extra weight behind, especially uphill (I have never been very good at riding uphill even without a passenger!). In more recent years neither of us have done a great deal of cycling and the bikes have been largely confined to the shed, although we do have folding bikes on board our cruising yacht which have proved useful when going ashore to buy stores etc.
As they got older all three children have become keen cyclists, indulging in mountain biking, time trials, triathlon and general road riding with some success. My husband too has returned to cycling, mainly because he has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far or very fast these days – but he can ride a bike. All of them my Dad would class as cyclists.
As for me, I actually enjoy walking but it is a bit boring on your own so, if you can’t beat them join them, I have now taken to riding a bike more often though as far as my Dad is concerned he would probably still only consider me to be a bike rider – I still do not have the stamina to do more than 10-15 miles and I still struggle uphill; but I’m working on it. Maybe I will eventually turn out to be a cyclist after all!
The illustrations accompanying this post are courtesy of Google Free Clip Art.