You brought your bike for Christmas lunch? My grandma asked, baffled as to why my plus-one had two wheels and a carbon seat post, not the strong jawline and rugged good looks she’d hoped for.
Don’t worry, we’ll sleep in separate beds while we’re here, I assured her.
While it’s dangerous to ask your aunt about her new, multi-level marketing scheme and downright scary to ask your cousin if his Richard Spencer-style haircut was an accident, lobbing so what’s with all that spandex anyway? at the cyclist in the room is pretty innocuous.
Which means that this Christmas you’ll probably be pinged with more than your fair share of probing about your beloved hobby.
In the interest of keeping family peace, diverting the “so, have you met any nice men?” questions away from your perpetually single aunt, and possibly even converting some of your loved ones to Team Bike – we urge you to happily answer all your family’s cycling-related queries.
Here’s how to do it both with grace and without. Choose your own adventure.
1. ‘Aren’t you scared of getting hit by a car?’
Answer: Absolutely. But cycling can lower my overall risk of dying from any number of health-related issues, like heart disease. And honestly, I’m sometimes afraid that I’ll go to sleep and never wake up the next morning, but that doesn’t keep me from tucking into bed each night.
If they still won’t drop it: Quote Plato: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” It won’t really answer their question but everyone will leave the pretentious guy (that’s you) alone for the rest of the night.
2. ‘But what about all that spandex? Are you all just really vain?’
Answer: We are vain. But skin-tight clothing also has a function. On a bike you travel faster than you can on foot, so drag from the wind becomes a real, er, drag. A streamlined profile (even if our midsections aren’t all that aero) makes a difference. Plus, stretchy clothes don’t bunch, chafe or get caught on your chainring. Finally, cycling has a way of making you feel pretty damn awesome about your body and its capabilities. You stop caring what you look like and start embracing the fact that on two wheels you are unstoppable.
If they still won’t drop it: Sing “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” while shaking your spandex-clad rear end. It won’t answer the question, but it will make everyone in the room feel awkward.
3. ‘So how do you feel about Lance?’
Answer: This question has evolved over the years, and honestly, it’s kind of nice to no longer have to answer, “So basically you want to be just like Lance, right?” The safest answer is to probably say “I’ve heard nice things about his bike shop.”
If they still won’t drop it: Embark on a 30-minute rant about how a patriarchal, capitalist system rewards win-at-all-cost behaviour, especially among successful white males. We promise, no one will ever ask you about Lance again.
4. ‘Doesn’t that seat make your butt hurt?’
Answer: Because many non-cyclists don’t realise you can change the seat on your bike, explaining the process of finding a seat that works for you can be illuminating. Explain that yes, to some degree you do have to accustom your backside to spending hours in one position, but that pain isn’t something cyclists must silently endure. Bonus points if you can convince someone to give their bike another try now that they know that saddle woes don’t have to be part of riding.
If they still won’t drop it: Introduce the words penile blood flow or “labial pressure”. Count the seconds until someone changes the subject.
5. ‘Why do your shoes lock to your bike?’
Answer: Mostly we just like attracting a ton of attention as we click and clack through the local coffee shop. While many cyclists say that clipless pedals increase efficiency, research is somewhat limited, though this paper seems to suggest that the claim might be true. When mountain biking, clip-in pedals do work to keep your feet from bouncing off the pedal on rough terrain, too.
If they still won’t drop it: Tell them that this is the first step to becoming one with your bike. Surgery to have your handlebars permanently implanted in your palms is set for next week.
6. ‘What is chamois cream?’
Answer: When a person and a bike love each other very much, sometimes that special relationship just needs a little lube to keep things running smoothly. Chamois cream relieves chafing and hot spots, especially on really long rides. You probably could use diaper rash cream, but cyclists would rather pay a small fortune for fancy butt salve than have their buddies catch them slathering on diaper rash cream.
If they still won’t drop it: It’s basically butt butter. I put some in the mashed potatoes, actually.
This article was originally published on www.bicycling.co.za
Image credit: iStock