How to Talk With Non-Cyclists

10.8.2007 | 6:29 pm

A Note from Fatty: BikeRadar has posted my weekly humor (erm, humour) piece. I’ve posted a preview of the story below, or you can just go straight to the whole article by clicking here.

Here’s a little non-relevant piece of trivia about this article. I wrote it while sitting in the family car while waiting in a parking lot at a local lasertag / video arcade as my son and his friends had his birthday party. 

Another Note from Fatty: The Pink Special Edition Fat Cyclist jerseys are now totally sold out. Thank you to everyone who bought one! 

How to Talk With Non-Cyclists
The fact that you are reading this tells me all I really need to know about you. You’re a cyclist. I’m a cyclist. We therefore both know what’s really important in life (riding). We see the world as it truly is (a place to ride our bikes). If we were each to answer the question, “What would you do with a million dollars?” our answers would vary perhaps in what equipment we’d buy and where we’d go to ride, but in little else.

If we were to have a conversation, we’d have an understanding of how each other thinks. Maybe you’re a Cat 2 roadie and maybe I’m a cross-country endurance geek, but we both know that turning the cranks in a perfect circle is the ultimate form of self-expression.

Sadly, not everyone is like you and I. I am sad to say that there are people out there who rarely — if ever! – ride bikes at all. It’s possible you even know someone like this. A coworker. A family member. You’d be surprised at how common non-cyclists are, actually. You probably encounter them several times per day and simply don’t notice them, because they aren’t interesting.

Mostly, you can safely ignore these people, simply by riding away from them. Sometimes, though — at a company party, say — it is impossible to avoid non-cyclists. Surrounded, you have no choice but to communicate with them.

Don’t worry. I’m here to help. Just follow these five simple rules.

Click here to read the rest of this article over at


  1. Comment by Born4Lycra | 10.8.2007 | 7:12 pm

    So FC if the Pink Top is all sold out can you tell us how many there are circulating around the world. 500, 1000 or more?Congratulations to Team FC and Twin6 on a job very well done.

  2. Comment by fatty | 10.8.2007 | 7:17 pm

    born4lycra – there are 600 pink jerseys in the universe, and 350 original (orange) ones.

  3. Comment by | 10.8.2007 | 7:26 pm

    Great article, I will post a comment @ bikeradar, but right now its not giving me the “post comment” link. It won’t click I tell you!! But I love the article. Especially the part about how much you paid for your bike. I learned that early on. Once you have a 4th digit in the price “it’s too much”.

  4. Pingback by | The RocBike Review » Links Of The Day: 8 October 2007 | 10.8.2007 | 7:31 pm

    [...] How to Talk With Non-Cyclists [...]

  5. Comment by Marrock | 10.8.2007 | 7:39 pm

    What are these “non-cyclists” of which you speak?

    Are they those freaks the go bombing down mountains on unicycles?

  6. Comment by Logan | 10.8.2007 | 8:27 pm

    Ha. So true about bicycle prices. About a month ago when a coworker learned that I had just finished a 60 mile ride his jaw dropped while he thought about what an impossible distance that was, and then he said, “Man, you must be one of those people with like, a $400 bike, huh?” I said, “Uh, yeah.”

  7. Comment by Orbea Girl | 10.8.2007 | 10:44 pm

    That is just so true, it’s scary. Leaving me to conclude that all non cyclists are the same the world over.

  8. Comment by Griffin | 10.8.2007 | 11:18 pm

    Freaky/scary/amazingly true! Thinking back to the last non-cyclist conversations I had they brought up doping as well as asked the price of my bike(s), and had I read this guide in advance I could have avoided much pain in two specific areas:
    1) Their painful ignorance in the fact that doping doesn’t mean cyclists actually take dope and the following hour long conversation in which I argue how blood transfusions are –
    A) Something that should be considered doping


    B) Somehow something that a pro would want to do to improve performance if said pro was a panty wasted doper

    2) Their painful shock at the price of my road bike, their utter disbelief at the price of my mountain bike, their confusion at my having a second even more expensive mountain bike, their complete incomprehension of why I still own my prized first MTB – a 1986 Spez Rockhopper, their outright contempt for the price of my accessories (especially my Brooks seats), and their barely hidden suspicion that I am wrong in the head for having a set list of the “next three bikes” I’ll be adding to the quiver. Not to mention their nervousness when I express how my wifes Electra Amsterdam is “amazingly sexy”.

    On a separate note, I meant to comment on your Bike Snob NYC related post that you’re doing it wrong. As someone who stumbled upon your site eight months ago I can attest that the correct way to catch up on a blog you find very interesting/funny/shockingly insightful is to go back to the archives (all the way back to the sites former life on if necessary) and to read the entire durn thing in chronological order while also reading the new entries as they come out. It is of critical importance that you do this in an obsessive manner that causes you to lose sleep and even threatens your bike maintenance routines, family life, and job performance. Reading backwards in non-chronological order is confusing at best and outright not funny at worst (trust me on this).

    On a third note (I’m working on the longest comment ever, this is just a warm up) I should mention how great your blog is. I read about a dozen bike blogs (not to mention the trashy celebrity blogs, the geeky tech blogs, and the local city blogs) and yours has long been the first on my daily list. My wife, friends, co-workers, even non-cyclist family members have never even laid eyes on your blog but all remain unwillingly fully informed of the happenings of your life via my bi-weekly updates to them. I’m sure they wouldn’t thank you for this, but on their begrudging behalf let me thank you heartily from the bottom of my heart for all your efforts!!!!!!!

  9. Comment by Griffin | 10.8.2007 | 11:20 pm

    Waisted not wasted – durn spellcheck…

  10. Comment by Mike Roadie | 10.9.2007 | 3:25 am

    How much money did those 600 jerseys raise for the LAF? for those who want to give a little more!!!

  11. Comment by Lowrydr | 10.9.2007 | 4:21 am

    Hey Mike Roadie, if it was half of the price then it hit 18,000 clams. Unless my calculator is dumb.

    Griffin, so how do you manage to ride your Bike when you read all those Blogs anyway?

    FC (not so), fantastic article as per your usual twisted mind. Keep up the great work.

  12. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 10.9.2007 | 4:23 am

    WOW! Griffin covered everything I could possibly have wanted to say about your article, bike purchases and reading blogs (including obsessively catching up on yours chronologically). Just pretend I said all that. (thanks, Griffin!)

  13. Comment by eunicesara | 10.9.2007 | 5:41 am

    Guessing when you guys walk into the bike shop the bookkeeper starts calculating the Christmas bonuses for the staff. I’d love to have a bike to haul with to horse shows (as useful as a golf cart for getting from point A to point B, although it’s probably not quite as efficient for hauling saddles and harness) and combined driving events (riding the bicycle on the cross country course is useful getting a true feel for the course, hills, bumps, tree roots, and all) and another bike for the ultra-civilized (yawn) paved walk’n'ride town trails; but right now I’d really be happy just to have a new bike. Make that I’d be really happy to have my OWN bike again, and not a borrowed ride. It’d be really cool if it wasn’t a 21 speed with one speed, cause it doesn’t shift. I think I’ve got the borrowed ride up to 14 gears now. That’s really important in my new bike. It has to shift gears without throwing the chain. I remember owning bikes like that. I was younger then. Someday.

  14. Comment by LanterneRouge | 10.9.2007 | 6:17 am

    Griffin, search fatty’s comments with the key words “Al Maviva” to see how a long comment is done properly. You’re not even close. If you’re going to punch out a screed you’ve got to make us feel all the pretentious spittle and bile that went into it as you deigned to enlighten us. The length is respectable, but where are the run-on sentences, the disdain for anyone who might have different opinion than you and the obscure 70s cycling references that send the rest of us to google?

    No Griffin, here in the FC comment section it is Al Maviva who owns the huge block of text sprinkled randomly with punctuation and coherence. You shall not unseat him.

  15. Comment by bikemike | 10.9.2007 | 7:32 am

    get off my lawn you freaky non-cyclist.

    there, that should do it.

  16. Comment by MTB W | 10.9.2007 | 8:13 am

    Hilarious! Another great article! And you were multi-tasking to write it. Will your superpowers never cease to amaze? Now, are you doing Fall Moab or not (after all, you only need one good arm, right?)?

    I always wondered about “those” people. Sometimes I feel I have this secret that the non-cyclists are clueless about as they go about their daily grind. That sweet, banking forested single track is what keeps me going (and gives me adrenalin when avoiding stormtroopers).

    BTW, I would leave a comment on the other site but it has been difficult. I think they need some of your technical expertise.

    Dug, how is your shoulder? Are you and your (I mean FC’s) bike ready for fall Moab?

  17. Comment by Rick S. | 10.9.2007 | 8:30 am

    I think it’s cool when your bike cost more than your car (Dan, are you reading this?)

  18. Comment by MTB W | 10.9.2007 | 8:41 am

    OK, never mind – I was able to figure out how to post to the other site.

  19. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.9.2007 | 9:24 am

    Does this mean that non-cyclists are really as confused about the sight of a 53-y-old man in lycra as they act?

    Wow. I didn’t know they were serious. I just knew I didn’t want to talk about my clothing. Another valuable educational service, FC.


    MTB W – how?

  20. Comment by KT | 10.9.2007 | 9:40 am

    Fatty, you are a genius. 99% of the people in my office are non-cyclists (as in, I’m the only cyclist) so most of the time they don’t understand what I’m saying.

    Another good way to talk about the price of your bike is in relation to the amount of miles you’ve done. Like, “my bike cost $1.00 per mile as of today!” But, be careful about mentioning how many miles you’ve ridden. They get this weird pained look on their face like they can’t imagine riding even a fraction of that without falling over in severe pain.

    Here’s an example: On the anniversary of my bike purchase (yes, I do keep track), my bike cost 1.08 per mile. Two weeks later, I was down to 1.00 per mile. As of today, I’m at $0.43 per mile. It’s a great return on investment.

    We don’t talk to non-cyclists about the quantity of bikes we own, they don’t understand. Although one chap at our LBS put it this way, “You don’t own just one pair of shoes, right?”

    Great job on another great article!

  21. Comment by swiss | 10.9.2007 | 9:53 am

    by happy coincidence i was able to put this article straight to work when my mother asked how much my new bike had cost. Why £499.99 i said prompting a loud bout of cackling from mrs swiss.
    i put the cackling down to my mother’s lack of belief. you didn’t spend 499.99 at all did you she said accusingly. er….no i said. you spent much more than that didn’t you she demanded. that may be true i said.
    i’d hoped this might lead to a ‘back in my day’ reminiscence but i was mistaken. so how many bikes is that you own now she asked
    the man who sold me it, he owns eighteen, i blurted out.
    eighteen! she said. eighteen! as if reiteration might diminish the figure. the young people today… she began and i sighed and sank back into my chair, secure in the knowledge that my mother was engaged in one of her favourite topics and i remain as ever in her eyes her daft wee boy

  22. Comment by ronk | 10.9.2007 | 10:06 am

    Thanks for the advice, it’s great! I just read it to my secretary so now she’ll stop talking to me about her pathetic life,(her words) and husband and kids and friends and party’s and and and and and………. now she knows the truth, if it’s not about bikes , don’t bother me.

  23. Comment by Al Maviva | 10.9.2007 | 10:16 am

    Griffin – what he said. I pwnz on the long comments. Please, if you respect Fatty’s readers, for the love of all that is decent and good in the universe, do not get me started. I beg you.

    Fatty’s comments about the non-cyclists made pretty good sense, but what about speaking with other cyclists in front of non-cyclists?

    For instance, I work on the same large office with this insanely hot & fit girl who rides. We’ve done group rides together, been at the same races, and hung out, but always in the shorts/dirty hair/casual clothes & lycra context. I didn’t realize that my professional colleague was *that girl* until she was dragging her immaculate bicycle into her office one day – and I recognized the bike. My comment to her, in front of my big boss and her big boss? “Wow. I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on. But I’d never forget that bike.” Her comment was, “yeah, you look totally different in pants too.”

    Meanwhile, the two bosses, who were no doubt envisioning some Isaiah Thomas-like sexual harassment scenario, had looks like you see on dead fish floating near a dock when the lake turns over every summer… We tried to explain, but I don’t think they bought it. I think we either scared them, or kind of turned them on, because right after that they put in extra bike racks and started getting real interested in pushing bike commuting.

  24. Comment by Bert | 10.9.2007 | 10:48 am

    Sorry to tell you this, but your secret is out. I’m a non-cyclist who reads your blog faithfully! Stumbled on it when it was featured on msn spaces, got hooked when you built the teeter-totter. Frequently email friends to tell them to check your space to read hilarious posts. Because of you, at least I know what those guys in spandex are thinking when I see them on the road.

  25. Comment by Big Boned | 10.9.2007 | 11:01 am

    SP Barnes –
    If you are still reading/posting here – good effort at the FC 508. You’ll get it next year!

  26. Comment by leroy | 10.9.2007 | 7:09 pm

    FC — great advice and I could have used it last month on the subway at a ridiculously early hour on a Sunday morning on my way to the NYC Century.

    Total strangers wanted to know how many miles in a Century, how much my bike weighed and — of course — what it cost. And these were nice normal folks clearly not interested in the discount off retail they would have to accept on my bike when selling it on Craig’s List — although one has to wonder how normal they could be riding the subway at 5 AM on a Sunday and chatting to guys wearing lycra.

    But FC, as great as your advice was, it really could have waited until after the laser tag. I say if you’re a big target, you may as well let the kids have fun with that. We can wait.

  27. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 10.9.2007 | 11:55 pm

    It’s an awkward conversation when a non-cyclist tries to describe the quality of their “high end” bike entering a price into the conversation. Especially when they start coughing up numbers like $275 hoping that the extra $76 the spent over the base model supermarket wreck has moved them into the cycling elite.

    They tend to gag when you mention the price of individual components that you’ve recently replaced… like for me in the past 6 months; shoes $245, helmet $225, saddle $219, track tyres 4x$165. And don’t get me started on consumables like handlebar tape, tyres and clothing.

    I can’t get my wife to understand, let alone people outside my sphere of influence.

  28. Comment by Big Boned | 10.10.2007 | 3:10 am

    How about when people come up and tell you what a great 1996 Stumpjumper they have – “it’s REALLY light, way under 20 pounds…” Right!
    It also always makes me laugh is when people come up to my bike and almost by reflex reach out to feel how hard the saddle is. Do you people not realize that the saddle is where my butt is when I’m riding my bike? You say the saddle feels damp? That would be because it absorbs sweat…from my butt!

  29. Comment by Jason | 10.10.2007 | 3:14 am

    Non cyclist smell funny too.

  30. Comment by VA Biker | 10.10.2007 | 5:37 am

    RE: Big Mike In OZ comments from 09 Oct 2007, 11:55 pm.

    You wrote, “my sphere of influence” with the indication that your wife is included in said sphere. Surely you jest. Aren’t you a husband within the sphere of influence of your dear wife? Tell us that things are different in the Southern Hemisphere. If not, and you’ve created such an environment for yourself personally, let those of within the sphere of influence of our wives know how to reverse it. Those physics classes must have taught you some wicked powers indeed, changing the state of the universe and all. :-)

  31. Comment by Dobovedo | 10.10.2007 | 6:39 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now, including Griffin’s method of starting at the beginning while concurrently reading new posts.

    I had suspicions all along, but this article in particular convinced me you are indeed a clone of me (myself? meself?). I had to share it on my own immensely popular journal –

    (And by immensely popular, I mean I have roughly 6 regular readers who aren’t related to me by blood or wedding vows).

    Oh, and I never even considered owning a single speed until yesterday, and then saw one in the LBS… so thanks a bunch. Soon my wife will be hating you as much as she hates my friends.

  32. Comment by jug on a bike | 10.11.2007 | 11:36 pm

    Just read this on Bike Radar & flicked to the site. Had me sniggering at my desk much to the annoyance of my surrounding co-workers and non-cyclists!

    I thought it was brilliant but seeing some of the comments on Bike Radar I wonder do some people have a genetic composition that prevents them being able to identify humour. A condition which also seems to result in taking yourself far too seriously.

    I should print the article off and have it in my back pocket in case I need to consult it at any social gatherings where there is likely to be a non-cyclist or two.

    Keep up the good work.

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