Abraham Maslow is famous for creating the “Hierarchy of Needs” — a graduating set of general requirements for human motivation. Like this:
The idea behind this pyramid is that you need to fulfill the needs in the lowest (Physiological) level of the pyramid before you start thinking about the needs in the second-lowest (Safety) level. Then you can move on to the Love / belonging needs, and so forth.
Then, hopefully, once you have satisfied the needs in the first four levels, you can start working on self-actualization, at which point you are a fully-realized human. Which would be, I assume, awesome.
Sadly, however, this hierarchy is woefully out of date.
Updating the Hierarchy
Now, I’m not slamming on Abe (Maslow’s friends called him “Abe”); back in the 40’s, this was a pretty good scale.
Since then, however, things have changes. Specifically, mountain bikes have been invented (thanks, Gary!), and road bikes have gotten much, much better.
And hence, our needs — and the order of precedence and priority for these needs — have changed. Which is why I am happy to present:
You can tell that my hierarchy is superior to Maslow’s, just from a quick glance. For example, where Maslow’s pyramid is only two-dimensional, mine is three-dimensional. Where his uses stodgy, overly-saturated colors, mine uses eye-pleasing gradients. And my pyramid has an attractive shadow.
There’s more, of course. Mainly, my hierarchy is much more relevant and meaningful to today’s cyclist.
Fatty’s Hierarchy, Explained
I shall explain the needs of the cyclist, beginning with the lowest level.
- A Working Bike: Before all else, the cyclist must have a bike that can be ridden. The tires must be able to hold air. The brakes must stop the bike. The crank cannot creak so loudly that the cyclist loses his or her mind when riding. The bike must fit, at least sorta. In the absence of a working, rideable bike, the cyclist simply ceases to exist and becomes a much lower form of life (i.e., a non-cyclist). In short, having a rideable bike is the most important thing in the world, which is why many cyclists amass a sizeable collection of both bikes and bike parts — if one has enough bikes and components, one need never step outside to begin ride only to find an unexpected and catastrophic mechanical problem, thus causing one to — for all intents and purposes — cease to exist.
- Lose 15 Lbs / Kg: Any cyclist that says she or he rides strictly for pleasure is a liar. The truth is, all cyclists have an event or race in the back of their minds, and they have a goal for that event or race. And to achieve that objective, the cyclist must lose either 15 pounds or kilograms. Also, cyclists know that their clothing — specially designed to be embarrassingly revealing — is going to look a lot nicer if they lose that fifteen pounds (or much, much nicer if they lose 15 kilograms). And they’ll be able to beat people to the tops of climbs. And they’ll be able to get into their drops without their knees pushing all the air out of their lungs.
- Riding Buddies: Once you’ve got a bike in working order and have lost (or at least frequently talk about losing) that fifteen pounds / kilograms, you will naturally try to find a group of like-minded individuals. Individuals who will not condemn you for the way you spend all your time, money, and mental cycles on doing something you learned to do when you were five. Individuals who agree it is not even remotely pointless to expend a huge amount of energy and time to go in what is, invariably, either a loop or out-and-back, arriving exactly where you left, except much more tired. Individuals who are enough like you that when you’re around them, you can convince yourself that you’re normal.
- Good Gear: Once you have the basics of cycling down — a working bike, good fitness, people who share in your warped perception of priorities and fun — you will no doubt want to recapture the extraordinary feeling you had the first time you rode a decent — i.e., a non-big-box-obtained — bike. You will need a lighter bike, nicer components, an expensive pair of shorts with an anatomic wicking antibacterial chamois, and handmade Italian shoes. The more you spend, the easier it is for you to convincingly imagine that you notice a difference.
- A Perfect Place to Ride: The ultimate expression of a cyclist’s needs is the perfect route. What that perfect route is depends on the rider (although it has been widely rumored to be Tibble Fork in American Fork Canyon, Utah). Paradoxically, you may have — in fact, almost certainly will have — ridden the perfect route many times before you discover that it is, in fact, perfect.
I am looking forward to your reactions supporting this hierarchy. (I would also look forward to your reactions rebutting this hierarchy, but since is perfect, there can of course be no convincing counterargument.)