Cycling Rites of Passage

I read this on the other day and thought it was pretty spectacular and spot on with a lot of things.  Read the full article at Rites of Passage, Mark Levine does a great write up on riding and why we do what we do.  Here are his rites of passage:  How many relate to you?


02. You go from one pair of shorts to a dedicated drawerful. 

03. Being unable to sleep the night after you first shave your legs, because of the tingle of bedsheets against your skin. 

04. When “thanks for the ride” goes from something you overhear to part of your lexicon. 

05. You see someone at the beach tanned low on the quads and biceps, and give him a nod of recognition. 

06. Bonking so bad you don’t think you’ll be able to make it home. 

07. Discovering how a convenience-store Coke can resurrect the dead. 

08. Starting and finishing a ride—the same one—in pouring rain. 

09. When you hang out at the bike shop and no one expects you to buy anything. 

10. When your bike computer registers triple digits for one ride. 

11. Clearing a log on a the trail.

12. You embrocate. 

13. Staying with the paceline long enough to take a turn at the front. 

14. You’re on the bike for the fifth straight day, and your butt doesn’t hurt. 

15. You try bibs and realize you can never go back to shorts. 

16. You stop riding beside and behind the pack and instead ride inside of it—with no claustrophobia. 

17. You swing off the front of a paceline before you get tired. 

18. You blow a snot rocket without hitting your shoulder or leg—or the rider behind you. 

19. You notice that someone else has the chain grease on his right calf. 

20. You get stuck in your pedals and topple over at a stoplight. 

21. Someone you introduced to the sport kicks your ass on a ride. 

22. Riding a bike through a big, congested city and feeling smarter than everyone else because you’re moving. 

23. You wake up to find the sheets stuck to your road rash—and still feel excited about riding that day. 

24. Your boss stops by to ask you to explain what’s happening in the Tour de France. 

25. You fix up your old bike to get someone into the sport.

26. Wearing out your first set of tires. 

27. You ride through a pothole, and it’s no big deal. 

28. Getting hopelessly lost—deliberately. 

29. You stop midride to give your only spare tube to a stranded cyclist. 

30. You realize you’re driving your car as if it’s a bike—drafting, looking for holes, getting away from the squirrelly guy. 

31. Fixing a busted chain. 

32. When you no longer have to stop to take off your jacket. 

33. Feeling confident about taking off your jacket while riding—then catching the trailing sleeve in the rear wheel. 

34. The first time you crumple your race number. 

35. Planning a riding vacation. 

36. Seeing a sunrise from the saddle. 

37. Wondering how the biggest local hill would rank on the Tour de France climb classification. 

38. In your head, Phil Liggett narrates your ride. 

39. You got dropped, you flatted, bonked, got turned around—and when you got home you said you had a great ride. 

40. You roll through a patch of gravel and, without thinking, reach back to brush the crud off your tire with your palm. 

41. A rider you respect says, “You were flying today.” 

42. Rolling through a stop sign—and knowing it was the right thing to do. 

43. Doored! 

44. When you crest the summit of a climb, start down and realize you’ve gone the wrong way. But keep going anyway. 

45. Rubbing wheels—and staying up. 

46. Letting go of your kid’s seat and not having to grab it again. 

47. Getting a bike stolen and being surprised at how deeply it hits you. 

48. Cleaning the cassette with your old toothbrush. 

49. Sprinting the neighbor kids. 

50. Chasing a rabbit down singletrack. 

51. Falling asleep when you stop for a break on a mountain bike ride. 

52. Endo. 

53. Telling someone which bike to buy. 

54. Overcooking a turn. 

55. Breaking a collarbone. 

56. Figuring out how to layer without overdressing. 

57. Deciding which car to buy in part based on how it will carry your bikes. 

58. Your first ride with a jersey instead of a T-shirt. 

59. Riding on a day so cold the water in your bottle freezes. 

60. Discovering that a shot of Jameson in each bottle keeps the water fluid. 

61. Though you’re not clear on exactly how to do it and unsure of the outcome, you manage to fix your first flat.

62. Walking home in your cleats. 

63. Getting so deep into the sport you think your helmet looks good. 

64. Following a favorite pro racer–besides Lance Armstrong. 

65. Finding out your favorite pro racer was doping. 

66. Wrapping your bar tape so the handlebar plug stays in and no bare bar shows at the tricky bend at the brake hood. 

67. Naming a route. 

68. Bumping elbows, then being relaxed enough to make a joke about it with the person next to you. 

69. Sitting in with the big weekend training race. 

70. Developing that “V” of muscle definition on the back of your calf. 

71. Espresso at the halfway point. 

72. Crashing and immediately asking, “How’s my bike?” 

73. Fixing your bike with a rock. 

74. Paying for a coach. 

75. Figuring out that training advice doesn’t get much better than “Ride lots.” 

76. Clacking into a rough tavern in cleats and spandex. 

77. Having a position on Bartali vs. Coppi. 

78. Throwing up after a sprint. 

79. Chasing back on after a flat. 

80. Winning a town-sign sprint and remembering it forever. 

81. Explicating your training in exquisite detail on a blog, then realizing nobody cares. 

82. Watching the compressed CO2 from your only canister shoot off into the air instead of into the tube. 

83. Matching your bar tape to your tire’s sidewall– then realizing on your next ride that your bike looks like it’s been decorated by a blind pimp. 

84. Riding someplace you’ve always driven. 

85. Outsprinting a crazed dog. 

86. Summiting an H.C. climb. 

87. Waving at a cyclist coming the other way and being ignored. 

88. Getting annoyed by an uninvited wheel sucker. 

89. Getting so fast you’re confident enough to ride slow. 

90. Wondering if cycling matters too much. 

91. Not caring if it does. 

92. Surfing traffic on adrenaline and luck in one of the world’s 10 biggest cities. 

93. Sitting up, taking your hands off the bar on a downhill. 

94. At the PTA meeting, looking around at all the fat parents. 

95. Dropping someone half your age. 

96. Outclimbing someone half your size. 

97. Passing someone whose bike costs twice as much as yours. 

98. Looking inside the bottle you’ve been using all season, seeing mold. 

99. Dismissing what used to be your favorite cycling magazine because it keeps repeating topics. 

100. Reading The Rider. 

101. Coming home from Europe with a cobblestone in your luggage.

102. Finding out no one makes your favorite handlebar-bend anymore. 

103. Riding down a trail you couldn’t safely walk. 

104. Telling the joke, “God wishes he was Eddy Merckx.” 

105. Cheating a crosswind by joining an echelon. 

106. Feeling superstrong, then turning around for the ride back and realizing you had a tailwind. 

107. Pedaling the Brooklyn Bridge, toward Manhattan, at night. 

108. Being the person whose bike squeaks drive everyone nuts. 

109. Reading a rites of passage list and finding that your own favorite one is missing.


2 thoughts on “Cycling Rites of Passage

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