Our society has this strange trait of labeling everyone.
It is not enough that we know someone by their given name, we have to categorize them further by what they do for a living, their political or religious beliefs. Even their hobbies.
I’m sure people who live in my neighborhood but have not yet met me, refer to me as “The Cyclist,” because they see my ride by on my bike.
The problem is that being labeled a “Cyclist,” I am then pre-judged by the worst behavior of other cyclists, even those who would not necessarily label themselves as cyclists.
The dictionary defines a cyclist as “Somebody who rides a bicycle,” and as far as the media and news reports go that pretty much covers it. If a person robs a bank and makes his get-away on a bike, the story will read “Cyclist robs bank.”
What about the three-year-old child riding his little bike on his driveway, possibly with training wheels still installed. Is this little fellow a “Cyclist” or a child playing at being a cyclist?
There are people who ride bicycles as their only means of transport, either by choice, or for economic reasons, but would they necessarily label themselves as cyclists?
A person who has lost their driver’s license or a young person not yet old enough to drive will ride a bicycle, and would not call themselves a cyclist. But should they be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, the media will say, “Cyclist hit by car.” When in the interest of accuracy, shouldn’t the report read, “Cyclist hit by Motorist?”
Some use a bicycle as an exercise machine but would not necessarily call themselves a cyclist any more than they would call themselves “treadmillist,” if there were such a word for a person who chose a treadmill as their exercise machine of choice.
At some point I need to be careful, lest I am accused of becoming “elitist.” When a person starts to ride a bike for no other reason than the pure joy of riding a bicycle, the temptation is to want to spread that joy and convert others to become cyclists and discover the joys of cycling.
When they resist efforts at conversion, it must be the same feeling that Jehovah’s Witnesses get when they knock on my door but fail to convert me to their way of thinking. There is a danger of being a “Cyclist” becoming a belief system, almost a religion.
It is okay to feel superior, after all that is nothing more than a feeling of self-esteem, which is good. What I will try not to do is to look down on lesser mortals who are not cyclists. Those unfortunate souls who have not yet discovered the joy of being a cyclist. Those trapped inside their unfit bodies and their SUVs.
However, I will not preach to non-cyclists or try to convert them. I will not display an elitist persona of superiority. I will not show disdain at those who choose to travel by car or on foot. I will try to show my fellow traveler, respect and common courtesy. Be they on the road (Literally.) or on this journey that is this life. Even though it is entirely possible they will not show me the same respect.
I will occasionally allow myself to "Poke fun" at the non-cyclist, in a good natured way, on this blog, knowing that the non-cyclist will not read it any more than I will read the Jehovah’s Witness literature that was tucked behind my screen door.
I will try to lead by example that people might say, “Here’s a happy, healthy, content individual, what’s your secret?” Then maybe I might tell them.
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