'Bike Tribes': A Field Guide to Pedal Pushers

A book about cycling and bike culture presents findings from a study about the social behaviors of cyclists in an entertaining way

Bike Tribes

The sociology of bike culture     Photo: Courtesy of Rodale

Last year, Mike Magnuson mailed out a lengthy survey to more than 250 cyclists. His goal? To gauge what he describes as the “social behaviors of the various branches” of the sport. The resulting book, Bike Tribes (Rodale, $19), distills the results into a field guide to pedal pushers. Even more, it’s an entertaining catalog of two-wheeled snobbery.

What kind of rider are you?
I come from a roadie background. I did centuries first, and then I raced. Now I’m more into cyclocross.

Are the most serious bikers the most snobbish?
It’s embarrassing but true. The best cyclists are usually these tiny dudes with Napoleon complexes. They train all the time, and they’re always underfed, so they’re pissed off.

Are there any bike tribes that aren’t pretentious?
The original vibe of mountain biking in the '80s was hippie and cool—everyone was happy to have you there. That same vibe exists in triathlon. People are just glad you showed up.

Any gripes with triathletes?
They’re not real cyclists. Some of them don’t even own a bike with regular handlebars.

You must have received a fair bit of grief while reporting.
A bit. People in the cycling community, especially the ones who read, are kind of a bitchy group.

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