CultureBooks & Media

'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

The sociology of bike culture (Photo: Courtesy of Rodale)
Bike Tribes

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.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
From Outside Magazine, Jun 2012
Filed To: Books
Lead Photo: Courtesy of Rodale
More Culture