Today I came across an article in the Guardian by Matt Seaton, talking about why cyclists shave their legs.
What struck me as odd though, once I’d got past the whole idea of shaved legs was that Mr Seaton repeatedly referred to himself as a cyclist. I know that factually he is correct as in ‘one who cycles’. He even referred to the practice of shaving legs as a means of ‘belonging’ to the cycling tribe. But to me it didn’t feel right.
I mean, I don’t shave my legs, so does that mean I’m not a cyclist? Or that I belong to a non leg shaving tribe instead? Is that what Mountain Bikers are, a tribe of non leg shavers? It seems strange that I should read an article about cycling and find myself ultimately excluded from precisely a group of people I would expect to have some affinity with.
So what are we, us Mountain Bike folk? Are we cyclists? Well, yes of course we are. Are we Mountain Bikers? well, yes, that too. MTBers? Yup, maybe, Riders as well. What about our BMX/urban cousins? Are there any differences in all this that matter that much?
I don’t think so. Really it’s a question of emphasis. I don’t want to exclude myself from different groups just because my legs aren’t shaved or I don’t have the right gear. And I don’t want to be elitest about cycling/biking/riding. Naturally there are people with whom I have more in common than others, but if you get enjoyment from riding a bike that’s a pretty good starting point for me.
Rather than putting off people from getting involved in the sport with artificial distinctions I say the more the merrier.
And only shave your legs if you really want to.