Conversation starters

Cyclists are a passionate bunch. You kind of have to be, don’t you? Riding for hours and hours and climbing silly grades and ripping back down the other side isn’t exactly normal. (How awesome would the world be if it was, though?)

That devotion tends to breed similarly passionate discussion when you put a bunch of cyclists in close proximity. Like many other groups, I’m sure, my riding buddies have engaged in all manner of semi-ridiculous debate while on and off the bike.

If your friends are a little more low-key than mine, here’s a helpful guide for inciting a near-riot at cycling function:

  • Take a very firm stance in a component debate, but don’t praise the group you prefer — rip apart the one you dislike. For example: “SRAM shifters are junk. I heard they fall apart all the time.” The best way to get this one started is to not use any first-person details. Say, “I read it on the forums.” It’s guaranteed to get loud.
  • Greet a riding partner by looking them up and down and saying, “Wearing that, huh? OK … .” And then say NO MORE. The awkward silence will speak volumes.
  • Disc brakes for cyclocross has been a huge talking point around here. You can tell who does what for the rest of the year. The mountain bikers love their disc brakes and want them on their ‘cross bikes. The roadies are perfectly happy with cantilever brakes. Whatever side you’re on, tell the other side their preferences are stupid and unpractical.
  • If you have older riders in your group, let them know that steel is real … heavy. Carbon everything from now on!
  • Talk about local team kit. Which is best, which is worst? And know which riders sincerely believe their super-ugly kit looks awesome.
  • Fire up the mountain bike wheel-size debate. The 26-inch versus 29-inch saga will never, ever end. And those who have one or the other have been forced to defend their choice for a few years now. It’s almost a part of their personal identity at this point. Wind them up and watch them spin.

There are more ways to get things rolling, I’m sure. These are the go-to selections from our neck of the woods. Feel free to add your tried-and-true bear-poking techniques in the comments.

The more we’re able to mess with our friends, the better the cycling world is.

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