If you ride often, you have likely encountered many of these individuals—and, let’s be honest, you probably fall into several categories yourself.
The Dark Horse1 of 18
You're lined up at the start of a race, kitted up and straddling a bike that is worth more than your car. Game face fully deployed, you scrutinize the competition, made up largely of similarly badass riders. None of you are pros, but damn it, you could be. In the gaggle, you spot someone new. Dressed in board shorts, Birkenstocks and a Def Leppard shirt with the sleeves cut off, he chats happily with the racers around him. His bike is a hardware store special with grip shifters and reflectors on the spokes. "First time," you think to yourself. "Good for you, man." Thankfully you keep this condescension to yourself because the Dark Horse is about to kick your ass.
The Chatterbox2 of 18
I'll be the first to admit I talk too much. After a glass of wine or two, my friends are in the garage looking for a rag and some duct tape to stop my incessant yammering. On the bike, though, rather than using my precious oxygen to enlighten a crowd about the difference between math and counting, I prefer to use my oxygen for breathing. The Chatterbox has no such preference and will talk non-stop, with no apparent need for air. If you find yourself riding with a Chatterbox, ask short, simple questions about a topic they are particularly versed in, and you'll have all the hot air you need.
The Natural3 of 18
Let's face it—some people are born with it, and the rest of us have to work our asses off just to keep up with those jerks. The Natural is easy to spot; they show up at the first spring ride, fat and squishy after a long, boozy winter. "Ha!" you think to yourself, "I might actually be faster than the Natural today!" Because the truth is, unlike the Natural—who has done nothing but drink beer and watch curling all winter—you have been working with a team of trainers and coaches befitting an entire Olympic team and logged so many hours on your trainer in the basement you have to wear sunglasses at the office. Alas, despite all the laws of science and physics, the Natural emerges victorious yet again, leaving you in the dust with your fellow mere mortals.
The Trainiac4 of 18
If you follow them on Strava, Instagram or in your car as they run into the office every morning, you can't help but wonder how the Trainiac manages to weigh more than a malnourished hamster. They run to the gym at the crack of dawn for strength training, swim laps at lunch for cross training and still manage to run home in time for a 7 p.m. gran fondo on Zwift. To maintain such a massive volume of weekly training requires stamina, discipline and a spouse with the patience of a saint.
The Strava Junkie5 of 18
To the Strava Junkie, a ride without segments is not a ride worth doing, and a ride not recorded is a ride that did not happen at all. The Junkie has an insatiable appetite for KOMs and will do almost anything to get more—wind doping, for example. This tactic is employed by using a favorable gale-force tailwind to snag a particularly desirable segment. Although technically not cheating, wind doping is considered to be outside the boundaries of good etiquette (not to mention a little weird). Taken to dangerous extremes, the Strava Junkie will tailgate buses, blow red lights or stop signs and would happily mow down elderly pedestrians in their maniacal quest for crowns.
The Yo-Yo6 of 18
Much like a box of chocolates, when the Yo-Yo shows up to a ride, you never know what you're going to get. Season to season—or even ride to ride—this individual is either red hot and ripping everyone's legs off or vomiting on the side of the road after the first five miles. Unlike other people you ride with year after year, never judge your fitness based on the Yo-Yo, because you could be in for a nasty surprise at your first race of the season. As nice and charming as they may be, the Yo-Yo is about as predictable as a 1978 Ford Pinto.
The Good Samaritan7 of 18
Like a dear grandmother who always cooks enough to feed an army battalion, the Good Samaritan attends every ride loaded down with extra gels, water, bars, tubes and maybe even the occasional roast turkey. Double flat on a ride? Bonk when your route goes longer than expected? Have no fear, the Samaritan has your back. This rider is always the one to stop and help with a mechanical, fully outfitted with every tool known to man. The Tutor of Newbies and Shepherd of the Dropped, the Good Samaritan is a true treasure to any group.
The Wheel Sucker8 of 18
This is one type of cyclist you may not actually recognize—mostly because they are always behind you. In fact, they are behind everybody. Like the period in a sentence, no matter how many riders are in the group, the wheel sucker is always comfortably sitting at the back. You may hear their occasional whines about a crippling head cold, menstrual cramps or recent amputation, but magically all symptoms of injury or fatigue disappear about 200 meters from the finish line as they sprint past the group to victory.
The Happy Wanderer9 of 18
Always on the go to ride in exotic locations, the Happy Wanderer has a bucket list that could fill a swimming pool. Whether wealthy, retired or both, this individual has cycled in places that you haven't even heard of. Yes, it's pretty easy to hate this person. Day after day you sit through their post-ride tales of cycling nirvana, only to climb back on your bike to slog through pothole-ridden streets lined with Walmarts instead of waterfalls. Be sure to be nice to this person, though, because one day they will be an excellent resource if you are lucky enough to do one of your bucket list trips. Because they have been there. Twice.
The Hippie10 of 18
Fueled by nothing but earth-love and lentils, the Hippie is the rider everyone loves to not have to share snacks with. You can generally spot these riders by their natural fabrics and cruelty-free bikes made primarily from bamboo and hemp products. Hippies are extremely rare finds in triathlon and roadie crowds, being far more comfortable in places where body shaving practices are less rigid.
The Scientist11 of 18
Have you ever wondered what the effects of immersing yourself in boiling lava would be on your VO2 max? Me either. Yet the Scientist loves nothing more than to dissect, particle by particle, every nuance of cycling. From physiology to aerodynamics to the color of your morning poop, no topic is safe from microscopic analysis. Ask the scientist a question about any of these topics and you will see their eyes light up like a kid on Christmas day.
The Hammerhead12 of 18
Also known as The Diesel, this rider is happiest on the front of the train, on the flattest of roads, riding straight into an unrelenting headwind. The Hammerhead only has one speed: full gas. Never attempt to ride beside one, because whatever speed you're going, it's simply not fast enough. But if it's a great draft you're after, this is the wheel you want. Assuming your lungs and legs are up to the task, he or she will pull you for miles on end, untiring and without complaint (until you reach a climb or sprint, at which point they will typically blow up in spectacular fashion). Make friends with a Hammerhead and your days of humping headwinds are over.
The Fashionista13 of 18
Never a seam out of place and impeccably outfitted from helmet to cleats, the Fashionista is hard to miss. He wears the latest in luxurious European cycling garments. Always perfectly matched to his frame, you would swear his cycling kit was made by a fine Italian tailor. His razor-sharp tan lines are matched only by the inexplicable brilliance of his white shoes and bar tape, which is carefully replaced at the first sign of unsightly grime. There is no question about it, the Fashionista has mastered the Art of Looking Pro. If you could bottle that kind of flair and style, you'd make a million bucks—or at least look like it.
The She-Devil14 of 18
As soon as she straddles her bike, all the "sugar and spice and everything nice" turns to "power and rage and the most impressive display of snot rockets you have ever seen in your life." The She-Devil is as feared and respected among the men as she is the women, and will lay out a beating to anyone who offers themselves up as prey. She will often be found post-ride, discussing the latest jersey trends with The Fashionista.
The Weight Weenie15 of 18
If NASA made bike parts, the Weight Weenie would be its top customer. Highly allergic to steel, nothing gets the Weenie more excited than components so light they barely register on the scale. Carbon fiber is the only acceptable frame material, and if .0005 ounces can be shaved off by replacing the bar tape or bottle cages, there is no question it must be done. Money is no object for this meticulous weight miser, who will spend more on a set of wheels than most will spend on an entire bike. Their obsession with the latest, greatest technology makes the Weight Weenie an excellent source for high quality, lightly used parts.
The Seasoned Ex-Pro16 of 18
Do not be fooled by the white hair or slight roundness of belly. If you are lucky enough to have a rider of such pedigree in your midst, you immediately notice they are different. Better. Smoother. More confident. They do not ride so much as glide, placing a hand on a shoulder at thirty miles an hour with the same ease as if seated at a dinner party. This retired professional has ridden with some of the greatest names in cycling. The legends. They raced in toe clips and leather helmets through mountains in Europe when you were still wearing diapers and stuffing Legos up your nose. And if you do find yourself seated next to them at a dinner party, maybe they'll tell you about it.
The Ring Leader17 of 18
In any regular group ride, there is typically someone who the group looks toward to be the Mother Hen. Well-suited to this position, the Ring Leader is typically outspoken, organized and a real sucker for punishment. Coordinating start times, pace, pee breaks and ride style might sound like things consenting adults can manage as a group, but without the guidance of someone brave enough to take the reins, group rides can quickly digress into a bunch of Lycra-clad loonies peppering the road like a group of feral cats.