More on Fred and Doris …

sevenfredlysins-echo-in-the-city-life-with-a-hardcore-cyclist (1)I have noticed several blog posts recently about Fred, a condescending term used by roadies to describe other cyclists that do not conform to their standards regarding equipment and dress.  By the way.  There is a female version.  Jim Glass points out that that the female equivalent is referred to as Doris.

The term Fred conjures up different images depending on where you live but generally describes an inexperienced, uncool, utilitarian cyclist wearing inappropriate clothing, riding a bike loaded with gadgets – lights, cup holders, mirrors, reflectors, racks … things a roadie would never consider putting on a bike.

Echo Rivera is not the last person to learn of the term Fred as she suggests in her recent post but her comic above says it all.  It made me laugh.  All of her comics do.  She understands and says it best:

“Wear what you want.  Ride what you want.  Bring what you want.  Do what you want.  Get on your wheels, and get happy.”

Personally, I find the term Fred (or Doris) offensive.  We are all cyclists.  We may ride for different reasons but we share the road and need to share the pleasure of a ride as well.  Besides, I think there is a little of both in each of us.  I know I am part roadie and part Fred.  What matters most to me is comfort and safety.  And, just getting out on my bike.  Bibs, cycling jerseys, cleated shoes, helmets and cycling gloves make the ride more enjoyable regardless whether I am on my road or utility bike.  I have a sophisticated road bike and clothes to match.  But I don’t look down on others no matter what they are riding or wearing.  I also have a retrofitted utility bike and Fred-like clothes as well.

I also think cycling is an evolutionary process.  At least it has been for me.  The more I ride, the more I want to be comfortable and the more I seek out new roads (and hills) to climb.  When I first began riding seriously, my objective was to lose weight.  Simple as that.  I didn’t give any thought to the borrowed bike I was using or the clothes I was wearing.  As I began to tour, comfort and efficiency became important.  That’s when I learned that padded attire and clip-in pedals made a difference.  And, as I began to train more (not because I wanted to be a racer but because I liked the feeling), I appreciated the intricacies of frame geometries, carbon fiber, indexed shifting and lycra.

I am what you might call a hybrid – part roadie, part Fred.  I wear cycle jerseys with pockets in the back but I don’t wear them skin tight like the racers that pass me by.  It’s not becoming.  But I appreciate carrying a few essentials when I am on a training ride without having to carry a backpack or pannier.  I often wear bibs on either bike not because they make me go faster.  No.  There are simply more comfortable.  And, I wear a helmet not to look good or cool but because it is safer.

The more comfortable and safer I feel, the more I ride.  That is all that matters to me.  And, I encourage others to do the same.

“I bike for fitness mostly and encourage others of all ages, shapes and sizes to do the same. I tell them it is good for their health, good for the environment and just plain fun. I know of no better way to recapture the playful innocence of childhood.”

9 thoughts on “More on Fred and Doris …

  1. Yup, some roadies are abit elitist. My partner has nearly finished cycling from Vancouver BC to Calgary. About 1,300 km. He went up through the Whistler way, through Lililoet, Kamloops, Jasper. Not through Abbotsford ,Hope and Okanagan which he’s done this. He’s about 65 km. outside of Calgary today.

    He’s on a more upright touring bike ($4,000) Salsa with his 4 panniers. Do you think some of those roadies in slick team kit attire, would have known how much he slugged up 4 mountain ranges? Yet he climbs a mountain and meets a road kit dressed roadie and the guy boasts abit about doing this mountain several times. Meanwhile dearie…says nothing about his 2 cross-Canada solo bike touring trips in the last 15 yrs. (from Vancouver to Toronto).

  2. Tell me more about your partners most rcent adventure. I am looking for a 3-4 day trip that I can do in the fall. 1,300 km is too much but sections of the ride might be fun. Does he have a website chronically his trips?

  3. He has 2 blogs but he doesn’t treat his blogs like bike training/trip journals. It’s more thematic posts on cycling infrastructure that he has seen over the years and as a long time cycling advocate: (His bio gives his commitment to cycling.)

    He cycled onto the Sea to Sky Highway to Squamish.
    Then to Whistler, Pemberton.
    It is quite steep to Pemberton to Lilloet.
    Lillooet to Cache Creek
    Cache Creek to Kamloops
    Kamloops to Clearwater
    Clearwater to Blue River
    Blue River to Valemount
    Valemount to Jasper
    Jasper to Columbia Ice Fields
    Columbia Ice Fields to Saskatchewan River Crossing
    Saskatchewan River Crossing to Lake Louise
    Lake Louise to Canmore
    Canmore to Cochrane
    Cochrane to Calgary

    Some of the distances look short. But he hasn’t taken any days off since leaving Vancouver. I’ve gotten a raft of pics of his trip along the way. He just hasn’t time to blog.

    And if anyone reads this: he turned 70 2 months ago.
    He genuinely is tougher than some of the roadies.. 15 years ago he did cycle to Ontario, averaging 100 km. per day …in 45 days. He pulled a trailer of his stuff.

    I cannot even begin stress that a roadie should NEVER judge a freddish looking cyclist like my partner. You never know the life journeys the other person has taken until you ask for their story.

    • Thanks Jean. I didn’t know Jack is 70. Good for him. We really are kindred spirits. He is an inspiration. I have been contemplating how far I can take this passion in my time – also considering a long solo ride.

  4. Hi there! I read this when you posted and haven’t had the chance to comment until now. I went back and forth about how to approach my ‘Fred’ comic. I had mixed feelings about it, and you capture my hesitation well in your post — mainly, is it offensive? Will I be perpetuating a stereotype? A few thoughts on that, if you don’t mind 🙂 Things I thought about before creating my comic and after reading your well-written, thoughtful one:

    ~ The comic is my tongue-in-cheek way of saying that the whole idea of “Freds” is kind of ridiculous. Well, really, that the whole idea that there are any stereotypical groups of cyclists at all is ridiculous. No one likes to be put into a category, especially if done in a demeaning way, but really being crammed into a box isn’t ideal to anyone. That’s what I was trying to point out in my comic, as I violate just about EVERY cycling “group” — Fred’s included (note my SPD shoes … which Jean even commented means they make me not a “real” Fred!). And, I conclude, that the vast majority of people do, too. I don’t know a single rider who fits into only one category all the time.

    ~ I also wanted to find a humorous way to poke fun at my tendency to, quite frankly, overpack and over prepare. That was the main purpose, and my original idea, and then I happened onto this whole Fred thing, which gave it a catchy title. Seriously, I was barely exaggerating in my comic!! I think I added a few funny things to one of my bags…the rest is actually how I usually ride around — just for a few hours!! 🙂

    ~ It’s revealing that (a) I read about Fred’s from someone who JUST heard about the term; (b) even after for cycling the past 3+ years it was the first I heard of it; and (c) sounds like it’s the first you heard of it too! So…I wonder how many “roadies” are really even calling people Freds … who uses it nowadays, I wonder?

    ~ “Roadies” don’t like to be called that anymore than others want to be called “Freds” or “hipsters” or whatever name is assigned to cyclists. So I think we have to be weary of responding to one stereotype by, often unintentionally, reinforcing another!

    ~ I think my comic title could have better reflected the complexity of all this if it were titled, “The Moment You Realize That Some People Think You’re A Fred.” … too bad it wouldn’t fit on the title bar!!

    ANYWAY…before I end, I want to say that I really like your follow up about my comic 🙂 it’s cool that it got people talking! I also appreciate that you linked it to my post, so I could see what you had written (in case I missed it in my reader, since I follow your blog).

    Hope you had a fantastic Labor day weekend!

    • Hi Echo! I love the comic. And, I think I understood your intent. I had heard of the term Fred previously but never liked categorizing riders or anyone for that matter.

      I enjoyed 2 rides on the long weekend that puts this into perspective (at least for me). I have 2 adult sons. A 33 year old who would be considered a Fred. And, a 30 year old that is unmistakably a roadie.

      On Saturday, I enjoyed a 70 km ride with the 33 year old and his 12 year old son on my utility bike exploring new trails along the Fraser River heading to Burnaby for some shopping and lunch. We poked along, stopped at a farmers market, watched fishermen along the shoreline and watched tugs haul logs to the local mills. It took 6 hours there and back.

      On Sunday, I enjoyed another 70 km, faced-paced tempo ride with my 30 year old son on our road bikes. He is preparing for the Whistler Grand Fondo this coming weekend and this was to be his last ride before tapering. We averaged 35 km/h as we circumvented Richmond, a flat ride in the Fraser River delta. This ride took 2.5 hours.

      I enjoyed both rides very much. I never once thought of my older son a Fred. Rather, I am proud of him for teaching and encouraging his son to ride. And, I never once thought of my younger son as a roadie. Rather, I am proud of him for pushing himself to become the best he can be.

      As I said previously, there is a little Fred and roadie in each of us. And, if you lived closer, I would enjoy riding with you as well. You seem very thoughtful and have a good sense of humour.

      Have a good week.

      • That sounds like such a lovely ride, and I also love that he is encouraging his son to ride! I agree–I think we’d have fun riding together! Maybe we’ll join up forces on some organized group ride one day, who knows! Until then, I look forward to reading your blog!

        You too!

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