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.”