Cyclists can be seen almost anywhere, and you don’t always need binoculars, a telescope or scatterings of oats to spot them. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours and temperaments – some worth cycling with, and others you may just want to avoid.
Here are eight species of cyclist, native to Britain’s shores…
Equipped with power meter and pocket calculator, the stats nerd is a common sight on cycling group rides. As the climbs approach and the tension mounts, the stats nerd will begin to crunch through a wall of numbers, ‘if we ride the first half at a 352W average and then ramp up to 403W for the final, we should crest the summit at half past the hour!’
More often than not they’ll be beaten to the top by the group’s young guns having never passed 200W at any point on the climb. Miserable in defeat, the stats nerd will often be found head down at the café stop, deep in their FTP spreadsheets asking, ‘where did it all go wrong?’
Plumage: A size XS skinsuit with flashy ‘go faster’ stripes.
Feeding habits: Nothing but Microsoft Excel files, with a sprinkle of watts.
Where to find them: Straggling at the back of the pack.
Avian equivalent: Chicken, they look like a bird, act like a bird, they just can’t fly like a bird.
They may live a train journey and following bus ride away, but this species of cyclist will still opt to commute by bike. 20, 30, even 50 miles isn’t too far for this breed, they’ll set off at the crack of dawn to make it to their 9am shift.
They may as well forgo having a house entirely, as they spend most of their time on the road or at the office.
Plumage: Psychedelic, fluorescent garb complete with GoPro.
Feeding habits: Partial to the occasional banana to supplement their primary diet of road spray and bits of tarmac.
Where to find them: The office showers, or at one of 19 sets of traffic lights on their route.
Avian equivalent: Pigeon. Perfectly suited to the city centre.
The Strava kings will have a long list of KOMs under their belt, albeit on roads you’ve never heard of or ridden on and are almost always descents of 100-200m. They’ll take every opportunity to show off on the local group ride, heading off up the road on the promise that they’re chasing a cheeky KOM around the corner. In reality, they’ve taken a shortcut to the local café, shouting ‘what took you guys so long?’ as the rest of the group arrives.
Plumage: Rapha, always Rapha.
Feeding habits: One gel before the effort, one during, and one after. Toilet troubles wait for no Strava record.
Where to find them: Powering up the local climbs.
Avian equivalent: Peacock, this species is prone to showing off.
As your age begins to climb and your average power starts to drop, you’re left open to jibes and taunts from this species of cyclist, the young gun. Cocky and confident, the young gun will move up and down the chain gang, unable to sit still in the pace line. They’ll be the first to the top of every hill and boy will they go on about it.
They have the power to join the pros, but without your wisdom and experience, they have no chance. You’ve still got some leverage over them yet…
Plumage: Baggy, oversized Motorola and T-Mobile jerseys from the backs of their dad’s cycling drawer.
Feeding habits: Mars bar multipacks.
Where to find them: Glued to the wheels of the masochists and Strava kings.
Avian equivalent: Hummingbird, small but mighty – never taking a rest.
With faces pockmarked by mud and grime, the manic MTBers are a hard bunch to miss. They’ll often gang up together and descend on the off-road trails en masse, no amount of farmer’s gates or drystone walls able to stop them from pursuing their wild adventure.
Seeing one on the road is a rare, and very much revered, sight. Often solo, they’ll be seen struggling as they manically spin away, trying to tag onto the coattails of the roadies in front.
Plumage: Cargo pants and pads.
Feeding habits: Often found guzzling hydraulic disc brake fluid.
Where to find them: The local woods or untamed bridle path.
Avian equivalent: A flock of gulls – loud, gangly and quite obtrusive.
If you’ve heard the utterance, ‘the weather looks a bit iffy today, doesn’t it?’, then it probably issued from the lips of a fair-weather roadie. Whether it’s Mother Nature calling, or a niggling injury, this cyclist won’t brave the outdoors unless all conditions are perfect. It’s a miracle they still inhabit our shores, given the tumultuous weather.
Plumage: No amount of extra kit will be forgotten and it will all be stuffed into the back pocket of the jersey, providing an ungainly aerodynamic encumbrance.
Feeding habits: They’ll gorge on porridge oats all morning before peeping out of their kitchen window, bowl in hand, exhaling with joyous relief, ‘maybe next week.’
Where to find them: Sat on the sofa, watching fuzzy GoPro footage of their last fair-weather ride…two years ago.
Avian equivalent: Owl, they have the incredible gift of wisdom and foresight, predicting the weather well before the Met Office.
With cycling bible in one hand, and a bidon of holy water in the other, the evangelist will make their way up and down your chain gang, preaching their regular cycling sermon. ‘Isn’t cycling just great, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more freedom,’ and ‘can you hear it? The birdsong? Isn’t it beautiful,’ is often met with begruntled looks and shouts of, ‘pipe down and do your turn on the front.’
Plumage: Pristine, flowing white kit with plucked daisies and buttercups peeping over the jersey pockets.
Feeding habits: The sheer beauty of Mother Nature feeds this species of cyclist.
Where to find them: Riding through fields of flowers with birds perched on their helmet rim.
Avian equivalent: Parrot, repeats phrases ad nauseam.
The one who doesn’t appear to experience pain, or even understand the meaning of the word. Unlike the Strava kings, the masochists won’t announce their departure from the group, instead they’ll just power away as the road starts to climb, a god among mere mortals.
Plumage: Common or garden brown, their power is from within.
Feeding habits: The broken dreams of other riders.
Where to find them: Stood atop the highest peaks, casting the lands around them under their foreboding glare.
Avian equivalent: Eagle.
Have you ever encountered one of these British cycling species? Or do you think you fall into one of these categories? Make sure you Tweet to us @Pedalcover.