Which Tribe is Yours?

Posted on June 17, 2012


Do you belong to “Riders of the Century” or “Those Who Chase Each Other in the Woods?” Are you a “Charity Rider” or one of those “The Mass is Critical” types? Possibly, like me, you belong to more than one tribe.

Mike Magnuson, a writer and a blogger for Bicycling magazine has just published a new book titled Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American Cyclists. It’s a pop sociological analysis of the variety of cyclist personas in the United States today. I think that his characterizations are spot-on and often hysterical (especially if you can laugh at yourself).

What I like best about the book is that through the enumeration of the many bike tribes Mike is hoping to convince their members that the tribes are all subsets of the massive community of people who ride bikes. In other words, he encourages each of us to see beyond our own small group culture to this truism, “because in that one special way, because we love having two wheels under us, we’re all the same.”

Mike’s clever dissection of the world of bicycle riders is wonderfully augmented with the illustrations of graphic novelist Danica Novgorodoff. I’m not sure who decided that orange would be the color theme of the book, but it worked for me.

The story begins and ends at Big Ed’s Cyclery bike shop. No one gets far on their bike without the assistance of a good bike shop and a good bike mechanic so appropriately, the heroes of Mike’s book are Big Ed and his mechanic, George. Next time you see your own mechanic, follow Mike’s advice and give him/her a hearty “Thank you!” The tribe of “Wrenches” may be the most undervalued group in the world of cycling.