We Shall Call Them Bike Tribes

“…the people who are drawn to cycling seem to be spirits who follow their own advice, their own guidance, their own ways of thinking about the world and how they ought to be riding bicycles in it.”

“Let’s call these groups Bike Tribes. Each of us is part of one tribal group. Each of us is curious about the other Bike Tribes, too, because in that one special way, because we love having two wheels under us, we’re all the same.”

I’m not sure where I heard about this book… When I did, I immediately wanted to read it. I didn’t know what secrets it contained, but I knew their had to be secrets of one sort or another. Right? Bike Tribes…secrets, I tell you!

And there are! So many secrets…so many secrets. I had no idea there were so many different Bike Tribes in North America doing all sorts of different stuff on bicycles. No matter, it’s a safe place, this book, a safe place to observe and learn the inner workings of the various tribes… You can take as much time as you’d like and ask as many questions as you have. There’s no one to make you feel stupid here.

Bike Tribe: The Shrinking People

This field guide is for cyclists wanting a better understanding of their own tribe, the tribes around them, or even to find what tribe you want to belong to. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a Bike Tribe for me. I haven’t been riding a year yet (post-youth), so perhaps that’s to be expected. Though there were a couple that I can fit in: The Shrinking People – for the weight loss; Riders of the Century – ’cause I do and love that. Then there are the other tribes that I am working to join: Thousands Upon Thousands of Us – many many miles; The Mothers of All Centuries – challenge century with crazy elevation; The Legend of Rando – epic rides spanning days nights and day; Commuters – even stay at home parents have to transport for work…I don’t want to drive at all.


A member of the Roadie tribe, the Masters Sandbagger can be identified by his personal team tent (used only for bike races), Euro-style van (used only for bike races), fancy race bike (used only for bike races), and spare fancy race bike (used only for bike races).

Mike Magnuson (author) did a great job with perspective while remaining to be objective. Well….mostly objective. First off…he’s a cyclist, so automatically bikes are the best thing ever….not that it’s a bad thing. The other was the subject of cyclocross…and that’s because he rides ‘cross himself and loves, loves, loves it. Not gonna a lie…I got tingly reading about it.


Had Che Guevara lived to see Critical Mass, he would have insisted everybody where a helmet.

I thought the chapter on Critical Mass was about as spot on as you can get. I agree with everything he said…the right message, the right people, the wrong delivery. “Some folks wonder whether an undeniably correct idea (that bikes are necessary and need a place) is undermined by the undeniably obnoxious manner in which Critical Mass promotes it.”

This is a great read that will blow open your world of Bike Tribes and let you set on your way with clear eyes. Well…maybe not quite that poetic, but you’ll smile and you’ll learn a lot about yourself in the midst of all those Bike Tribes.

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4 responses to “We Shall Call Them Bike Tribes

  1. Pingback: Bicycle Sam sings me a new tune(up) « Baggy Paragraphs·

  2. I read part of this book in a store. Like to read the entire thing someday. I enjoyed his classifications and attention to detail. I’m proud to be part of the Commuters but I also yearn to be part of another group – the long distance.

    • There are so many tribes I’d like to belong to…including mechanic and shop guy. The long distance is what Elyse and I are working towards. Elyse will join the commuter tribe here in another week or so…exciting!

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