Amateur Events

Bike Envy: How to deal with it

How do you cope when they're riding what should, obviously, be yours?

The Oxford English Dictionary is getting a bit lax…

You may assume that working for a cycling website comes with the condition that must own a really nice bicycle. And that is a sensible assumption to make. It is, of course, completely wrong.

My bike is a frankenbike: a machine created from the byproducts of other people’s projects, with parts that cost me a handful of coins and/or my dignity.

The frame is a total unknown. The liberally applied black Hammerite hides its true brand.

For about six months, one crank would regularly fall off during my journey through central London. I learned to pedal with only one foot.

My bicycle life is comedic in almost every sense. But I adore my bike despite its (many) flaws.

If you haven’t realised yet: my bicycle life is comedic in almost every sense. But I adore my bike despite its (many) flaws. It makes me incredibly happy. My boyfriend built it for me, and in doing so gave me the gift of exercise, energy and happiness. And every time I glance at my two pound spokey dokes, I’m reminded of that.

So that’s why when I get bike envy, not only do I suffer the indignity of having to be totally jealous of the shiny, well-maintained carbon dream that’s pulled up beside me at the lights, but I also feel guilty. Because I love my bike. So why do I feel bike envy?

My theory is that bike envy is so ingrained into human nature that even if you just bought your absolute fantasy machine, there’s still a bike out there that could make you feel a bit rubbish. We are built to despise each other. Therefore, all we can do is attempt to overcome the ugliness of human nature by being disgustingly chipper.

The ultimate in reconciliation.

High five that person

The first way you can consolidate your own terrible impulses is by transferring that energy into being totally stoked for the person currently riding off on the bike that SHOULD BE YOURS.

I have given high fives to fellow cyclists for numerous reasons: they might own the same rucksack as me, have similar taste in insults directed towards motorists, or they might look so disgustingly glum that I reckon the only thing to do is force some silliness into their lyrca-clad existence. But nothing is as well-received as the ‘I-think-your-bike-is-awesome five’.

You feel better because you’ve made something good come of your jealousy, and they’re chuffed that you noticed they were riding the 2013 model that’s just sooooo much nicer than the 2014 one.

And if you can’t quite bring yourself to do it… think about the picture of the cat and dog above.

Shannon Galpin with the Afghan women’s cycle team

Think about how wonderful bicycles are

Do the wheels on your bicycle go round? Can it get you to any location of your choice, within your fitness/patience spectrum? Then it is wonderful and you are partaking in one of the most important and continuing revolutions the world has ever seen.

Bicycles helped democratise love and marriage, because suddenly you could go and get down-and-dirty with the person you fancied in next town over, instead of the one next door.

Bikes have provided women with the opportunity to travel unchaperoned, and thus been an important tool in women’s rights movements all over the world. In fact, women are still using bikes to overcome societal boundaries in places like Afghanistan.

And, of course, bikes can change the lives of the impoverished people here in the UK and as far afield as Zambia.

You and your rubbish, rickety bike are part of that! Woo hoo!

Can’t catch this!

Let that person eat dust

Failing all of these things, you can zoom off from the traffic lights on your dilapidated steed with all the energy you can muster, leaving the object of your jealousy in the wake of your dust. Because fitness trumps lightness, aero-ness, and anything-else-ness every time. Just don’t let them see you doubled over in pain at the next set of lights.


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