After work I took the Tiny Perfect Bike up to a friend’s place to pick something up. I’d not been to this friend’s place before, and I needed to stop and check the address on my phone, so I pulled up onto the sidewalk to check my phone. A fellow was standing outside the pub in front of which I pulled up, having a smoke. As I checked my phone, he addressed me:

“I’m actually a professional cyclist.”
“Are you really? That’s nice,” I said.
“Your bike is an okay bike. It’s a nice cruiser.”*
I stopped what I was doing. “Did you speak to me for the sole purpose of condescending to me about my bike? Really? Because honestly, I have assholes condescending to me about bikes for eight hours a day, and I’m off the clock right now.”
“No. I spoke to you to condescend to you about your phone. You should be riding.”

I was done. “Have a nice day,” I said. I put my phone into my pocket, and rode down the block to finish checking my friend’s address.

He followed me. On foot.

“I was actually condescending to you about your phone! You should be riding.”
“Have a nice day,” I said.
“I can ride faster than you anytime!”**
“Have a nice day.”
“I could ride faster than you on a tricycle!”
“Have a nice day.”
“I could ride you into the ground!”
I got back on my Tiny, Perfect Bike. Turned around (I had, in fact, been on the wrong street). “Have a really excellent day,” I said.

So what I want to know is why this person, to whom I had not spoken, and to whom I should have been absolutely nobody, so desperately needed to belittle me (my bike, my phone, my speed, whatever) that he followed me down the street in order to try to make me feel bad. I mean he succeeded, but only because I feel bad that he should be such a pathetic sort of a human being.

ETA: I feel that I should be entirely clear here. The guys with whom I work at the LBS are emphatically not assholes, nor do they condescend to me, even though I do know far less than they do, and I always need help getting the heavier bikes down from the top row of bike hooks (over my head). They generally answer my questions in a matter-of-fact way, show me how to do the things I don't know how to do, and wait for me to ask before they offer help. Most of our customers do not fall into the category of condescending assholes, either; however, some of them certainly do.

* The TPB is a custom-built steel frame touring bike with pretty great components. It's not the fastest bike in the world, it's not a racing bike, but it's a really great bike. Cruisers are upright, slow bikes with fat tires, ridden mostly by people who value looking cute and retro over speed, steering, or practicality. So this fellow clearly knew enough about bikes to spot that this bike was likely something special to me, and, for whatever reason, felt it necessary to try to belittle me through my bike, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

** Another barb that missed its mark. I have never claimed to be a speedy cyclist. I don't ride a racing bike. I have great endurance and I really enjoy cycling. I have absolutely no ego invested in my speed, because I regularly cycle with 24-year-old athletes who can leave me in the dust without breaking a sweat. If I were going to get my knickers into a twist at the thought of people being faster, I'd have permanently knotted underthings, and be very uncomfortable.

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