How To Spot A Cyclopath

The heartbreak unleashed on the world by the dyed-in-the-wool cyclopath is all too clear.

You meet a great guy (or girl). S/he’s fit, funny, and has the hottest legs you’ve ever seen (and — wait for it — they’re baby-smooth!). You start chatting at work, the grocery store, the coffee shop, the club — wherever. Soon you’ve exchanged digits. Completely psyched, you head home with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, and then…

And then…

And then.

The text inbox doesn’t chirp. The email inbox doesn’t overflow with effusive and optimistic missives (or if it does, it does so only within the confines of business hours, which should make you suspicious, though perhaps at this point it doesn’t).

The phone.

Doesn’t.

Ring.

You figure your new crush is just another jerk who chats with people in the (office, grocery store, coffee shop, club), exchanges fake digits, and then never calls. You start to move on.

…And then!

The phone rings. You halfway recognize the voice: could it be that one girl (or guy) with the awesome legs? Cautiously, you let the door to your heart crack open one tiny millimeter (it’s a millimeter no matter which country you’re in, because the cycling world is entirely metric, baby). Then you hear the dreaded words, “Sorry I’ve been a bit out-of-touch. I’ve been riding the bike.

Riding the bike.

These words strike dread in the hearts of the innocent admirers of cyclopaths the world over — for you see, while a cyclopath may love you with a burning ardor, he or she loves the bike more (though you’ll never get one to admit it).

You may want to commit to a schedule of Sunday-morning religious worship as a family: the true cyclopath, however, holds Sunday mornings sacred to the Church of the Big Ring. Everyone in the world goes on big club rides on Sunday.

Well, all right, you might say, How about Tuesday night bowling with the gang?

No, no, the confirmed cyclopath will parry, That’s Tuesday Night Worlds. I can’t possibly commit to anything on Tuesday night.

You’ll try other days of the week.

Monday?
No, that’s yoga day, or stretching day, or long-slow-distance day (because Tuesday is Tuesday Night Worlds, and the legs need to be fresh).

Wednesday?
That’s recovery day! The whole cycling world goes for a long, easy spin on Wednesday night.

Thursday?
Nope, intervals day.

Friday?
Maybe sometimes. That’s bike-maintenance day.

Saturday?
Saturday is Gravel Day, or Off-Road Day, or Coffee Ride Day. Or, come racing season, Race Day.

Sunday, then?!
…But we’ve already talked about Sunday, hon. You know I have Huge, Fast, Killer Club Ride on Sunday. Besides, sometimes Sunday is also race day.

Then your pet cyclopath will look up at you with wide, innocent eyes (and those cheekbones! Don’t forget the to-die-for cheekbones!). You’ll know you should walk away. You’ll know you should resist.

The problem is, when you can actually pin one down, cyclopaths are charming and delightful to be around — so chances are good that you’ll struggle on, knowing that when it comes down to you or The Bike, The Bike will almost always win.

You can avoid this heartbreak. You can learn to spot a cyclopath before it’s too late even when there are no bikes and no lycra in sight. All you have to do is keep a sharp eye out for these warning signs:

  • Astronomical appetite: in the height of The Season (which, by the way, runs from roughly February through roughly November), a cyclopath can eat like a horse, or indeed eat entire horses, without appearing to gain weight. This sign is especially revealing when coupled with…
  • Weight-watching wonkiness: a cyclopath will completely decompensate over gaining a third of a pound. If you can’t see the weight gain, but your crush is weeping on the floor, you’ve either got an anorexic, a cyclopath, or both on your hands.
  • The tell-tale tan: are your best girl’s hands snowy white, even though her arms are the color of toast? Are your would-be beau’s thighs glacial just above the hems of his swim trunks? Does your would-be sweetheart have a reverse raccoon mask thing going on? Steer clear, unless you want to commit the well-being of your heart into the hands of a cyclopath.
  • Luscious Lycra: let’s face it. Most normal people aren’t self-confident enough to run around in lycra. Cyclopaths, on the other hand, don’t give a ding-darn-dang. Even those who have not yet reached “racing weight” will not hesitate to run around looking like superheroes (lycra is its own addiction — it’s like being allowed to run around in your pajamas all day). If your crush shows up for a Saturday morning coffee date clad in skin-tight lycra, beware.
  • Funny Footwear: if your date sounds like she’s wearing tap shoes, you might want to slip out the back door before she spots you. If your honey can’t walk down stairs without a death-grip on the rail, use your judgment.
  • The ultimate verbal giveaway: non-cyclopaths talk about “riding bikes,” “riding a bike,” “riding my bike,” or even “biking.” Cyclopaths (even though they tend to own as many bikes as they can manage to acquire) talk about “riding the bike.” It’s a subtle cue, and not quite universal, but it’s an important one.

You can avoid heartbreak by stringently avoiding anyone who shows clear signs of cyclopathy.

However, especially in winter (when those ubiquitous and ever-so-revealing tan lines fade), cyclopaths can be hard to spot in ordinary social settings … so what should you do if you’ve already fallen for one?

Simply put, you have options.

First, you can walk away. However, cyclopaths are known for their wit and charm. Usually, by the time an unsuspecting target figures out that his or her crush is a cyclopath, things have progressed so far that walking away just doesn’t feel like an option. If you find yourself in the grip of a cyclopath, you may become furious when he or she isn’t available for days on end because her or her “training schedule is just too intense right now,” but that winning smile will melt your heart every time.

Fortunately, there’s hope. You see, cyclopaths aren’t born, we’re made — and the only thing we love more than bikes is having someone to ride with. Our loyalty can absolutely be bought: ride with us, and we’ll love you forever. Ride faster than us, and we’ll not only love you forever, but worship you and work like dogs to keep up with you. All you have to do is give in to the siren song of that addictive machine known as bicycle, bike, bicicleta, bici, velocipede, velo…

So, if you find yourself entangled in the spokes of some cyclopath’s wheel of suffering, there’s one last strategy you can use to win every time:

Don’t try to beat ’em.

Just join ’em.

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  1. There is nothing I can add to this. It’s absolutely true. And goes for mountainbikers every bit as much as road cyclopaths. Great post! 😀

    • Haha, yes – Those mountain bikers are especially devious, I think, because they often wear those deceptive “baggy” shorts that provide a comforting illusion of normalcy until it’s too late!

      • True! But if you’re riding tight single-track, it’s amazing what can get snagged on a branch, so I’m for the tight stuff, personally. Though even then, one isn’t safe. I once watched my husband yanked comically off his bike because the low branch was lower than he thought and snagged in his camelbak. The result was him dangling briefly from a tree like a little kid hung up by their overalls, while the bike kept going merrily down the trail without him. Then the branch broke. 🙂

      • OMG, that’s hilarious! (Hope he was okay, of course!)

      • Yeah, he was fine. Though in retelling this story, it occurs to me that it would be a really funny illustration, if I could pull it off! There’s a lot of unintended comedy in mountainbiking… 😉

      • Totally! This one begs for some animation 😀

      • Hmm! I have a friend who does beautiful animated GIFs. Maybe I should give that a try… 🙂

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