The six types of cyclists you meet in NYC

Like the guy who's not even in the bike lane. via Adrian Cabrero on Flickr

Like the guy who’s not even in the bike lane. via Adrian Cabrero on Flickr

Summer is over, but there’s still time to hit the pavement before winter grounds all but the hardiest of bicyclists! You’ve replaced your stolen bike seat, picked up a helmet that doesn’t make you look like a total dork, and stocked up on those sexy autumn layers.

Once upon a time cycling was merely the stuff of Tour de France hopefuls and penny farthing hipsters, but thanks to new (and hopefully permanent) newfangled bike lanes the city now welcomes everyone from Lance Armstrong wannabes to 27-year-olds still learning to ride.

We’re no Amsterdam or Portland, but you’re still going to meet some pretty distinctive Brooklynites who prefer U-locks to metrocards. And we’ve listed the six types of cyclists you’re likely to meet in the bike lanes of NYC. Which category do you fall under?

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The guys that make you feel like you need to bike in the slow lane. Via Charles Smith on Flickr

The guys that make you feel like you need to bike in the slow lane. Via Charles Smith on Flickr

The Career Cyclists aka The Dudes With Uniforms

Bicycle: Wilier Cento 1 SR. Price 3500,00 Euros.
Helmet: Looks like a bicycle helmet.
Calves: Chiseled enough to give Cristiano Ronaldo nightmares.
Law Abiding: 10/10
Times they’ll lap you on the Prospect Park Loop: 3.

The professionals have been training since before you were born. While you were on training wheels, their triathlon team had already picked out matching gear. Just get out of their way. They’re on a different planet, and your calves are frankly embarrassing themselves.

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Don't mess with him. via Flickr user KiGos

Don’t mess with him. via Flickr user KiGos

The Cool Kids (aka The Intrepid Youths in Dope + The Intrepid Youths in Stranger Things)

Bicycle: BMX from Target
Helmet: No helmet.
Calves: You’ll only find out if kicked.
Law Abiding: 2/10.
Travel: In packs
Song: Black Mags by The Cool Kids

Real New Yorkers grow up roving through the outer boroughs like BMX vagabonds, and honestly these teens are too busy setting off on bildungsroman adventures and fucking around to bother you. For all you know, they’re probably on a whacky multi-plotline quest to thwart some local drug dealers and/or government conspiracy. Just watch out, because the only concept they really hold in contempt are one-way streets.

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No helmet, headphones in. Typical Citibiker, how are you not dead? via Flickr user Stephen Weppler

No helmet, headphones in. Typical Citibiker, how are you not dead? via Flickr user Stephen Weppler

Citibikers, or The Infuriatingly Invincibles

Bicycle: Indestructible Citibike
Helmet: Definitely not
Calves: Concealed.
Law Abiding: 4/10, doing their best
Natural Habitat: Manhattan and the Bridges
Willing to pay: $12 a day.

Ah, Citi Bikes, the blue beasts that redefined the landscapes of  both Manhattan and New Yorker covers. To ‘Outer Borough’ denizens, Citi Bikes long came off as shiny toys for tourists and the wealthy, catering to finance guys who live within a quick 30-45 minute (Citi Bike’s rental time limit) jaunt home.

Maybe I’m just jealous because Citi Bike never quite makes it to where I live. Maybe it’s because whenever I calculate traveling on a $2.75 metrocard vs a $12 Citi Bike I always opt for the train. Citi Bike riders never seem to die, which is frankly amazing. Kudos to you, you’re a good thing that Bloomberg did, and you unsurprisingly cater to the rich, save for certain outdoor exercise classes.

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Riding into oncoming traffic like Moses into the sea. via Flickr user FaceMePLS

Riding into oncoming traffic like Moses into the sea. via Flickr user FaceMePLS

Daily Commuters (Cool)

Bicycle: Fixed Gear Bianchi Pista Sei Giorni
Helmet: Looks like a skateboard helmet, built-in Italian racing cap
Bag: Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag
Calves: Impressive.
Law Abiding: 0/10
Fear of Death: Non-Existent

If you decide to bike to work, these are the folks you’re most likely to share the bike lanes with. They wear their locks like BDSM harnesses, none of their biking apparel manages to look the least bit dorky, and they manage to effortlessly dive and weave through Downtown Brooklyn traffic snarls that would leave you cowering on the sidewalk. MTA buses, selfie stick wielding tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge, you. These are all just obstacles ready to be overtaken. These guys have killer chrome bags and they’re not breaking a sweat.

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Ah, the signature pant leg roll. via Flickr user Planet Gordon

Ah, the signature pant leg roll. via Flickr user Planet Gordon

Daily Commuters (Not Cool)

Bicycle: From Craigslist, hopefully not stolen and resold
Helmet: Looks like a bicycle helmet, potentially a FREE one, thanks city government!
Calves: Like a skinny teenager’s forearms
Law Abiding: 9/10. Would be 10/10 if the cool commuters didn’t pressure them to run a few red lights.
Fear of Death: Omnipresent
Apparel: Business Casual. Sweat-soaked.

After mulling it over for years, they’ve finally decided to bike to work. At first, they’re panting, terrified, and looking a little silly. BUT, then they realize they’re getting some serious calf tone. ALSO they’re now able to smugly keep their bike helmets on their work desks as a not-so-subtle message to their portly colleagues. Who cares about their bodies now??

These cyclists tend to stick to a firm schedule and learn to rock the one-pant-leg-rolled-up look over time, a la LL Cool J.

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Get in the way of his delivery window and he will end you. via Flickr user Michael Rosenstein

Get in the way of his delivery window and he will end you. via Flickr user Michael Rosenstein

Food Delivery Guys

Bicycle: Has an electric motor of some sort. Sounds like a Prius.
Helmet: Usually no helmet, maybe a hockey helmet if they’re lucky.
Calves: Unknown, but probably out of control.
Law Abiding: -20/10. Capitalism dictates that they arrive with their Seamless order in the next 15 minutes and no car, cyclist, or expressway is going to stop them.
Fear of Death: Doesn’t matter, WHERE IS MY FOOD.

These guys are fearless pros, they would bike the wrong way on I-95 if it meant that your Chicken Tikka Masala would arrive 10 minutes ahead of schedule. They’re out there in blizzards and in heat waves. If Marx were alive now, these guys would be his prototypical workers. As if that wasn’t all enough, they always have to keep an eye or ear on their phones for additional orders they can’t refuse as they crash over potholes, demanding X Games level talent and fearlessness.

Once you start biking regularly you’ll realize that these guys make up maybe a third of all cyclists out there, and the vast majority in inclement weather. Pray for them, and tip well.