TCI Friday

TCI Friday works best when you weigh in. Make yourself heard. Toss your penny in the fountain.

My friend Kimberly is a gifted athlete. If she’s reading this right now, I feel certain that she is cringing, but the fact remains that she is one of the top masters’ female rowers in the country. She’s a tower of power, and by her own admission she spends an inordinate amount of time rowing, traveling to row, training to row, and trying to keep her rowing team together.

Shimano North America sponsors this conversation. That’s pretty cool of them, no?

I know her because we work out together. She has a dark sense of humor, a filthy mouth and an irrational drive to push herself too far. In short, we are kindred spirits. I’m not even sure what kindred means or if we have actual spirits. But anyway.

Kimberly was texting me the other night, and she said, “How do you hang out with NARPs (not athletic regular people) in your life? Or what if you want to do sports with your NARP people because you love them, and you both love the same sport, but it’s kind of terrible because you’re at different levels and inevitably one of you feels guilty about being six inches taller or whatever makes you better at the sport and the other one feels insecure?”

First of all, NARPs? That s*%t is gold. Second, this is a killer question. It reminded me of every time a well-meaning person has said to me, “So…I hear you’re a big biker,” which puts me in the difficult position of explaining that I am both no great shakes as a bike rider but have also completely dedicated my life to it, that I am so deep in the cycling weeds that I am going to have trouble speaking to them in terms they can understand.

“Maybe you should go for a ride with my husband some time. He just got a nice bike,” is usually what follows. I smile and nod as if I both agree and cannot evince any sort of commitment to an invitation like that. Then, I remember an important date with the hors d’oeuvres table.

This week’s TCI Friday asks for your experience with NARPs. And before this devolves into some kind of condescending commentary on “non-athletic” people, let me say it’s not about physical capacity. Put another way, I don’t walk into a physics lab at MIT and say, “Hey, we should talk about quantum gravity. I read a book one time.” This is more about how we try to establish connections with people who might sincerely want to connect with us, but don’t have a ready way of doing that. How often do you make the effort to bring someone into your bike riding world? How do you do it? Conversely, if you’re new to the cycling lifestyle, how can we help you feel comfortable riding bikes with us?

If you haven’t subscribed to TCI, maybe consider it. It doesn’t cost much, and the dollars go to writers who will amuse you if you give them half a chance. I promise.

Join the conversation
  1. tcfrog says

    I’m not very outgoing, socially speaking. As such, I don’t make any effort to bring a NARP into my cycling circle, BUT – and it’s an important but – if a NARP asks my opinion on biking or physical activity in general I am always happy to share my thoughts. And if a NARP asks to go for a ride, I gladly accept and try to figure out a route that will work with their skill level. So I guess you could say I’m welcoming but not looking for converts.

  2. Jeff vdD says

    For me, when talking with a NARP about bikes, the most important thing is to eradicate from my vocabulary the following statement: “You can get a good bike for $3,000.”

    You can get a GREAT bike for $3,000. You can get a good bike for $500.

    My partner is a DARP: differently athletic regular person. We ride together, but at a slower pace than I normally go on tamer terrain than I normally ride. And guess what!? The rides turn out to be a blast!

    I’ll ride with anyone, and I’ve thus far been pretty good at mapping out a ride appropriate to a person’s interest and ability. Like most of us, I expect, my goal is to ease them into the sport in as non-threatening a way as possible, saving words/phrases like “carbon fiber,” “brake bleeding,” and “titanium” for much later down the line.

    1. Julie Snyder says

      Nice one! I hear you about “DARPers.” It sometimes becomes an “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” exchange, where we take turns being the uncomfortable novice. My husband is a fabulous skiier. I’m not. We have stories from both worlds.

    2. Jeff vdD says

      I was remiss in not highlighting my partner’s DARP strengths … hiking and XC skiing. I can’t figure out how she rips my legs off, which I guess is part of how she rips my legs off.

  3. Barry Johnson says

    Parties and dinners bring out the NARP’s. I blame my wife.

    Besides asking the usuals or them coming clean about their personal cyclist hatred or offering a deep understanding of Lance and the gamut of particulars with that fucknut……the funniest thing I routinely encounter is them wondering if I will be riding the Tour De France anytime soon. (I’m 58)

  4. rides in be says

    My wife lived this question as an elite college tennis player; she spent her 20s wiping the tennis court with possible suitors. Listening to her stories made me aware of how many great athletes there are in other sports who look at me like a NARP.

  5. Julie Snyder says

    Awesome topic for this week–thanks. Bonus = two new acronyms. I’m glad the attitudes about female athletes are shifting. No longer is it a romantic liability to be better than a man at a sport.

  6. schlem says

    I know blokes who got eBikes for their wives to entice them to join them on their rides, with mixed success. I suggested that ONCE and the Beehive may not have forgiven me yet. Still, she frets about our different capabilities and worries that I resent riding at her speed. I typically want to ride much further, longer, and harder than she does, but when she says “Let’s go for a ride”, I make it happen. She rides a beloved Jones SWB (that turned out to be a tad small for me), and I ride my trusty singlespeed. I get to ride a favorite bike with my favorite person, and we chat the whole time. I know that occasionally riding slower is a tonic for burnout, but more importantly, she logs more miles per year than some of my riding peers.

Leave A Reply

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More