Junk Miles: Not an Insult

Tired Computer
Since having gotten into roadcycling, I find myself in the hilarious position where both "roadies" and "non-roadies" will ask me questions about the imagined other, as if I can provide inside information. Of course the dichotomy is mostly a false one, but that hardly matters. I get questions such as "So why do roadies ___ when they ___?" or "So when people ride bikes to work, how in the world do they ____?" Half the time I don't even know what the person means, but it's always entertaining. It also shows our readiness to think in terms of ingroup/outgroup - attributing exotic, irrational tendencies to the outgroup while perceiving the ingroup as entirely normal. 

Anyhow, the latest conversation I had in this context was about "junk miles." Before I even knew what that term meant, I'd noticed that transportation cyclists find it offensive - perceiving it as a derogatory expression used by roadcyclists to be dismissive of any other type of riding. In keeping with this, last week someone asked me: "So when you go to the grocery store, do you now think of it as junk miles?" - the idea being that the person assumed roadies do not consider that sort of thing to be "real" cycling, hence junk miles or wasted time on a bike. 

All right. So allow me to attempt to explain "junk miles" as I now understand it from a roadcycling perspective, because the term appears to be widely misunderstood. Transportation cycling is not junk miles. A fun ride with friends at a leisurely pace is not junk miles. Relaxed touring is not junk miles. Nothing you do outside the realm of cycling as a sport is junk miles, because the term simply does not apply to you.

But let's say you are a roadcyclist who is training for a race. This means that you want to improve your performance, to become faster. In order to train effectively for this purpose, it is generally suggested that you alternate training rides that are super-difficult with rides that are easy. The super-difficult rides will push you beyond your current abilities and the easy rides will allow you to recover. What you don't want to do too much of are rides that are in between. Those types of rides are called "junk miles," because they don't help you get faster, but they don't allow you to recover either. That's it; that is what the term means. It is used exclusively within the context of roadcycling, and with the assumption that the person is an athlete, intentionally engaging in goal-oriented training. The term does not refer to other forms of cycling. 

I am not sure how the misunderstanding originated that "junk miles" is an insult to transportation or leisurely cyclists, but it is exactly that: a misunderstanding. 


  1. To me, junk miles are the ones where I'm not getting from point A to point B.

  2. I don't get the distinction between riding a bicycle easy to "recover" and riding your bicycle easy to somewhere. How can one be considered quality and the other junk.

    When I used to run track we would call hard workouts "quality miles" everything else was considered junk. Because of the limitations of the human body, a very large portion of training was in the junk category. No one took offense. The junk miles allowed the body to recover and occupied time in my daily schedule so I would be available on my quality days.

  3. "So when you go to the grocery store, do you now think of it as junk miles?" - the idea being that roadies do not consider that sort of thing to be "real" cycling, hence junk miles or wasted time on a bike. "

    This idea of junk miles is some more racerboy wannabe's idea of an insult where it's really just asinine posturing.

    This kinda crap I ignore..........

  4. No-no - the person who asked me about the grocery store was a transportation cyclist. It was more like "I bet now that you're "one of them", you probably think of going to the grocery store as junk miles".

    On the other hand, I've gotten nothing but admiring comments from roadcyclists who learn that I ride for transportation.

    Kind of makes one wonder in which camp the prejudice mostly lies.

  5. You can't 'waste time on a bike'. If not for any other reason:
    Time spent cycling is not deducted from your life span.

  6. I'm not insulted by it, but it does highlight the thing I find "problematic" about athlete cyclists, that they are doing nothing to reduce car culture and in general find those of us who ride for transport to be losers or insane. Maybe it's different in Boston, I don't know. But I admit, I find something unsavory about the idea of driving your bike around on your car like an accessory, only riding it at designated times, then taking "break days" when your widdle legs get tired. There's no such thing as a break day for a bike commuter. To draw a probably crappy analogy, it's like a marathon runner using an electric wheelchair to get around town. But then, I live in a quite bike unfriendly place, where bikes are used solely for recreation, so this is the source of my bias.

  7. Wow. I am surprised by the comments so far. Did you guys actually read my post?...

    Roadcycling is a sport that happens to involve a bike. Do you also find gymnastics or soccer or baseball unsavory because the athletes will drive and not cycle to practice?

    Erica - Genuinely curious: Where did you get the idea that they "find those of us who ride for transport to be losers or insane"? Have you been personally insulted in this manner by roadcyclists? If so, could you describe the incidents in a little more detail?

  8. To be fair, I think it is worth noting that not all transpo cyclists want to "reduce car culture" because not all transpo cyclists view cycling as an inherently political act.

    Also, many transpo cyclists own cars and somemtimes even *gasp* put their bikes on car racks to carry them around. ;)

  9. Personally, I don't believe there is such a thing as "junk miles" I understand from a performance/speed point of view that riding some days or miles might be counter productive, but overall they all help burn calories (if like me that's something you need to do) they all contribute in someway to your physical conditioning whether it be from making you faster or increasing your endurance.

    Between Thursday and this last Sunday I rode 71 miles alternating light and heavier miles. I did not get to ride Monday or Tuesday, but I rode 14 miles last night, last night was not particularly fast or long, but I would not classify it as "easy" either. To a performance oriented roadie last night was probably junk miles, but to me they were what I call maintainence miles, they help me burn calories since the last time I rode and help maintain my level of physical fitness so that the next time I ride I can build fitness instead of compensating for lost time in the saddle.

    Another aspect I think many people may find distateful is that it kind of reduces the bicycle to a tool, a piece of workout equipement, that one only uses to go really fast and then hangs on the back of the car for the ride home. I ride to burn calories and to get places, but also because I love bicycles and riding bicyles and just being on the bike and outdoors, appreciating a wonderful piece of equipment and it's beautiful effenciency. It seems to me that that's what Lovely Bike is all about and hopefully always will!


  10. We call anything not specific to the goal of getting fast junk miles. So transpo cycling is included, but it is not an epithet.

    "Been riding?"
    "Kinda. Lot of junk miles, errands and stuff. Maybe I'll race this year, but probably not."
    "Riding is good."

  11. "Kind of makes one wonder in which camp the prejudice mostly lies."

    The pendulum has swung.

  12. It seems a shame that everything has to categorised, any time that I spend on the bike enjoying my surroundings at a sensible pace where I can travel, see the countywide and people around me are not classified as junk.

  13. I define "junk miles" as the miles I spend lost, trying to find my way back to a missed turn.

  14. There are bad eggs on both sides of the basket. Those who ride ONLY for sport/training/racing are often viewed quite negatively, even though they're merely taking part in a sport they love. Casual/non-sport cyclists are sometimes looked down upon, as well, by those who view cycling as ONLY a sport, or that riding a bike must mean "can't afford a car".

    It appears the group here carries a lot of the "roadies are all jerks" mentality. That's not really true. While there are some for whom the label certainly applies, there are also many who just don't understand cycling as anything but sport. I have a relative like that, who's really a nice guy, but happens to be a long time triathlete and finds it completely agonizing to ride at anything less than 18-20mph. However, as he's getting older, he's finally beginning to understand how much pleasure there is in a simple grocery run on a bike ... so there is progress.

    In any case ... we shouldn't be so critical of those in the opposite group, but rather try to understand where their thinking comes from. We shouldn't be angry at cyclists who only ride for sport/training/racing any more than we should be angry at a gymnast who doesn't do backflips and cartwheels on the way to the office or the figure skater who doesn't roller blade everywhere instead of driving.

    Yes, some racing cyclists can be very rude ... and they have the ability to make us ALL look bad ... but we can be just as bad on our own side of the fence.

    As for the "junk miles" term, I think it shouldn't be seen as an insult. It simply means putting in effort that isn't applicable to your specific goal. Just like we say "junk food" is edible stuff that doesn't provide any real nutrition. Professional or aspiring cyclists don't want to do any riding that doesn't directly apply to their training plan because it may have a negative effect. Similarly, many of us more casual cyclists see any ride with a "training" label applied as something that doesn't sound like much fun.

    Both views are valid and shouldn't be imposed on anyone else ... but then when would THAT ever happen? I won't bring up that heated commentary from a couple of days ago. :)

  15. Yikes. When I hear about all these conflicts between different cycling factions I am really glad I know so little about all of them.

  16. I'm really enjoying your adventures in sport cycling. As a transportation cyclist who lives in a city with many more road/sport/athlete cyclists, I still don't know much about it and would like to (even though I doubt I'll cross over myself -- but never say never!).

  17. You're right: junk miles aren't an insult.

    I don't know how one would categorize my cycling, as I ride my road bike for fun/fitness, my hybrid for transportation/light trail, and do touring as well. I do partipate in a message board that is full of all types: racers, former racers, fitness, commuters, fitness, long-distance, etc.

    However, you state: "The super-difficult rides will push you beyond your current abilities and the easy rides will allow you to recover. What you don't want to do too much of are rides that are in between. Those types of rides are called "junk miles," because they don't help you get faster, but they don't allow you to recover either."

    I think "junk miles" are actually the lowest level effort. A racer or someone who cyles "hard" may ride at 20-24 mph for training, but 17-18 for recovery. While I don't ride that fast, if you ramp the speed down a bit that is where I am. What I consider "junk miles" are low level efforts such as transportation, light trail leisure rides, etc. I consider them "junk" as they are not part of a structured fitness regimen, even though they have a fitness element to them simply due to the fact that it is a physical activity.

    You also state that there is "the assumption that the person is an athlete, intentionally engaging in goal-oriented training."

    Real close, but just to refine what you are saying, I would simply strike the "the assumption that the person is an athlete". I don't consider myself an athlete, but I am "intentionally engaged in goal-oriented training" (in all honesty, that's only true in the weakest sense as my "goal" is simply to maintain general fitness. I have no speed goals, no mileage goals, etc.).

    Thanks for listening.


  18. There is a group of roadcyclists that meet at the shopping mall nearby every week. Saw them again last night. They have matching uniforms and lovely bikes. I recognize the brand names now and I long to get fast enough to join them.

    I'm a transportation cyclist (for now) and I have nothing but admiration for them. Sorry that you've had a bunch of weird questions like that. Not all of us transport people are that way.

  19. Well, I can't count the number of times I've read an editorial or comment on a news post about cycling that includes the phrase "oh, but I ride a bike, too, but I don't do it where cars belong." Definitely have read "riding a bike like it's a car is insane." And I've been beeped and side swiped by SUVs carrying bikes, which yeah, does hurt more than if there was no bike on there, maybe bc I'm still at the stage where I feel a false sense of camaraderie with anyone who rides a bike. Keep in mind, though, I live in suburbia, where there it's much more of a them vs. us aspect. I haven't heard this stuff from roadies in the real world, although my interaction with any other cyclists is almost non existent right now. I live in a very, very car centric place, the kind of place where someone might be justified in calling me insane for riding a bike.

    But yeah, I DO judge people who drive in order to undergo physical activity, and I know that's illogical and also kind of mean, but I also feel that it's an unhealthy compartmentalization of exercise into certain venues instead of being an integral part of our lives. I also resent what Anonymous said, the reduction of one of mankind's most elegant machines to nothing more than a movable Soloflex. That's kind of illogical too, but hey, nobody's perfect.

    What it comes down to, really, is that there's no "bikelash" against road cyclists, and maybe I'm just a little resentful of that. Come on, sporty cyclists, support your commuting cousins! Or at least, don't contribute to bikelash, even if it's only on the Internet.

  20. Well, let's see. There's a third group: the guys that collect beautiful bicycles and put them on hooks in their garages. Not transportational, not sport, they just ride one of their collection pieces occasionally, if the weather is good and it won't do any damage.
    Such would be outsiders to both the other groups.

  21. I know plenty of roadies and when they found out that all of my bikes are steel craigslist beasts that I ride around to get places not one of them has then regarded me with condescension at all. Only one of them ribs me for my propensity for buying too many "clunkers" (and this is well-deserved). I really don't know where the us vs. them 'tude comes from. It's ridiculous, and I think "hardcore" transport cyclists target roadies way more than they like to think they do.

    I am flummoxed by some of the roadie characteristics, however. Perhaps V could shed some light on this one for me: is it true that they periodically molt lycra, and if so how often? My friends are very discrete about this. I haven't yet found any dried roadie husks along their favorite routes, but I'm not giving up my search yet.

  22. Having trained for various athletic events, the idea of junk miles makes sense to me. I have limited time and energy, so I need to get the most out of my workouts. If I don't stick to a fairly strict schedule, I can get behind quickly, over-train, injure myself, or just plain turn my body into a melted puddle of exhausted goo. I don't commute every day, but find it useful to schedule myself so that my commutes actually serve as the easier ride. There's just a difference in perspective when you ride as an athlete vs. a commuter.

    For the record, I'm not a great athlete - I train mostly to make sure I have the endurance to finish a ride or race or whatever without being deadly slow :) But I like the challenge.

    Another note... my friends who are athletes have commented that I must be "hard core" when they see me commute by bike. I've never felt anything but support either way... but my friends are cool like that. That's why we're friends. I try to ignore the judgy judgers who tell me there is only one way to ride a bike.

  23. If you aren't an "athlete" who is using a bike in a sport, where riding is your "training" using the term "junk miles" really isn't necessary. If you are an athlete, the term and its meaning is useful when planning workouts. It certainly shouldn't be an insult to someone who views a bike as a merely a mode of transportation.

  24. The concept really applies to all cycling. Any ride that doesn't further your goals is "junk miles."

    For a transportation cyclist, any detour is "junk miles."

    For a cyclist who loves riding through nice scenery, many urban rides are "junk miles."

    For an athlete, any ride that doesn't further the training is "junk miles." (Note: Going to the grocery store can be training, if you go fast enough, or recovery, if you go easy enough.)

    Fortunately, most of us straddle more than one of these (and many other) camps. This means that most rides are enjoyable, and "junk miles" are rare.

  25. I love my junk miles.

    To get to my target of 600 miles per month everything counts, even the 0.44 round trip to the off-licence to get some beer or the 0.98 round trip to Aldi.

    My 83 year old dad does nothing but junk miles these days as he cycles slowly around Urmston.

    All these junk miles that my dad and I do might just be the reason we don't cost the NHS as much as others.

    There's no such thing as junk mile of cycling.

  26. Very good point with this one.

    It's worth bearing in mind that sometimes even commuters - especially ones that travel double-digit distances and/or have jobs that keep them on their feet all day - need to rest and recover every now and then. Unfortunately, when you depend on your bike for transportation, you don't always get to pick your rest days.

    As for performance-oriented cyclists not using their bikes for transportation, I've met many sport cyclists who commute at least part-time, and many who use their commute as part of their workout. To them riding on errands is not "junk" mileage at all, but part of their riding routine. Not every racer commutes, but the lines between sport riders, leisure riders and utility riders are not always clear cut.

  27. My point is the cycling is not a sport vs transportation activity. To the really discerning, there are as many POV's as there are cyclists. Then we start lumping...
    I like what Jan Heine said because it spreads a big tent: you can define it any way you want.

  28. Graeme Obree used his bike for racing, commuting, AND working as a courier. I don't think he ever counted anything as junk miles...

  29. By it’s very definition, “junk” is discards, rubbish, trash, garbage. So even though there’s no intent to be dismissive, it’s not a very welcoming term. If you’re prickly, or the person talking to you is prickly, well then it is offensive.

    My group of 5 rode a bunch of what would be considered junk miles today – a very slow climb in 100 degree heat, up one of the longest and steepest pitches in our area, and then onto a rocky hilly dirt road (of the kind that you’ve called out just recently in a post last week?). Last week we did the same loop in 60% of the time. Was it junk today? We found out how we do in heat, how we do as a group, what the pleasures are in going past your limits due to heat (eh, not much pleasure, but a feeling of accomplishment at the end, esp as none of us had heatstroke or anything).

    And yeah, we’re training…but not exactly to ride with the fast shop rides, though sometimes we do (and they have nicely loaned us the requisite 15 lb carbon instead of 25 lb – 35 lb anchors). Is what we do “sport”? Yeah it is, along with the transportation cycling that we do as well.

    So when these miles, or my slow winter miles when I’m the only one out day after day - are referred to as junk – which sometimes they are – even though I know there’s no malicious intent – I think there could be a better word.

    It’s a bigger linguistic and philosophical question than “sport” – it’s a question of awareness – if the only time you’re aware is when you’re training – then what are you doing the rest of the time – it dismisses the value in the everyday moments when you’re on your bike.

    Same as does the word “commuting” – what about the time when you’re ON your bike, actually doing the “commuting” – you exist right then and there – it’s not merely a period of non-being when you’re in between 2 points - but you are present right there in that moment as well. For me, again even though I understand the INTENT of both “junk” and “commuting”, they are weak descriptions of what that time actually is, and therefore I do and will nicely explain just what I’m actually up to. I’ve had this conversation a few times at the bike shop with people / staff etc who use both “junk” and “commuting” and I tell them I prefer to think of it as LIVING.

  30. Lately, the majority of my 'training' happens on my transportation rides. I work intervals into my bike commute all the time. I had a really nice time trial to my moms house last weekend.

  31. I ride to commute, to tour, for pleasure, and to build/ maintain my fitness level for future triathlon competition. There is some purpose to every ride. In this sense, the concept of "junk miles" is lost on me.

    My concept of "junk miles" applies to my ride yesterday: I ended up with heat exhaustion halfway through a 45 mile ride- truly a pointless tour as it wasn't enjoyable, I didn't attain any physical benefit, and only scarcely recall the pleasure of seeing a pair of bald eagles.

    Yet, as a former competitive swimmer, I can understand this mentality, where being in a sufficiently large body of water always meant that it's time to be working out. I could never relax and just swim for the sake of simple pleasure. This still remains ingrained many years removed from the fact.

  32. Out here in Cali, within the century / double century / brevet crowd, "junk miles" refers to the less attractive, traffic-filled, traffic signal-peppered, urban sprawl miles which some event routes include. For example, some riders will talk about how some double century events have too many junk miles because urban sprawl has gobbled up what used to quiet, scenic countryside.

    Another use of the term "junk miles" refers to the miles spent riding from one's driveway to the quiet, scenic cycling areas on the outskirts of town. Personally, I make a point of living in an area where I can ride all the time with little or no "junk miles."

    Sure, all cycling is better than sitting in a car or behind a desk, but some of the miles we ride are forgettable crap which we only put up with because of a lack of alternatives. I think that concept is common to all types of cyclists.

    - Chris Kostman
    Los Angeles, CA

  33. Rural 14: I loved your comment.

    I used to be one of those cyclists who thought of commuting, errands and even riding with a cyclist slower than myself as "junk." In other words, I defined "junk miles" as the ones I had to do, or did because I had no better alternatives. They were the miles I was riding when I would rather have been riding faster, harder, longer, with someone else (Hmm...That sounds like a few marriages I've heard of.) or somewhere else.

    Today I just appreciate any riding I can do. My old self would have considered much of the riding I now do as "junk." But I have more fun on those rides than I did back in the day!

  34. Interesting. I've heard that phrase thrown around a couple of time, but didn't know what to make of it. Makes sense to me how you explained it.

    I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with these two different cycling cultures.

  35. I totally agree with Erica.

    How are we supposed to convince anyone that cycling is a good, valuable and reasonable alternative to driving a car when the most visible members of the community don't even believe in it themselves.
    Actually it does undermine the cause and can rightfully be denounced as a case of "do as I say not as I do" coming from cyclists.

    "We shouldn't be angry at cyclists who only ride for sport/training/racing any more than we should be angry at a gymnast who doesn't do backflips and cartwheels on the way to the office or the figure skater who doesn't roller blade everywhere instead of driving."

    Those are not transportation vehicles.

    As to specifics, lots of urban cylists have had this experience of being endangered by some asshole with bicycles attached on the roof or at the back.
    Cases of people looking down at you with "this is your bike?" with a tone full of despise. More subtle, cases of roadies being proposed to get on a bixi to get somewhere responding: "those are not bicycles", "I'd rather die than be seen on one of these".
    Granted, those bixis can be damn sluggish and these folks are usually Fred-type wannabes who waste everyone's time in bike lanes by crashing at stops as they cannot handle their clips.

    I wonder though, no offense, just a thought, whether you might not be becoming a little candid/naive from all that roading you've been doing?

    Again, no offense but this transportation vs. sports is an issue. Questions like:

    "Where did you get the idea that they "find those of us who ride for transport to be losers or insane"? Have you been personally insulted in this manner by roadcyclists?"

    Sound very naive to me. Now, maybe it is a question of context. I don't know the cycling community in Boston, how big it could be, I visited Boston early this month and it's nothing like Montreal. Could thing be the reason?

    Right now there is a controversy in the media with a (sports) cyclist/busdriver telling a (commuter) cyclist he's nuts for trying to ride in traffic and on busy streets with the advice to just park his bike, implying that if he dies in traffic, he asked for it.

    If you read any French here it is:

    Otherwise, I have a post on it, but from a different angle:

    This very evening we dined with a couple of friends, wannabe roadies with 10,000 and 15,000$ bikes (yes), eating miles on their odometers, but who can't even get around in town as they are scared shitless of traffic. So they drive downtown, get stuck with others like them and bitch at the traffic. Then they bitch at bike lanes for reducing the amount of lanes available for cars. Then they bitch at cyclists who seen no reason to be stuck with cars and noodle their way out of traffic.

    A lot of roadies are among those who opposed bike lanes in the most rabbid of ways. Only when the obligation to be in the lane when one existed relaxed (police never really enforced) did they release their lobbying.

    Are you really sure there is no conflict between these two groups? Do roadies really contribute anything to the cycling community and everyone's urban cycling experience?

    I hope I am not coming across as harsh, this is not the point, I am amazed at the discrepancy between my vision and yours...

  36. GR Jim - I knew that you were responsible for this!

    But seriously, even in your example of usage, you would only apply the term to yourself and to those who are concerned with training - not, say, to a person you see riding to work or the grocery store.

    Re the pendulum swinging: My pendulum was in the middle to begin with. I never expressed an anti-roadie bias here.

  37. Montrealize, Erica & others expressing similar views - Yes, I think you are being harsh and making arguments that, to me, are not entirely logical. Which is okay to the extent that you are entitled to your points of view.

    My point of view is that I see bikes and cycling as separate from any political implications others project upon them. Naturally I have my own views and beliefs, but that does not give me the right to judge others. I think if more of us made the effort to be compassionate and understanding toward one another instead of being so ready to judge and insult, things would be better for everyone.

    I don't see how it is naive to ask someone a genuine question about what negative experiences they've had with roadcyclists. Sharing those experiences can provide balance to those who say roadcyclists do *not* taunt transportation cyclists, so if anything I was inviting Erica to do that.

    As for me, I cannot invent negative experiences that did not happen. I had been riding upright city bikes for transportation (and still do) for 2 years before I started road cycling, and not once during that time did a roadie insult me or my bikes. If anything, I've gotten compliments, questions (about things like dynamo lighting), and even gestures of courtesy, like roadcyclist blocking a busy intersection from cars so that I and others could make a complicated left turn by cycling behind them. This has been in contrast to some other types of cyclists (grumpy commuters in hi-vis gear and 'hipsters' on fixed gear bikes with no brakes) who have been intentionally hostile to me, have criticised the way I dress on a bike, and have cut me off intentionally in dangerous traffic situations.

    We all can only speak from our own experiences, which is why it does not help to be judgmental of others.

  38. V, I have to say that I do have a mental picture of many Roadies as being a little elitist, it goes back to my mountain bike racing days. Some of my buddies and I would do training rides several days a week and many times on the road and around town, even when riding in a group we always stayed close to the right side of the road or our group only took up the right lane. Many times we would see groups of guys on road bikes or even single riders riding down the center lane of a four lane road, where traffic is moving 40mph+ like they were in the Tour de France or something?? We would look at each other quizzically, shrug our shoulders, chuckle a little and shake our heads! I might feel different if I only witnessed things like this once in a while or with people on all different kinds of bikes, but honestly I pretty much only notice it with people on nice road bikes!

    With regard to roadies scoffing at commuters or transportation cyclist, yes I do notice it! Thing is I have been riding for 43 years, have worked in a bike shop and raced for a time so I am pretty comfortable with my bike knowledge and the bikes I ride; When I pull my XO-1, Rawland Drakkar, Surly Cross check or Fat City Monster fat into the local bike shop; guess whose bike has the bike shop employees crowded around it??? Hint: It ain't the guys or gal's on Carbon Fiber Trek's!!! I think it's important to realize that many of those people who go out & buy the newest carbon Fiber bike typically have not been riding very long, but when you show up at the local riding spot with an expensive carbon fiber bike, Look pedals and matching riding attire, your not going to strike up a conversation with the guy on the Schwinn cruiser or Raliegh professional, you are going to talk to the guy who's riding the same kinda bike you have and that's going to tinge your view of the cycling world!

    Yeah, I do get roadies who ride by me on my Surly with rack and fenders and kind of roll their eyes, but I also regularly get guys who ride by on Carbon fiber bikes and say "man, that's a nice bike, I bet it's more comfortable then mine" Or "I really like your bike!" THOSE guys are obviously real bike guys, because they know what I am riding and can appreciate it!

    It is unfair to characterise roadies as clueless, elitist or both, but a very good number are! Sadly :-(


  39. Two things:

    First, Google Junk Miles and in the first ten articles, the first 9 are about running and the tenth was this article.

    Second, I think V got it Perfectly right in the article. I run and bike, both for various reasons. So I'm familiar with junk miles in the context training for races, 10K to marathons. When you are training, following a detailed plan, you alternate (running anyway) between 3 types of efforts. Easy, Tempo, Hard. You should be careful to follow Hard efforts with easy efforts. The easy effort is to allow your body to recover. If after a hard effort, you do something faster/harder than an easy effort, but not fully a hard effort, those are junk miles, because they are not hard enough to build muscle or endurance or speed, but not easy enough for you body to recover from your previous hard training effort. Junk miles are detrimental. Junk miles lead to overuse/overtraining injuries because you are not resting/recovering correctly. If you are not training, nothing you do should be considered "junk". I sometimes run for the sheer pleasure if it, just like I bike sometimes just to be on the bike and moving my legs. Those are not junk. Those make my life better. Those improve my mood. And those have nothing to do with training.

  40. As I understand it, the "junk miles" term was originally meant as a critique of those racers, usually novices, who trained by racking up a certain number of miles, rather than focusing on a specific program of work, regardless of the mileage. So someone who shows up at the group ride boasting "I do 200 miles a week" would be subject to some scrutiny over the "quality" of those miles. 200 miles of intervals and hills are good, 200 of cruising around town were "junk." The implication in any case is that you are riding only to attain a fitness goal. As Velouria at 12:45 said, the question was posed ironically assuming that V is now "one of them." Of course, all the 45 previous comments about the existence , for better or worse, of the us-vs-them culture still apply.

  41. Pendulum - I know. Was referring to general cultural perceptions.

    Junk miles - for me the term has no meaning beyond racing so I'd never apply it to a transpo or mtb people. I'd only give them shit if I knew them from a racing context.

    Seeing a friend on the road:

    "WTF are you schlepping around? You have a power meter on that? You are effed this weekend."

  42. “Junk miles”. I don’t like the term and refuse to use it. Let’s call them Sarah Palin miles. You try to avoid them but they just keep presenting themselves.

    For quite a few years I was exclusively a road cyclist, belonged to a club and a team, and the vast majority of the miles I rode were essentially training, most of the time solo, but often in group training rides. I commuted to work on my bike to supplement this and accumulate as many miles as I could each week in this manner.

    During the past two years I’ve taken an interest in fixing and riding old bikes and now have a couple roadsters that I ride around town, to market, stores, bars and restaurants, etc. I no longer ride crits and have been doing less organized distance events and no longer follow any organized training program. I feel liberated from the constant organizing of my life around training. At the same time I do miss racing and I sometimes even dream about racing in my sleep!

    My favorite thing is still long rides on my road bike, but it’s been fun to mix things up with city bike riding and fooling around with 3-spds, and single-speed configurations. I still commute by bike but not as often.

    During my years immersed in the world of Lycra and Dura Ace I don’t remember me or my cohorts being interested or even conscious of what other cyclists and cycling cultures were doing. Oblivious and indifferent. Other people out on the road on their Schwinns and Raleighs were just like any other civilians to be passed by and avoided. I didn’t give a thought to what those other people wore (including helmets) or about bike lanes or infrastructure. What we did care about was interaction with motor vehicles, maintaining our right to be in the road, being able to ride in groups (two or three abreast) without threat and harassment, wanting the police to enforce these rights as well as speed limits, etc. And roadies tend to be more concerned with the behavior of other roadies in the group, oblivious to those not involved in the quest.

    A number of guys I rode with also commuted to work on their bikes and we all had concerns about safety issues and shared info on good or dangerous road sections, vehicle interactions, near misses, etc. I don’t recall a single incident of people I rode with making fun of or hassling other cyclists about their choice of bikes or clothing, etc. But I will admit that in any large group of roadies you’ll find a prima donna or a loud mouth lacking in couth. But I think you’ll find that within any given crowd of cycling culture, or people in general. I don’t doubt there has been some bad behavior out there, I just haven’t seen much in that regard. There is an element of elitism in the road racing crowd. At some level I would defend it, but with a skeptical eye for posers. This is where a sense of humor must come into play.

    Seems over last two or three years there has been a growing divide between sport and transport cyclists over a variety of issues. Part of this may be growth of cycling and more diverse crowd of cyclists on the roads in some areas, but I think these arguments have mainly spawned and grown out of internet memes that blow up and distort for sake of argument what’s actually playing in most people’s heads and out there on the streets. The blogs and forums generally seem to inflame and elevate memes and perceptions more than resolve them, just like with politics. I still ride with a large group on Wednesday nights and I swear none of this kind of stuff ever even comes up.

    On the other hand, it's possible that I am just falling behind the times, or that there are marked regional differences in interactions between cultures, where in some places the recreation and transportation cultures and subcultures are more at odds than I know or see, other than on the web of course. Don't know.

  43. Velouria

    I never meant to be harsh or judgemental.
    I was merely trying to understand the cyling environment you evolve in that managed to "shelter" you from these VERY common experiences.
    Please do not take anythink I said as insulting because that was not the intent.

    In here you do not have the choice; cycling is political whether you want it or not. You can pretend it is not but as long as those around you do not see it this way well you'll be stuck with it.

  44. I have to say, this commuter vs. roadie schism is slightly ridiculous. I'm an older teen that could have gotten a driver's license a while ago, but I haven't because I've found cycling to be a more than adequate form of transportation. I use it to bike to friends' houses, to school, to cross country practices, etc. However, I've recently joined a road racing club as well. The people I've met have been almost the exact opposite of what the common stereotype of a "roadie" is. They've been warm, welcoming, and simply friendly people. In fact, one of the highest regarded guys in the club who teaches classes (on safety!) for other members in the club rides a steel bike and I regularly see him commuting on it, decked out in full commuter gear. Regarding the people who say that roadies avoid cycling in the streets, I have found them to be (at least here in socal) the most accomplished and confident people at weaving through traffic. I know that my parents feel much more confident when they see a "roadie" in front of them than when they're stuck behind some guy tooling around on a fixie.

  45. Chris Kostman said...
    "...the miles spent riding from one's driveway to the quiet, scenic cycling areas on the outskirts of town."

    Ah yes, I used to hate this. Since all the good riding is outside town, it takes me about 10 miles just to ride to the ride, as well as to get back from the ride. These 20 extra miles are annoying, because I have a choice between a very busy main road with aggressive drivers and an often-crowded bike path where I cannot safely travel above 15mph most of the time.

    Over time, however, I realised that those miles are actually beneficial to me, because I need time to warm up and cool down. So I just started thinking of the trips that way, and it's been less annoying.

  46. To put a fine point on it, Tyler describes probably older (35+) guys in clubs who've been racers or in some other kind of cycling that requires cooperation even if there are personality differences. Experience. Plus good clubs feature good peeps.
    IMO a lot of the problem roadies are lone wolves and/or just stressed out from too much work, training or life.

  47. Yeah, Tyler is cool, but if I was an "older teen" in the post industrial age I'm thinking I might have put ape hangers on a fixie and PBR in the bottle cage, at least for one summer, and as a reference point at least, etc. Dunno, hard to say.

  48. Junk Miles = the miles I have to drive in my car. ;-))

  49. Erica, I'm just wondering how I get my track bike to track training at the velodrome. Seriously, some of you people probably need to worry less about what people are thinking and just enjoy your cycling. Cycling is supposed to reduce your chance of heart attack.

    Before a torrent of comments flood in categorizing me as this or that, I ride track, ride a cyclocross bike to work each day and take my wife's loop frame bike down to the lake to feed the ducks with our 2yo on the back.

    You should possibly save some money, come on down to Australia and do the Melbourne Roobaix. Roadies, commuters, everyone enjoying their bikes and nobody whining. google it, you'll see what I mean.

  50. No offense really Keira but Australia is probably the last place in the world to lecture anyone on cycling issues.
    Melbourne Roubaix may be nice, yet how about getting that Melbourne bike share program actually running?
    THEN, we can have a meaningful conversation.

  51. Keira - You are supposed to ride your track bike to the Velodrome, so that people can complain about you being on a brakeless fixie : )

    But this is actually a big problem. In Vienna I lived very close to the velodrome and could carefully ride the trackbike there along a nice quiet path through the park. In Boston the closest velodrome is an hours drive. No public transportation going there either. Not realistic at all for me.

  52. Montrealize - Just so we're clear, I am not offended; this is a discussion. But allow me to point out that by using words like "naive" and "sheltered" you are in fact making judgments. Also when you describe something as a "very common experience," you are making an assumption that what is true for you locally (and notice that I am not questioning or undermining this) is true universally.

    I ride mostly in the Boston area. This includes Boston/Cambridge/Somerville and a 20 or so mile radius outside of that area. Cycling here I do get into conflicts with other cyclists, it's by no means all sun and roses. But for me, those conflicts have never been with roadies; most of the time they have been - interestingly enough - with other transportation cyclists who think that I'm not "doing it right." Cycling in a skirt is dangerous, my bike is too old to be safe on the streets (yes, seriously), I am not cycling in the "correct" place of the bicycle lane, etc. I have heard it all from self-righteous people who like to tell others what to do and who have found a new platform for this in cycling. I have also experienced some very rude, dangerous behaviour from people riding fixed gear bicycles without brakes, who think that their own choice to have inadequate braking power entitles them to scream and swear at me to get out of their way as they run a red light. This stuff happens on a close to daily basis, so I am by no means sheltered from rude, abusive and judgmental behaviour from other cyclists. Those cyclists, in my specific limited experience, just happen to not be roadies.

  53. Velouria

    "you are making an assumption that what is true for you locally (and notice that I am not questioning or undermining this) is true universally"

    This is absolutely true. I actually figured out very recently where this comes.

    "With other transportation cyclists who think that I'm not "doing it right"

    Since bicycle 2.0, tons of wannabes have suddenly become experts.

    "I have also experienced some very rude, dangerous behaviour from people riding fixed gear bicycles without brakes"

    It is actually illegal in here. Fixies are a very small minority.

    "Those cyclists, in my specific limited experience, just happen to not be roadies."

    While our province swarms with them and they are the rudest folks on the lanes.

    I do not think I was passing judgements. I guess I was reacting based on assumptions I had of cycling in other places. Earlier this month I did visit Boston. MAJOR adjustment let me tell you. I guess I am still in recovery mode.

  54. Montrealize, the bike share program has been up and running for the best part of a year now. It has been relatively successful, the helmet laws being the only dilemma. It has been very popular with tourists though. I wasn't trying to lecture. I think if you read my comment you might notice that I was actually trying to be fairly lighthearted.

    I do take a little exception to thee comment about Australia being the last place to comment. Australia has a very high participation rate in cycling whether that be for transportation or sport. The extent of our bikeshare program doesn't determine my ability to comment on issues pertaining to cycling.

    Velouria I am really enjoying reading your journey through cycling and all it has to offer. I certainly hope you get the opportunity to come to the home of the latest Tour De France winner to do some cycling. We also do frightfully good coffee, food and wine down here.


  55. Judgie Judge-JudgeJuly 28, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Montrealize wrote:
    "How are we supposed to convince anyone that cycling is a good, valuable and reasonable alternative to driving a car when the most visible members of the community don't even believe in it themselves."

    Why are "we" supposed to?
    Why _should_ the most visible members necessarily believe this?

    I've already figured it out (good, valuable, reasonable) for myself and I'm not going to proselytize. They aren't me and I don't know what is best for them.
    Observers can figure it out for themselves.
    Or they can bring it up in conversation.

    I've found that someone pushing something at me to be a good way to make me deliberately avoid it.

    Do I really have to be burdened with this political statement when I'm just riding whether for transport, pleasure, or athletic training? Apparently you think so, but guess what... those presuming to know my politics by my choice of transport are... presumptuous.

    "I hope I am not coming across as harsh"
    Well, you are.


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