By The Free Rider Craig Richards, 10 August 2016
What I spread on my toast might just be the least judged thing I do. I’ve never felt any sense of loathing or social exclusion when I tell people I’m a jam man and don’t like Vegemite. It seems when it comes to breakfast spreads, we’re free to do as we please without fear of judgement.
Of course on the other hand, when I was called a tram driver for wearing a dark green suit to work in the 1990s what I felt was, ‘They hate me!’ I was worried that any moment the great Jeff Probst would appear and I’d be voted off the island.
I blame this on the sexist saying: Clothes maketh the man. When I googled it one source traced it back to the ancient Greeks. Which must’ve meant that to be made you needed an off the shoulder white flowing gown and leather sandals.
Another source said it came from William Shakespeare. They’d traced it to Hamlet when Polonius gave his son this advice:
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
As best I can understand it, he was saying, ‘Tone the threads down a bit champ, you look like a goose.’ Which seems the complete opposite from the modern day interpretation which is: if you don’t spend serious coin on clothes people won’t like you.
When it comes to dress standards at work I like saying, ‘Come in a moomoo for all I care as long as you do a good job.’
But like everyone I have to fight the judgement demons. When Jason came to work in a checked shirt long before they were fashionable my tongue got ahead of my brain, I let a lumberjack comment slip and many laughed. I’ve never properly apologised for being a judgmental pig. Sorry Jason.
Which of course brings us to what to wear on the bike. This couldn’t be further from the toast. Horribly, your pedaling clothes seem to decide whether you’re allowed entry into a tribe and your status once you’re in.
It’s awful how fiercely some bike riders judge their own. Unless you’re lyrcaed up some roadies will sneer ‘hubbard’ under their breath. Unless you’re in tweed from top to bottom some true believers will look down their wikipedic nose at you.
Well enough is enough. I’m sure in heaven you can jump on the bike wearing whatever you like and not be judged. Well I think its time we made this happen. Let’s do what in the 1980s Belinda Carlisle urged us to do and make heaven a place on earth.
This will take some real solidarity from us riders. We’ll need to not judge our fellow rider and celebrate those who wear whatever they like. If tucking your pants into your woolly socks floats your boat, float away. If tucking your jersey into your knicks tickles your fancy, fire up those tickling fingers. [In fact bike riders will need to get over the tucking thing completely.]
Which brings us to the big question: to Lycra be or not to Lycra be. That is the question you’ll ask of thee (which I think means asking yourself?) Well here’s something that might help. It’s a Free Rider Flowchart™ to take the stress of being judged out of the decision.
So come on riders. Whether we’re wearing knicks or knickerbockers, jeans or jodhpurs, baggy shorts or bikini bottoms just extend the hand of friendship to your fellow riders. Then when others are thinking about joining, they’ll feel part of a tribe that doesn’t speak by voting out its members.