Lunch gitter and why do they stare?

Every other Friday I have to drive to work; however, I always take a bicycle to take care of errands or to ride to lunch. I like to visit a local sandwich maker (with better tasting subs than Subway) that is about 1/2 mile away from work. Last Friday I took my newly-acquired and already modded Swobo Folsom to the restaurant.

I usually call in my order and the sub is waiting for me when I arrive. What I don’t get is the looks and stares of people eating at the restaurant as I arrive on any of my bikes (not just the Folsom). Their look is priceless, like ‘Did he just get here on a BIKE?, OMG!’. I also get these type of looks when I go to the pharmacy, bagel shop and other establishments.

Is it just Angelenos that are not used to seeing someone (other than the Huffy riding migrants) riding a bike to a place or does this happen to you too?


  1. Rick

    They stare everywhere. Usually the conversation goes like this:

    You rode here?
    How far?
    Oh, it’s only a half mile from my house.
    So you rode a WHOLE mile?

  2. Lance

    I ride to the local liqour store but don’t get looks. It’s mostly when I ride it work. EVERY person in the 21 story building has to stare. Look at the freak!
    Sure my bright yellow jersey doesn’t help, but I always feel like an alien. It’s called a “Bi-cycle” earthlings.

  3. Ghost Rider

    Lance, people EXPECT folks to roll up to the liquor store on a bike!!! ha ha

  4. Mase

    Here in Houston, I get stares/comments EVERYWHERE. My commute, especially compared to others is relatively short (4.5-5 miles each way, depending on route), but you’d think I came in with the thing on my back by the looks I get.

    Whenever I run an errand on my bike, I get even more stares/comments. However, it works to my advantage as I just boldly walk into whatever food establishment with my bike and place/get my order. As the counter is always near the front, saves me time (I never do it if its remotely crowded). Most places have a ‘useless’ space where I can easily leave my bike. After a few times, I’ve created a precedent and never get questioned by the workers (though patrons constantly ask how far I biked [“in this heat?!?!”], thought they tend to be typical Houstonians — double my 185 lb. weight]).

  5. Paul

    I get stares a lot, mostly because I look like a typical middle aged man in jeans, boots and other “street” clothes while the stereotypical bike rider is the college/fixie/20 something male. Like you, people think its amazing that anyone can ride a bike further than the end of the cul-de-sac or driveway!

  6. RL Policar

    I get stares. At that point I make the extra effort to look like I’m having the time of my life.

  7. Mike Myers

    All the time. I try to do some grocery shopping on my bike, and inevitably I get asked as I’m loading up, “Did you ride your bike here? How can you get that stuff home? Do you have a driver’s license?”

    The best is when I ride to our local mall movie theater—as I’m walking around with my Schwinn bike backpack WITH MY HELMET IN IT—-“Are you on a bicycle?”. LOL

  8. derek

    It’s weird when people DONT notice us anymore haha Pulling up in front of the movie theater with cruiser xtracycles decked out with dlg, we have a hard time making it past all the gawkers and questions before the show starts 🙂

  9. Smudgemo

    You guys ought to experience riding in Berkeley.

    I only get stares when I’m on the Xtracycle carrying two kids and a kid’s bike, or maybe when I’m schlepping a kid and a bunch of groceries up the long climb towards home. And mostly just curiosity stares, at that.

    The Swobo with basket is most excellent, Moe.

  10. matthew

    the folsom looks really sharp with the brooks saddle and wald basket. How’s it ride? How do you like the coaster brake?

  11. Moe (Post author)

    How does the Folsom ride? Well, I threw away my mtb, commuter and roadie thinking of how I should ride a bike and I regressed about 25 yrs (yeah, I’m old). I couldn’t stop bunny hopping, popping wheelies and of course skidding like they were giving away free tires!!! I don’t think that the Folsom will suit my 21 mile commute, but I think it will excel at short commutes or for running errands.

  12. Mike

    Commuting in the OC is nothing but stares. My wife works at a bank and I occasionally bring the bike inside when I do business as they have no racks. I get stared at like I’m a hoodlum about to rob the place.

    And the Folsom looks sweet!

  13. Zak

    Here in fresno bikes are frowned upon in traffic

  14. Dan

    Moe: They stare because you have such sweet rides!

    Zak: Frown back!

  15. Matth

    I only seem to get stares during the winter (it snows a *lot* here, over 4.5 meters in the past winter! – Montreal, Qc)… And that even if there are an estimated 10,000 commuters during the winter months! Some of the bike paths are even – supposed to be – opened year round. In the summer I don’t get much stares… or at least so few that I don’t notice it. However, I can tell you that drivers care a *lot* less in the summer than they do in the winter… is it because they are more afraid of hitting you or because the image of a cyclist in the snow is more striking is something I have yet to determine.

  16. The other Gavin

    I get stares because I am the only guy on a bike NOT on the sidewalk in the backwards little town I ride in.
    Well, not always. Stores and the like around here have racks and such to cater to the college population (small town, biggish University) and I am young enough (and look younger thanks in part to the bike) to look like that is where I fit in.

    I do get extra stares and comments in the winter and there is a woman at work who keeps offering to let me use her car when I head out for a sandwich (might have to take her up one day, it’s a mustang). Yes, work is nearly two miles from any decent food, but I have to burn off those fries somehow!

    People do look when they notice something odd about you though, such as midge bars on a mountain bike or an Xtracycle, or realize that you are huffing up a hill with three kids in tow.

    And yes, people do seem to think we are odd when they realize we are shopping by bicycle.

  17. The other Gavin

    Oh, and I love the looks of amazement I get when I tell people where I rode from or when my co-workers realize that today I decided to leave the bus out of my Multi-modal commute. 30 miles is a lot more fun by bike than by car!

  18. Ghost Rider

    Strangely enough, I don’t notice many stares or odd comments from folks on the mean streets of Tampa. Perhaps I’m oblivious to them…and since I live in an area where we’ve got an equal mix of upscale-y young people who understand bicycling as transportation AND “Huffy riding DUI” types, no one seems shocked when we pull up to the grocery store on our bikes.

    Oftentimes, I have to fight for space at the tiny grocery store bike rack or find an alternate place to lock up.

    Oh, and if I get any weird comments…believe me, I’m ready with an arsenal of stinging replies!

  19. Dan

    No stares here in Albuquerque. People are beginning to expect bikes on the roads, and most drivers are very polite. My son and I get friendly smiles and words of encouragement when we ride the Tag-A-Long.

  20. Jamis_Bater

    Let’s be honest, we love the stares and comments. It’s food to our egos. Even though we know that biking 3 miles is about as hard as opening a music CD, we still feed off the OMGs. Sure we get frustrated with America that’s it’s so fat and lazy to think of us as doing something remarkable, but deep down we love it too. At least I do.

  21. Q

    I also get different responses to my different bike, the most reaction I get is on my 29er, the “WTF” looks and people driving a WIDE path around.

    As far as ” You bike that far??” I bike Every where, to the point that when I switch bikes people ask if a bike broke.

  22. Val

    I’ve been stared at all my life (jealousy, I know it is), so I’m used to it. I do love it when some random stranger accosts me in a grocery store or coffee shop to tell me where they saw me on my bike. It’s nice to know they’re watching.

  23. Ghost Rider

    Val, it’s that bitchen’ moustache you’ve got…don’t deny the power of the ‘stache!!!

    Roll with it, baby!

  24. SF Bike Commuter

    Since I live in Fairfax I am just another guy on a bike. However in my office everyone questioned my sanity when I first started working here and now two other guys regularly commute.
    Everyone needs to keep spreading the word and leading by example. Some will follow.

  25. The other Gavin

    As gas prices rise, I have more people come to me all the time asking about bikes, bike shops, bike commuting, using the bus, the bike racks on the bus, etc. So I guess they are seeing me as someone who knows something that might help them. I must be leading by example.

    Silly lemmings.

    Now if I can just get that damn brake to stop squeaking like that, maybe more people will take me seriously.

  26. meli

    nice post!
    I never take for granted the freedom to roam as is up here in my home (SF) and people still complain (??) although when I lived in San Diego a number of years ago, people looked at me as if I was missing limbs or something.

    Anyhow, wanted to ask how do you like that brooks saddle? Ive been eyeing the women’s touring one for quite a long time, but most of the Brooks owners I know are men, which still helps.

    I test-rode a swobo (the 3speed black one) and it seemed like so much fun. I just love gears though, so I am in love with my steel 7 gears do it for me (yes SF is hilly, but thats why road maps with steep grades are my best friends LOL)

    Keep the good posts up! love the pics!

  27. Moe (Post author)

    Meli, I’m still in the process of breaking in the Brooks Saddle. Right now it’s very firm and somewhat slippery. Brooks owners swear that once broken in, they are the most comfortable saddles in the world.

  28. Michael

    Mase, I’m here in Houston too and your right, the stares are almost humorous. Everyone has to stop by my cube to tell me about their last experience of riding a bike like it was another life time ago.

  29. Val

    Jack: funny, I could have sworn it was the hat…Moe, have you gotten yourself some Obenauf’s yet? High time; I know you have other leather items that need it.

  30. Joe

    No stares up here in Minneapolis. For reasons I don’t understand there’s strong bike culture in da frozen North. Many folks here ride bike for recreation in the summer, and thus are pretty good, when driving, to respect a bikers space. I ride an Xtracycle, a very classic fixed gear, a 29er, and typically get no interest…unless it is below zero… then folks comment that it is a bit chilly for a ride. You Betcha.

  31. Stevil

    I get stares, but its generally due to how strikingly handsome I am.

  32. Ghost Rider

    Stevil, my comment to Val also applies to YOU…wicked ‘stache equals lots of fond gazes — citizens must feel they’re in the presence of true machismo!

  33. Kalamazoo Rider

    Forget staring….I get drivers yelling all the time. Worst one was a guy in a Volvo who threatened to kill me for riding my bike in the street. Mind you, we were on a two lane, one way road, and there was no other traffic. This is Kalamazoo, MI if anyone’s wondering.

  34. chris ramey

    I’m from MI, and not surprised by that response. Now I live on the U.S./Mexico border and the drivers here are the most courteous I’ve seen, including Boulder, CO.

    sent from: [FID380120]

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