Cultural Consumption

Last week I was fortunate to ride with a couple of fine folks visiting the area for ToAD. I suppose these things aren't new any more, but having met via the internet several years ago, it did feel strange to finally sit down for a coffee and take a little spin along Chicago's lakefront. Both were young men in their 30s, creative professionals in their real lives, and lycra-wearing superheroes in their imaginations. Both were curious about the Chicago Velo Campus, so we pottered down to 87rd street for a quick tour before stopping at Calumet Fisheries for some smoked shrimp, coleslaw, and ice cold cans of RC Cola.

"So what else do you have planned here in Chicago?" I asked.

"I really want to see the Magritte exhibit at the Art Institute." said the shaggy haired Oregonian.

"Ummmmm…" said the blonde Angelino.

"What?" asked shaggy.

"I mean, I guess we can do both, but I was hoping to see the Blue Man Group."

I tried to hold back my laughter. Mr. Angelino *is* a musician, I thought to myself, so maybe that's why… no, no. It still makes no sense. They debated the topic for a few minutes, then went back to the shrimp, leaving the issue unresolved.

Riding back north, I couldn't help but make completely unfair and unreasonable judgments about the duo based on their cultural consumption preferences. I couldn't help but notice that the fellow wanting to see the Blue Man Group was riding a recent model carbon Felt with Di2 and 303s, and that the fellow wanting to attend the Magritte exhibit was riding a scuffed and shabby but well appointed mint Rock Lobster with ten speed Chorus and Neutrons.

Once upon a time, I used to enjoy playing the Guess the Cyclist's Political Affiliation based solely on his attire and/or bicycle brand/model/condition. But here in the midwest, given cycling's overwhelmingly conservative sartorial environment, the game doesn't work too well. Over the years, and with age, I've had the fortunate experience of political leanings fading in importance, the balkanization of belief systems trumped among those close to me by a common love for cycling. And yet, as we zipped past the Gold Coast, I thought to myself: sure, I can be friends with a guy who rides a boring, factory-built $10k bike: no problem. But can I be friends with one who also prefers the Blue Man Group to Magritte?

Also: They are just lying on the pitch in despair.