Do different types of cycling have a personality that matches the stereotypical traits of one or another nationality?
Yeah, I think so.
Here's how I think it breaks down.
Mountain biking – this riding is Mexican all the way. You get epic facial hair, an easygoing attitude, a lot of fun to be around, cute girls, and everybody seems to have a suntan. There’s usually music at the events, and everybody knows how to have a good time.
Track racing – this kind of competition is German. It’s all about efficiency of purpose, brute force, strange customs and a spotless venue. Everybody who isn't from there finds it admirable, but intimidating and a tiny bit weird. Keirin? Madison? Devil Take the Hindmost? What the hell…
Recumbent riding – this isn’t really bicycling, it’s more like France. First of all, like France, recumbent riders shirk their cycle-y responsibility to get saddlesores, occasionally numb hands, climbing hard, and looking damn good while doing it. They’re slow on uphills, look bad, and perfectly comfortable, shirking just like how France wants to get NATO benefits but doesn’t want to cough up troops or get serious about defense policy or economic cooperation. Like France, recumbent riding has a lot of good things to be said about it, but the air of superiority is pretty hard to take in light of the glaring flaws.
Riding as part of triathlons – Triathlon riding is Japanese. Specifically, it’s a game show, or drunk karaoke. It isn’t really bicycling, it’s more about doing really painful and embarrassing things in public. Instead of sitting in an ice cold bath and chugging beers until you pee yourself, you sit on an uncomfortable seat and do 112 miles, chugging Perpetuum until you pee yourself. Instead of eating disgusting food with chopsticks out of a bento box, you eat disgusting dextrose blocks out of a bento box with your dirty, pee-encrusted hands. Instead of being lathered up with Crisco and wrapped in Saran Wrap until you choke, you’re lathered up with Pam and crammed into a wet suit until you swim until you puke. And, like a Japanese game show or karaoke, the respect you garner is in direct proportion to how badly you embarrass yourself in public. You remember the Kona women’s champ who shat herself just before the line? That’s admired in this community. Wayyyy Japanese.
Commuting is America. Commuters are total mongrels just like us Americans. It’s a Cablinasian pastime, as Tiger Woods might put it. Could be racers in drag, could be a granny out to go volunteer at the hospital, could be some lawyer in a suit on a bike with fenders, could be a illegal immigrant on a Magna. But most commuters are, like most Americans, basically nice, mostly Fred-like, pretty enthusiastic, and man, are they ever happy to tell you about it. Yep.
Roadracing... a lot of people associate roadracing with Italy but it is a purely Scottish sport. You whinge, and people either tell you to shut the fuck up, or give you a look that could sear the inside of your mouth if you keep it open. Bitch about how bad a hill is, and people will just laugh at you. Crash, and they’ll tell you to ignore that bone sticking out, Tyler Hamilton would and he’s a pussy, so surely you can do better. Injecting EPO into your Schwantz so you can ride faster? Yeah, you’d do that. The pain would be a badge of honor. Roadracers like speed, but actually prefer suffering to speed. Training all the time with intervals, shitty diet, nasty tasting energy drinks, saddlesores and sore legs... training fuckin’ sucks. So they like it as much as a Scot enjoys walking in the cold rain and then sitting in a dank house, freezing and drinking nasty tasting whisky. Belgian hardmen who train in the icy rain and stiff winds on cobblestones? We don’t think they’re stupid like anybody with normal values would, we look to them as the ideal. Sure it's hard, but who the fuck asked you for your opinion? Now shut up, and go suffer. It's good for you to suffer. Builds character so you can learn how to suffer better. If you work hard and suffer really good, we'll let you have another big bowlful of lukewarm suffering, ye wee git. The only reason there aren't many more Scottish roadracing champions is because they'd have to hang out around Italian pros, and Italians are notoriously pleasant people, so being around all that happiness would suck. It could rub off and that just wouldn't do.
Progressive riding – pushing stout bikes off stairs and railings and boulders, bouncing off trees, doing stunts in a parking lot – this is Ireland, through and through. A progressive rider can find a party pretty much anywhere he goes, and if he has a bike, he is the party. They have great stories too, usually about compound fractures or other horrifying but funny things.
Touring riders – the Dutch of the cycling world. Mad about bikes, nice folks, some funny habits, but ultimately just a great mass of people trying to go everywhere on their bikes. Some are fast, some are slow. They prefer riding in flatlands too.
Randonneurs – the Australia of the cycling world. Harder than you, friendlier than you, traveling a lot further than you, more adventurous than you, more self-reliant, probably better riders, never complaining, and by God, they aren’t going to tell you that and rub it in your face the way a Kiwi would. Everywhere I’ve been in the world that I thought was exotic, where I was at the absolute ass-end of the world, I ran into an Australian who was there first. Kind of like Randonneurs.
Urban fixters – the South Africa of the cycling world. They are down with segregation from the rest of the cycling world… right up until you dis them and make them feel separate, then they’re not down with it, they’re cyclists just like you, man. They will also be in need of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to heal the longstanding rift between themselves and trackies, who feel like the fixters horned in on a pretty good gig that the trackies and a few hardcore roadies used to own exclusively. Fans of cheap beer, which they drink ironically, unlike trackies, who are unaware that any other kind of beer exists.
Update: It occurs that people might ask what cycling nationality I am. I think it's pretty obvious... Maori. Check it out.
I think the resemblance is pretty obvious.