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What actually makes you a cyclist?

Joe Robinson
28 Jul 2017

Evans cycles enlisted Dr. Josephine Perry to tell us the difference between a cyclist and someone who rides a bike

What does it mean to be a cyclist? 

Your first thought maybe that it is a silly question. A cyclist is somebody that rides a bike. 

However, it is not quite that simple. Unlike any sport, cycling is divided into two bands of people. Those who use the bike as a mode of transport and those identify as a cyclist. 

Usual telltale signs can be the five grand bike sitting in your hallway, or the smoothness of your shaved legs or the alarming lack of upper-body strength.

To get a definitive answer, Evans Cycles looked to Sports Psychologist Dr.Josephine Perry to reveal what it truly means to be a cyclist.

Perry believes that at the crux of it, being a cyclist comes down to two things, self-identity and motivation.


Dr.Perry believes that one of the key factors that set you apart as a cyclist is self-identity. 

The more you cycle, the more you well self-identify as a cyclist. 

Whilst those who ride bikes to get from A to B will simply view the bike as a mode of transport, the cyclist will manifest themselves across the sport in many different ways. They will watch cycling on TV, read about it in magazines and follow it intently on social media. They will also find themselves in low spirits when they are prevented from riding. It will also lead to time thinking about riding whilst off the bike, whether this be planning your next ride or analysing your last ride on Strava.

'At the core, how you feel about cycling comes down to whether it sits within your self-identity. This is simply whether you perceive yourself to be a cyclist.'

'If you describe yourself as a cyclist then you will strongly identify with that role and will look for others to acknowledge that too. Many of those with a strong self-identity as a cyclist have grown up with a very specific idea of what a cyclist looks like, does and what type of bike they ride'

'Our self-identity is important as we look at everything through the lens of our different identities and interpret all new information through those lenses. If one of the self-identities you have is as a cyclist then, over time, the more you cycle, the more that becomes a dominant lens.'

'It explains why you develop an affinity with other cyclists, why you follow other riders on social media or look up cycling stories in the press. It can also explain why you can feel so out of sorts and unlike yourself when you are injured or can’t ride.'

'For those with a cycling self-identity, social media and technology extend their identity as they are likely to follow and engage with other cyclists or log onto training peaks or Strava regularly.'


Every cyclist has got to the point in which they have wanted to quit yet somehow have found the motivation to ride on. After a slight loss of fitness or a bad crash, a cyclists first thought will when they can be back on the bike and back to their best. 

A cyclist will find pleasure in their ride and have a self-determined need to ride leading you to a mindset in which all that is not the bike is forgotten. Many will talk of feeling at one with the bike, which is the exact intrinsic motivation of a cyclist. 

'An amotivated rider will lack an intention to cycle or is unlikely to put in any effort. They may feel that they are no good at it or that they won’t be able to do well and will embarrass themselves.'

'Whereas a cyclist driven by external motivation will be riding because they like the accolades from others when they do well, the prize money or trophies they win at competitions or the way others treat them for being a cyclist.'

'Most ‘pure’ cyclists have intrinsic motivation. Their need to ride is self-determined and driven by the enjoyment they get from their bike. Their aim is to get towards a state of flow.'

'That feeling when you are completely immersed in your ride. You forget about everything else in your life, you lose any self-consciousness and you feel like your bike is purely an extension of your body.'

I am the bike

Besides the motivation and self-identify also lies the strong emotional attachment that every cyclist with have with their bike. You may not have the lightest or fastest bike, but no doubt, you will look at it affectionately before taking it for a spin.

To you, it is more than just a bike, but an expression of who you are. Whether its a rugged and sturdy endurance bike or a stealthy carbon racer, the bike you call yours will be simply an extension of yourself.  

'With riders developing memorable, emotional experiences while cycling their attachment to their bikes and the pleasure they associate with it will be high, making them feel very protective of their bikes and of their type of cycling.'

'Their journeys take place on something that is more than ‘just a bike.’ The bikes that cyclists choose to ride (for there is often more than one) are an extension of their personalities and talked about with warmth and pride, to the extent that many are even given a name.'

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