I am a person who rides a bicycle; like people say who shop for bikes, I am not a professional.
But what does that mean, not a professional? For many customers it’s a defensive admission.
I am not a professional: I am not going to spend $5,000 on a bicycle.
But only amateurs spend $5,000 on a bicycle. Professionals are given bikes—bikes that cost $10,000 or more.
No, to me the word professional has something to do with my attitude toward the bicycle.
I am not a professional: professionals ride bicycles with parts that were made the same year as the frame.
My Specialized Diverge has a 33-year-old crank. My Bianchi Pista has a 40-year-old front hub. The back hub on my 1964 Schwinn Corvette was made in the 21st century.
(Sadly, like so many 21st-century bicycle parts, that hub is now obsolete, which means no longer made, supported, or remembered by the company that created it—automatic-shifting two-speed hubs being so 2017.)
No one would look at any of my bikes and say, wait a minute, this one—this one belongs to a professional.
Not the tricycle.
Not the folder.
Not the tandem.
But here’s the thing about the bikes professionals ride: they’re boring.
They always sport the latest tech: electronic shifting, hydraulic brakes, thru axles, tubeless tires.
They’re maintained by pro mechanics who touch everything up every day of the racing season.
And they’re spotless. No dust, no grit, no mucky chain, no half-worn brake shoes.
Hmm. Up to date, everything in order, and clean?
I may not be a professional, but I am surprisingly willing to be bored.
Maybe I should turn pro.
How hard could it be?