How to gracefully navigate clichéd conversations about cycling this Thanksgiving

Charm your friends and family with your sparkling repartee.

Insert generic stock image of a generic roast bird being generically sliced: ✅ Photo: Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

Iain Treloar
by Iain Treloar 24.11.2023 Photography by
Claudio Schwarz / Unsplash
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year for our North American friends, when they get to gather with families and friends to eat mountains of food with forced cheer! There’ll be turkey! Pumpkin pie! Yams with marshmallows or something! 

But the festive season is not without its hazards. Racist uncles, dull brothers-in-law, well-meaning aunts: they are all scrambling for things to talk about, and you, a Keen Bicyclist, are a conversational goldmine. 

Because we are nothing if not here to help, we have prepared this helpful tool to navigate those discussions: the Escape Collective Banal Bike Conversation Guide. 

“Ya know, I’ve been wondering: how do pro cyclists go to the toilet?”

Terrific question, Uncle Paul. Mostly both men and women just pull over on the side of the road and do a wee against a guardrail or hedge, but sometimes the guys can flop their peen over the waistband of their bike shorts and do a wee while rolling along. If it’s a number two, well, sometimes they just shit themselves. I know! We are disgusting, aren’t we?!

“How do you wee?”

I just piss all over myself. 

“I picked up one of those fibreglass road bikes the other day. They’re bloody light, aren’t they?”

[Earnest nod] Yes, they are. There is actually a rule from the UCI – they’re the governing body of cycling – that any road bike cannot be any heavier than 6.8 kg (15 pounds). Once it crosses that weight limit it’s banned from competition because the extra weight would be an unfair advantage on descents.

“Tim in marketing at work is a bit of a bike nut – rides about 18 miles [30 km] every Saturday, which makes my arse hurt just to think about it haha. Anyway, he was telling me the other day that you lot don’t even wear undies under those tight shorts. Are you exhibitionists or something?” 

18 miles?! [insert appreciative noises of your choice here] Yeah, if you wear underwear it can cause friction in a delicate area, and there’s padding in the shorts anyway. There are these things called saddle sores that can really ruin your day, so you can also use something called chamois cream …

“What’s chamois cream?” 

Exactly what it sounds like. They’re a kind of Alpine goat, and there are these companies that farm them – or for a cruelty-free option there are these artisanal shepherds with flocks of them. Anyway, they milk the chamois from their little udders, churn it until the milk separates, scoop the solids off the top, whack it in a jar with some scents, and then you just rub it all over your undercarriage before you go for a bike ride. Smells really gamey but at least you don’t have boils on your gooch.  

“I haven’t watched for a while, is that Lance Armstrong fella still going?” 

Absolutely he is! He’s now up to his 20th career Tour de France title, but last year a little Danish guy called Jonas Vingegaard came along and won, which really rattled the US Postal boys, I’ll tell ya. Yeah, Danish. Yes, like the pastry. No, he doesn’t get confused when he walks into a bakery and forget whether he is a person or a baked treat.

You want to see a picture of him? Sure. This guy in yellow. Well yes, I suppose he does look like a sickly prince, now you mention it. Consumption, if I had to guess.

“I saw this bike rider the other day run a red light. Made me bloody furious! Why don’t you lot have to pay registration? And why don’t you ride on the footpath? What about those ones in the spandex riding two abreast, is that allowed? Now I’d never do it but I tell ya what, it really makes me want to just give them a little tap with my bumper haha.”

Hahaha. Ah, Paul! I am thankful I get to spend this special time with you.

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