"Are You Crazy?" and Other Coworker Comments

Earlier this week, my wife had her first sub-zero bike commute and it actually turned out to be -15C (-5 F). We checked the forecast, booked the car in for repairs (don’t you just hate spending a new bike’s worth on car repairs?), and watched as the forecast got progressively worse over the course of the weekend. She toughed it out and I think she was surprised to find it really wasn’t that bad. Her two bits of advice:

  • Extra socks! The only thing that got cold was her toes
  • When a coworker asks, “Are you crazy, it’s freezing out there?” she responds with the question “Do you ski? Don’t think you are generating less body heat sitting on a chairlift than riding your bike to work?” Since most people around here ski or have skied, it helps clear up her level of sanity.

What are some of your favourite comments from coworkers seeing you walk through the hall with your commuting gear? Here are some of mine (either heard directly or heard from others):

  • Are you nuts/crazy/insane/etc.?
  • Oh, did you lose your license?
  • Isn’t it too cold/hot/wet?
  • How far away do you live because I live to far to ride my bike? (from someone who live approx. half the distance away as I do)
  • Cool, I would ride too but I live too far/my bike sucks/I’m too lazy/I don’t have time. (I don’t have time always get me. Really? How many hours a day do you watch TV?)
  • It’s snowing! How are you going to get home? (I’ll bike, thank you)
  • “What do you mean, ‘the weather is bad?’, Jones here made it in on his BICYCLE!”

And, my all time number one, “Are you SURE you don’t want a ride home?”

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0 thoughts on “"Are You Crazy?" and Other Coworker Comments”

  1. Lesley says:

    At first, most people assumed that i lived just a few blocks from here, but word of me coming in from 11 miles away spread faster than wildfire.

    I get the “are you crazy?” comments often. Yesterday my coworkers tried to convince me not to bike home because it was going to rain. i mean, i appreciate the concern, but i would rather be a source of inspiration (“I started biking because of you”) than bafflement.

  2. Val says:

    My recent favorite was looking out the window late in the day and noting to myself “Hmm…it’s raining.” A coworker, overhearing, tried to be sympathetic – “And you have to ride your bike…” “No, no, you don’t understand,” I said, “I GET to ride my bike.” Much pity and sympathy for those foced to contort into the steel boxes.

  3. john t says:

    “How far do you come?”, “You’ll never see me doing it!”, “That’s nuts, don’t you work hard enough at work?”, “What do you do when it rains?”, “Why do you do it?”, “Your bike is going to get stolen.”

    The answers to the above questions are, 4 miles, why not?, no, put on rain gear, I like to, no, I lock my bike up.

    Compared with most bike commuters, I have it pretty easy.

  4. Idbob says:

    After getting runover last fall and the bones healed. I rode to work and it was awesome. My very large friend at work saw me walk in the door with my bag over my shoulder. He just looked at me, shook his head and said…theres something wrong with you.

  5. Fritz says:

    These days I get, “I’m thinking about biking to work. Gas is so expensive. But…” and then the list of reasons they “can’t” ride a bike.

  6. welshcyclist says:

    As I told my fellow blogger at http://mnbicyclecommuter.blogspot.com when we dicussed this issue of co-workers feeling sorry for us on the trek home,
    Perhaps someone can come up with similar phrases to use when it’ snowing, windy, sleeting etc..
    No matter what the weather, provided one has the correct gear, it’s great to be out there, alive, feeling alive in the great outdoors, wether it be in Wales, where I live, Alaska, Minnesota, the Rockies, the Sahara, Australia……. I think you get my drift.

  7. Qbert says:

    My favorite: “Now all you need is a bike!”

  8. Ghost Rider says:

    Ugh. We’ve heard ’em all, haven’t we?

    What is REALLY crazy, I ask: riding a bicycle or paying a crapload of money for gasoline and sitting in a claustrophobic motorized box for an hour a day?

    This is what happens to me when it rains: after two years of working at the same library with the same people, every time it’s raining when it is time to go home, my co-workers fall all over themselves trying to offer me a ride. “Oh, but it’s raining…don’t you want a ride?”

    I’ve never taken them up on it — well, ok, just once, but don’t tell anybody — the truth is I really like to ride in the rain, particularly when it is warm out. It’s like splashing through puddles as a child again!

  9. jason (sd) says:

    I keep expecting the no license one but it has never happened. Usually it is just -did you ride TODAY?’
    I think that people assume riding bike or riding bike in interesting weather is miserable because they are miserable sitting in their cars. Stuck in traffic, paying outrageous amounts on gas, repairs, insurance, ect. Scrapping windows or misirable visibility in interesting weather.
    My answer for the -aren’t you cold’. I tell them you generate your own heat and if they don’t believe that. I tell them I sit and shiver in a car until it warms up. I have never shivered on a bike, not even at 24 below.

  10. Rick says:

    My favorite comment is similar to the losing your license one… “Don’t worry, they really don’t care if you drive after a DUI.” Usually, it comes from someone with a DUI or two under the belt.

  11. Doug says:

    I’ve gotten most of the above. My favorite is, “You should ride in that race in France, with all that riding you do, you’d win”.

  12. Coelecanth says:

    I always answer the “Did you ride!?” question with “No, I wear this stuff to make me look good.” with a grand gesture towards my grubby yellow Gor-tex ensemble.

    A word about extra socks. I live in northish Canada where it gets down to -20c pretty often in winter and had to experiment lots to keep my feet warm.

    An extra layer inside your shoes, especially cycling shoes which are usually cut narrower than regular ones, can make your feet colder. If the fit is tight it compresses the vessels in the feet making it harder for them to warm themselves. It’s important to keep an air space in the toe and if you’re going to add extra layers put ’em on the outside of your shoes. I’ve tried cutting the toes off a pair of old woolly socks but it didn’t work very well. I’m now using cycling specific overshoes, they’re pretty thin but help a great deal because they’re windproof.

  13. scarecrow says:

    From the puffing cigarette crowd, out on the loading dock, as I carried my bike up the stairs into the factory on a cold rainy day;
    “WHY, WHY do you do it??”
    (much laughter)

    My response;
    “It’s an illness, I’ve tried quitting, but I just can’t”
    (expressions of sympathy all around)

  14. cafn8 says:

    Scarecrow: I love it! I usually coast up to the steps and meet the smokers with a big grin, at least if I’m running a little late and it’s almost time for work. They think I’m nuts too.

    My favorite comment came in the hot part of the summer.

    Co-worker: What will you do if it rains?

    Cafn8: Probably get wet. That would feel good.

    I bet I sounded like a real smartass.

  15. siouxgeonz says:

    I tell ’em “It’s just like skiing, but cheaper.”
    Yesterday at ten ’til five, the cleaning crew were also getting ready to leave for the long weekend and I wheeled my spanking new folder into the hall. They gathered to admire. “How many speeds is that?” and counted hte chain rings. “How much did that cost – 800?”
    ME: “Six hundred”
    “I was Just about right. ”
    Me: “But ten of these cost less than one car.”
    “And you get to stay in shape!”

    … at least around there is a shift in what’s considered the socially acceptable commentary. They may be *thinking* the same “you’re nuts!” and the litany of excuses, but the bicycle is getting a tad more mainstream (in flat college towns 😉 )

  16. Quinn says:

    I haven’t gotten the license comment yet, last fall I got “I would bike, but the don’t put ash trays on bikes”.

    Lately I have gotten more “lip” from motorist, 3 months without a motorist comment and twice in 2 weeks I get “Get On The Sidewalk!” from speeding cars.

  17. Val says:

    Quinn: One friend of mine actually has an ashtray on the apehanger handlebars of his custom Schwinn cruiser (it’s the Bowling Bike, with an actual bowling pin on the down tube). All the rain comments made me remember an even earlier incident. Riding home through the desert in New Mexico, where fenders are unheard of, I was caught in an apocalyptic downpour about three miles from home. After about ten minutes of it, I noticed a pickup pulling over in front of me. It was a freind of mine; as I leaned on the roof next to the passenger window, he told me “Get in, I’ll give you a ride home.” “Why?” I asked. “It’s pouring rain!” “Right, and I’m not about to get any wetter, it’s only another mile and a half to my house, and if I climb in there, I’ll get your upholstery soaked. It’s 75 degrees out here, I won’t freeze.” It took a while to convince him, and I’m sure he thought I was wack, but he drove off and let me ride.

  18. rick says:

    Of course WE ARE CRAZY, that’s what makes us cyclists. Honestly I don’t really want everyone do do it. I like being different, always have.

  19. I haven’t gotten the license comment yet either, but I’ve gotten most everything else. My answers include:

    “Yes I rode my bike…you think I’d ride the bus dressed like this?”

    “It’s not as dangerous as you might think.”

    “No, sweating too much is really a bigger problem than frostbite.”

    “Because I’m too cheap to join a gym. The really great thing is that this way, I get to work out for an hour and a half a day and my commute is instantaneous.” (Thanks for that one, Chip!)

    “Thanks for the offer, but I’m dressed for it.”

    and “I don’t know. Perhaps you should ask my caseworker.”

  20. bob says:

    I’ve gotten the “your crazy” and “you sure you don’t need a ride home” the most. The only excuse that I tend to have sympathy for is the “I would have to ride in traffic, and that scares me too much”.

  21. Quinn says:

    my reply to a lot of these- Grow some Gonads!

    I don’t know if its just Reno, but every time there is even a hint of strength in my answer/rebutle people just shrink back and get really quite.

  22. Smudgemo says:

    I’ve been working with the same people for so long that nobody expects me to do anything differently. Either that or they are worried I’ll call them out.

  23. Chuck W says:

    My favorite in the cold weather is to point out that if I drive to work, I’m cold the whole way because it takes that long for my car to heat up. When I bike, I warm up right away and I’m sweating by the time I get to work. I’m warmer biking than driving, even when it’s below zero windchill.

  24. Mindy says:

    Ghost Rider, I also work at a library. I’ve been at the same branch for 7 years, but I’ve only been bike commuting since July.

    “But it’s SO dangerous!”

    “You didn’t ride in this heat/cold/rain did you?”

    Just today someone asked me if I would continue riding in the heat of summer. (I’m in Tucson.) This after I was asked all winter why I was riding in the cold.

    I especially get, “Oh, you didn’t ride toDAY, did you?” at church, because I ride to church then change my clothes. People always ask me if I rode in my dress, and I say no, I changed when I got here. It seems like the same people asking, too, but maybe not. 🙂

    Another thing I get at church is, “Why didn’t you TELL me you needed a ride? We live out that way.”

    When I’m leaving a place, I get very solemn warnings to be careful. I used to say thanks, now I say, “You be careful, too!” It’s not like people don’t die in car accidents every day in this town.

    I do have a few friends who are always positive and encouraging, and I love them for it. If people can’t say, “Atta girl,” I wish they’d just say nothin’.


  25. Siouxgeonz says:

    Yea, I confess I kinda like the “You’re our hero!” comment I got once, especially because of the plurality of it.

  26. Smudgemo says:

    I was thinking about this a bit more, and we should really swatch out for the rare person that legitimately asks questions about what we do, why and how. Someone might be keen on trying a bike for shopping or commuting, but really not know how a non-athlete (like them) could possibly manage it.

    With gas prices rising and lots of people waking up to the idea of peak-oil, there will be much more interest in transportation that gets 20 miles to a bowl of oatmeal, doesn’t fund nasty organizations or governments (China excepted), keeps you fit and doesn’t pollute.

    Let’s help them quickly get past the first efforts of an ill-adjusted department store mountain bike where they try commuting on dangerous roads in an unsafe manner. Share the knowledge of what works so they can steer clear of what doesn’t. Nobody will ditch the car for long if riding isn’t fun or at least satisfying.

  27. Jen says:

    My twin brother, an avid bike commuter with a nine-mile route, works at the same place I do. Yesterday, he rode his bike to work in some hellacious wind.

    His supervisor called me up and said, “Your brother just rode here from downtown in this awful wind! Someone needs to put that guy on a mental health hold!”

    I said, “Tell ’em good luck catching him.”

  28. mb says:

    Here in Singapore, I get, “Are you crazy? It’s so hot and humid out there!”

  29. JoelGuelph says:

    @Smudgemo: That is a very important point. I try to not over do myself with ‘hardcore’ gear, so that coworkers see that commuting as something they can do to. It is however, a fine line between wearing ‘hardcore’ gear (booties, bike specific rain pants, etc.) and looking like a bum/crazy person (plastic baggie booties, Sorel boots, etc.). My wife, on her -15deg ride, had very little bike specific gear. She did have biking rain pants, but otherwise she wore her regular winter clothes, scarf and all.

    Due to the location of our jobs though, we both work in an industrial park that is isolated from the city and prone to city-to-city car commuters, there are a lot of people who would not consider bike commuting due to the extreme distances. This is a systematic problem in Southern Ontario that requires people to make choices about where they live and where they work to make cycling to work a possibility. I think high gas prices will help, but it will be a long transition until people change jobs, move or at least consider distance more when finding a new place to live.

    I have however succeeded in getting coworkers interested in mountain biking. Since last year when I started at the company, I have helped 3 different people buy new mountain bikes, and we even put a 10-person corporate team in a 24 hr race. It was a great experience that not only helped our camaraderie at work, but also opened some peoples eyes to the wonders of the bicycle. Of those three, only one has started occasionally riding to work (the other two live a good 1 hr drive away) but all three of them are more aware of what is possible with their bikes.

  30. kaz_kougar says:

    Here in Eugene, a ton of people bike to work. Some hardcore, all weather (myself included in that group) and others are more fair weather. All the comments I ever get from the fair weatherers or non-cyclists are pretty positive and upbeat almost as if they’re in admiration. It’s nice, although I will admit that it’s probably a lot more fun to get the ridiculous comments that many of you get as it would help me to sharpen my smart ass skills, not that I need a lot of practice in that area.

  31. nat says:

    Regarding the comments of “be careful!” or “isn’t that dangerous?”, those are the only ones i won’t just let roll off my back. In response to those, i need to set the record straight. It helps that i’ve read the research, and can sometimes even remember specific figures. But i recommend you at least give them the basics: “Actually, i’m less likely to get hurt biking home than you are driving home” or “it’s safer than driving” or, depending on the specific comment/question “i’m less likely to suffer a head injury than you are in your car” or “i’d be more likely to be hit by a car if i used the bike path”.

    The “it’s so dangerous” myth is the one i think it’s important to nip in the bud, regardless of who you’re talking with–even if they’re never going to get on a bike, it’s good to help dispel the complacent notion that cars aren’t also dangerous.

    If someone seems seriously interested, i’m always happy to address concerns of biking in “extreme” weather [it’s usually easier than driving in it], picking a bike, picking routes, effort demands, etc. But i think the first and most important thing is to clear up the misconception about how daunting traffic is (or isn’t).

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