Liar, liar, bike shorts on fire

So when you first think about cyclists and lying the thing that comes to mind is doping and for me the person who comes to mind is Lance Armstrong. See my post on doping, lying, and Lance. Indeed should you Google image search “cyclists and lying” it’s practically a Lance photo gallery.

But cyclists don’t just lie about doping. We also lie about the length of the ride ahead, how we’re feeling, and maybe even about how much our bike weighs.

There was was a great post making the rounds last week on the lies cyclists tell. Hilarious. See What cyclists say and what they mean.

“I’m on my beater bike”

I had this baby custom-made in Tuscany using Carbon Fiber blessed by the Pope. I took it to a wind tunnel and it disappeared. It weighs less than a fart and costs more than a divorce.

The most interesting category, I think, of cyclist lies are when you claim be training less you really are, to weigh more than you really do, or say you’re in worse shape you really are. I’m told it’s called “sandbagging.” Thanks Facebook friends! See All cyclists are liars:

“Usually spoken by an opponent just before a big race.

As in any social setting, small talk is rife. A common question to ask another cyclist at the start line or simply when you have nothing to talk about is – ” So… doing much training? ”

Almost always, the answer will be about 40% less than what they’re actually doing. They’ll complain about the kids and excess work at the office but the truth is – they’re out doing hill repeats four times a week, sprint efforts and sneaky 5 hour rides on Saturday mornings.

If you’re trying to beat your best mate in that next big race, how are you gonna do that if you’re both training together all week.

You need to get in what we call sneaky km’s.

Get out two hours earlier than him and knock out a snappy 50km. Then meet up at your usual time and when he arrives – yawn and stretch like you’ve just rolled out of bed.

When he asks why you’re sweating, explain that you only just had a shower or you’re nervous about him ripping your legs off. Play on his ego. We men lap that stuff up.

This is a legitimate tactic for achieving success and one that I’ve used regularly. Feel free to use it.”

I know the common definition of bike ninja is someone dressed in black, riding without lights, but I’ve also heard the term used to describe the person sneaking out for extra training.

From a great comic about cycling: Yehuda Moon & The Kickstand Cyclery



Lying is a tough subject. Lots of the examples of cyclists “lies” in the posts cited above aren’t lies at all really. The new cyclist who says she’ll ride a bike but never wear lycra isn’t lying. She’s just wrong. Certainly, she’s not intending to deceive and many people think that’s necessary for a statement to count as a lie. Mere falsehoods aren’t lies. Often they’re just mistakes.

More than a decade ago I did an episode of a CBC show Ideas with a couple of other philosophers on lying. It was called “The Truth About Lying” (with Michael Blake and Arthur Ripstein) IDEAS CBC Radio 1, May 27, 2002. And lying and the ethics of lying have been on my mind a lot lately what with the Rob (I didn’t lie, you just asked the wrong questions) Ford scandal. I taught the ethics of lying this semester and between the Canadian Senate debacle and Ford, my students had plenty of examples.

My department also had a visit this semester from the brilliant philosopher Jennifer Saul, author of Lying, Misleading, and What is Said: An Exploration in Philosophy of Language and in Ethics. It’s reviewed here by my friend and colleague (now philosophy blogger too) Rob Stainton and Western PhD student Melissa MacAulay.

Maybe someday I’ll write a paper about cyclists and lies….add it to the list!

No ninjas!