Well, Jerry's letter certainly did stir things up. Thanks to all who gave feedback, both good and bad. Lisa's Mum decided to take the bull by the horns and respond. Check it out.
I am glad you have solicited my counsel. Your letter has come at a fortuitous time, for February is pro bono month at my cycle-specific psychiatric practice, which means you will receive the benefit of my valuable services free of charge. If you had sent me your letter in January you would have been subject to considerable charges including disbursements for tea and mood-enhancing floral arrangements for my office.
The question of ‘what is a cyclist?’ is an existential conundrum that has plagued many a rider (including Thai performance monkeys). For what are we but spokes in the wheel of life, riding down the long road of human existence, sprinting for each traffic light milestone and hoping we don’t get punctures? Every bike rider searches for meaning from the moment they unscrew the lid of a new tub of chamois cream. Such is the intensity of a cyclist’s quest for meaning that the Italians actually pronounce ‘cyclist’ as ‘seek-list’. Those Euros are wise. But I digress.
Your café companions with their $15,000 starter kits should not be pigeon-holed as simply ‘cyclists’. Rather, they are part of the new breed of cyclo-philanthropists, whose mission is to support the livelihoods of bike shop owners everywhere. Operating under the guise of middle-aged corporate men who hate golf, cyclo-philanthropists relentlessly and determinedly seek out bike shop owners and persuade them to accept large quantities of money in exchange for bicycle-related goods. It does not matter what kind of goods they are, but to avoid suspicion the cyclo-philanthropists typically purchase high-end Euro race bikes (I have heard the case of one rookie C-P who with the best of intentions attempted to purchase $15,000 worth of puncture repair kits but he was turned away and forced to return to buy a super-record Colnago).
Cyclo-philanthropists operate by stealth and are driven by nothing more than the satisfaction of helping out a fellow human being. You think Bill Gates is generous – remember that he only has to go to Africa ONCE to part with $30million. Your local cyclo-philanthropist has to purchase at least 40 handmade race bikes and 20 pairs of Assos knicks to get even close to that amount.
You are right to think that those HTC gentlemen were something other than cyclists. I suspect that they are part of that secret C-P brethren and were celebrating the purchase of a new car by their local bike shop owner. Incidentally, you can spot these cyclo-philanthropists by their secret handshake and the presence of a bento box on their top tube. I have heard that most also abide by the code of wearing exclusively sausage casing kit as you describe, although of course this is only hearsay.
I hope this sheds some light on the issue Jerry. As you say, Mrs HTC is definitely a cyclist. But those bastions of local industry in the HTC kits – so much more.
PS - I can tell you're feeling a bit down. Here is a picture of Chris Hoy's legs to cheer you up.