I had an interesting exchange in the digital media recently.
There was a story on Universal Hub, a local news aggregator about delays in bus service due to the cold and snow. The original story was a lament from an unfortunate bus rider, who was waiting for 40 minutes for a bus in the 14 degree temps, and not happy about it. She mentioned that it was 3 miles to work, and several people commented that she could easily bike 3 miles. (whether she would want to on a snowy frigid day is another question entirely)
Someone posted an inquiry about riding to work, saying that he'd done it in his grad school days, but didn't want to show up at work sweaty and dishevelled, and actually asked for advice, so perhaps naively I gave him some.
I posted about my typical commute, gear and clothing, and pointed him to some sites that feature transportational cycling in normal clothing. I said that I go slow, and that I don't get sweaty or gross.
And that hijacked the post completely.
First someone posted to tell me that I was stinky and that people talk about me behind my back. This obviously got me mad, and I replied that I most definitely was NOT stinky! Someone else chimed in to say that if you ride 3 miles you definitely need to shower. I said- come on- unless you're sprinting, there's no way you need to shower, people are thinking that this is harder than it actually is.
I was feeling pretty put upon- like everyone was attacking me online. After a short period though, others started to chime in- to say they have a co-worker who bikes in and doesn't smell. To say that they bike and don't smell, to say that biking is safe and fun and simple. So many general online forums are so full of anti- bike vitriol, so it was nice to feel that despite the initial hassling, there was a community of bikers, even on a site not dedicated to biking.
In a less digital medium, I'm just read "No History", a recent book by William Gibson, the father of cyberpunk. This book is more of a thriller about corporate espionage and a caper gone wrong. The subtext for most of it is marketing and branding, and how iconic certain ideosyncratic brands are. A character wears a International Klein Blue suit for example. I perked up when a character need to build a "getaway" bike, and starts with a Hetchins frame, and is going on about the curly lugwork (although he calls them "curly stays", which might be a British locution). It's true that knowing some of these niche brands makes you feel a kinship with someone else who knows about them, because they're both interesting and relatively unknown, so the other person must have some specialized knowledge of the subject if they're familiar with them. It's like a secret handshake that we're in the same group.