The Semi-Serious Cyclist loves his fenders.
The SSC likes to be comfortable when he rides, and everyone knows that cycling with soggy feet is not comfortable. In fact, it sucks. Indeed, no matter how wet the rest of him gets, the SSC will be happy so long as his feet stay dry. And fenders will do just that, most of the time. Bicycle fenders are practical, simple, and civilized. On rainy spring rides, they keep feet dry and jackets mud-free; they protect the undercarriage of bicycle and rider; they provide a small opportunity for smugness when passing soggy-assed non-fendered cyclists; and best of all, they allow a cyclist to blast straight through the middle of puddles with impunity, like any brazen 8-year-old.
There was a time when the SSC was ignorant of the wonders of fenders. He would wince at the thought of adding such a dorkish accessory to his pure mount. Fenders were for old fogies, he naively assumed. So what if your feet get a little wet? Who cares if you splatter mud up your backside and into the faces of fellow cyclists? Like wearing socks with sandals, putting fenders on a bike meant you’d given up on looking remotely cool. What would be next? A kickstand? Reflectors? A wicker basket? A 7-foot- long antenna with a reflective orange flag on it?
Now that he’s older and wiser, the SSC has learned that fenders aren’t dorky at all. Edging ever closer to fogiedom, he is not the least bit self-conscious about his. In fact, he believes now that fenders can make almost any bike look better. Fenders don’t have to be ornate to do the trick. Simple plastic, basic black, will suffice. But if one’s in the market for fancy-pants fenders, there are lots of ostentatious options out there: aluminum, maple, or bamboo, for instance. They come in as many colors, patterns, and materials as any other piece of jewelry.
Some naysayers balk at the sight of a bike with fenders. Too bulky, overdressed, these doubters claim—like wearing big, old rubber galoshes in all weather, just in case it might rain. Pshaw! Fenders are never too much. They simply announce that a bicycle is ready for business. Sometimes they can make a plain-as-a-plate bicycle look positively gussied up; they suggest an attention to detail, a sense of confidence, even panache. Think of them as the perfect accessory, one that’s both practical and stylish, like a sharp pair of eyeglasses that makes an otherwise unremarkable face suddenly noticeable.
Sure, fenders can rattle a bit; yes, on wet gravel roads, they can get gunked up with mud; true, they add a few extra ounces to your ride. And in a heavy downpour, even the best fenders won’t keep your feet completely dry. Nothing will, heaven forfend! In such conditions, fenders will allow one to stay dry just that much longer, to avoid that unseemly stripe down one’s back –-to maintain one’s dignity.
So say nay no more, ye doubters. Slap on a pair! Fenders will return the love.