Additions to The Devil's Dictionary for bikes

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Additions to The Devil’s Dictionary

(Apologies to Ambrose Bierce, wherever you are.)

Bike Lane: noun, being that part of the street in which motorists toss garbage, and street cleaning crews push road debris. Many cities are adding bike lanes to aid in sanitation.

Bike Path: noun, a paved or unpaved trail that allows pedestrians and human powered vehicles to operate free of traffic laws or courtesy, thus making the roads safe for timid, law-abiding motorists.

Blog: noun, an electronic diary displayed on the Internet, allowing those with nothing of any importance to say to say it. An electronic platform allowing publication of material that no one would look at if it was on paper.

Comfort Bike: noun, an oxymoron, like military intelligence or jumbo shrimp.

Helmet: noun, an article of clothing for the head reinforced to protect the skull from injury in case of a crash. Since the head, and the largest organ the head contains, are rarely used by bicyclists or motorcyclists, helmets are often not worn.

Hybrid Bike: noun, a bicycle that is not as good as a mountain bike on off-road, and not as good as a road bike on paved surfaces. A hybrid bike is equally insufficient at both on and off road riding, and because it so wonderfully blends disparate weaknesses, serves as both a monument to the inventiveness of the bicycle industry and a symbol of our times.

Recumbent Bicycle: noun, the world’s seventh major religion. Followers of this faith are called many things, some of them repeatable without offense to tender ears.



Don’t forget:

Lycra/spandex cycling togs: plural noun, tightly fitting garments used to encase performance cyclists. Fit like the casing of a sausage, and are usually brightly colored so that, much like a sausage casing, you are shielded from contemplation of the nature of the contents.


Wonderfully Biercian, Reddan. Thanks for the addition.

Considering Bierce was in his prime in the 1890s and early 1900s during the “bike boom”, I’m surprised I haven’t come across any caustic remarks about “the wheel” in his work.


I spoke too soon. I must be getting old, because I’ve seen this entry before:

SMITHAREEN, n. A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is

used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer

who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it “led them to the devil”

it is seen at its best:

The wheels go round without a sound —

The maidens hold high revel;

In sinful mood, insanely gay,

True spinsters spin adown the way

From duty to the devil!

They laugh, they sing, and — ting-a-ling!

Their bells go all the morning;

Their lanterns bright bestar the night

Pedestrians a-warning.

With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands,

Good-Lording and O-mying,

Her rheumatism forgotten quite,

Her fat with anger frying.

She blocks the path that leads to wrath,

Jack Satan’s power defying.

The wheels go round without a sound

The lights burn red and blue and green.

What’s this that’s found upon the ground?

Poor Charlotte Smith’s a smithareen!

John William Yope


Another addition:

Bicycle Advocate: noun, a person who interrupts your cycling to tell you how much he’s doing for you.

(this actually happened to me on a commute – a spokesman for some bike group was blocking people on a one lane pedestrian bridge mid-span to promote the Ride of Silence.)


“you are shielded from contemplation of the nature of the contents.”

And thank god for that.

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