Cyclists can be broken up into 6 unique types. Which type you are or would like to be will depend on your reason and purpose for cycling.
This is the most noticeable type of cyclist as they are easy to spot. Sport cyclists usually wear colorful cycling outfits, often go for group rides on weekends, own the best racing or sports bicycles with sometimes very unique looking wheels, travel to races, and are interested in anything to do with racing and top notch ultra-light equipment. If you are into sports cycling, you likely know the best racing magazines or blogs and don’t need to speak French to know exactly what “Tour de France” is all about.
There are not that many fitness cyclists as compared to some of the other groups of cyclists, perhaps because of the invention of the stationary bike. Fitness cyclists usually cycle alone or at most with a riding buddy who has the same fitness goals. They are less concerned with the style of bike they ride or the outfit they are wearing, and more concerned with getting in shape and body building. Some are casual in their approach while others plan their bike rides by length and difficulty, increasing their endurance and muscle as hey go.
I have to admit that until recently I was ignorant that this type had a name and group attached to it; and I have in fact been one of them. There are whole websites dedicated to utility cycling.
Utilitarian cyclists use their bicycle for a specific purpose. Either to get to work, run errands, or perhaps for their actual job such as policemen who work on their bike or a bicycle courier. For the utilitarian, you probably own a mountain or hybrid bicycle and likely understand a bit about bicycle maintenance since you depend on your bike for your transportation or job.
This is the largest of the cycling groups but have the least amount of branding. Recreational cyclists don’t have a common type of outfit, they don’t ride one type of bike, nor do they ride to common locations. They ride for recreation, and of course that brings people to many different places. Recreation can take you to explore your neighborhood, or a common bicycle trail, a new pathway you recently discovered, or just seeing some of the countryside or the city. What defines recreational cyclists is that they are riding for the pure purpose of enjoyment, though they may have health as a background motivator.
You could probably fit mountain biking into recreational cycling, but having been into mountain biking myself at one point in my life I feel it needs its own category to do justice to it. Mountain bikers ride for enjoyment, but choose mountain bikes and pick mountain trails to create that enjoyment. How extreme one does it is up to the individual, but they are more driven by the call of nature of the ruggedness of the ride than the tame urban riders.
The most hard core group in my opinion and probably the most adventurous too. A touring cyclists is someone who wishes to explore a part of the country, the country itself or the world on their bicycle. They’ve picked a long distance destination and are riding there on nothing more then their bike. They may sleep in a tent although motels and hotels could be in the budget as well. Rain, heat and wind do not stop the touring cyclist who comes prepared for any type of circumstance the road can throw at them. For the touring cyclist, you can say that the journey is by far more important than the destination.
Whichever type of cycling you are interested in or would like to try, cycling is a great activity that helps the world in so many ways. I’m convinced that there is much more room for more of us to use our bicycle to improve our lives.