Ah, bicycle racing. It's a strange sport, obsessed as much with technology as with athleticism, riddled with doping scandals, melodrama and clashing egos. It's a fringe sport in America, seizing the public consciousness only in the case of major events or when a when there's a major meltdown.
The vast majority of commuter cyclists have never, and probably never will, raced. Some have dabbled in racing, and do the occasional local event, while others are enthusiastic amateur racers who incorporate their practical rides into their training routines.
Then there are the Unracers, utility and recreational cyclists who view racing as an abomination on the cycling world, a plague that infects bicycle design and renders otherwise beautiful machines unfit for practical use. Rather than sneering at heavy tubing or outdated parts, like the Weight Weenie, the Unracer eyes your too-low stem and too thin tires dismissively and wonders when you're going to get a "real" bike.
Many Unracers have never raced, but quite a few are former racers, who tired of the competitive world and now ride for practicality and enjoyment. One of the best known, and well spoken of the "reformed racers" is Grant Petersen, founder of Rivendell Bicycles. Petersen may have actually coined the term "unracing" to describe his current approach to bicycle design. In his book "Just Ride" he discusses the joy of just riding to for the sake of riding, and an approach to cycling and to bicycle design that prioritizes practicality and comfort over speed.
I have quite a bit of respect for Petersen, and find myself agreeing with him more often than not, but find I differ with him on the emphasis on not racing. By dismissing racing and fast riding, I think the Unracing movement misses out on one simple point: going fast is fun.
I think consumers do need to understand that a bike designed for competitive riding may not suit their everyday commuting, touring or leisure riding needs, but they need to understand that in the way they understand that a two-seat convertible is not the ideal vehicle for grocery shopping or taking the kids to the movies. Racing bikes aren't inherently bad, in fact, they're really well-designed to do what they do, which is cover a lot of ground as quickly and efficiently as possible. They're a lot of fun to ride, even if you're not a competitive type. On the other hand, just like that little deuce coupe, you might not want to make one your primary means of transport, racing bikes suck at carrying groceries.
Racing bikes are fun as both toys and sporting equipment. They're good for racing, and for fast, sporty riding. Regular, non-racing road bikes are good for a lot more things. You can stick on fenders and a couple bags and ride to work, or the store, you can take them on tour, go for a leisurely cruise, or, if you're not ultra-competitive, you can strip of the bags and racks and race them a bit. If you can only buy one bike, don't buy the racing bike, buy the all-around road bike.
You can be a racer, or you can not be a racer, but don't fall into the trap of defining yourself by what you're not. Don't be an "unracer," just be a cyclist.