Monday, May 11, 2009

6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever

Monday morning and life is good even if I'm back at my mind numbing job after a weekend of riding. The 3 readers who read my blog know that I'm almost obsessive compulsive about trying to read the blogs of others who are nice enough to link back to the lemming. I've found some great blogs this way and luckily it's so easy to do that even I can do it.

The other day during my searches I found a post in fixedgeargallery about flatting twice and all of the riders who continued to ride right by without offering help. I realized with all of the posts I've written, I haven't fulfilled my true purpose which I have in my header "Be happy with the bike you have, ride for fun, stop and help someone that has a flat tire, say hi to someone as you pass them, ask for permission to "draft", don't be a lemming..." and as such my path to enlightenment is incomplete.

So, I present "6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever". I've worded the title as they would need to be phrased for a Bicycling magazine article. Obviously they will need to be spun as only Bicycling can spin them, that is beyond my writing abilities.

"Stopping for stop signs, the hidden secret to increasing your maximum power" - As this article will have a little truth to it, Chris Carmichael will have to write it. The dirty truth is, I hate stopping for stop signs on a bike. You lose your momentum, you have to exert more effort to get going again, and it really sucks on a downhill. And red lights, if you are the only one there and it has a weight pad, you could sit for hours if another car doesn't show up to trip it. That said, if a car is anywhere within sight distance of me I always stop. As cyclists we always make the sarcastic argument that a car can't get to their destination 5 seconds later by giving us safe amount of distance while passing. Drivers seem to focus on cyclists not stopping for stop signs as their biggest concern. How about we get to our destination 5 seconds later by stopping for stop signs and give drivers one less thing they can bitch about us for?

"Stopping to help someone with a flat, how a 5 minute power rest can pay off big in time trial wattage" - Remember that day that you flatted? The first tube had the valve stem rip out, but you had a spare and life was good. But then you flatted again and found that your patch glue had dried out. This happens to the most prepared and it sucks when it does. A few weeks ago I had this very thing happen on a concrete bike path. With all the people I've stopped to help over the years I figured karma was on my side and someone would stop to help. 5.2 miles of walking and 37 cyclists passing me later I was home. No one shouted "got everything you need" as they sped by or even looked at me. A few even yelled, "get off the trail". This had to be the biggest fuck you I'd ever received in all of my years cycling.

More eloquantly, a quote from the same fixedgeargallery post hit on exactly what I was thinking, "Upon cleaning out my grandfolks house when they moved to assisted living places I found an old cycling encyclopedia of sorts from the early 70's. There was an entire chapter on etiquette that mentioned much of what you all are talking about. The author made the point that if one of "us" acts like a jerk it reflects on the whole of us whether we like it or not. It's amazing how people forget this so frequently in all aspects of life." Words to live by as we are out there riding...

"Say hi to riders you meet on the road, how this little known secret can increase lung capacity and make you climb better" - I understand that some people are "training" and can't have fun, saying hi might raise their heart rate out of their zone and blow their entire build period, and others must feel that they are above saying hi to someone as the other rider is not deserving of common courtesy, but good God we're all cyclists. It blows my mind when I go out for a ride and only 20% of the riders I meet, pass, or get passed by say hi, wave, or even acknowledge me when I say hi or wave. We're out there sharing a common love, at least acknowledge your fellow man and build that camaraderie even if it's just to say "sure is nice out" while you pass them. If we can't even be civil with each other, how can we expect drivers to care about us? Why not bond together as cyclists and be stronger, it starts with saying hi.

"We're all cyclists, how accepting others different than you can make the cycling community stronger" - Sure I like to poke fun at triathletes every now and then, and don't believe this necessarily applies to recumbents, but every bike out there makes us stronger as a whole. The in-fighting between cliches of cyclists is downright silly and only serves to alienate us all. Who cares if someone wears spandex, or cuts their bars short, shaves their legs or doesn't, or hucks their bike off 5 foot ledges? That person you are shunning is riding as well, they could be in a car yelling at you to get on the sidewalk, but they are on a bike, give them respect.

"Riding your bike, how this little secret is better than any bling or nutrition recommendation" - This article will never make Bicycling as it shakes the very foundation that Bicycling magazine is built upon. Charles Manson once said, "I’m the paté on the Universal cracker. I’m the grout holding your shower tiles on. I’m out of the saddle, sprinting up that hill and eating glazed donut bracelets off the right arm of Jesus", at least according to BSNYC. What he meant was that the secret of being a strong rider is that there is no secret. Strong riders don't read Bicycling and make plans to purchase the newest and lightest upgrades, strong riders don't read the latest hype and dump their recovery drink of the day for chocolate milk. Strong riders ride their damn bike, a lot. It's easy to get caught up in all of the hype, as there is a lot of it, but one day a light switch will flip on and you'll realize that the only way to be strong is just to spend time on your bike, and you'll be much happier for it.

"Hiking your favorite mountain bike trail, how cross-training can make you a better rider" - Mountain bikers are getting closed out of trails left and right. Hikers obviously have the ear of lawmakers even if their whining sounds like nails on a chalkboard. Yet even if you are the most courteous rider, all it will take is one day of hiking on your favorite mountain bike trail to see why hikers whine so much. All bikers aren't courteous and some are downright dangerous. Most probably aren't being this way on purpose, they simply don't know trail etiquette. Sadly, they won't learn it on their own, it's up to those of us who call ourselves courteous to educate them, nicely. If we don't, the whole cycling community will be looked down upon because of the bad apples, and that sucks balls.

So ends my "6 Articles Bicycling or Chris Carmichael could write that would change the face of cycling forever".

27 comments:

Cyclin' Missy said...

Nice post! You must have been seriously p-o'ed when the jerk yelled at you to get off the trail while walking your flatted bike. Some people really live in their own little worlds. Too bad.

ecomarci said...

hey thanks for linking to my blog!

two comments:
1) yes, we need to stop at lights and signs, though I share the same frustrations as you. I actually had an argument with a friend about this last night (he's the rebel, I'm the courteous cyclist), and its something we always address at Critical Mass rides.

2) we've started having frequent community rides here in East Lansing, with good success at setting a tone that's friendly to all riders. Friday we had a group of roadies, fixies, and even recumbents, from retired racers to college kids. It's so refreshing to ride together despite our differences! We really need to look out for each other.

mellowvelo said...

"Strong riders don't read Bicycling and make plans to purchase the newest and lightest upgrades, strong riders don't read the latest hype and dump their recovery drink of the day for chocolate milk. "Strong riders ride their damn bike, a lot. It's easy to get caught up in all of the hype, as there is a lot of it, but one day a light switch will flip on and you'll realize that the only way to be strong is just to spend time on your bike, and you'll be much happier for it."

Yes yes yes yes yes. But then Bicycling would go out of business. But then again, If that happened, I'd save money not subscribing to it.

lynnef said...

good stuff!

Kat212 said...

Nice Post, Awesome blog ( Ive just added it) Been there with the flat and no one stopping to help it's not fun but still didnt put me off helping others if I can. Also nothing annoys me more then riders not saying Hello or at least waving, I always try to be nice to fellow bikers no matter what kind of bike they happen to use but sadly some people just lack basic manners.

303cycling said...

Funny stuff... I LOVE the one about stop signs!! Friday fun post for 303cycling!!!

Cecil Anne said...

I could not have said it better myself. Really. I've tried, and never gotten the tone right. Thank you!

Michael said...

As a recumbent rider, I say you are a hypocrite.

mrbill said...

Enjoy your posts,
I always ask folks if they need help. In a ride I saw a guy beside the road, I asked if he needed help, "No", he replied, "it's just my computer."
Stopping for a computer problem, I didn't understand.

Susan Tomlinson said...

Nice post!

How about adding something about a smile and short wave for drivers who are courteous to you? It makes you feel good and encourages them to think nicely of cyclists...

BikeLemming said...

Wow, thanks everyone for all of the comments. Susan, you are right, I forgot the part about waving or saying hi to drivers who are courteous, that's a crucial one.

frilly said...

Nicely done Lemming. A wise person once told me that drivers don't like the unpredictability of cyclists, so if you follow the rules of the road, they know what to expect.

Um, what if I actually like chocolate milk?

And, right on Susan. If I see the window is down, I always call out Thanks to a driver who has given me the right of way.

Joe Tysoe said...

True Dat.

BikeLemming said...

Oh Michael, don't take it personally. If you ride a recumbent you're already comfortable enough with yourself to not care what I think. Ride that thing with style!

Susan Tomlinson said...

Frilly, that's been my experience. Most drivers only want to know what to expect from you. Unpredictability scares them, so they get angry.

jeff said...

Agree on all counts. Proper bike etiquette makes me feel like part of the community of cyclists even if I'm so far behind the pack they're just a memory. And I like to poke good-natured fun at recumbents. (Can we call them "short bikes"?)

jeremygrant.com said...

one of the best and most relevant blog articles i have read this year. thanks.

you know, bicycling used to write informative stuff on real ettiquite back in the 80s but then after lemond everything went bling, macho, hype and neon. i think they really need to move back to the real stuff... maybe Bob Mionski will bring a change?

and those bicycle encyclopedias still exist... its just that no one visits them in libraries for fun anymore. :(

Lorenn Walker said...

Sorry no one stopped to help you. Where were you riding? Where I live, O'ahu, Hawai'i, everyone stops to help and you don't have to be a hottie either...it's just the culture...bikers are helpful and kind most often, it's a cultural thing I think.

Thanks for blogging about biking...

Nick said...

Now I feel guilty for blasting through stop sings... (not really)

I have been riding with a new group this year, they all stop at red lights and stop signs... I feel like a dumb ass waiting for the light to turn. Hell.. I am the master of jay walking.. why wouldn't I run it on my light. Plus I get a more consistent power output when I do.

Kevin said...

Love those 6 articles, especially the secret to becoming a stronger rider. (ride the damn bike!)

Sonya said...

YEAHHHH!!!!

gtinla said...

Great post!
Just yesterday as I was riding along Pacific Coast Highway, I spotted a cyclist wrestling with his rear tire. I stopped and asked:" do you need help?" The guy turns to me and goes ballistic:" you are the @#$@# 8th person to ask me this @#$%#$ question, just leave me alone!"
I just laughed and said:" you are one messed up dude, DUDE!!"
Really enjoy your blog and added it to my blog roll - thanks for the humor and wisdom.

BikeLemming said...

Yikes! Really? The guy blew up at you for offering help? Humanity is doomed... :) Thanks for the link, I've added you as well.

Rantwick said...

I must disagree on the stop sign article. I agree with riding responsibly and predictably, but I don't care about motorist's pet peeves.

Check this article out... I got it off a comment on Citizen Rider

Yer New Pal,

Rantwick

Anonymous said...

Obey traffic laws? Why would you want to do that? Practice balancing, leave a positive impression of cyclests, avoid accidents, provide a good example for children...
Stopping to help someone? Why not? No more spares, zoned out, shy, Ted Bundy, sweat in the eyes, late again...
Say Hi to riders? ? See above, dry mouth...
"We're all cyclists, how accepting others different than you can make the cycling community stronger"? There is a natural (perhaps evolutionary) tendency of humans to form packs and exclude those different. A truly poor excuse for exclusion and redicule, but understandable nonetheless...
Riding your bike? Duh...
"Hiking your favorite mountain bike trail, how cross-training can make you a better rider"? Why walk when addicted to adreneline? Sometimes testosterone poisoning, sometimes PTSD, there are a lot of reasons to promote erosion and distruction of the wilderness. What do you expect from us, logic and clear heads? We are all different, be open to the differences too.

Thanks for the reminders. It was well written and on the spot.

55 years and counting peddling

BikeLemming said...

Thanks Rantwick, I saw an animated version of the same dialogue on a BikePortland site. I agree 100% with the points, but I'm still going to stop for stop signs if a car can see me, I just don't like to hear their bitching... :) If no car is around then, well, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it...

Lummox said...

nicely done!