A random collection of thoughts associated with the sport of cycling, as relayed by one hopelessly devoid of too many competing interests. It's a one track blog I'm afraid. But hey, if you like bikes you might enjoy it. So keep reading and the worst that'll happen is it might rot your brain..

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Code - a little rant

Maybe it's the slight head cold I'm dealing with today. Or maybe it was last night's graceful over the bars, rock garden break dance competition I took place in that's irking me.(Crossing a rock laden stream bed at night usually requires at least a little focus. Taking a moment in the middle of said crossing to peek skyward, at what I'm guessing was the planet Venus, doesn't really count as "focused"). Anyway, whatever, I'm in a crappy mood and I just finished perusing one of the best sites known to bike dweebs everywhere - http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/

For some reason it made me think of things I really dislike about cycling culture, go figure! What follows below is basically me just ranting about jackasses I share the road with here in my neck of the woods. Don't take this too personally, unless, of course I'm accurately describing you.

There's a code out there in bike land. You know it by now, even if you've only been riding for a short time. We all know it, even if some of us pretend to ignore it. It's ingrained in us all at some point. Usually we're awakened to it by the sharp end of a stick, or glass bottle, or square edged rock as it may be. Self sufficiency becomes paramount for most after that first long walk. In accordance with Murphy's Law (the adage, not the band) this usually occurs early on in one's pursuit of cycling. If you're lucky enough your ill prepared ass gets bailed out. This is only fair, as everyone should be allowed a mulligan once in a while. Which brings me to the point of this diatribe. It's reserved for those who've never bothered to lend a hand and/or never at least feigned interest in lending a hand.

If you make a habit of blithely breezing past forlorn looking souls on the side of the road, trail or bikepath may you some day be taken out Dave Stoller style. I sincerely hope some deuchebag Italian cyclist magically pops out of the ether to jam his pump in your spokes.

Against my better judgement I spent a lot more time on the road this past year. I witnessed so much self absorbed crap it blew my mind. Cyclists can be solitary in their pursuit of sport and all that, but still.. I can't figure out why some riders can't stop and offer their fellow cyclist some help. Is it the fear of a lowered heart rate? Maybe they don't want to be associated with someone who doesn't match their description of a "real" cyclist? I don't know, but the bottom line is unless you are racing away from an angry mob of doping control technicians you should stop and ask. Nine times out of ten the poor schlep's got it covered, or they lie and say they're all set because they're weirded out by the mooseknuckle in your weasel squeezers. Either way you win, and this will let you get back to "feeling the burn" guilt free.

Of all the times I've flatted on the road recently maybe one out fifteen passing cyclists have even looked my way, let alone asked if I needed help.I think this type of crap is actually grounds for an ass whooping in MTB culture. I'm not 100% on this, but I'm pretty sure it's in the "how not to be a dickhead" guide to mountain biking that arrives on your doorstep a week after purchasing a mountain bike. It's been a while since I read my copy, maybe the rules have changed.

This year the area where I witnessed this behavior most was oddly one of the local loops most frequented by cyclists - Blackstone Boulevard. For those who don't know the spot it's a 3.2 mile loop. Particularly bad flats allow for a second chance but most continued to ignore me as they circled by a second time. What kind of cyclists actually stopped to ask if I needed assistance, you ask? The ones without a pump, patch, tube or a "proper" road bike. The kind of folks that some leg shaving types tend to scoff at. They were just normal folks, out there cruising around and enjoying the weather. Blissfully astride their cobwebbed wall hangers, they were probably out for a semi-annual squeaky spin around the block. They might not have looked like what some consider cyclists, but they were nice folks all the same. And for that I thanked them profusely. I guess not taking yourself so seriously allows you to be a little more friendly. Even though I didn't need the help it sure felt nice to have someone stop and ask.

The moral of this story is simply this: Stop and ask when you see someone in trouble. I know everyone is all wrapped up in themselves but one of the nice things about riding a bike, or taking a walk, is that we're forced to deal with our surroundings a little more. Take advantage of the opportunity to actually interact with someone who might benefit from your expertise.


Anonymous Jaime said...


I've given away my fair share of tubes to people who got hosed by the mean streets of Boston (Thanks for the potholes, Highway Department! Love you too, kisskiss!). The most rewarding part of the whole experience is the way that many of these cyclists flinch as you roll up & ask "need anything?" like you're flying gang colors and getting ready to whack them.

Not only do too few people offer to help others, I've been surprised by how few expect to be offered help themselves...

5:10 PM

Blogger Aa said...

Yeah, them there road cyclists got it all wrong.
It's always a bummer when the passing cyclists doesn't wave. Ouch.

6:12 PM

Blogger Jack said...

If only I had seen the "mooseknuckle in your weasel squeezers" I would have stopped to help out.

9:05 PM

Blogger Brendan said...

Jeepers Jack, I almost blew a hole in my nuthuggers when I read that! If I wasn't so lame I would've sported the full on knuckle effect at your shindig. Alas, I was all tuckered out from throwing pine cones at mean and nasty roadies on the East Side all day :(

3:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your rant. Not that I've flatted often on the road (I usually just find thorns on trail rides instead),but I have noticed a lack of courtesy on pavement. I mean, most people won't even nod a "hi" on the road. Does it increase drag to be even a little bit nice?

3:07 AM


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