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7 Things Non-Cyclists Should Know About Road Cycling

Reblogged from Will Work For Adventure


I only got into road cycling last June when I decided to train for a triathlon, and there were a number of things that caught me by surprise. I realized that I had been an utter asshole at times to cyclists, and I want to share how you may be an unintentional asshole too. Obviously there are some entitled cyclists that are assholes themselves, but they are in the minority. Give a cyclist the benefit of the doubt. You’ll usually be right.

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1) Road cycling is scary

Listen. I’m not a wuss. I’ve jumped out of an airplane. I’ve bungeed off a 20-story bridge. I’ve stepped into boxing rings and wrestling mats to train and compete in things like boxing, MMA/Ultimate Fighting, Judo, and submission grappling. I’ve hung off cliffs climbing tall peaks at altitude with a thousand feet of air underneath me, and much more. I’m a lot more risk tolerant than most people. I feel more in danger road cycling than I have in most other situations I’ve gotten myself into. I try to forget that a distracted driver texting a smiley to a friend could kill me at any minute. It’s hard to feel safe most of the time with how most cars drive around cyclists nevermind the random rager that seems to come around every month or so.

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2) If I’m not close to the very side of the road, there is a reason for it

As a driver, I know it can frustrating when a cyclist is impeding your progress. It’s not just something we do on a whim. You may not see that glass, sand, gravel, or the sharp edges and potholes on the roadway, but we do. All of them could end our day pretty quickly and cause serious injury or even death. We’re constantly weighing the option, “What is more dangerous right now: being further out into the street or staying close to the side of the road?”  The side of the road is different than the middle of it.  All water is directed there, so the majority of water damage (potholes/cracks) and debris is there. Give us time to find a safe spot to move over. Saving twenty seconds isn’t worth both our lives since I could die, and you could end up in prison.

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3) Buzzing by a cyclist is extremely dangerous

It’s really just a percentage game, and I hope I never win the unlucky lottery. Road obstacles may cause a cyclist to swerve unexpectedly. That could be the same exact time you are buzzing by us closely. All we are doing is trying to get a workout in and travel along the roads. Even if it annoys you that shouldn’t carry a death sentence, right? I’d hope you aren’t a sociopath and that you’d actually mind murdering somebody for cycling, so please give us a little more space when passing.

Foot on Brake

4) Cutting off a cyclist is a dickhead move

We are past the major safety hazards now and into some etiquette ones now. I know you want to make that right hand turn NOW and not 5 seconds from now. I know you want to come out into the roadway NOW and not 5 seconds from now. Try to be a little courteous though.  Pressing your little footsie on your little pedal is a lot easier than braking a bike and then trying to get back up to speed.  Biking may seem like effortless cruising at times, but it’s hard damn work. I used to just be a runner, and I’d see cyclists fly by thinking “psh. take the easy way out”. That’s not the case. It’s not easy at all, and it’s hard getting up to speed.  It’s akin to a runner needing to sprint all out for 20-30 seconds every time they start running from a stop. Please don’t cut us off.

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5) Getting mad at a cyclist for not obeying every traffic law is cherry picking and hypocritical 

Admittedly this is debatable. I know in the eyes of the law, a cyclist is like a car. That is ridiculous though. A cyclist on a 20 lbs bike isn’t the same as a driver in a 1 ton car.  There are special rules for both of us.  You get to pass us on roads with or without a solid yellow line. That’s fair. We are different than cars. For YOUR convenience, we generally ride on the very side of the road and even the shoulder when available and safe (the shoulder is technically not considered part of the road by law  in most states). Again, we are different than cars and realize this. We may run through a stop sign or continue through a red light when traffic allows and it is safe. Don’t get mad at that. Some cyclists may make a poor decision on when this is “safe” just like some drivers may make a poor decision on when it’s safe to take a right on red, when to  proceed through a stop sign, when to merge through a yield sign, etc.  If you think a cyclist should obey every single car law, then would you mind if we follow your idea and ride in the middle of the lane instead of  the side of the road, and you can only pass us when you are allowed by law to pass other cars? I didn’t think so.  I guarantee you the middle of the road is a lot better quality there.  Let’s be courteous to each other and realize our differences.

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6) Cycling clothes may look silly, but they are functional 

Now this doesn’t include the people decked out  in  their cycling hero’s jersey. That’s like a guy wearing a full Celtics uniform to a pickup basketball game. The clothes themselves are very functional though. Those goofy shirts… Those tight shorts.  Those weird looking helmets. They all serve a very important function that “normal” clothes don’t. Before I started cycling, I laughed at the clothing. When I started, I first tried not to wear the typical cycling gear. I quickly adopted it though because it just makes life so much easier and more comfortable. Try not to judge us. Oh ok. I know that’s hard. Laugh away. Just try to keep in mind that it serves a purpose.

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7) Cycling is hard damn work

I know it can look easy. You look at me and see me pedaling away, not sweating much, and not having painful grimaces on my face. Well, a constant 20mph breeze does a lot for cooling and for drying sweat. Pedaling is hard work.  It may be because I’ve been running for so much longer, but I find cycling more strenuous on the legs than running.  Starting from a stop is like doing heavy lunges for reps, climbing long and/or steep hills is a lesson in physics (and futility), and your thighs burn on a regular basis. Yes. This is fun.

 

http://willworkforadventure.com/2014/06/20/7-things-non-cyclists-should-know-about-road-cycling/

2 Comments

  1. Love how this asshole says “For YOUR convenience, we generally ride on the very side of the road” its not our convenience…its the law asshole, which in most states says if there is a car coming you must get over or even stop all together. Most cycalist choose to skim past this law when reading up, go figure. Fuck off and stay out of the main roads. PERIOD

    • I initially wasn’t going to approve this comment but I figured I would and reply to his ignorance on the slim chance he may come back and get educated.

      Since this person is posting from an Optimum Online ip address I will make the assumption they live in NY. There is no law in NY that states you must stop for a car, the law states you need to ride as close to the right shoulder to not cause undue interference with traffic unless you are making a left turn or need to avoid obstacles in the road. Generally cyclists will ride a couple of feet off the shoulder as a matter of safety which doesn’t generally impede traffic in anyway, even when the driver gives the cyclist the “safe distance” required to pass – generally it’s 3 feet but NY doesn’t make that distinction. The law also allows for a cyclist to ride in the lane of traffic if the lane isn’t wide enough for both a vehicle and bike to ride side by side (i.e. no shoulder or bike lane). Also in NY cyclists are allowed to ride two abreast unless a vehicle is passing which means they need to then ride single file.

      In case there are any further lingering questions here are the relevant statutes from the V&T law:

      VAT Title 7 Article 34:
      § 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes
      and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle
      or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line
      skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been
      provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a
      usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue
      interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left
      turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it
      unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to
      be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to,
      fixed or
      moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians,
      animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or
      person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side
      within the lane.

      (b) Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates
      upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast.
      Persons riding
      bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a shoulder,
      bicycle or in-line skate lane, or bicycle or in-line skates path,
      intended for the use of bicycles or in-line skates may ride two or more
      abreast if sufficient space is available, except that when passing a
      vehicle, bicycle or person on in-line skates, or pedestrian, standing or
      proceeding along such shoulder, lane or path, persons riding bicycles or
      skating or gliding on in-line skates shall ride, skate, or glide single
      file. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates
      upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being
      overtaken by a vehicle.

      VAT Title 7 Article 25:
      § 1120. Drive on right side of roadway; exceptions. (a) Upon all
      roadways of sufficient width a vehicle shall be driven upon the right
      half of the roadway, except as follows:
      2. When overtaking or passing bicyclists, pedestrians, animals or
      obstructions on the right half of the roadway;

      § 1122-a. Overtaking a bicycle. The operator of a vehicle overtaking,
      from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall
      pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear
      thereof.

      PERIOD

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