Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The cyclist's birthday

It's my birthday this week and I've managed to pretty much clear out my wish list for bike-related gear.

A month or so I bought a few back issues of the wonderful Bicycle Quarterly magazine which I really enjoyed, so I dropped a few pointed hints that their book: The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles would be appreciated. Mrs Surly Dave has ordered a copy and I'm camped by the mailbox until it arrives.

I had a little unexpected cash windfall this week, so to make the waiting more tolerable I bought myself a few presents including a new floor pump, a long-coveted Nitto M12 mini front rack and some mudguards for winter, which is supposedly upon us soon despite the lovely warm weather we've been having.

Along the way, I've been mulling over some things I saw during the recent Melbourne Autumn Daytour. It was a lovely day and because I'm now a lot fitter and riding a better bike, I tend to ride much further up in the field rather than down the back with the strugglers and the stragglers. It was obvious that a lot of roadies were treating the ride as either a) a race, which it is not or b) a high speed group training ride. As they came past me I caught onto the back of the odd bunch to enjoy a high-speed tow along in their draft for a while before dropping off to continue at my own pace.

I tried striking up a conversation with several riders in the bunches, but managed to get only grunts in return. It might have been because I was riding a touring bike with cantilever brakes and a rear rack. I wasn't too surprised they weren't too friendly because I've long observed that the more expensive the bike the less likely you are to get a wave, a smile or a nod. I've been working up to this rant for a while:

  • The fact you've spend untold thousands on a bike and covered yourself in the logos of a professional team doesn't make you a better cyclist, although sometimes it does go a long way towards making you look like a wanker.
  • There's nothing clever or special or tough about riding up and down Beach Road in a big bunch. It's flat and you're getting pulled along by others. You're not impressing anyone. Get over yourself.
  • Save your racing for races. I suspect many of you are just wannabes. Ride for fun, not to satisfy some sort of competitive urge. You might even crack a smile occasionally.
  • You are very visible to the motoring public, so obey the road rules. You're giving the rest of us a bad name.
  • Be pleasant to other cyclists, even if they may not look as fast (or ridiculous) as you. It costs nothing and is good public relations. And you need friends like never before.


Anonymous said...

Good rant, can't say I disagree.

I try to be pretty friendly out on the road, I'll usually smile and nod at most people I pass.
I have noticed something though, when I'm on my road bike and in my riding gear, the roadies will say hi, but most commuters won't. If I'm on my cross bike with the rack and wearing cargo pants and a t shirt, then I'll get a nod from other commuters.

It goes both ways I guess, people are just wary of "them".

David Killick said...

Good point - although you racy blokes (and gals) are sometimes going a bit quick for us humble commuters to say hi to! I always manage a wave at people going the other way, but people passing from behind are dots on the horizon before I have a chance to lift my hand.

Unknown said...

Coincidentally enough, Nick from Cheeky Transport introduced me to the Bicycling Quarterly magazine just last night.

And now you say there's a very attractive book available. Hmmm....

Tim said...

My my covered a bit of ground in that little blog. Totally agree about the roadies, though I do get a wave out of some of them. I witnessed the worst behaviour by any cyclists that I have seen for a long time on your "single hard" ride of a month or two back and yes it was a bunch of roadies.

Lovely book, a much coveted item for the library sometime, though perhaps we dont need two copies in the Valley. It wont be long and there will be two BQ subscribers.


David Killick said...

Yeah, a bit if a rant, but I feel better now that it's off my chest. I'll go back to being a nice person again now.

Tim, I'll lend you my copy of the book once I've finished drooling over it. (It's still not here).