Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Butt Service – aka: Why are all roadies assholes?

My digital camera has died, so with no new new pictures to post it's time for a rant.

In the lead-up to the singlespeed champs I was riding a lot more than I usually do. I even got a couple of half day passes from Margaret to go out for a two or three hour stint, which is unheard of in my normal weekly routine. It was great fun and I was happy to just be out there on the roads exploring some local areas I hadn't had a chance to look around previously. 

Now I'm a little shy, but when I see another cyclist I say hello or at the very least give a wave as we pass. I come from a motorcycle background and there's a real camaraderie in those circles. On the open road you always acknowledge other riders, be it a tattooed grandfather on a Harley or a skinny fifteen year old boy-racer hunched over his 125 like a dog humping a cricket ball. We are all having fun on two wheels and we are all targets for idiots in cars.
Mountain bikers are a bit like that too. Not as much as when I started in the early 90s, but they are still pretty friendly no matter what you are riding. 

Road riders on the other hand seem to have a chip on their shoulders. I suspect that a lot of the lycra-clad assholes I run into on my neighbourhood roads are not really "cyclists" at all. By cyclists I mean people who love riding bikes, and as an extension of that love the bicycle. 

I have a theory that a large percentage of these guys (and it's usually guys) are actually car drivers in disguise and are riding for two reasons only: 
1. So they can LOOK and BE cool (just like Lance except he's a cheating, lying bastard) and 
2. For the fitness benefits (substitute for dressing in lycra at the gym to LOOK and BE cool).

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of road racing. I love Le Tour. I love their sleek carbon machines. Even though I don't want one I can appreciate how fast, light and efficient they are. What I don't like is the riders attitude. 

I did a little experiment on one training ride. I shouted out a friendly good morning to every rider I came across on my Saturday morning loop. The first thirteen riders passed within earshot without one single response. Not a nod of the head or the wave of a hand. Nothing! 
I don't know if the results would be different if I was riding a road bike instead of a monstrous purple mountain bike but by the time I got to Devonport I was getting a bit grumpy myself. 

Rider number 14

Rider number 14 was not going to ignore me. I was going to force him to talk! 
I met rider number 14 on a short steep access road on North Head. North Head is a small volcanic cone that was heavily fortified to protect our harbour in the late 1800s. I was riding up the road to the summit at 8.30am and there was not a soul around. It was dead quite and I was enjoying the pain of grinding a heavy singlespeed up this climb when a roadie slowly overtook me without saying a word and just kept on riding. I saw red. I put on a burst of speed to catch him and verbally assaulted him with friendly small-talk. I made a real effort to breath easy and disguise the pain I was in as I could see he was hurting. Once I got him talking he even mentioned that he had noticed I had no gears and my tyres were very fat. Shame he hadn't thought to mention that as we almost rubbed shoulders on the initial encounter. 

Well he seemed like a fairly nice guy once I got him talking so I let him off with an attitude warning and started for home... eight more riders were encountered without a single response. I got home a little depressed and formulated a plan. I'm not going to beat myself up trying to teach these people manners. That would be pointless. What I am going to do is fight them at their own game and wipe the road with their entrails. 

I'm looking at getting a Surly Cross-Check at the moment. It looks a bit like an old-fashioned road bike but is tougher and you can ride them off-road as well. Not as light as a road bike, but still pretty fast. Mine will have mudguards (fenders)... Mine will have a rear rack... Mine will have a case of beer lashed to the rack... That case will not contain beer but will contain polystyrene... It will be ridden by a tall skinny guy in casual clothes and sandals... That tall skinny guy will blow past these bastards uphill, traveling so fast that pursuit will seem pointless... That tall skinny guy will give the impression that he is not even trying... You can tell he's not trying by the size of the smile on his face ;-)


macdo said...

Just found your blog and enjoying it. In my fifties and entering my fourth new phase of cycling with a commute/cruise-around emphasis. Also history with motorcycles so understand where you are at. Live in Auckland. Great to see the Pugsleys here in NZ. Some sort of Surly will be my next bike purchase, no doubt about it. Just which one???
Oh and... I get to talk to people commuting but that's because we look like commuters (a Hi Vis vest is one giveaway, and a bike coloured black or grey). My wife has taken to riding for fitness most days (on my previous commuter, a black MTB with slicks) and is also an assertive "good morning" person. She reckons roadies over 50 will reply but otherwise she too gets nothing. Oh and... loved the Rotorua photos.

Antoine said...

Thanks for the feedback. Say hello if you see me riding around. I'm pretty easy to spot on the Pugsley.

I just read the post again and it sounds like I'm full of venom! I'm not like that at all, I'm a friendly guy but I did mean everything I said. I'm 42 and I think as you get older you are just not as concerned about acting cool. I do get responses sometimes from the grey haired riders.

Because of the hours I work I don't get any contact with the commuter crowd. I have never seen another cyclist of any kind when I ride home at 11pm, only drunks and boy-racers.

Doug said...

This must be a universal phenomenon. The same thing happens here. The more expensive the carbon bike and kit, the less friendly the rider seems to be.

We have another thing in common. We both think LA is a cheating, lying bastard, yet still love le tour.

welshcyclist said...

Enjoyed the post immensely, it has struck a cord with me, I have complained on my post about this very fact, they are totally ignorant. After my 2 years of cycling, on the roads around Neath, here in South Wales, I still fail to get a nod, wave or any hint of recognition from the few regulars I see, i.e., the ones in all the gear. As you say those on mountain/ transport bikes are all friendly, and will say a quick hello. They're saddos as far as I am concerned, and what's even sadder, is that it seems to be the same the whole world over. It must be a built in attitude problem, that "roadies", must have, or is it a way of being anonymous, hard to believe, I know, with all that gear, but they are so competitive, that to be beaten is complete anathema to them, and they'd rather not show any kind of recognition, to any possible adversary. Does that make sense? Or is it that they are just snobs on bikes? Guess I'd better leave the psychology to others.


Antoine said...

WC: I think you're on to something with your "snobs on bikes" theory and I love the phrase.

It's a shame because I like riding all types of bikes and appreciate others getting out and about under their own steam no matter what they are riding.

Chris said...

A buddy of mine said the same thing a couple of weeks ago. I ride in the same areas he does and I usually get a response from everyone I wave to or say good morning to. Many times I end up riding with strangers (who are roadies) that I meet at stoplights for a few miles chatting it up about cycling. I never though about it but I'm usually riding a road bike (or my Cross-check) and wearing spandex. I can even get the elusive-pro-looking-team-sponsored roadies to chat with me. Maybe they think I'm one of them.

The people who seem to ignore me are the jerks in cars who almost run me over. They seem to ignore my friendly waves and speed away like a brain surgeon late for an emergency procedure.

Antoine said...

I regret to inform you Chris that if you're wearing spandex and riding a skinny tire road bike you are one of them! But that's OK, I'll still give you a wave.

With legs like mine you don't want to be wearing spandex too often. I've got a Thudbuster suspension seat post on the Pug and I can ride for 2 or 3 hours in normal shorts with no discomfort at all. I don't find myself out longer than that at the moment so I haven't worn padded cycling shorts for years.

amarburg said...

Greetings from down in Christchurch. I stumbled on your blog while working my way through the MPLS bikey-blog consortium.

I get a weird competitive/anti-social vibe from the commuters down here. Sure, roadies you'd expect, but why shouldn't commuters talk to each other? Too busy working themselves into a lather and trying to get their stoplight intervals, I guess.

Side question: I'm a recent (1-year-old) migrant (yes, I know, another darned foreigner). What's the deal with Surly availability in NZed? I've got commuter/cargo bike dreams and either a 1x1, KM or a (gulp) Big Dummy are starting to like mighty attractive.


Antoine said...

The NZ Surly (and Salsa) importer is Cycle Supplies of Christchurch.
Speak to David Whittam there and he will be able to recommend a local bike shop to deal with. You can also get the "complete" Long Haul Trucker, Steamroller and Cross-Checks.

Antoine said...

I was looking at getting a Karate Monkey when I fell for the Pugsley. Nice versatile bikes, but it's a bit more work getting racks and fenders fitted with less attachment bosses on the frame, although I have seen it done well.

I have lusted after a Big Dummy since they were first announced and even started buying a few components when I got good deals. That bike is on hold at the moment as I'm getting by with my old MTB and a kiddie trailer.

amarburg said...

Thanks for that. I'll drop Cyclesupplies a line and see who I can deal with here in Chch. I suspect the answer will be "any of the big boys" but you never know.

I'll let you know if project cargo bike comes together.

Murray Dewhurst said...

Antoine you venomous old bastard! I liked that post — it would read great published in a magazine somewhere.

Buy the way, the Fat Chance has been striped right down. I went to install the Trade Me buy of the century - my old/new $42 White Industries rear wheel — and thought bugger it, lets strip and paint the beast.