Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Few Things I Strongly Dislike About Other Bicyclers That If I Don't Whine About Right Now I'LL JUST DIE!!!

A couple of weeks ago, my friend John and I rode a century ride together. It was well organized and a fun ride over mostly country roads on a nice sunny and not too warm day. There were perhaps 150 people doing the century ride, and many others doing shorter rides as well, and for the most part, John and I rode by ourselves and rarely were in sight of other people.

There were five rest stops along the way, and we took advantage of each one to refill our water bottles and partake of the available snacks. We both have reached the conclusion that when we ride together, we go slower than we could go alone because we tend to visit and talk instead of ride, and that's okay, because the ride is the thing. So we finished the 100 miles with an average moving speed of 15 miles an hour (my little bike computer showed 15.0 miles per hour, his rounded down to 14.9). Turned out our rest stops averaged more than ten minutes each, which is odd because they didn't feel like they took that long, so the whole day went from about 7:00 am to close to 3:00 pm.

Along the way, two things happened that make me ashamed to be associated with most other bike riders. Okay three things. The first one happened when John and I were riding along, enjoying the day, and we saw another cyclist on the left side of the road on his cell phone calling the SAG wagon for mechanical assistance. We (well, John actually) asked what was up and if we could help, and the guy said "I have a broken spoke and am calling for help, thanks."

Neither of us had a spoke and couldn't help. But John had had broken spokes before so he said to the guy "I've ridden without a spoke before, do you want to try that?" (Like I said, we tend to go slow, so we had time for this whole conversation as we rode along). And the guy responded "Yeah, I did that once and destroyed a thousand dollar wheel." We went "oh, well have a good day, then," and pedaled on.

About ten seconds later, both John and I realized that 1) that guy's single $1,000 wheel cost more than both John's and my bikes combined, and 2) that guy must have had to replace his $1,000 wheel with another one exactly like it, and ended up in the same pickle of a broken spoke again, and 3) neither John nor I had ever had a wheel destroyed due to a broken spoke, and as previously noted, the combined cost of both of our bikes was less than the price of a single wheel for that guy...

So the modern proverb "MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS" seems to fit in this situation.

Not that I'm particularly jealous of a $1,000 wheel, it's that I'm shocked that after destroying one before, it was replaced with another one of the same price and it had the same problem! And the guy acted all proud that he somehow managed to destroy a $1,000 wheel before and was able to do it again! If I destroyed a wheel that cost that much, I'd be severely agitated to say the least!

And then later on, John and I were getting back on our bikes after a rest stop and a small group of guys rolled in for the break and gently settled their bikes on the tall roadside grass. One said to the other "I see you got a new helmet for your new ride, huh?" and the other guy said yes (It was one of those $200 Catlike helmets and I won't even go there). Then the first guy says, "if you don't mind, may I ask now much you paid?" and pointed towards the other guy's shiny black bicycle.

The other guy was responding as John and I slowly rolled away, "well, I spent $8,000 on the frame before I built it up with..." and then I was out of hearing range.


And I looked at my bike as I was riding it. The whole thing was $400 brand new just over a year ago. The crank arms are scratched, some of the bolts have rust in them, and several areas are scratched and smudged and permanently marked from where I lean it up against posts and bungee cord it to the bike rack on my car. After just over a year of heavy use, it looks used, and I like it that way. I wipe it down every now and then, and clean the chain and stuff. It's a good bike, solid and reliable.

If I paid EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR JUST THE FRAME, I'd sure as heck not be laying it down in grass! I don't even know if I'd ride the bugger! Sweat drips on it, little rocks fly up to chip the paint, cable housings rub at various points. EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A BICYCLE FRAME? THE GUY HAD A POT BELLY THAT MADE HOMER SIMPSON LOOK ANOREXIC!

I don't see the point in dropping so much money on something that only professional racers could take advantage of. I know it shouldn't bother me, but some people have more dollars than sense, if you know what I mean. And the guy was clearly bragging and smug with his fancy purchase.

So John and I were contemplating this, and the general priorities of people, and I admitted that I kind of also have a case of upgrade-it is. And I quietly told John that I, too, have a dream to one day upgrade my frame. And do you know what I want? THE TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR PLAIN WHITE NO-NAME ALUMINUM NASHBAR ROAD FRAME WITH CARBON SEAT AND CHAINSTAYS!


So for the rest of the ride, about 35 miles, every now and then John or I (mostly I) blurted out "eight thousand dollars? For a frame?"

Just unbelievable.

So eventually we rolled to the end and ate a great lunch that was provided for us: brisket sandwiches with cole slaw and potato salad and sodas. And we reviewed the day, we realized that during many of the segments between rest stops, we were passed by the same groups of people all "pacelining" and such, and they were all announcing "on your left!" as they went by. Then at the rest stops, they sat there and visited and ate, while John and I snacked and moved on.

And more than a few of these "on your left!"-ers were really weird in that they practically came to a standstill at the slightest of hills. I won't even get started on how illogical that is, slowing down before you get to the bottom of a climb in anticipation of the perceived effort. BAH.

So anyway, John and I wondered why these groups would put forth all the effort to ride a brisk pace and then take 30 minute breaks at each rest stop. It didn't make much sense to us. Yes, it's not a race, and there wan't any official timing, but still it's a hundred mile ride, so we both thought you want to ride as much as you could, not rest at fire stations and roadside convenience stores. It struck us both as odd that a few groups of people would collude in such a way as to ride the segments at a speedy clip and then lollygag at rest stops for so long.

Over the last couple weeks as these observations have sunk in, it's not surprising to me how the general public is annoyed at cyclists in general. Many of us are pompous arrogant pr*cks who overspend on things and don't know how to maintain or fix in many cases. Many of us hog the road because "we have the same rights as a car and should be able to ride side by side at any and every time!" but don't realize that we actually are not cars in that we can't go as fast. It's just good manners to try to be considerate to drivers and not get in their way if you can help it.

Still, with all the people out there inadvertantly screwing up our collective reputation as cyclists, I really really like riding my bike. It's totally fun and happily it's good exercise as well. So I'll keep on doing it the way I do it. But don't lump me in with those target-heartrate cadence monitoring freds.


  1. Lump me in with Kenny. Big time.

  2. ...and then I popped my cycle on the trunk rack of my BMW 325i and drove away!