Sunday, January 03, 2010

Back in the saddle (Alternate title; Why are roadies assholes?)

So, in the past 7 days, I've only missed one day of riding and that was last Tuesday to allow my ass and legs a short chance to catch their breath after getting back on the bike following an unwanted month-long break. It has felt good to feel so crappy on the bike. I swear, it feels like I am in worse shape after the past 3+ months of sporadic riding than I was after my crash-induced break from riding. Since September, I don't think I've put together more than two weeks of riding in one chunk and have had more than one month-long break. Needless to say, it's made me fat and whiny... and I'm not sure which in larger proportion (though I did go from a much better 195lbs back to 210+... ugh).

It ain't like I've been logging major miles or mega hours, but I have been managing to get an hour to two at a time and have been trying to insert a little bit of intensity into the rides... without totally ripping myself to pieces and working my way into yet another injury. I've been doing some relatively simple rides during lunch at work and then did some quality riding over the past three days off. I've been putting some good miles on the fixed gear too, which I really love- for as much as I love my lightweight, high performance race bikes, I am happiest when ploughing along on my steel road fixed. Spinning a 46x16 with 170mm crank arms on a 20+lb steel bike just feels like "home" to me. That said, I've certainly been getting out on the geared bikes as well. The roads around the office are so not-flat that it kinda hinders my desire to ride fixed in the deplorable level of fitness I currently possess. Once I've gotten enough fitness to muscle over the hills at work, I'll be back to doing hill repeats and sprint intervals on the fixed during lunch... but until then I am happily grunting my way along on my race bikes. (It's good to be this spoiled.)

I find the ride data from the past three days to be kinda interesting (but then again, I'm a total dork)...
Friday- fixed gear ride around the bay area here and one of my regular training loops with only one real "climb" riding back home through downtown to my apartment; 1:12:30, 17.5av/35.2mx MPH, 21.3mi, 80av/ 157mx RPM, 144av/ 175mx HR.

Saturday- hopped in on the local training ride- "Chilis"- and suffered with the group for about 40min before blowing apart, though I did have two good efforts in the group first. I then peeled off on my own and put in a couple of solo efforts with a bit of intensity; 1:48:26, 18.3av/ 42.7mx MPH, 33.28mi, 70av/ 129mx RPM, 138av/ 180mx HR.

Sunday- rode down the hill from my place on the fixed to Fiesta Island (local flat, circular training loop) and put in a couple of high intensity efforts riding deep in the drops of the bars (to simulate racing on the track) along with recovery laps; 1:31:59, 18.7av/ 33.3mx MPH, 28.71mi, 84av/ 146mx RPM, 153av/ 182mx HR.

None of the numbers really stand out, but I am pretty pleased with today's numbers after the way I blew apart on Saturday's ride. Given how dead I felt after the ride Saturday, it's nice to see that my legs and heart both turned around pretty well for today. After a slow start this morning, I was pretty happy with how my legs felt during my efforts. Not that I'm likely to follow through on the "threat", but those hard efforts had me contemplating an attack of the Masters Hour Record... or at least attempting to build up the fitness to try. I just need to get somebody willing to motorpace me on a regular basis... any takers out there?


All this recent return to riding has plagued me with a burning question; why are roadies (and I am one) such assholes? I love "my people", but many of them are regular sh@theads. Many people far better than me at writing about the topic have covered this before, but it's an amazing fact that so few road cyclists- especially the Ricky Racer types- appear to have any kind of social skills, or are the most obnoxiously elitist and self infatuated bunch of jerks on the planet. Don't get me wrong, I have many friends who are nice people and even happen to ride road bikes... but the overwhelming majority of people I encounter on the road are seemingly unaware of the world around them, or are far too important to acknowledge the existence of others on the road.

Now, I'm not such a candy ass that I'm all upset about not getting a wave or hello from my fellow riders. I'm "upset" (and have been for years) that there are so few folks who seem willing to recognize that they do not have sole possession of the road or that they are not, after all, the greatest thing to ever grace the surface of the planet.

I have all kinds of cycling apparel after all these years on a bike and on teams, working with various companies (previously working for a clothing company) and having good friends who are kind to me. My clothes range from the team kits for teams I am on/ have been on, teams I have worked with or still work with and "regular" cycling apparel. It never ceases to amaze me how I am treated by other racer-types if I'm riding in camouflage by not wearing team gear, but regular cycling clothing- you can almost smell the disdain and the "what a dork" disgust. The flipside to that however is the response I occasionally get from "regular riders" who give me the "elitist jerk" stares if I am riding in team gear... or the need to chase me down, pass me, and sprint for the next light or hill so they can "win" or "beat the racer". About the only folks who don't seem to have an immediate attitude are the people riding beat up mountain bikes as road bikes or the occasional recumbent riders.

Seriously, what happened to not being a prick? What happened to not instantly judging somebody by their clothes or their bike? Honestly, many years ago this was not the case- I have more than a few fond memories of riding as a young roadie in Alabama and never being given the types of attitude that fly around so easily now. We cyclists were a tiny group, so we were much less exclusive and much more inclusive of others on bikes... any bikes. Maybe now that our numbers have swelled, it has become necessary for some to treat all other cyclists like underlings who must bow to their superiority. (One could make all kinds of assumptions about the manhood/ womanhood of some of these people... bald spots, little blue pills, the need for younger wives and expensive cars to compensate for shortcomings, etc...)

I have made it a personal crusade for many years to make an effort to at least nod or give a slight wave of the hand from the handlebar when I see other riders- riders of all types. I've even been known to exaggerate the wave or sit up and scream "hello friends" to passing groups of riders, just to get ANY response from them. Unless you are at lactate threshold during intense interval training and are blind/ deaf from the effort and intensity... nod your damned head at least! For real people, is it any wonder that many people see cyclists as pariahs? We treat our own people like sh@t, run red lights and stop signs with abandon, yell at motorists who don't see us (right or wrong) and generally act like total jerks... why?

I'm sure I'll get blasted by some folks for these comments, but for crying out loud... this "I'm better than you" BS needs to stop. I have a feeling that if we treated each other with a little more respect, we might start to get a little more respect from non-cyclists. How does the expression go? You can't be loved by somebody else until you love your self?

If you're reading this, maybe you're not one of the people profiled above, but I'm sure you know the people I'm talking about. Maybe you actually are one of the elitists I'm talking about... if so, pull your head out of your ass, clean off your glasses so you can see the world around you and try acting a little less like your bib shorts are three sizes too small. If we all agree to at least acknowledge each other's right to exist and have space on the road- whether we approve of the other's bike/ clothing/ drivetrain choice or not- maybe we can actually get back to the business of enjoying the sport of cycling... rather than finding ways to separate ourselves from each other.

Maybe I'm the one who's the asshole here... I wouldn't be shocked... but I have a feeling I'm not alone.



Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, my peeve is other riders not waving back. Come on people, we're a community!

Tim Jackson said...

Yes, to be clear(er), that is what I meant by my rant- I wave, or otherwise acknowledge, every rider or group of riders I encounter. It's the "no reply" that irritates me.

Velocodger said...

We are NOT a community, because many cyclists ride bikes for ego gratification, not for any love of cycling per se. I've heard racers say, "When I don't win races I'll stop riding". This attitude, and "equipment/clothing snobbism",is just another type of ego gratification. My Pinarello was painted the same as a costlier model. A rider on the expensive bike spotted me, and I thought he was going to smile and have a conversation. As soon as he saw my bike was not the high-priced model, he scowled and rode away! Ahh, roadies..a scowl instead a smile, a sneer instead a hello. Even before Lance (lead jerk)roadies have been known for being elitist. Even worse is the conversation (if one is unfortunate enough to have one), snide one-upmanship designed to crush the ego of anyone listening. Love the sport, hate the attitude.

blue squirrel said...

i'm pretty nice...
[for the record, sometimes after 70 miles my girly arms are too tired to lift to wave, but i do, do the 4 finger bar wave]

sadly i agree with you, the other thing that makes me smile are the weekend warriors on their $6000 carbon hooped overpriced pro bike with matching place settings, that just got on the road and has to hammer past you, without a hello of course, that always cracks me up as i pass them up in few miles at my glacial pace. or is it the new tri-guy / gal fashion trend of wearing a tank top style jersey with arm warmers, now that is comedy]

Daniel Large said...

Unfortunately Tim, I feel your point is a common one... I once had a long time "roadie" give me a huge load of shit for waving at everyone passing by. He asked me if I was in a parade. That made me really think hard about why I always wave. I came to the realization that I cannot help it. I lived in a small mountain to...wn for a long time and before that I lived in Encinitas back when it was still a sleepy small beach community. In these types of communities you see the same people all the time. You may not know their names but you recognize their faces as neighbors and you acknowledge them. Unfortunately here in small small town of San Diego folks do not seem to get that they are part of a community of people, and the same people, are taking the same commute with them on the same roads at the same time every day. In these days we are becoming more and more de-sensitized from lack of direct contact to other people. We interact via modern technology instead of face to face.I feel that most of these people bring the American automobile mentality with them when they get on the bike. When people are in the car they do not see other human beings. They see adversaries. Plus they base theirs and others self worth on the car that they drive. When they look at another bike/car they are establishing themselves in the hierarchy of their world. I feel lucky to be part of many small communities and I strive to bring them together by one common thread, my desire to meet and enjoy experiences with other people. When I am out in public I always find myself making eye contact and giving a smile/nod with fingers raised. I do it when I am on the moto, on foot, or even when I am suffering up one of the ungodly hills on my bike. So I say do not despair Tim. Just keep waving. You will be the richer for it. Oh and BTW why didn’t you wave back at me when you were stopped at the redlight in front of Costco on Palomar Airport road a few weeks back?

ervgopwr said...

Dan, excellent car-driver analogy.

Tim, no reply.

j/k :)

Another (critical?)pitiful mass of one/one-man parade here: on the road/track, commuting, to the store, happy hour at the bar...see ya'll out there!

Dan O said...

Interesting post. Every culture has it's uniform.

Even though you occasionally get a whiff of that attitude here in the Seattle area - it seems to not be epidemic. Most everyone on a bike is pretty damn friendly.

If I'm on the road, I'll often shoot a low key wave or nod at anyone riding in the other direction. If I pass anyone, I usually give a quick "What's up? or friendly "Hey" as a I cruise past. Some who are too into themselves seem to take that as a challenge, then try and drop you. Most however just reply back.

I commute a lot on the Burke-Gilman Trail, just so happens to take me 90% to work (awesome). Waving at everyone heading the opposite way on this well used trail would be plain loopy. I do get and give the occasional "racer nod" to people who appear to know what they're doing (with me - all an illusion). With the volume people on the trail, I rarely say anything while passing - unless "cool bike" or something along those lines.

I used to ride motorcycles (a lot) - huge waving culture there. Everyone waves - expect for Harley riders - which completely cracks me up. Maybe they waved at one time, but now with many Japanese cruiser bikes out there - probably too risky to make a mistake - they may not actually be on a Harley. Being a sport bike guy with full race leathers, bright helmet, etc - I'd wave at all riders and especially Harley riders - just for fun.

As far as the bike uniform - pedal or fossil powered - snubbing people on account of clothes or value of what's being ridden is ridiculous.

If I was fast enough (I'm not) - would be huge fun to cruise the streets and bike paths riding a beater bike with jeans, ancient helmet and whatever else is "uncool". Follow snobby racers (or wanna be racers) asking annoying questions, then slowly pull ahead and drop 'em. Maybe teach then a lesson?

Unfortunately - I doubt it....

Anonymous said...

Being acknowledged or not does not bother me. Some guys just get "in the zone" and have tunnel vision.
What is rratating is a rider or group who while I am in my car, do stupid moves thatmake me take evasive action, and I have been riding seriously for almost 4 decades. Darwin's law will catch up with them some day I fear.
I have almost always ridden while solo with no team gear, and only with when on a Club ride. Old School probably.
I also assume any unknown ride, no matter how strong is a dangerous rider until they prove otherwise. There are too many strong and stupid guys out there.

Anonymous said...

On another similar topic, why do groups of riders think they own the road? Whether I am in my car or on my bike, drives me nuts when a group of riders will park out in the right turn lane, preventing traffic from moving at a stop light...or when a small group will stop, in the bike lane, and sit there talking, forcing other riders to swerve out into traffic...have they not considered moving up against the curb, or onto the shoulder?...or, when I have passed a large group, and they proceed to repass me at a traffic light - forcing me to once again ride around them. Some of the groups in north county of San Diego have no problem occupying TWO full lanes of traffic including the bike lane. The back lash to all of this of course is the irate driver who generalizes to all cyclists...I get tired of being screamed at, honked at, squeezed out - by drivers who hate cyclists.


Noodle said...

Nice post, Tim.

I always appreciate those who, while passing me (and I'm always getting passed), say 'Hi', Particularly if we're on a long climb and they're not passing me at any great speed.

I've actually noticed that since the temperatures have gone down on the east coast, the chattiness and friendliness of roadies passing me on my morning rides has gone up. Perhaps there's a camaraderie in riding in freezing temps - a sort of "hey, we're all nuts for being out here and there's not many people around this time of year so let's say hey" attitude? So different to summer - a lot friendlier and more social.

As someone who hasn't been a road cyclist for that long, let me just say that I found the culture itself to be kind of intimidating when I was starting out. Moments of non-assholery actually give me a little more confidence to reach out to strangers (non of my friends ride) and join group rides rather than go solo all the time. I'll widen my appreciation of non-assholery to include bike shop guys, who are often roadies themselves, who have taken me seriously and been patient with my many 'new girl getting into cycling' questions. It's such a great sport - I personally would love to see more women in it.

Just my two cents. I'd say not all roadies are assholes, but I think all cyclists have the capacity to be. Just like all humans.