01 Jan Cycling Etiquette, (pronounced EHT uh keht.)
A whispered code of behaviour helps our community pedal in rotund, harmony together. Not just an arbitrary set of rigid rules concerning the proper dress for racing, but bike protocol, to put order to all cycling-good-manners. Customs introduced, to combat the reality that some cyclists are childish, egotistical numptys. Cycling Etiquette is simply proper consideration for the other cyclists.
We cyclists are very individual, indeed a bit odd; it is why we didn’t go in for team sports in maturity. Odd, and by a large loners, in the animal world we are the Panda. This, ‘squad of one’ mindset can introduce an attitude of selfishness and arrogance. A disregard for other abilities. Cyclists who appear at the Sunday morning spin with evil intent on mislaying the children and infirm on the first climb, proclaiming their self worth. These weak oppressors blame the bike, the tyres, the road surface, the wind, and the tyres again, when they are under pressure. A core of marshmallow.
We cyclists have the personal strength not to be sheep. Never run with the herd. The intellectual power to decide, no I don’t want to kick ball or chase one for 18 holes. I want to do something extremely hard and with few rewards. So we are: ‘Odd’ but in a beautiful way. This in no way excuses these bad manners. This winter, 9 miles into a club spin, I felt a collection of sweat caress my brow, in artic conditions. Unusual, I thought, and then turned around to see the bunch of 30 cyclists split demographically in ones and twos into the horizon. Their separation was distance based on age and borrowed bike. Not 20 minutes ago this weary string was a united group of cyclists. I looked forward to see the catalyst of the destruction: two wannabes wall pissing at the front. As strong individuals, in a detached sport, the only situation we gather as a brightly dressed tribe is this club run. At a race: it is dog eats dog, in a training chain gang: last man standing, but a club spin where different capabilities congregate in human-required friendship, cycling manners must come into play. Regardless of where I have cycled on the planet, where two or more people are gathered in the name of communal training, cave man instincts prevail and one of the group wishes to prove dominance. I define a NUMPTY, as a person(s) who wishes to demonstrate to a lesser, younger, heavier cyclist that they are fitter, stronger. The alpha male in Lycra. A childlike cry for attention normally belongs in the jungle or playground. The result is anger, resentment, split bunch and a weak club. No bonds or friendships cemented, just souls and dreams stepped on.
It seems there is no direct protocol issued, and that the training run should evolve, weekly according to their rank or position or watt output of the strongest. Yes, we train to be strong. But the simple truth is that the ‘club run’ is not the proving ground. Racing is. If you want to prove how good you are, strap a number on, shave the legs and get your photo in the paper. Half-wheeling a 69-year-old, multiple by-pass veteran won’t win you any medals; or friends.
The name ‘club run’ is the key. This chance for cyclists, of all abilities in the area comes together to enjoy a mutual hobby. The young receiving experience form the old. The old, passing on war stories of riding to races with punctures; racing and riding home with no tyres. Ancient, compulsory punishment pre-1971 for not winning. The weekly training spins are ‘the’ club. United by name and jersey under one banner. An alliance with associates, then divided by the assassin.
Who sees a victory in an eleven year old new comer stopped, at the side of the road, red faced and tears dripping on fresh bar tape: wondering why he ever took up the sport. It is even poor training for the bully. The longest training cycle available each week should be allocated to the long level two spins. This preparation ride is required regularly to build or maintain the efficiency of the cardio system. To learn to breath proficiently when the body is under moderate pressure and to educate our system to metabolize energy from the fat store. A steady long, continual effort, is proven best. Best for everyone. An opportunity for all to enjoy the long, base spin together. Take pleasure in our sport, don’t fill it with resentment.
If the club spin destroyer want harder training, all level three work should be done in small groups of similar ability. On climbs if they want a work out; stick it in the 12 sprocket and sit. Same speed as the group with a bit of power preparation. A urine test for these few would reveal positive for insecurity and self-importance. Show me a club run wrecker (CRW) that ever won a race.
Club Protocol. It’s down in writing, it has been voted on and every one will pass the following recommendations as they don’t see them selves as guilty.
A club run captain shall be appointed, experienced, ex-racer slightly overweight. His whistle will control speed and direction.
Route will be planned in advance, allowing latecomers to plan a catch up, with the length increasing with the temperature. A cut off point will be designated for shorter run. Speed will be maintained until this cut off is reached.
If a member of the run punctures, the group will cycle for a mile, turn and return for the victim. If it’s in the last 20 km, the captain will ensure he has spares, only then: – forsaken.
Half wheeling is outlawed. (Same speed but where the bars do not line up.) The cyclist enforcing pressure is to be taken away to an isolated wood and shot.
Helmets and brakes working and fitted to the correct bit. Change on the right, up and over after 2km. keeps conversation fresh, bonds club and ears unbent.
New, young riders must have a relative or allocated ‘sponsor’ to keep them safe and informed.
Good decorum when meeting a friend in the street is shaking hands. When introduced, look the person in the eyes and use a firm grip to express sincerity. On the bike this changes to a “How’s it going?” and then a compliment on weight loss, form or new component. Simple Courtesy. Try to think of others. If you want to race: get a license and use it. There will be a load of guys and girls who will relish your showing off in the early laps, the club run is a time of companionship and group camaraderie.
As prehistoric people began to interact with one another, they learned to behave in ways that made life easier and more pleasant. Don’t make training spins full of shouts of “steady” and “knock it off”. Only laughter and chat and skipping gears should be heard on a Sunday morning. It’s proper bike conduct. Be odd, but with consideration. It’s the mark of a true cyclist. You will enjoy your sport more and your sport will enjoy you.