Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Etiquette on a Road Ride.

1. If you see a disabled cyclist outside the city, ask if they need help. Even if they say no, ask again, many of us are embarrassed to admit that we forgot the pump. Getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere sucks. We all forget something sometimes and good deeds come back around. You never know when it will be you who doesn’t have a pump or a tube.

2. Do not spit into the wind or blow snot rockets into the riders behind you. Either get the back of the group, or shield them from you fluids with your arm.

3. Don’t share water bottles. Cyclists are delicate little flowers and prone to illness. Chances are that either you or your buddy has a bug. Don’t even ask.

4. Carry extra food. Firstly, running out of grub midride can be devastating. Better to finish with a bar in your pocket than bonk 30 miles from home. Wouldn’t you rather be the guy giving your buddy or teammate a Gu instead of the guy cadging one?

5. Take your pulls. If you are on a fast ride with your friends, don’t sit in and then sprint for every townline, its bad form. On the same note, there is no rule against timing your pulls so that you are fresh for the sprint.

6. Wait for your friends at the top of the climb. In a race you drop people; on a friendly ride, even a fast one, you should wait for everyone before hammering down that confusing part of ride following the climb. Besides, the strongest guy on the ride may have gotten dropped because he flatted through no fault of his own.

7. Carry all of the stuff that you could need on every ride. At the very least this includes a tube, levers and an inflation device that works. Obviously more is better. Everyone loves the prepared guy who has an extra tube, a functional multitool and a working frame pump. Everyone despises the guy who has nothing and needs to borrow all of the supplies to fix a flat every time.

8. When your buddy flats, roll up his flatted tube for him. If you really like the guy, you can even hold his disabled bike so that he doesn’t have to make the choice between laying his derailleur in the dirt or flipping the bike and dirtying his white bartape and matching white saddle.

9. Oil your squeaks before the ride. No one wants to be behind the guy with the poorly tuned bike, it makes people uneasy, like the bike may explode at any minute. We all know that guy, don’t be him.

10. Your bike should be well tuned at all times. Fine tuning at the meeting spot is acceptable, but showing up with a derailleur that needs major work is amateurish.

11. Keep your power and heart rate data to yourself. It’s fine to recount how you won a field sprint or bested your fellow riders on a climb, but keep those geeked out numbers to yourself. Since no one is going to do the math using your weight and power numbers so that the power files make sense, the numbers mean nothing to anyone but you and your coach. No one gives a shit that you can put out 1400 watts. Keep the stories qualitative and you will keep your listeners interested.

12. Don’t complain. I am guilty of this. If the roads suck, the pace it too high, and there is too much traffic, don’t go on the ride next time. For now, shut it. If the ride is faster than you and your coach thinks is prudent ask nicely if the hammerheads will slow down (if it was agreed beforehand that this was an easy ride), otherwise just drop back and ride alone at your own pace.

13. Don’t ramp up the pace on an easy ride. If everyone agreed that the ride was going to be long and steady or a pastry ride, don’t be the douchebag who sprints for townlines or tries to cook your friends by ramping up the pace. Chances are they are saving it for an upcoming race or have some training goals for the ride. If you are killing it when everyone else if trying to take it easy, perhaps you should evaluate your own goals.

14. Don’t put the other people on the ride in danger. This deserves a whole post.

15. Point out or call out obstacles in the road. Ice, large rocks glass and deep potholes are all worthy of pointing out and calling. Don’t point out minor items that would not take a rider down, it becomes tedious for everyone behind you to sort the real obstacles from the minor ones.

16. Don’t make unexpected moves in a group. If you are in a tightly packed group and you see a manhole cover at the last second, better to ride over it than to swerve and take out the rider beside you.

17. If your buddies are not going to make it through the intersection with you, you should stop and wait for a gap in traffic that is long enough for the whole group to get through together.

18. Carry money. A ten spot is enough for most circumstances. Be the guy who buys everyone coffee sometimes.

19. When the roads are wet, put fenders on your bike. Not only will you stay drier and save your drivetrain, the people behind you will be pleased. Clip on fenders are cheap and fit on every road bike. You spend 1000’s on the bike, and race tune it regularly, there is no excuse for not having a set of cheap fenders in the bike closet.

20. Wave to other cyclists. Obviously, if you are in the middle of a time trial effort, you can pass, but otherwise, be nice. Just because Fred has his legs splayed out on the sides of his poorly fit Trek Team Discovery replica and is wearing a pro tour jersey and black non bib shorts over his unshaven legs, does not mean Fred is not a fellow cyclist. Also, Fred could train hard and start smoking you in races.

This list is obviously incomplete. If you have something to add to this list feel free to post it in the comments section. If it seems reasonable, I will edit the post and add your contribution.
Admittedly, most of us are unable to fulfill all of these requirements all of the time, but if you strive to, you will be designated as one who keeps is tight and you will be invited on the secret training rides that are not posted on the group lists.


Anonymous said...

I love rule 20. I am mostly a runner and just read a great article about waving to other runners in the current Runner's World. On a long run this weekend, on the most loved cycling roads in my area, I was really mad at all the cyclists who didn't offer me a smile or wave, even though I did to them every time. Are cross-sport pleasantries frowned upon? I hope not. I am "simply" a bike commuter but I think what you guys do on your road bikes is sweet and I want to give you props for it. I hope you all will do the same for my efforts out there. Ride happy!

RMM said...

I personally wave, smile or say hello to everyone that I pass, as I feel that that makes me a good ambassador for the sport of cycling. Furthermore, my mother raised me with good manners. But common courtesy is beyond the scope of these cycling rules. I keep a copy of Emily Post handy and upon referring to her, she unequivocally agrees with your statement.

nixie the mighty said...

it is nice that you took the time to actually list these rules, my ediquette need some work. it can be hard riding with so many hot doggers! its not a bad idea to be willing to offer and accept advice from fellow riders. not to mention the quickest way home for riders that cannot continue on! haha good stuff man!