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Let’s talk about THAT CYCLIST. You have all met her (or him – these examples are completely gender-neutral). Maybe you have even forgotten your manners and been THAT CYCLIST on occasion – whether you realised it or not. Who is THAT CYCLIST? Well – THAT CYCLIST is the rider in the bunch who does those small things that have a large impact on the group’s enjoyment of the ride.
Don’t get me wrong. As I tick of the traits and behaviours of THAT CYCLIST, I’m the first to admit that I have been guilty of a few of these here and there. I’m guessing we all have. The key to avoiding being THAT CYCLIST is to cop to the error of your ways and do your best not to make the same mistake twice – at least not twice in a row. Like in any social setting, a dose of self-awareness never goes out of style when on a ride solo or in a group. Common sense and cycling etiquette come into play.
What are the typical behaviours you can expect from THAT CYCLIST? I spell it out for you below. Engage in these regularly and you might find your friends arranging bunch rides and accidentally forgetting to invite you.
Shoot your snot rocket in the path of other riders
No one wants to be covered in your snot. The polite thing to do is clear your nose when stopped. If you can’t wait or don’t have a stop in the near future, move to the back or safely out to the side – anywhere that is out of the way of the bunch.
Surging when rolling turns
This faux pas can be done in two ways:
1. When you are rolling through so hard on a bunch ride that you leave a gap.
2. Not maintaining a constant speed when riding two abreast in a group.
When rolling through, maintain a constant speed as you come to the front. Don’t accelerate suddenly and move smoothly.
Riding to the front of traffic on a red light just after other riders have gone out of their way to get around you earlier (and will do so again in 30 seconds)
Out of courtesy to everyone on the road, wait behind the riders that are riding faster than you on any given day, so they don’t have to pass you again. Leave your ego at home.
Standing up on a climb, resulting in a backwards bike throw, when there are riders behind you
Accidents happen, but to avoid crashes and near misses, a good thing to do in this situation is either tap your butt or say ‘standing’ to alert riders behind you about what you are planning to do. Another way to avoid this is to maintain a constant speed when standing up so that your bike throws forwards not backwards.
This bad habit is equally as annoying as people that surge when rolling turns. Try not to half-wheel or you may get the friendly hand on the shoulder. Continue to half-wheel and that hand may become less friendly. If your friends are half-wheeling you, let them know so that they are aware. I am often guilty of this one.
Always asking friends for food
It is important to be self-sufficient when out riding, especially during a long day in the saddle. Don’t rely on them to have a spare bar or gel for you. Be aware that you are taking the food that your friends may actually need to get home without bonking. This is even worse than when you ask for coffee money.
Talking too much or big noting yourself
There is a time and place for chatter. When your friends are hurting is probably not the right time. Equally annoying is conversation that does not deviate from the topics of watts, strava QOM or your general awesomeness as a cyclist.
Don’t carry spares when riding
Again, being self-sufficient is important. Make sure you carry spares or it could be a long taxi ride home.
This is forgiven if you are on your second – that’s just bad luck and any compassionate cyclist will lend you a tube.
Always being late
Don’t be late. The six-minute rule may apply. If you struggle with punctuality, wind your clocks forward five minutes and your friends will be pleasantly surprised when you are waiting for them with a smile.
Not signalling or calling pot holes when you are riding on the front of your group
Courtesy and safety applies here. Make sure that you call any hazards you see on the road to keep your group safe.
Getting in the way and taking up space when stopped
Having a chat on the footpath and making pedestrians go out of their way to walk around you is annoying and gives cyclists a bad reputation. It is also annoying when you block the entrance of a cafe so that people can’t move in and out easily.
Yell “passing” so loudly that you could blow the rider you’re passing off with your breath
Saying “passing” is good and necessary. But not when you scare the lycra off the riders you are passing. A gentle “passing” is all that is required.
Turning an advertised recovery ride into a race
This is just rude. If you want to ride at 40km/hr, ride with a different bunch that day. Recovery rides are recovery rides.
Sweat all over everyone in your bunch
Fair enough it is hot. You have worked really hard, and it’s understandable that you’re sweaty, but try not to flick your sweat all over your friends. Wringing your gloves or helmet out in the vicinity of others isn’t needed – it’s gross.
Ignoring road rules
Just don’t ignore them. Not only is this for your own safety but it’s the law.
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on Twitter and Instagram and Strava.