Monday, April 20, 2009

Road Cycling Etiquette

Went out for a nice two hour-plus ride with my buddy Steve this past Saturday morning. With temps nearing the 70s, it was exhilarating! I actually shed the knee-warmers on the way home. This was the first time I've bared the gams since 'cross season!!

This is also the first time this year that I've seen other cyclists on the road en masse. Which brings me to my topic: Road cycling etiquette. Or, rather, proper behavior when happening upon another cyclist on the road.

Let's look at several common occurrences and how they are handled.
  • Cyclist In Pursuit: If there is a cyclist pursuing you. They must not pass you. If you can't maintain a pace that keeps the pursuer away, then by all means, turn off at the next cross-road you come to.
  • Being Passed: When being passed by another cyclist hold your line until they are in front of you. You may hear a call out of "on your left" or "on your right" as the passer overtakes you. Whatever you do, do not acknowledge the passing cyclist. No friendly greeting, nothing. You've been shamed. Once the cyclist has passed, you should just about kill yourself to try and stay with him. As you pull up behind him at the next red light explain, amid gasps, that you're just out for a recovery ride.
  • Cyclist Up the Road: If there's another rider up the road, it's on. It's like the Individual Pursuit but on the road instead of the track. You must catch them and pass them. Especially if you've been spotted, because, chances are, they are trying their damnedest to keep you at distance.
  • Passing: Always pass on the left. You are welcome to give a call out to the cyclist you are about to overtake, just make it terse. No need to cause any further embarrassment or shame. Make sure after you pass that you give it a few hard kicks before settling back down to pace. You've just become a carrot for the passee (see above).
  • Greeting Another Cyclist: Never greet another cyclist on the road. Greeting fellow cyclists is seen as a sign that you are not serious about your training or that you're weak. If you feel that a greeting absolutely must be extended, a slight nod of the head is all that's permitted. Also, pay attention to the cyclist's kit. The amount of team attire they are sporting is inversely proportional to the likelihood of a greeting.
Well, to you newcomers to the sport - now you know how to handle these potentially uncomfortable situations like a seasoned roadie. And if I see you out on the road, I'll be the guy on the black and white Look 285, maybe you'll get a nod...

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