As I was riding this morning it occurred to me that in my last post (Sunday Morning) I failed to mention probably one of the biggest similarities cycling shares with church.
Church (or at least the Catholic Church) is all about rules. Cycling is no different, and in both cases the rules are mostly there to make sure you behave yourself. So in part two of what will probably be my last blasphemous rant for a while, I will go over some of the basic rules of cycling. Now keep in mind, I am a total newbie in the cycling world, and these are rules that I only know because I have broken them (not saying which), have seen them broken by others, or read about them in the rule books of other group rides. This is far from a comprehensive list, and most of it is only half serious. And in truth, there are about a million commandments, so just consider this Today’s Top Ten:
Thou shalt not be late for a group ride. If the time is set, be there on time or a bit before, and don’t get pissed off if the group takes off without you. If we have to wait, we have less time to ride, and that sucks. In our group this is know as “Leier Rules” (named after Brian Leier who makes NO exceptions), which is the opposite of “no one gets left behind”. If you’re late, tough shit. Next time be on time.
Thou shalt not kick up the pace immediately when you get to the front of the paceline. You will likely end up dropping the folks who were just pulling you, and that’s not cool. Also, if the pace increases suddenly, the paceline gets strung out, with people struggling to get back on the wheel in front of them and creates general pandemonium. Pandemonium creates opportunities for accidents. Accidents suck. If you are fast, this is not the time to show your stuff. Save it for a sprint or for the Tour de France.
Thou shalt not spit, blow snot, or expel any other bodily fluids (or gasses) when there is someone right behind you. Wait until you are at the back of the line, or politely excuse yourself and carefully pull out of the line and drift to the back at which point you can be as gross as you like.
Thou shalt not flip any driver of a motor vehicle the bird. Even if they are a douchebag. Even if they don’t come after you, they may come after the poor schmuck cyclist they see after you have pedaled your self-righteous self to Starbucks. In a car vs. bike situation, car wins.
If thou expecteth to be treated with the same respect as other vehicles on the road, thou must behave like one. That means not cruising through stop signs and red lights even if no one is coming, signaling your intention to turn or change lanes, and not weaving in and out of traffic. Failure to behave like a vehicle makes YOU the douchebag.
Thou shalt always signal thy intentions to others in the group and not make any sudden movements. You can be as crazy and unpredictable as Amy Winehouse in your normal life, but when you are riding down the street at 45 km/h with someone 12 inches in front to you and someone 12 inches behind you, and nothing but 15 pounds of carbon fiber (if you’re very lucky) between you and the pavement, you have to be careful. Sudden movements create pandemonium. For the results of pandemonium, see Commandment #2.
Thou shalt wear a helmet. End of story. If you don’t, nobody will ride with you. And not because they care about your stupid ass, but because if you fall and hit your head, they will be the ones standing on the side of the road watching you bleed to death.
When on the front of a paceline, thou shalt point out obstacles on the road. Now I’m not taking gum wrappers and bird crap, more like anything that could potentially be crash inducing, or really hurt if you roll over it. If you zigzag around a big crater in the ground and don’t signal, everyone else will probably ride ride over it and they will be pissed. If everyone manages to get over it without crashing or flatting or having all their water bottles fly out of their cages, you can bet you’ll hear about it.
Thou shalt not showboat. Nobody likes a rockstar, and generally the more you talk (seriously) about how fast you are and how much ass you kick, the more likely people are to want to kick yours.
If you see a newbie (like moi) break these, or any other rules, speak up. Most of the time these rules are broken inadvertently, or out of sheer ignorance. We all break rules sometimes, and hopefully when that happens you won’t be the one with someone else’s snot on your face.