Monday, August 29, 2005

Is there a name for them?

There are a ton of super-annoying clones out on the bike paths. I keep encountering these men and I wonder if 1) there is a factory somewhere that keeps pumping them out, and 2) whether someone cleverer than I has already named them?

They seriously look the same to me -- or at least like brothers to each other. Here are their characteristics:

40-55 years old
Spandex Shorts
Logoed bike jersey
Racing bike shoes (NEVER recessed cleats)
Fancy road bikes
Inflated sense of biking ability
Selfish entitlement to the path

excessive hydration systems

These racer wanna-be types are my least favorite type of bike rider. Why? Because they are clueless, reckless and selfish.

Clueless because they don't seem to realize that color-coordinated jersey/shoes/bike/helmets do not make them fast. Neither do their expensive bikes. Clueless because they don't understand that the hybrid/cruiser riders and pedestrians actually have a right to the path, too. Clueless because they cannot believe that people in street clothes and laden with paniers ride faster than them.

Reckless because they refuse to moderate their speed with the conditions of the path. Blind curves or lots of families? Certainly this is no reason to slow down. Reckless because they force other people to dodge them. Reckless because the headphones don't allow them to hear their surroundings. Reckless because they will draft under unsafe conditions.

Selfish because they stubbornly try to resist being passed. Selfish because they think they deserve to be first in line at stoplights, even by the people who passed them. Selfish because they won't get off the path when they stop to rest/repair/chat.....

I can't be sure, but I also bet they are sissy riders who are afraid of riding on the streets. These clones are all over the paths, but rarely do I see them on the streets. I bet they drive to the beginning of their bike ride. Also, I don't see these guys in the rain, or when the weather is cold -- or too hot. My guess is that they are suburban, fair weather, strictly recreational riders.

Paul and I rode some of the paths on Sunday and saw tons of these clones committing various acts of reckless/stupid/selfish behavior. One guy in particular outdid all of them.

We encountered him weaving all over the path very slowly, talking on his cell phone, as we rounded a blind curve. We dodged him, but he was completely oblivious to the idea that he was a danger. While we were waiting at the next stoplight with a group of riders, he caught up. Before the light changed he pedalled into the intersection to get ahead of the other riders. We got stuck behind him as he hugged the center line and made passing him very difficult (even though Paul was dinging his bell at him). Finally we got around him. At the next stoplight he did it again.

Paul was leading and I rode behind him, but not too tight. We are comfortable riding pretty close behind each other because we do it pretty often (I shamelessly do this when there is a headwind to fight, as there was on this ride). This guy completely hugged my rear wheel for as long as he could before we would drop him. Everytime we slowed down for curves or slower riders, I heard the screech of his brakes well after I began slowing down and saw him appear out of the corner of my eye. It was super annoying, and I didn't feel particularly safe with him that close. After yet another stoplight--pass situation he was again riding my wheel as a hill approached. Paul was ascending slower than I prefered, and I heard this dude panting behind me -- when his phone rang. I assume that he slowed/stopped to answer it, because I heard a man behind him curse right before we crested.

Once more he caught up to us at a redlight (these are large, busy street crossings -- it takes minutes for the path users to get a green light). After we passed him, I again felt him tucked in tight behind me. I moved a bit to the left and as soon as the path was clear I pulled ahead of Paul and kicked it up a few mph. Paul of course followed, but we dropped the wanna be almost immediately. We didn't see him again, thankfully. I hope his inflated ego popped when he realized that he couldn't hang with a girl in a skirt and pigtails and a boy wearing a leather belt who were both carrying gear and whose bikes/shoes/helmets didn't match at all and managed to ride without wearing gloves.

I understand that several of my comments sound hypocrital, because I complain that they go too fast for the path, but then also complain that they go too slow for me. The speed really depends on the path and the number of people on it. Paul and I don't recklessly pass slower bikers & he rings his bell as we approache so they usually move over a bit. Usually the path was congested near the crossings, but then would become clear in between (I think the walkers didn't stray far from the crossings) and it was possible to ride pretty fast. The wanna be types always try to maintain their pace through the congestion even if it means passing people really slowly or playing chicken with oncoming riders in order to pass. So my problem with them is that they ride too fast on the congested parts, but can't ride fast enough when the path is clear.

My computer wasn't on, but Paul said that when he was leading, he generally rode 18-19 mph. When I pulled ahead, we nudged up to 21-22mph. At first it was just to drop the annoying spandex-clad jerk, but then it was just fun to do for several miles.

This doesn't mean that all middle-aged, spandexed, road warriers are assholes. Their behavior is what makes them assholes. Lots of other riders are assholes, too -- but this combination seems especially prevalent. Does someone else know of a name for them?


At 11:56 PM, Blogger Sascha said...

"My guess is that they are suburban, fair weather, strictly recreational riders."

Of course they are, or they wouldn't be fat too :)

At 7:52 AM, Blogger George said...

Good stuff...........

I am one of those middle aged fat bastards *but* I don't ride like an asshole.

Honest :-)

And I don't have any expensive bikes.

I hate those wheelsuckers, when I pick one up I usually say something to them to get them off my wheel. I don't like someone I don't know right off my rear tire.

Farting right into their face if they are behind always does the trick if all else fails.

At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Jeremy said...

A few of us in our local fixed-gear club have refered to these types fo guys as 'sausages", becauase all that fat and shit inside is straining against the thin skin of the spandex. I think the rule of thumb should be if your gut hits your top tube you're either not riding hard enough or just eating the wrong things. Jeremy

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Frick said...

I've always just lumped them together with the other people who have the gear/bikes but don't know how to use them. I refer to them as "Spandex."

Used in a sentence:
The trail was crowded this morning, so I was passing spandex the entire way to work.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Thomas said...

I guess we're lucky we don't have bike paths where I live. I mean, there are bike paths in the burbs, but one would have to go out of one's way to use them, i.e., drive there.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger jojo said...

So far Jeremy's suggestion of 'sausages'is the best name to call them. I also appreciate the reference to male genetalia (i.e dicks) wrapped up in the name. Matches both their ego, behavior & appearance pretty well.

Thomas -- suburban paths can be great. The way me and my friends access them is by riding our bikes there. Pretty simple.

At 10:58 PM, Anonymous Jim said...

Working in a bike shop, I see a lot of a certain kind of customer that I'm sure is a close cousin to the 'sausage'. These folks are always men, and always have hair that is mostly gray. Obesity levels are variable. Their attire suggests that they are men of financial means. Their rhetoric conveys the same message: "I have a lot of money because I'm a big-shot, and I'm going to spend some of it on a $5,000 racing bike." These people will occupy the time of one or more bike salespeople for the better part of a business day. They'll ride every expensive bike in the store. They'll have the salespeople make long-distance phone calls to see if the bikes can be ordered with odd combinations of componentry. They'll ask for a card with the salesperson's name on it, because they like to have an inside connection down at the bike shop. They leave the store promising to return within a day or two to make a decision about a bike. They almsot never return, ever. The salesperson then realizes that he wasn't selling a bike as much as he was coddling an insecure man in the midst of a midlife crisis.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

This seems to be a bigger problem during the spring or around TDF time:


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