Monday, December 29, 2008

Sunday Riders

School holidays are long since here and this means I have to put up with Sunday bike riders everyday of the week now. And whilst I enjoy seeing families actually out on the commons spending time with eachother, kids playing and all that shit the novelty quickly wears off when I need to get past.
So in a rare departure from bitching about arsehole drivers I thought I'd take this chance to spit upon my fellow fucking birotarypeds.

In the past week I have encountered:

1. Riding three abreast on the yarra trail. The yarra trail is lumpy bumpy and frequented by cyclists in all directions. Riding two abreast in most parts could be considered pretty disrespectful. Three abreast, egalitarian though it may be in the offenders particular social circle ensuring all had a good time (or perhaps that neither guy had a chance to hit on the girl) turned out to be hugely impractical when I rang my bell. For me ringing my bell is the last resort. I prefer to pass someone and say 'passing' in a monotone non-threatening voice as I do it.
Anyway, this resolved into one of the riders having to sprint ahead and one having to hit the brakes to drop back. Just then a roadie shot through in the opposite direction, and then I made my move. I couldn't be too angry because through pure good fortune I had dinged them at the exact moment they needed the stupidity of riding three abreast to be demonstrated in order to avoid a disastrous collision with a roadie riding at 30 klicks.

2. Is more of a question I have been encountering as often as the stimulus? Why can't children and women on those old bikes with baskets on them ride fucking straight, as in on a straight line, a hypothetical line that yes, doesn't really exist but you shouldn't have to jackknife about quite dangerously in traffic to prevent passing and edge people into the gutter and so fourth with each successive peddle stroke.
I mean seriously, I would willingly submit to some kind of 'cyclists license' of victoria if it meant it consisted of the one and only rule of you have to learn how to ride fucking straight in a straight fucking line moving forward without constant deviation from the line to an amplitude of half a fucking meter.

3. Slow cyclists running red lights, only to inevitably be taken by me. Here in a rare concession I will concede to fixed gear riders that when they run red lights sometimes against what would be my better judgement they at least go fucking fast the rest of the time. I can concieve that an impatient person who feels justified in riding a bike designed for the velodrome through city streets might also feel justified riding red lights.
Not so with an offender from cat 2 above. She had many of the fucking plastic floral accompanyments on her bike that also indicate somebody fucking stupid to me. I buried her along swanston street in my middle gear, then as is frustratingly the case with swanston street found myself stuck at the red light at the foot of RMIT. Expecting her to just slow down behind me when she caught up the 200 m (this is not frustrating in itself, I usually trundle up behind amatuer rodies that regulalry bury me in the stop start, stop start riding style of major CBD roads) but instead she bowled right past me zigzaging directly through the red light. She was a bitch to pass too. I waited about 20 more seconds and the lights changed to green, then having caught her promptly at the next lights parked politely behind her. She even ran the next red to get a jump start on the rest of the cyclists now piling up behind her. I fucking gunned by to pass her and rode with a furious poison in my veins trying to get away.
Why the fuck, do you run lights and get headstarts when you are then just going to plod along like you are in the Champaigne region of france and are cycling one of them long rolls home after a hard day of protesting against the fascist reforms of your liberal government?

Cyclists dick me off when they act like senior drivers or pedestrians. It's dangerous out there. Here are the simple rules to stay alive and keep other cyclists alive -

1. Be predictable - of course with a St Kilda bike store called 'the freedom machine' this would seemingly destroy all the fun of cycling. Running red lights, riding between car lanes, executing strange and exhilerating turns at odd points in traffic. Riding against traffic in local neighbourhoods etc.
But being predictable as a cyclist isn't necessarily the same as meticulously obeying all the road rules. Basically if you are beginning as a road commuter it consists of this - stick to the left most of whatever lane you have to occupy, usually it means riding just out of the gutter on the asphalt. Then for FUCK's sake ride straight. Thats all you have to do. When you gain competence (if you have a 30kg step through frame with chunky plastic pedals and a basket you are already overconfident) you can start turning corners and indicating.

2. In the rain, be very, very predictable. The rain can really fuck you off as a cyclist. I mean sometimes it just is so persistent in getting in that one side of your eyeball the entire 40 minute commute that you can be on the verge of killing somebody. Sitting at the lights and looking at the droplets turning to ice on your forearm hair is really painful. Hence the temptation to pull out all the stops on your cycling 6th sense and run lights, take shortcuts etc galore.
This is the easy way to get killed. The only time I've been cleaned up by a car in 3 years of cycling was on the day the Yarra banks burst where instead of using a pedestrian crossing to cross the hume highway to work, I hid in the shelter of a truck and as such the sequence was slower and a car launched into me at a negligable 10kph.
This was because I had done something unpredictable in order to stay slightly less drenched than I would have been and indeed was already. I arrived at work with a buckled wheel looking much the drowned rat. visability and traction are poor in the rain so be extra predictable even to the point of obeying all the road rules.

And that's it. That's how to stay alive and not piss anyone off on the road. Be predictable, and in the rain be even more predictable. If you want to have a conversation pick another sport, or at least be conscious of people that ride just to get from A to B.

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