OK. Let me preface this with the fact that I am a self-proclaimed Retro-grouch. I know it and I accept it. I don’t adapt well to change for the sake of change. Change to really improve…well that is something different. For instance: I don’t like/ride plastic bikes. I prefer to pull actual cable to shift. I don’t own an “adventure road” bike…I own a cyclocross bike. Ya know, that kinda thing. Just because it’s new technology doesn’t mean it’s better technology. And I don’t much care for “improving” things when they don’t really need “improving”. Seriously.
Soap box much? Yeah, I do. Thanks.
I need to vent about something very loosely related to that first paragraph.
I few weeks ago-and on more than one occasion-I was riding on the Santa Ana River trail on a weekend, minding my own bike and business. And as I am riding I look up and see, heading towards me at racing speed (20-25 mph), a group of maybe 7-10 road cyclists. In the front of this mini “peloton” the riders are riding 3 across. Just riding on my side of the trail, 3 across like it’s fuckin’ cool. Like I should just be OK with it. Now the trail is a two way trail with a broken middle line for passing. I said passing, right? Well, these fuckin’ guys were staying on my side of the trail, going the opposite direction, really, really fast. I was luckily paying attention and stayed to my far right as they held their line. Like I wasn’t even there…Like it’s a cordoned off fucking race course. Well, “it sure the fuck is not a race course” is what I yell to them as they wiz by. Christ. I am not certain what their skill level is. Usually at that kind of speed and that tightly packed, it’s probably fairly high. Not that that really matters in the long run, because it’s not safe to ride like such an idiot on this trail or most others at any skill level. Period. And I will argue this point with any seasoned veteran that says he/she’s the exception. This is not the first time this has happened or the first trail (paved or unpaved) this has happened on. So what’s the deal? It really seems to be happening more as of late. The douche to normal folk ratio is skewed, and not in the right direction…if you get my drift. What is it? Is it apps like Strava? Or is it just plain, old fashioned douchbaggery? Are those two things the same?
Here’s how I feel about it. And I feel, if you haven’t already guessed, pretty goddamn strongly about it.
In my life I wouldn’t say that I am a “rule follower.” Now I follow rules…don’t get me wrong. But I break a lot as well. Especially arbitrary rules, I hate those. You know, the ones that seem to serve zero purpose, you know the ones. Anyway, I really don’t think too much about following rules or being PC about things, but there is an etiquette on the trail that both you, me and the aforementioned douches should, for the most part, be following. A lot of times the etiquette is in place for personal safety to yourself and those around you. You know, stuff like: pass on the left, call your side, yield to equestrians/hikers and trail users climbing up the hill you are bombing down. Those are a common set of rules that keep everyone safe and friendly. After all we are sharing the trail we are on. Period. None of these trails (paved or unpaved) are made for your goofy ass “training rides”! Not a one! And besides, what the fuck are you in “training” for? Are you racing? Probably not. Then what are you in training for? Well, whatever it is, it’s not worth hurting someone else over. Plus hurting someone else, or even your goofy-ass self, could easily cut trail access for all cyclists, especially off road where we are in a constant battle for our rights as mountain bikers. And if you are racing and need to train, don’t be a fucking asshat about it. Is that going to be hard for you? Probably. But try and realize you are riding on a shared trail and that at any given point on your glorious “training ride”, attempt at a “personal best” or trying to get the “QOM/KOM” that there are all levels of cyclists, hikers, pedestrians, equestrians, children and pets that may “get in the way”. But that’s OK, right? Because they have a right to enjoy whatever it is they’re doing without being yelled “TRAIL!!!” at them so you can speed by recklessly. Right? Right. Good. That’s all I’m saying.
Go fast. Have fun. Be smart. Be conscientious. Share the trail.
Now, go to where you store your bicycles (it better be inside…don’t get me started) and stare at them. Ponder the simplicity and beauty of it. Remember the first time you rode a bicycle, recall the feeling. Revel in it. Revel in the feeling of freedom it inspired. Just try now to unplug, get geared up a bit (don’t get all Tour De France/billboard kit on me) just try a low key kit for me, just this once, OK? Look them over and pick a favorite ride. Mount up. Now unwind and pedal just to pedal. That’s right, pedal just to pedal…I said it. Read it again if you need to. Try to feel the bicycle work underneath you. No heart-rate monitors, no cadence readings, no power meters, no strava and no hammering. Just you, your lungs, your legs, the sound of your rhythmic breathing, your newly freed mind and the feel and sound of the wind in your face. Remember, that is why we ride. How was that?
You’re welcome. See ya next time.