Which Kind Of Cyclist Are You?
There are basically three kinds of cyclists, in my opinion. Now I’m talking here about road cyclists, or bike path riders. My categories might also apply to trail and mountain riders, but because I don’t ride trails or mountains I don’t have an experience base to draw on so I can’t say for sure.
The first kind is the recreational cyclist. See the image above. They are the bike riders that like to pedal along happily, enjoying the day. They usually ride cruisers or some other type of bike that they find comfortable for them. You see them singly, or with one or two others. Families together are almost by definition recreational riders.
A lot of times kids are present on their bikes too. These cyclists are sometimes ignorant of the rules of safe riding, but they instinctively know that they should watch out for others. They wave happily to other riders that they pass along the way.
I call the second type the dedicated amateurs. That’s the guy smiling at the camera in the picture below. These riders take their cycling seriously. They wear the gear, and they ride the best bikes that they can afford. They set goals, ride hard, and try to get better and faster. They also wave or nod to riders that they pass, only do so in a way cooler manner.
The dedicated amateurs also have a code that they ride by. If they see someone stopped on the side of the road or the path, it’s almost an obligation to slow down and see if they need any help. If they do, these riders stop and do what they can. I’m a dedicated amateur.
Pro And Semi-Pro Wannabe Cyclists
The last kind are the riders who consider themselves pros and semi-pros, but really aren’t. These guys look a lot like the dedicated amateurs, only they are slimmer and trimmer. Faster, too. They ride great bikes, wear great gear, and are FOCUSED. They aren’t interested in stopping to help out another rider with a flat tire, they are just interested in passing them and getting on their way.
The pros and semi-pros aren’t interested in waving as they pass another cyclist, or even acknowledging that they exist. They are wholly concentrating on themselves and their ride. They are snobs on bikes.
If you’re on the side of the road with a flat, they will blow right by you, without giving any indication that you exist in their world at all.
We Tried, We Really Did.
The other day my ride buddy Jim and I were riding the spiffy new bike path in our area, and we came upon a guy with a flat tire. He was on his cell phone. We slowed and asked if we could assist, and he said no, so we went on.
We rode about 16 miles to our turn-around point on the trail and took a short break. Then we started for home.
Well, the guy with the flat rear tire was still on the path. He was walking his bike toward a parking area about a mile or so away. This time we stopped. We again offered assistance, and the dude told us that he’d rather walk his bike to his car than have to mess with changing a rear tire.
His choice. We left. He didn’t want our help.
About 4 miles later we came across two ladies stopped on the side of the path. One was older, the other looked to be in her 30s. The older lady had a flat rear tire too. We offered to help her change the tire if she had a spare tube, because our bikes had skinny tires and hers was a mountain bike with fat tires.
She said she did have a spare tube, but she had first tried to pump up her flat tire and couldn’t get her pump to work.
We looked at her pump and quickly saw the problem. Her pump was for tubes with a Presta valve, and her tube had a Shrader valve. Shrader valves are bigger and wider, for mountain bike tubes. Presta valves are smaller and thinner, for road bikes. Her pump wouldn’t attach.
I looked at my CO2 pump, and I only had a Presta fitting. Jim’s was Presta too. Her friend didn’t have a pump at all. Nobody had a pump that would work.
We suggested that the younger lady without a flat tire ride ahead and get their vehicle and bring it to a spot where she could pick up her friend, and then we told her friend to walk her bike to that spot, which was only about a quarter of a mile away. Her friend had about a 3 1/2 mile ride to their vehicle.
That’s all we could do. This time they welcomed help, and we couldn’t do much for them.
At least we tried.
After I got home I went out and got a CO2 pump that would fit Shrader valves too, so I could be a more helpful rider.
We Should Be Willing To Help Each Other Out.
I like riding, a lot. I like helping people who need help, too. It makes me feel good. If you’re a bicycle rider, be aware of those on the trail or path with you, and be ready to offer assistance when you can. It’ll make you both feel better.
When you ride, be aware and alert, too. On a road or highway, stay as far right as you safely can. On the paths and trails, be courteous and watch out for oncoming riders. When you overtake someone, let them know you’re approaching from behind. Say “On your left!” if your’re passing on that side, or “On your right!” if that’s where the room to go by is.
If you’re approaching a group that is taking up the whole trail, I like to yell “Bike!” as I slow down and approach, to give them time to see me and decide how they want to let me by.
Be safe and enjoy your ride. And be ready to help others when you can. It makes the ride more enjoyable.