An Amusement & Diversion for The Genteel Cyclist. Daily.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Spontaneous Human Competition: The Pissing Match


Commuters do it. Weekend warriors do it. Shavers in nuthuggers do it. Cross-country racers and freeriding stoners -- yes, even they do it.

Women, God love 'em, don't do it.


So you're out for your easy Wednesday spin. Ahead, you see some sprayer in a chartreuse Pearl Izumi windbreaker, knees cocking out and pumping like a drunk cowboy tipping off a barstool. You quickly overtake him, and give a pleasant "hiya" as you pass, suppressing the desire to tell him his seat is about an inch too low, he's overdressed, and he should try to ride with his knees parallel.

Your very presence and pace seems to goad this man, for he has suddenly interpreted your passing him as a brazen attack by a despicable domestique. He gives chase. You, being somewhat committed to this being a spin and not an interval workout, try to maintain an easy pace without using a heart monitor or a speedometer. It's a beautiful day for a ride -- preferably, a solo ride that has suddenly turned into a time trial race against your two-minute man who is apparently trying to preserve his position on the GC of Life.

He passes you without a word, trying desperately to breathe through his nose, though you can see his windbreaker inflating and deflating like a great pufferfish gasping for life. He establishes an impressive gap with his V-6 pedaling style. You silently commend him for his gumption.

But now he has blown; the parachute has gone out. You are quickly overtaking him again, although your pace has never really changed. You pass him again, uttering the same pleasant, "hey." He rises out of his saddle and renews his campaign, this time silently riding your wheel, forcing you either to pick up the gauntlet and bury him, or accept that you'll be pulling him for God knows how many miles, his derailleur making a maddening tick each time a tight link pops through the jockeys, the rhythm slightly out of phase with his loud mouth breathing.

There is nothing about this person that makes you want to change your plan to ride at your pace, alone, enjoying the day without meeting "someone new," or worse, racing against some dickwad on an aluminum Trek.

Sound familiar? This problem is epidemic among the male of the species. It must be stamped out. Please do your part by riding at your maximum speed at all times.

19 comments:

rigtenzin said...

I go to great lengths and avoid passing people who look like they'll react this way.

Dan Cleary said...

Turn left or right and head the other direction.

Great read.

bother yam said...

Mayhaps the Dickwad is doing interval training in his own way...

verlaine said...

I always take this as a reminder of my pledge to myself to sloooooow down and enjoy the scenery more.

If you slow down enough you usually will pass the moron at the next bench, gulping frantically at his energy drink and wheezing.

On the other hand, sometimes it is funny to dog the wannabe racer person while riding a touring bike with a basket full of groceries.

Anonymous said...

Anytime some dork blogger passes me while suppressing the urge to play Coach Carmichael -- and you know these types can never really suppress it too well, you can hear it their pleasant "hiya" -- it's on! I mean, seriously -- hiya? WTF?

GOB said...

pathletes.

not original to me, I saw it on bikesnob nyc when he did a similar post to this recently.

Jeff said...

Excellent writing!

I try not to pass someone unless they're going way too slow, or I feel like I may actually want to talk to them. Sometimes I'll chase them down, but then back off before passing...I'll be turning off onto the dirt soon anyway!

Pathletes...that's funny!

davison said...

Is something wrong with my aluminum Trek?

Matt said...

I've heard it often, but never understood what the problem is with an Aluminum Trek.

Is it something beyond aesthetics?
Seriously, if it's some B.S. about how if I don't get it you can't explain it to me, that's all I need to know.

AdamB said...

every pathlete has a aluminum trek.

i got mine, anyway.

if some douche wants to pin some numbers on, it's go time mfers.

davison said...

Oh... pathlete. I guess my floppy t-shirt clashes with the Rainbow Bright cycling jerseys with all the I-wish sponsors. Or is it the trunk bag that has my goodies in it.

super rookie said...

this is my favorite blog post of the past year.

thank you.

Pinchie said...

Matt, AdamB, this whole unfortunate Trek thing has come up before.

I'm mostly an aluminum hater. Can't stand the stuff myself, and I reserve my Antelope 8000 for easy derision as a kinda crappy bike that I would never actually get rid of, cuz all bikes are good bikes, as long as they're not made by Dynacraft.

The Antelope had vertical drops (esp. stupid for a 700c wheel) biopace chainrings (so what if Bobby Julits still runs 'em), one inch steerer tubes, and a few other mild annoyances.

I didn't mean to offend by suggesting that these sorts of bikes are somehow inferior, though I guess I am saying that now.

These bikes are inferior. I don't love mine as much as I should. It's like having a least favorite child; a dirty secret, but it does happen. Anyone who's ever had parents knows that.

I hate headshocks too, and there are some highly credible people who still swear by them, so there you go.

Jerry Riggs said...

So let me get this straight

Apropos of Pinchie's post about pissing matches, you people are defending the practice of turning every ride into a race, and every rider into a rival? And it's not cool to bridge the vast gaps that separate commuter, weekend warrior, fixter, pathlete, and posenger with a friendly hello? Geeze, tough crowd.

Besides, I happen to know that Pinchie owns at least one aluminum Trek. Hate the hater, not the bike. And run what ya brung, even if you're a dirty tie-dye hippie.

Just don't race me on the road, I wanna keep my draft clean. I'm funny that way, and you gotta take a pull if you're not going to introduce yourself or acknowledge my casual hello.

Tired buddies and newbie friends get a free tow. The rest of yis... well, there's an old saying. "Cash, grass, or ass... nobody rides for free."

Pinchie said...

Jerry, I moved your post here where it belongs. I think maybe you were talking mostly to davison and the other Trek lovers, and the one or two folks who seem to be hatin' from the other side.

I guess it just illustrates how hard it is to know who us versus them really is here, and that's probably my fault for being a crap writer.

For the record: I like to ride alone, mostly, if that's what I went out the door to do. I don't mind a friendly conversation with a stranger on the bike path, no matter what he's riding or wearing. I do mind aggressive, negative, or dangerous behavior on the bike path or out on a roadride.

I like Jeff's comment -- that it's sometimes fun to bridge up to some hammerhead on the path, but then common courtesy suggests you either take a pull or drop off. I'm assuming most other people like to ride alone too, unless they make friendly gestures that suggest they'd like company. Saying "hi" back would be such a gesture.

Former BMXer said...

Too funny. When i was young I set one of my BMX bikes up with a huge gear and skinny wheels and would ride 30-40 miles. I'm a nut, I know. I was adding endurance to my BMX training without buying a road bike.

The competitive weekend warriors did NOT like getting passed by some punk kid on a BMX bike of all things! "Sir, you have insulted my manhood and I demand satisfaction!" Then the competition was on and you spent the next 20 minutes passing the guy back and forth. When you just want to focus on your ride they're like a mosquito buzzing around your head that you just want to swat away.

It was cool when I would pass someone much slower than me or some roadie would blow past me like I was standing still but when I came up on someone riding roughly the same speed I would roll my eyes and say, "Here we go again."

KBrooks said...

hee hee... feel yer pain, man. Women may not perpetrate this offending "mosquito" behavior, but we sure do fall victim to it. Pathletes really hate being passed by a chick on a 'cross bike with fenders, carrying a stuffed messenger bag, or worse yet, hauling a trailer.

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