Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Bit of Road Etiquette

A couple days ago I was out riding by myself. It was one of those days where my original intention was to knock off 20 or so and fast, but despite some hefty winds I felt strong and wound up going 50. Somewhere between Madrid and Slater on the way back to Ames I passed a gentleman on a bike, gave the proverbial wave and went on my merry way north.

Or so I thought.

Turns out the guy jumped on my wheel at some point, and because the wind was blowing in my face, and because there was a ton of traffic, I never heard him behind me. Thus, when I made a quick decision to turn west to divert off the road opting for a road with less traffic I slowed considerably and fast. I looked behind me before I slowed but the guy was so tight on my wheel I didn't see him.

The guy had no clue I was slowing, I had no chance to tell him as I had no idea he was there, and I about had a heart attack as he flew by my right handlebar. Pissed that he almost wrecked, he gave me a dirty stare and rode off shaking his fist at me as I waited for traffic to cross over the bike lane to get onto another road. Lucky for him, I was too tired at that point to chase him down and I was also in my happy peaceful biking space so went on my merry way.

There will be plenty of these idiots to contend with during Ragbrai--always are, and part of enjoying the ride is a blissful ignorance of them. To a point. Nonetheless, here's a slice of road etiquette for you. Riding someone's wheel is not something that you do without:

1. Announcing yourself
2. Asking permission

And then, after you've been given a ride/pulled...especially in a headwind, you say thank you. And here's another nugget of wisdom for you: you can be grateful and maintain a safe slowing speed and distance when the person pulling you knows you're there because they will announce that they are slowing/turning and you will not ride up their ass.

You cannot and should not get pissed at THEM for slowing and turning when you've never announced your presense, never asked to ride their wheel, and never said thanks for pulling you through a headwind.

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