The more I ride my bike, the more I notice that most cyclists fall into one ‘type’ or another.
Even the ones who steadfastly refuse to be a type, are a type.
I include myself in this of course, but that’s none of my business.
To spend my spare time categorizing myself in the pantheon of cycling caricatures would be the height of pretension. Especially if I was doing it on an Excel spreadsheet. Using formulas. Plotting myself on graphs.
Which I’m not, obviously.
To half-wheel another rider is to ride alongside them and constantly, subtly, passive-aggressively edge yourself ahead. Just half a wheel at a time.
You may be an enthusiastic half-wheeler yourself?
Because it’s just half a wheel your riding partner finds it impossible not to continuously draw level, and then you half-wheel them again. You are demonstrating that you have pace to spare and are gently throwing down the gauntlet.
The pace escalates a notch at a time until you are both barreling along and refusing to back down.
Half-wheeling is, essentially, an underhand tactic, used by the cyclist who knows they are stronger on the day and has a primal need to demonstrate this fact.
It’s also lots of fun if it happens to be your day.
The inexperienced rider might not notice that this is happening to them, which only goes to show that there’s a fine line between a sociable bike ride with an old friend and bullying.
Which sums up cycling quite neatly, come to think of it.
If you’re going to attack and humiliate your friend on the road then you should do it properly and unsparingly; make it a good, honest, open demonstration of your physical and mental superiority, and ride off into the distance.
They can then settle into a comfortable pace and feel sorry for themselves in their own time. But to half-wheel is to inch them, kilometre by kilometre, towards a personal audience with their inner masochist. You are essentially causing maximum pain to the weaker rider.
There is, of course, one occasion when half-wheeling is not just acceptable, but is entirely appropriate. Perhaps you were once an inexperienced cyclist?
Maybe you had a riding partner who turned every ‘friendly’ bike ride into a showdown against the ‘man with the hammer?’
Perhaps, by being mercilessly half-wheeled in the past, you are now a cyclist of unnatural strength with a freakish pain threshold?
Then the time has come to call up that friend, for old-times sake, and half-wheel them into oblivion.
After all – one good turn deserves another.