biking behaviour

Biking Behaviour (part 5) – the phantom and the anti-social cyclist

The Phantom Cyclist

Occasionally you will come across a cyclist who you’ve never actually seen go anywhere near a bike.

He will talk of some mythical time when he’d be out every week on the club run, clocking up a hundred odd miles every week. He can hold his own in conversations about gear ratio’s, recovery drinks, and all the other subjects which cause any non-cyclist (and many cyclists too) to glaze over and walk away.

He is a cyclist in every respect except for the key one – the riding of the bike.

He is a Phantom Cyclist.

There will sometimes be vague mention of some incident or drama which put a stop to his previously prolific mileage – a brush with a badly driven car, or a head first meeting with a holly tree, for example – and an impenetrable theory about why cycling is actually not as good for the health as consensus suggests.

Interestingly, there will often be a non-committal arrangement to meet up for a ride ‘some time’, but phone him up and attempt to firm up this arrangement and you will get tales of tendonitis and DIY.

The Phantom Cyclist (Picture: Nita Jatar Kulkarni
The Phantom Cyclist
(Picture: Nita Jatar Kulkarni

You both know that the ride will never happen, and yet each time you meet it still crops up in conversation; you might even get drawn into a chat about a possible route for this unlikely excursion.

No matter how long this charade goes on, your friend still talks as if he is a cyclist until, eventually, a subtle change will happen; he begins to talk of other ways of spending time – fishing, or golf, for example – actual hobbies that no cyclist could ever find the time to get involved in.

Your friend is now a lost cause and should be cast aside in cold Darwinian fashion.

No good can come of these…’hobbies’.

The Anti-Social Cyclist

The anti-social cyclist has a tendency to break the two golden rules of cycling:

  1. Always acknowledge a fellow cyclist
  2. Never take yourself too seriously

We cyclists have to stick together; we have enough to worry about what with half the country’s road users seemingly trying to kill us with their cars, and the British weather spending the rest of the time trying to kill us off with pneumonia.

If you ride past a cyclist going the other way, give a nod of the head or a wave. If some poor soul is carrying out running repairs alone at the side of the road, slow down and ask them if they need a hand. If you catch up and pass a group of slower cyclists, carry on full steam ahead by all means – but at least say hello on your way past.

Incidentally, if you do choose to a pass a group of slower cyclists you are duty bound to push on and increase your lead over them until they are no longer visible. To overtake, then ease off, suggests that the overtake was the important bit for you. This is a sign of aggression.

Occasionally some of us have those few weeks a year – or months if we’re lucky -when we feel fit, agile and on form. For most of us this will not last, so be careful how you behave during this period and don’t take yourself too seriously.

If you start believing you are some kind of proper cyclist, your riding companions will mentally log any disrespectful behaviour you display whilst you are momentarily king of the world, and at some point will make you suffer.

As any semi-serious cyclist knows, there is no suffering quite like a bad day on the bike, especially when your mates are twisting the knife.

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