Monday, October 26, 2009

The Indignity of Commuting by Bicycle: Shoals of Idiocy

Even in New York City, cycling can be a blissful experience, and even without a fixed-gear bicycle you can sometimes feel as though you are one with both your bike and your surroundings. Such was the case for me recently on a lovely day when, traversing a bridge which spans another body of water that is not "The Big Skanky," I was briefly joined by a seagull. For just a few moments it was as if I too was flying, and while the sensation didn't last all that long, it didn't end quite as abruptly as it might have if the seagull had relieved himself on me.

Ideally, I'd like to infuse all of my cycling endeavors--indeed, all of my endeavors--with this pleasant feeling of oneness. As such, I do my best to open myself to the possibility of joy on even the most mundane commute. However, I am seldom successful. While the weather often cooperates and does not distinguish between weekends and weekdays, and while even the birds might see fit to join me (though more often they are pigeons, or sometimes geese, and occasionally other types of animals too, such as raccoons and rats), the main problem seems to be that humans behave differently. For example, on my weekend ride, I encountered not only seagulls but other humans, such as this one complete with tzitzit and pendulous saddle bag:

While I don't understand why some people do not cinch the straps of their saddle bags and instead let them dangle half a foot beneath their saddles like truck nutz, the fact is that it really doesn't inconvenience me and any displeasure I derive from it is really my own problem. Furthermore, if I want to rid myself of this displeasure, I cannot expect the world to refrain from riding with low-hanging saddle bags; rather, I have to look deep within myself and understand why it bothers me and then address that problem. It's foolish to think I can geld the bicycles of the world, and what is an irritant to me may simply be "scrotastic" to someone else.

On the other hand, during the week other riders do engage in behavior that is an affront to their fellow humans, and one such behavior is "shoaling." As I've explained before, no rider, no matter how slow or diminutive, will ever come to a stop behind another rider at a red light. Instead, it is standard practice to pass that rider and stop in front of him, even if this involves doing so in the middle of the crosswalk or in the actual intersection, well ahead of the traffic signal. "Shoaling" is an incredibly rude practice, and it's tantamount to cutting in front of someone at an ATM, supermarket checkout, or urinal line. Yet while people will speak up if someone cuts ahead of them in line, nobody ever speaks out against the equally offensive practice of shoaling. Even I have never had the temerity to address a shoaler, even though I was flagrantly shoaled just this morning, as I headed towards Manhattan and found myself at this intersection:

The light was red, and there was a line of cars waiting, so I rolled up to the crosswalk and came to a stop:


As I waited, a woman on a bicycle with an empty child seat I had passed a few blocks back approached from behind:


I sensed a shoaling was imminent, but due to the cars on my left and the sidewalk on my right there was no room to pass me, so I figured she would be forced to adhere to the rules of human decency and deign to come to a stop behind me. I was wrong. Instead, she actually mounted the sidewalk, rode around me, and entered the crosswalk:

Naturally, just as she did so and put her foot down, the light changed and traffic started moving, and I was in turn forced to go around her as she struggled to regain her footing:

Now, a regular shoal is one thing, but actually mounting the sidewalk in order to shoal somebody who was riding faster than you is like pushing your full shopping cart through a floor display so you can beat the guy with just a loaf of bread and a tube of toothpaste to the express lane. Of course, the truth is that some people are faster than others. This can be because they're carrying less stuff, or they're in more of a hurry, or they're simply more physically fit. As such, it's tempting to think that we can set parameters for what constitutes an acceptable shoal. For example, you might say that a Cat 2 racer should be allowed to shoal someone riding a laden Xtracycle, since obviously he's going to get off to a much faster start. Well, theoretically, this makes sense. However, in practice everybody thinks they're faster than everybody else. What happens when the Cat 5 who thinks he's fast shoals a Cat 2 who's on the way home from work in street clothes and thus appears to be just another commuter? Well, we all know what happens--the Cat 5 has trouble clipping back into his new road pedals, the commuting Cat 2 is forced to go around him, and then the Cat 5 spends the next three blocks doing his best to pass him again. It's a tragic cycle, and it's one that can end if we're all prepared to bid a collective farewell to the practice of shoaling.

Of course, if you're a bike messenger, you probably don't shoal because you don't stop at all. Speaking of messengers, I was pleased to receive from the author the cover of a book called "Messenger Poet" by Kurt Boone, which he informs me will be available in the fall:


I employed a popular search engine to find out more about Kurt Boone, and was intrigued to learn from this New York Times article that not only is Boone a messenger himself:

But that, more specifically, he's a foot messenger:

For 13 years, Mr. Boone, 49, has delivered his packages not by bicycle but the old-fashioned way — by foot and by subway.

Yes, in an age in which the bicycle messenger is revered and imitated, people would do well to remember that there are other sorts of messengers too. Not only that, but while bike messengers may have been riding track bikes since "back in the day" (in the world of track bikes, "back in the day" refers to any time before the person you're addressing bought their first track bike, and can be as recently as yesterday), foot messengers were out there before bicycles were even invented. (Actually, if you look at the messenger god Hermes, you'll see he was out there before even pants were invented.) Sure, part of the reason bicycle messengers are romanticized is that people think it's difficult and dangerous, whereas foot messengering seems hopelessly, well, pedestrian. This is completely untrue. Firstly, cycling is much faster than walking, and therefore easier. Secondly, foot messengers also use the subway, and while riding a bicycle may be a bit more dangerous than either of those things now, people forget that "back in the day" (which is any time up to the day before the person you're talking to first moved to New York City) people here carried guns and knives instead of iPhones and Frappucinos. Really, you were much safer flying down Broadway on a brakeless bike at 20mph than you were sitting on the A train with a bag full of stuff. Even today, if you think bike messengers must fight motor vehicle traffic while all foot messengers have to deal with is other pedestrians, think again. Unless you've walked briskly into a shwarma cart or been scalded with hot Starbucks by a texting cubicle jockey, you have no idea what it means to be a foot messenger. Also, just like the hardcore bike messengers often ride track bikes, the hardcore foot messengers have a special walk:

I get around by train and by foot. The messenger business is slower now, but at my peak, I could ride 22 subway lines a week easily. I could go seven or eight subway lines a day and walk maybe 7, 8, 10 miles a day. It’s not running, but it’s a fast kind of walk that messengers do that pedestrians don’t generally see.

Just like fixed-gears, this special walk used to be the exclusive domain of a small group of people, but now that the "hipsters" have latched onto it it's all over:



And I shouldn't even have to mention the possibility of getting hit by a shoaler.

148 comments:

Bad Lawyer said...

first!

Anonymous said...

?

CAMPIONE CYCLES CALGARY said...

Podium!

cyclist2 said...

frist!

Anonymous said...

YAY

Asterisk said...

top 10

*

Anonymous said...

booyah

g said...

PACK FODR

Anonymous said...

Top 10?!?!

Anonymous said...

whaaaaat

rezado said...

Monkey finger

rezado said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

seagull

Anonymous said...

top 10?

kale said...

Snob,

"urinal line line" probably aught to be "urinal-line line"

Bad Lawyer said...

Snob said--

"Of course, the truth is that some people are faster than others. This can be because they're carrying less stuff, or they're in more of a hurry, or they're simply more physically fit."

Or they are wearing less jewelry, they have less to do, they are more focused, their shoes fit better, they are listening to really hip music on their iPods, their navigation systems imbue them with confidence, they are sexually active, they are sexually inactive, they are more important than you, they are less important than you, ah...the mysteries of aerodynamics!

youaretheengine said...

I do the foot messenger track stand all the time.

hillbilly said...

bad lawyer is just unstoppable lately!

i can't believe she did that to you, bsnyc, let me guess, park slope? she was probably annoyed by the coop article. damn schluffing shoaler. shoaler mshoalerson!

Philip Lowden said...

My great grandfather worked as a foot messenger in Glasgow in the 60s, 70s, 80s. He started after his first retirement at 65, and retired again for good at 90!

g said...

Should that be "The Messenger World has influenceD..." not "influence..."?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Snob, props on the new chicken suit in the "Jamaica" colorway.

kale said...

Jerked-chicken suit?

wishiwasmerckx said...

Truly, is there anything more ridiculous than racewalking? They even make triatheletes look legit by comparison.

mikeweb said...

All hail Hermes!!

ant1 said...

ant1st!

Anonymous said...

I frequently 'anti-shoal' my way behind attractive subjects.

Anonymous said...

And who, exactly, is the comely Jewess in the photo? Could this be a gratiutous appearence by Mrs. Snob?

Anonymous said...

'THE MESSENGER WORLD has influence [sic] the founding of the graffiti arts movement[...]. "Messenger Poet" is about life as New York City messengers through poetry by Kurt Boone and illustrations by Greg Ugalde. Both veteran messengers of this authentic urban aesthetic.'

Ah the romance of messengers! They might want to get a person with a high school education to give that a quick review before publishing.

And apparently Greg Ugalde hasn't bothered to read his fellow veteran's poetry, because he's drawn a bike messenger (complete with mountain bike shoes) for the cover.

A white bike messenger at that.

hillbilly said...

feelin better, mikeweb?

Anonymous said...

i admit to being a little disappointed that you went around the shoaler by passing her on the right.

Anonymous said...

All You Shoalers Suck My Wheel!

Anonymous said...

As a recumbent bicycle rider, I often suffer the additional indignity of getting shoaled by pedestrians-on-bikes.

Shoal me once, shame on you. Shoal me twice, I'll never get shoaled again!

Mongo Pusher said...

You forgot about the often used "Lateral Shoaling".

Barbara Bush said...

Stop it! Stop it! Stop It1

DAve said...

mmmmm Jerk Chicken

Anonymous said...

Anonnny 2:19-

I would have thought Snob would pass 'pon de lef' 'and side...

Rural 14 said...

ant 2nd!
I was a bike messenger in 1977...it sucked then, and probably still does, despite its cachet, the dread quest for "authenticity". Here in in rural 14land we have cars that shoal around you when you're stopped at a light. If they bother to get off the phone, often they yell. I wave and smile. Occassionally I have to tame them, using my steel water bottle as a bludgeon.

mikeweb said...

Snob,

I'm surprised that you don't know the ultimate goal in getting from one place to another, whether by bike, foot or auto: To get in front of the person/ bike/ car that's in front of you. Now, when driving, the risk of speeding tickets or other moving violations discourages most flagrant cases of 'Nascar-itis'. When walking or biking, a person's level of fitness is more of a factor in this game of 'TdF-itis'.

I've obviously given this whole thing way too much thought, but others have raised it to the level of a science.

Anonymous said...

boink

mikeweb said...

hillbilly, thank you. I am feeling a bit better, enough so to ride in today, though hoping I didn't jump the gun...

The Who said...

"...We won't be shoaled again..."

Anonymous said...

"(...)the fact is that it really doesn't inconvenience me and any displeasure I derive from it is really my own problem(...)"

From all my readings of BSNYC, this is the first time I see such a statement.
Upon reading this, I thought for a moment that BS's blogger account had been hacked into. Yikes! Fortunately, the rest of the post immediately dismissed my fears.
Oooh, I feel so much better now...

OBA said...

Of course, the one place in the universe where cyclists defy the laws of nature and don't shoal -- the moist cycling paradise of Portland:

http://dc.streetsblog.org/wp-content/gallery/traffic-finalists/2902451124_52b6b27bf2.jpg

OBA said...

http://dc.streetsblog.org/wp-content/gallery/traffic-finalists/2902451124_52b6b27bf2.jpg

Anonymous said...

How about the good ol' automobile-on-bike shoaling. I get that one every day, granted, i always shoal them back promptly. Sometimes they try to close the gap between the car and the curb, but then i just go to the other side. Maybe they will get smart and start opening their doors to block my shoal.

Richard D. James said...

I will eat your shoal!

FixEd said...

Ahh The Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.
No fisherman that day. I haven't seen it in a long time...

Fred Clydesdale said...

To Cure a Shoaler

On my afternoon rides, I frequently encounter shoalers. When someone slower than me feels the need to drift past me as I wait at the light, I will usually simply fall in behind them as the light changes.

And I stay there: up hill, down hill, stop signs, frantic attempts to wave me through. It doesn't matter. I'll stay there until my ride takes me onto another route, or they pretend to get a calf cramp and pull over to the side of the road.

It may not cure them entirely, but it certainly annoys them at least as much as shoaling annoys me. And I've never been repeat-shoaled by someone I've anti-shoaled.

Caroline, No. said...

I didn't know it was called shoaling.

I'm a London cyclist, a woman, and usually wear casual commuter clothing. (Ha.) No lycra for me. Anyway, I always thought people STUPIDLY passed me as I waited at a light bcs they think I'm a slow cyclist. (I'm not.) It's good to know that these idiots strike regardless of your cycling demeanour.

And I do call people out for it. Especially if I have to put myself into the middle of a busy traffic lane to overtake the wobbling imbeciles.


Why people can't just QUEUE in the order that we already cycling, I WILL NEVER KNOW.

Caroline, No. said...

OH.


It makes me ever more annoyed when, because they've positioned themselves out of the line of vision of the traffic light, they don't even know when it's their turn to go.

That's when I say, 'Good job you jumped that queue!' when I cycle past them.


Ugh.

Bad Lawyer said...

I think shoaling is nothing more than the outcome of individual riders getting a better view of the cross-traffic as they wait at a light. After thinking this over while I waited at intersections this afternoon I began to doubt the idea that is necessarily the intent of the shoaling rider to "get ahead" of the rider already waiting. Likewise, I see the same phenomena while driving my car sitting in traffic jams, some drivers in line will swing to one side or the other, particularly the shoulder, in an effort to get a better view up ahead of what might be causing the gridlock.

Marrock said...

Wow, that video gave me a "Doctor Detroit" flashback.

Bad Lawyer said...

"curing a shoaler:" sounds dangerously like "teaching them a lesson." I don't like it, I think it's narcissistic nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Maybe sporting some truck-nutz would be an effective way to intimdate would-be shoalers. Something more intimidating than a pendulous saddle-bag, though. Bicycle-nutz? Cycle-nutz? Bike-nutz? Velo-nutz?

A way to warn the would-be shoaler, that you and your cycle have some serious testoterone and intend to unload it when the light turns.

bikramyoganj said...

Hey Bike snob was the 2nd picture on todays blog from Sandy Hook? I was there yesterday too. I had on the wild colors if you were there before noon. And you should do yoga to feel more "one" with everything.
Alice

bike locks said...

I was once asked to scoot over by a recumbent rider, thinking they were turning right I obliged. I was then shoaled. They stayed at the light making me wait for a passing opportunity.

belmont sledgehammer said...

OBA,

Happens in portland really, really, really often.

Cap'n Arrghopower said...

Hey, you can shoal people into traffic if you do it subtly enough. Just roll up a bit past them and hang there. They'll move up again. Roll up a bit more. They'll move up a bit more. Wash rinse repeat. Soon enough the world is all taxi horns, feet down and finger-banging and stuff. That's when you step on your 42-17 and leave 'em all high and dry on the beach. No traffic, no bikes - smooth sailing!

hillbilly said...

bikram...

I don't think it's sandy hook, i think it's the waterfront path (maybe called marine pkwy) connecting coney island to floyd bennet-lane, where the bridge in the first pic connects the rockaways to the rest of bkly (at least physically)...although i might be wrong about all of that

Anonymous said...

you're obviously doing it wrong if you even make contact with the shoal. Slow and low -that is the tempo.

Until the light changes of course, and you roll right past 'em all.

grog said...

excellent information today. there's very little shoalling in the MTB world probably because there are no redlights on the trail.

JUMP QUUE

Anonymous said...

Is our Snobbers CAT 2? Is there anything sadder than CAT2? (all the race prep, all the cost of travel, all the pain and suffering, all the lost relationships, but no CHECK at the end of the day) Just racing for swag.

Cranky Mule said...

Does anyone know where I can get a good burrito?

Anonymous said...

isn't racewalking an olympic sport? like tug-of-war was from 1900 to 1920? or live pigeon shooting in 1900? or rob climbing in 1932? or pistol dueling in 1906?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3GGzq1PIqs

Cranky Mule said...

Say "hello" to your fellow cyclists at stop lights and soon we will all be friendly with each other and the feeling of need to shoal will be limited to newbies and the antisocial... Just a thought.

Shram said...

I don't see the need to shoal, and I don't mind shoalers in front of me. When the other light changes--assuming no cars are coming--I'm rolling while they're just realizing the light's about to turn.

booya

Rob said...

Anon 4:46, funny you should bring it up. I am the 1932 olympic Rob Climbing gold medalist. And here I thought that I had been consigned to the dungheap of history. Thank you for the shout-out. It really made my day.

Isolation Helmet said...

Even here in sunny CA you get lots and lots of Shoalers? But you know like you just mellow and wait and like did I tell you about the epic burrito I had yesterday?

sufferist said...

Sandy Hook is a wonderful place, I visted there on my vacation and thought it was in need of a time-trial. Nice roads, little traffic, easy to shut off from the rest of the world. Anyone in the area, please do your best to set this up. Please leave my name with the gatekeepers.

Many thanks....

hackneyed sojourn said...

This cyclist pulled alongside me at a light yesterday and said hello. After I checked for my wallet, I just looked him straight in the eye and said, "right".

Suzee said...

Once that the preminition of an 'imminent shoaling' has taken hold there is little, in reality, to be done with one's cycling lot. Personally, I always defer to the 'First Blood' approach.
Camoed Rambo appears, sets up that crude sprung-loaded, sharp-staked, death-trap - attatched subtley to the traffic light's bole, and as the shoaler passes me I cross myself before fully enjoying the triggered screams and arterial spurting. Of course it's not a very clean commute and full body fenders are advised, but it satisfies me.

Anonymous said...

Hah,
My first job in San Francisco was a foot messenger.
Whenever I'd hear messengers complaining about the way "civilians" ride bikes I'd always want to match it with tails of how poorly "civilians" walked.
Umbrellas were the nightmare obstacle. You could lose an eye when it started raining.

MHW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MHW said...

I'm always amazed to read your shoaling stories. I wondered if it was just an American thing or an NYC thing but Caroline reports it's rife in London too. I'm currently in Brisbane and my bike is my only means of transport. I was going to report that I don't think it happens so much here but maybe it's just that I don't notice it. I'm quite happy for faster folk queued behind me to zip past, I'm not a lane-hogger and there should be plenty of room for that. Similarly I never ever assume I'm faster than anyone else and am quite happy to zip past someone queued in front of me where it makes sense to do so. A shoaling study map might be in order..

Anonymous said...

Never noticed shoaling in Oakland or SF California, FYI.

Anonymous said...

Thought it was funny too, until I found out them racewalkers go faster than I can run...
Ha, ha. 20 km in 1:16? Wait, what?

Stupid Name said...

I also admit to being a little disappointed that you went around the shoaler by passing. Next time break the bond of cycling, and punish her.

I like the idea of making her creep into traffic and suffering pain and dismemberment.

Never forget, a bike pump in the spokes will stop that habit quickly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1jzs6dk4bs

Stupid Name said...

Oh yea,

A walking messenger, is just called "a delivery guy".

innerlighter said...

Nice to see Cav getting back on the track for some winter training, albeit without the bike. I wonder if Thor is studying that race walking video closely and trying to mimic Mark's regimen.



meh

Anonymous said...

q: burrito
a: taco bell

YOQU ERO!

Anonymous said...

has the "bay area" checked in yet?

Anonymous said...

really scraping the bottom of the barrel. "shoaling"...whatever.

Anonymous said...

today I saw a squirrel riding a tiny fixie. where's the faux outrage about THAT?

Anonymous said...

what about commuting on slicks, huh? can't we have 1200 words on that? IS IT COOL OR NOT???????

Anonymous said...

BTW the squirrel was riding a Windsor "The Hour".

Swashbuckling Dandy said...

Taco Bell? Please!

I think it's a safe bet that Anon 6:20 through 7:03 is a flaming shoaler.

Anonymous said...

before "bill nye the science guy" there was "Speedwalker!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6-SJLlneLc

wishiwasmerckx said...

And now for something completely different. It was a Monty Python weekend on Sirrius Satellite Radio. That means only one thing: Large flocks of soiled Budgies flying out of the loo, impinging on people's personal freedoms.

PANTS said...

If you encounter a shoaler, just keep re shoaling them until they end up in the middle of the intersection.
A trackstanding shoaler is even more annoying than a wobbly shoaler.

Is a shoaler the same as a sandbarrer?

cpopma said...

Racewalking is a completely legitimate sport. There are rules and everything for it. What most normal people don't understand is that walking, following the racewalking two rules (your back toe cannot leave the ground before you front heel has hit the ground and the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes over it) allows you to feel like one with the pavement. Coincidentally, so does getting beat up for walking like that. It's a zen thing.

Booksy said...

Wham!

More Hipster trashing please. Skinny jeans suck.

jet said...

Hm, shoaling. You learn something new every day. I live in Perth, WA and I've never seen it. The cyclists just neatly line up behind one another at the lights.

Anonymous said...

Kara Goucher is f-ing HOT!

Swashbuckling Dandy said...

Damn, cpopma, that was funny! Do racewalkers wear goofy get-ups, with Dr. Scholl's and Advil logos all over them? I know I could popular search engine it, but it's a little scary.

Anonymous said...

http://cgi.ebay.com/Khs-Flite-100-2009-model-White-size-53CM_W0QQitemZ320440819661QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item4a9bc2dfcd#ht_500wt_1182


OOMMMGGGGGGGGG

leroy said...

I'm not sure BSNYC realizes the public service he has performed.

I used to get miffed at shoalers.

But now when I see them, it just makes me smile.

BSNYC has elegantly explained their idiocy.

And it's comforting to see someone more clueless than me.

cyclotourist said...

Damn hipsters moving in on all the kewl scenes...

RACE WALK

Anonymous said...

THIS IS JUST FUNNY SHIT!
FUNNY ASS SHIT!

MIke Dean said...

I have spoken out against shoalers in the past. once, at a red light, some dude rolled up and stopped in front of me, when the light changed, as I rode by him (his shitty mountain bike was no match for my road bike) I said something along the lines of "don't pass me at the red light, motherfucker" at the next light he rode up behind me and asked if it was some kind of bicycling etiquette thing not to pass someone at a red light (those were more or less his exact words), I replied that damn right it was. I like to believe that he learned a lesson that day, and that my suliness was not without purpose.

Klaus Mohn said...

That's right, "Caroline, No". Plus shoalers NEVER change to a lower gear before coming to a stop (or after either, if they have gear hubs). That means they can't accelerate properly when the light turns red. I commute on a Vélib, which has the granniest of granny gears, and it's a pleasure to smoke them (and cars and scooters) at every red light.

fritz the cat said...

"even without a fixed-gear bicycle you can sometimes feel as though you are one with both your bike and your surroundings"
what a load of bollocks

fixed-gear bikes, the vehicle of choice for the pretentious fad loving twat

half of the people on them can't control the bloody things

ant1 said...

dandy - "flaming shoaler" nice!

ant1 said...

"Kara Goucher is f-ing HOT!"

shit, i'd almost forgotten.

Klaus Mohn said...

You know who keeps shoaling me though? My girlfriend. Every time we ride together she tries to jump ahead of me. I usually yell "ON YOUR LEFT" when I pass her again. It's good to have someone to beat multiple times on the ride home. There are no small victories.

sherpa said...

On a recent charity century I dubbed the practice of not cinching up your saddle bag "Bulldogging"

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cupcakequeen/2060395569/

the sway can be mesmerizing in a paceline.

Toxteth said...

Commuting the same route every day, you're bound to stop at a light with someone you've been by before. If the alpha rider has been established previously, should the alpha rider take his place at the front - like they do at the beginning of bike races?

bikramyoganj said...

Hey Hillbilly,
Thanks for answering my question about where the pic was from. I have never been on that part of the road you wrote of but hopefully someday.
Bikram

ppaschka said...

Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own. ~Louis J. Helle, Jr.

CommieCanuck said...

anonymous 6:35-7:03,

Thanks for posting in the dinner hour, and confirming that trolling just isn't funny.

CommieCanuck said...

Damn hipsters moving in on all the kewl scenes...

Yeah, I saw one exiting a public bathroom the other day, you could tell he was working on some signature move that did not involve a toilet seat, along with some ugly, but inexpensive , yet exclusive clothing.

Anonymous said...

Don't get hit by a shoaler? More like don't get hit by a Shofar.

Anonymous said...

"I commute on a Vélib, which has the granniest of granny gears, and it's a pleasure to smoke them (and cars and scooters) at every red light."

so you top out at 3-4 mph, and then shift? I'll let the idiots at the next olympic TT start ramp know that they are in the wrong gear...

danceralamode said...

Shoaling is rife in Los Angeles too. A group of us were on our way out to Venice beach, and this extremely slow woman kept catching up with us just before a light would change. Then we (a group of pretty intense cyclists) would almost immediately overtake her again. I couldn't understand why she was being so rude. If I think someone is going to be faster than me, I let them pass and stay ahead of me, unless, of course, I turn out to overtake them.

kale said...

I'm getting ready to shoal the podium today.

Anonymous said...

when the whistle blows, we reverse direction, and look who is in front! me! Anon!

bikesgonewild said...

...ppaschka said...

"Bicycling is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds. The airplane simply carries a man on its back like an obedient Pegasus; it gives him no wings of his own." ~Louis J. Helle, Jr."
...

...thank you, ppaschka...that is a great little quote...a keeper, if you will...

Neil said...

My GF asked a guy who shoaled us once, "why would you pull in front of people who just have have to pass you again?" He looked at her like she had two heads. When she said it was poor etiquette, he totally lost his shit and started ranting about golf. I've seen this guy since, and he doesn't stop for red lights any more. My hope is that natural selection will prevail.

hillbilly said...

kale - i think i've shoaled so far that i'm already through the daggone intersection

kale said...

I'm just trying not to put my foot down... I'm going to go circle back around. Hopefully I don't miss the light and miss it completely!

hillbilly said...

i'm trying to make the trackstand bunnyhop relevant...

kale said...

OK, I'm back...

Oh shit my foot came out of my feetbelts.

velocodger said...

When I was a messenger for Western Union in 1969 (in SF) all the assholes were in cars- not on bikes. Thus-no impolite cyclist behavior. However- there were virtually NO CYCLISTS. Just a comment on the human condition.

Anonymous said...

I think that was Nick Nolty reading about lemmy

Klaus Mohn said...

Anonymous 12.12: yeah, pretty much. i don't know what my speed is when I shift up, but I'm already almost across the intersection, safely claiming my space for the next stretch, while they're busy getting into conflicts with accelerating/irate motor vehicles (making a right, for example). I believe the claim that starting in a lower gear in this setting is more efficient is rather uncontroversial.
I fail to see how TT technique applies to my daily commute. Then again, I'm neither Fabian Cancellara nor the Lone Wolf. They usually don't stop at red lights during time trials, do they?

Anonymous said...

Hey Snobby,
Thanks for exposing the shoaling mis-behavior. I hope you will also call out practitioners of a favorite bike path game: suddenly becoming a racer when you get passed by someone. It's THE competitive sport of the westside bike path. You're flying along, passing people, but there will always be one person, who decides to draft you, and then pass again (usually when you slow down for a flock of small children or pedestrians walking 14 abreast). Dude, if you'd been going that fast in the first place, I never would have passed you! Do your own ride.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, the truth is that some people are faster than others."

Some people THINK they are faster and pass people they have no business passing. And not just when stopped (shoaling).

Example 1: I am riding on bike path on a tandem with my son age 10. As I approach my turnaround point, which is a busy intersection, a group of very fit looking cyclists in team jerseys are approaching on other side,slowly, having just crossed the intersection, and riding at casual pace and chatting. Some guy starts to pass them coming into my lane and nearly causing a head-on collision that I barely avoid. I turn around at intersection, and soon pass the offending cyclist, who of course had been passed on dropped by the obviously much fitter and faster group of cyclists he had no business passing at all, much less when he had no room to pass.

Example 2: I am riding to work, going uphill on the bike path. Person yells "bike left" and pulls up alongside me. Hill flattens out and I pick up speed. Person on my left starts yelling at me to let him pass, though my level of effort is constant and I could care less if he passes.

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chris said...

i am new to the city, where is the trail you were on, crossing "not the big skanky"

chicago auto insurance said...

I really would like to know just how effective a foot messenger is. I have a feeling that it isn't the most effective means.

bmxbandit said...

I hate these asshat "shoalers" as you call them as much as anybody, but it's not entirely true that they don't get called on it. The problem isn't that they're rude, their STUPID.

Some of you are going to hate on me for my story, but tought shit, it was fun at the time. A few years back I was with five buddies and we're all on race BMX bikes just hooning downtown. Between lights, from zero to whatever-the-top-speed-of 42/44/x16 gearing-is, unless it had a motor and you gunned it, there's no way you were taking us in between-light drags. Keep in mind we were between 18-24 at the time and in extremely good shape.

We pass a racer on our way to the next intersection. Typical lycra spandex team uniform, aerobars, clip on pedals, the whole deal. Guess he didn't like that he got caught off guard by a bunch of kids on BMX bikes.

We screech to a fast stop as the light turns red and just hang at the corner, 6 abreast waiting to practice our hole-shots (a term that has not aged well).

Mr. fancy-pants comes up around us and shoals his ass right in front of us. WFT? Before any of us could say a word (although we were "hey!"ing and "WHAT the?"ing) one of my less polite buds says "hey, FAGGOT!" The guy turns around and checks us out - I'll give him credit for not being scared and pretended we weren't talking to him. So my friend continues "Unless you have a rocket in that fanny pack of yours you'd better get the fuck out of my way because I WILL ram you when that light turns green."

I mean, seriously, by the time this long-distance moron even gets his free clip on and moving so that he's not falling over, we'd already have cleared the intersection. "Sure you will" he said.

Well, it was pretty damn fun, the rest of us took off like he was standing still (I hung back to watch) and my friend rammed him until the guy tipped over and fell (something we do to each other all the time). "Stay the fuck out of our way, you slow piece of shit!" my friend yelled down at him. Sweet, sweet revenge.

I'd never challenge a long-distance racer to a high-speed race, why does some skinny idiot on a fragile race bike think he can out accelerate big-legged dudes on BMX bikes?

Fuckers

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