Friday, September 28, 2007

Peace In Our Time: A Cycling Summit

It hardly needs saying at this point that there’s a lot of internal hostility in the cycling community. And as much as we’d all like for someone to fall from the sky and save us, I think we’ve got to admit that it’s just not going to happen.

Probably the biggest reason for this hostility is the fixed-gear trend. Right now the fixed-gear bicycle combined with the so-called “hipster” is the most vilified combination in bike culture—together they’ve become the Iran of cycling. For this reason, I think cycling should have a summit meeting. I’m imagining something between a UN General Assembly debate and a mafia-style sit-down. At this meeting will be present representatives from the Five Families of Cycling: Roadies, Mountain Bikers, Messengers, Fixed-Gear Riders, and Commuters. I think with a few simple resolutions and trade-offs among these groups we can alleviate a lot of this tension and resentment, and get back to the business of riding.

(I know, “So what about Cyclocrossers? Or Trackies? or Tourists?" For the purposes of what we’re setting out to accomplish here, they don’t need to be present. As largely self-sustaining subcultures, they can continue to geek out in their little bubbles for now.)

Item I:


As irritating as some of the new breed of fixed-gear bicycles and riders can be, I think the problem is largely one of nomenclature. In particular, I think the fact that many of these riders still refer to their bicycles as “track bikes” and say that they “ride track” is the reason other cyclists resent them. There is nothing “track” about a bike with riser bars and a top tube pad, for example, nor is there anything “track” about riding in tight jeans and a flat-brim baseball cap. Furthermore, many of these riders use their bikes primarily for doing stunts and skids, and have no intention of racing them on the track at all. It’s this contradiction in terminology that’s making so many people angry.

So I move that the fixed-gear riders agree to permanently expunge the word “track” from all references to their bicycles and riding style. Since their bikes are essentially fixed-gear BMX freestyle bikes, I suggest they call them “fixed-gear freestylers,” or something to that effect. After all, you don’t hear people complaining about BMXers, and that’s because they don’t go around calling their bikes something they’re not.

(A pink and black fixed-gear isn't that better?)

(It's just a Hutch Trickstar with bigger wheels...nothing to get angry about!)

Item II

Wheel Size

In many ways, fixed-gear freestyle equipment has not yet caught up with the style of riding. Because of the incorrect use of the word “track,” manufacturers are still speccing these bikes with inappropriate components like 700c wheels. The reality is that there’s no reason for them to be using wheels this big. These bikes are ridden for short distances only, and smaller wheels would be better for the stunt riding they’re doing. (Some of these riders are already using 650c/26" wheels on the front anyway.)

Meanwhile, mountain bikes seem to be moving to the 29er (700c) wheel size. This is why a mountain bike representative needs to be at the summit. I’d like the fixed-gear freestylers and the mountain bikers to agree to a wheel-size exchange. The fixed-gear freestylers will take the 26" wheels, which seem to be falling out of favor with mountain bikers anyway, and the mountain bikers will take the 700cs. (This has the added benefit of making fixed-gear freestylers look even less like track bikes.)

Item III

Maintaining Standards

On the surface, roadies and messengers are very different. Roadies are fastidiously clean; messengers are inevitably grimy. Roadies get as far away from the city as they can in order to traverse hill and dale; messengers spend their days and nights in the urban jungle. Roadies wish they were paid to ride; messengers are actually paid to ride.

What both groups have in common though is a long, inscrutable list of rules and criteria which one must follow and fit in order to belong. In the roadie world, something as esoteric as wearing the wrong length sock can be enough to get you banished forever. In the messenger world, simply having the audacity to use a messenger bag or attempt a track stand without being a bona-fide courier is sufficient to make you the object of scorn.

Shouldn’t both of these groups loosen up a bit and become more accommodating? Absolutely not! As cycling’s ultra-orthodox it’s crucial they continue to bear their rigorous standards with borderline psychotic devotion. They are the sun and moon of the cycling firmament, and if either wavers at all in their steadfastness the Earth will be plunged into chaos. This is why, at the summit, I suggest they sign a Joint Pact of Self-Righteousness, and commit once and for all to maintain their rigorous standards and bloated sense of self-importance forever. It is a crucial stabilizing force.

Item IV


Whether you’re a road racer-slash-commuter, a mountain biker-slash-commuter, a fixed gear freestyler-slash-commuter, or just a plain commuter, you must agree to obey one simple rule: do not race people on your commute. Whether you’re a roadie on a Madone or a guy in khakis and a polo shirt on a hybrid, you look equally stupid trying to drop somebody on the Brooklyn bridge.

That's it--it's that simple. If we can adopt these four simple articles, I think the cycling world will be a better place.


Anonymous said...

Yes! First Baby!!


Matt in Seattle

Anonymous said...

Re: Item IV - Amendment 1 - all bike paths shall be updated with speed zones not unlike the autobahn. Leftmost lane for spandexers trying to score a new best with their computers, middle lane for standard-pace commuters, and the rightmost lane for old ladies on busted mountain bikes.

Anonymous said...


Niki said...

Don't you think track racers should have some say in the summit since they are perhaps the most affected by the fixed-gear/hipster explosion?

Sure the track scene is pretty self-sustaining but we are the ones being marginalized by guys who "ride track."

Anonymous said...

Get ready for the ire of BMX riders. Being lumped in with TTP users is going to really get them up in arms.

I know you have a lot of things to keep you busy but it would be great if you could eliminate the inane "First poster" comments.

Somehow I thought your readers would have more class than to stoop that low. Oh he's from Seattle, explains it all.

Anonymous said...

If we are really after peace in our time, why no representation from triathlon (pathletes?) and recumbant crowd?

I agree with anon 1:50 in eliminating the first poster comments.


BikeSnobNYC said...


I didn't think the trackies need to be at the summit because they shouldn't be expected to explain themselves, yield in any way, or make any compromises. They're not the onese being sanctioned. Since the fixed-gear freestylers have appropriated their gear it's their responsibility to adapt. Of course, that said, they should absolutely send a delegation if they want.


Anonymous said...

as i tell my girlfriend everyday i head to work "i wonder who is going to race me today on the way to the bus stop".

Sean Lynch said...

anon 1:58...
[comic book guy voice]

Best Comment ever!

Anonymous said...

Since I almost got run over by an idiotic fixed gear hipster not paying attention at an intersection two days ago and was forced to skid on my road bike (something my expensive road tires were not made to do), I would like to be invited to this summit so I can whack the capo sent from the Fixed Gear Crime Family. And since my family is from Colombia, I will most certainly leave the Fixed Gear Capo with a beautiful neck tie from my country.

Anonymous said...

Fixed gear freestylers?! You really think the best way to alleviate the hostility towards fixed gear riders is to rename the entire group after the most irritating subcategory of that group?

Though it might be fun to continue that trend in the renaming of other cycling categories.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the "first" comments. They're really stupid and annoying.

Prolly said...

I can do various tricks on my bike and yet I still manage to ride about 150 - 200 miles a week. Am I to blame?

Anonymous said...

"If we are really after peace in our time, why no representation from triathlon (pathletes?) and recumbant crowd?"

Their rides are so ridiculous there's no danger of them ever pretending to be something cooler. What's the point of marginalizing them if we're going to turn around and readmit them into polite cycling society? The shunning shall continue........

LK said...

There was some guy on a unicycle with a knobby tire wobbling down the UWS Greenway this AM.

Run away to the Circus already.

Anonymous said...

BMX will eclipse fixed gear some day, so no worries. A few BMX companies are starting to make their own fixed gear completes and frames.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a triathlete, but I don't quite understand the constant scorn they receive on this blog. Could somebody please explain it to me in a relatively objective voice?

len said...

Rules! More rules!

Okay, no racing other riders on a commute, but how about racing cars?

why do cyclist make fun of triathletes?

mostly because the have more disposable income than your average lifer cyclist and a more expensive bike.

Dimitri said...

Please don't say 'freestyler'. It's oh so neon lycra painful. My ears/eyes are bleeding.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:23 -

Because for the most part they ride ridiculous bikes that are crammed with unnecessary gear. If they're out on a triathlon, great. But they show up on group rides and it's a disaster waiting to happen. Those aero bars are weapons, the oversize carbon wheels do not make them go faster, and the TT bike/position makes them much less stable and dangerous in a pack. They usually have like 4 water bottles plus these stupid Bento boxes to feed themselves - and they could feed a small army with what they pack. I'd rather ride my bike during the Running of the Bulls in the Pamplona - I'd be much safer than riding in a pack with one tribike. Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than passing some poseur tri-rider on their super souped bike, all in their aero tuck nonsense and you're barely breaking a sweat.

Dimitri said...

Oh, and how about shutting the fuck up and being nice. (Not directed at anyone in particular). People are so quick to blame. It's a hippy-dippy concept, but you make the difference in the 'community'. You have the biggest impact on your own experiences with riding or anything else you choose to be a part of. I am all for clowning and shit talking, but when it comes down to it...I have the final decision.

mander said...

Can we call what the street fg guys are doing "artistic cycling"?

Anonymous said...

Why scorn triathletes? Ask Clayton.

Dimitri said...

Def. not artistic.

Miriam. said...

I think the track riders should be there so we can smack the fixie-hipster-breakless riders who have made our already expensive gear that much more expensive.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of nomenclature...

Can a fixed gear bike with a track frame be called a "fixie?"

I have heard it said that track bikes are not "fixies" - only fixed geared bikes built up from a road bike etc...


CdP said...


Racing cars on the commute (at least in NYC) is really more of an unavoidable safety requirement than a choice, but perfectly acceptable nonetheless...


Anonymous said...

Why would an anonymous person proudly proclaim himself third? Isn't that sort of stupid? Where's the glory in being one of the first commenters if you're commenting anonymously? And, where's the glory in being third?

Unless, of course, that was just an ironic commentary on the stupidity of vying for the first comment. In which case, that's cool, I guess.

Sean Lynch said...

Racing with cars would be pretty dificult on my commute.

There are only one or two stretches of Millwaukee Avenue where the cars can get up to a speed to match or pass the bikes.

I used to play leap frog with the cars from light to light, but that was years ago. Traffic congestion has gotten much worse.

I don't know how they can stand to be cooped up and trapped in those things for a few hour every day.

liz said...

you must agree to obey one simple rule: do not race people on your commute.


everyday, I ride the Tour to work in Chicago.

Derisory Velo said...

We really do need a new name for this whole fixed gear stunt riding movement. Someone will capitalize on this soon enough, no doubt. Just like the "freeride" scene blew up in mountain biking, bringing new riders, and a completely new style of bike with it. I'm curious and skeptical about how a scene with both intense passion and intense posing will pan out. Thanks again Bikesnob.

Anonymous said...

Re: Where's the glory in being one of the first commenters if you're commenting anonymously? And, where's the glory in being third?

The glory was in the leadout I gave anonymous that got him to the line first.

Anonymous said...

Maybe something like this could get us all together...

Jim said...

I'm not a triathlete, but I don't quite understand

Numerous offenses against the Bike, as defined by the Roadie Vatican, the UCI, and its disciples.

1) They pee in their shorts on the bike. You can pee from a moving bike without giving it the yellow baptism if you have any skills. Pissing on your bike is simply unnecessary bike abuse. Couple this egregious behavior with the habit of storing copious amounts of unwrapped food on the frame of the bike, and the potential for nausea is unlimited.

2) Sleeveless jerseys. Why is sleeveless so bad? Aside from making the wearer look like Vinnie the Wife Beater from Elizabeth, they are bad for the same reason non-double triangle design bikes are. They f***ing are, and that's that. So it was written, so shall it be done. UCI Rules, verses 1.3.026, 1.3.020. (I prefer to chant the rules in Italian, rather than read them aloud in English, but feel free to use the vulgate translation if you must).

3) The traditional road bike is a wonderful handling, safe speed machine that is pleasing to the eye, and when ridden by somebody who knows how to ride well, the rider/bike combination is a thing of beauty. When tweaked by tri-bike companies and ridden by non-bike-handling triathletes, the bike becomes an ugly technological mishmash (e.g. Softride) covered by sweaty, ungraciously suffering people who smell vaguely of urine and the baby formula they like to ingest for food. The bikes themselves have the handling characteristics of a PMS'ing warthog. The typical vile handling tri or TT bike piloted by a skillful bike handler is dangerous as hell to be around. Piloted by the typical twice-a-week tri pilot with sub-rudimentary handling skills, it's a weapon of mass destruction, ready to take out great swaths of the peloton in an instant. There's no good reason to ride around others on a TT bike, especially on crowded bike trails and elsewhere - it's mad, bad and dangerous to do - yet almost all of them do it, commute in any busy city and you find them in their sleeveless (aaaarrrrgggghhh!) jerseys, down in the (impossible to corner from) aero bars, hammering along at 73% of threshold.

4) They don't sprint, they don't go really fast on the flats, they don't climb well, their bikes' TT geometry and their shitty handling skills means they don't descend well either, and there's little or no draft behind them. Plus nobody wants to eat food or drink from water bottles that they've handled, what with the pee and all. In the eyes of a typical pack-oriented roadie, what the hell good are they?

But God bless 'em, every so often a few of them see the light, and bring their enormous aerobic base on over into roadracing, where we love to draft off them, as long as they've been to the bathroom before the ride. Those triathletes - those saved sinners - we *love* them in the way you love your cousin who is a bit "special." They can almost pass for normal roadies, with enough vocational rehab, and that's a wonderful thing. It means maybe there is hope for the hipsters too. We should see if the messengers are willing to sort them out.

Unknown said...

The aggro "play nice" comments on here are almost as amusing as the original posts.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for my new desk top back gound.

clintpatty said...

What about fixed gear commuters with front brakes whose extent of trick riding is staying clipped in at the red lights and stop signs?

I also commute and visit my gramma on a geared bike. A couple of times I've ridden with another commuter who keeps me at a good cadence in 38x21. I prefer to ride with other cyclists anyway around here, but would it have been rude to pass him and resume my normal speed? How about passing sub-8mph riders around campus?

bikepennst8 said...

38th??? What is this new phenomenon? Does the guy that posts first and announce it win a personalized berating from BSNYC?

Jon is a Typhoon! said...

here here

gewilli said...

Get ready for the ire of BMX riders.
BMX riders - no worries...

they spend all their time posting their crashes on YouTube to try and read the 1000 word posts by BSNYC

BikeSnobNYC said...


That's a commuter, regardless of the fact that the gear is fixed. A fixed-gear commuter, if you must.

Obviously we must pass sometimes. Passing isn't racing. Passing is done out of necessity. Racing's when you pass someone to prove you can do it.

What number poster am I?!?


Anonymous said...

I commute on fixed gear with fully taped drop bars, a front brake, and I dare to bare my top tube (some how and only by the grace of God I have managed to ride for years without a denting my tubing, its like its made of steal or something) and like clintpatty, track stands are about as close to tricks as I get.

I loath the hipster fixed gear crowd, mainly because to many cyclists I am now "one of them" on "one of those bikes"

I 100% support the Fixed Gear Freestyler name change, so I can go back to being a commuter and not "one of those" or “one of them”

Jon is a Typhoon! said...

oh sorry.... 40th!!!!!!

Kevin said...

My favorite is when you pass someone and the next thing you know they are on your wheel going full bore. Why weren't you going that fast in the first place?

I commute daily, but I use a messenger bag (a Timbuk2). Am I a poser or do I get a pass because all the *real* messengers scorn such lowly brands? I think I may be giving myself a complex over this.

Scottie said...


The triathletes you speak of are only the noticeable ones. There are plenty of triathletes who, despite competing well in triathlons, blend seamlessly into the road pack. Many of them came from the road pack initially and discovered that they could put their riding skills to use in triathlons.

Or would these be considered triathletes? Maybe because they don't fit into the ridiculous triathlete image they're just referred to as "people that compete in triathlons"?

Anonymous said...

Hey Doug, thanks for having the insight to see my ironic first post. It's silly, it's funny, if it annoys you you've gotta find a better hobby.

Great post yet again, good times. I'm a roadie, trackie, messenger, and a fixed gear rider, but really, mountain bikes are just stupid. ;)

Anon 1:50...I'm from Massachusetts, I just live in Seattle. See, 'Matt in Seattle' not 'Matt from Seattle'. It's obvious you have difficulty with syntax and irony. Cute though, super cute!

Somehow I feel like the BMX'rs are going to lob a pipe bomb into our little mafia-meet, they're the type who know how to make those things. Then the streets will be theirs!!! Muahahahaha!!!


Matt from Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

Oh anonymous, despite Jim's typically long-winded explanation, he missed the only point that matters:



!!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!! !!!!

Everything else, while contributing to this cocaine-snorting Studio 54-brand of gayness, pales in comparison to dancewear on the bike.

Colin R said...

Anonymous said...

Re: Where's the glory in being one of the first commenters if you're commenting anonymously? And, where's the glory in being third?

The glory was in the leadout I gave anonymous that got him to the line first.

How has no one yet remarked at the awesomeness of this comment?!

Jim said...

Or would these be considered triathletes?

No, they'd be considered "perfectly fine people who ride okay and make poor grist for some long winded a-hole who comments at BSNYC." That's how I prefer to think of them. Hey, some of my best friends are triathletes.

Anonymous said...

Matt from Massachusetts wrote:
"Somehow I feel like the BMX'rs are going to lob a pipe bomb into our little mafia-meet, they're the type who know how to make those things. Then the streets will be theirs!!! Muahahahaha!!!"

Whether you're joking or not...Goddamn right brother man! The fixed gear hipster dorks aren't even close to receiving the amount/level of shit that we BMXers have. I swear to god or whatever bullshit mythic figure you are into the next time some shithead in his cute little lycra panties uses the words "little kids bike", or "training wheels" I will cut his dick off and feed it to him. I'm 35 and yes I still ride my BMX bike, fuck off.

So beware all you large diameter wheeled arrogant bastards, we have infiltrated your LBS, we are reading your blogs, and we are watching your every move.

Much Love XOXO

Anonymous said...

It's recumbent, not recumbant.....and I still like passing everybody.

Danimal said...

Damnit. I really wanted to be first today.

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt in Seattle/From Mass:

I'm from Seattle, but live in Massachusetts. Weird. Where in Mass are you from? I'm in Northampton.

Go Sox!

Anonymous said...

Jason (September 28, 2007 5:55 PM), I hear you. I too get the "kid's bike" remarks about my folding commuter. Not from roadies (they don't deign to notice folders, and anything they *do* say is so doppler-shifted that they sound like squeaking bats or constipated water-buffalo as they pass me), but ATB jocks and especially mimsers on hybrids (as I pass them).

Me, I'm grateful to the BMX crowd, and even the recumbent mob, for providing an "industrial base" of components, tyres and accessories for folders.

Anonymous said...

So, I finish reading today's post, and get on my bike for my 15 minute commute home. I'm rolling down 5th Ave, a slight downhill, and between my 40 lb coaster brake Schwinn and 190 lb self, start buildng up a little steam, you know?

Up ahead there's some dude (yeah, you!) on a fixie - no brake, but he's got one of them goofy styrofoam shower caps strapped on, so I guess it's OK, right?

Anyway, like I said, it's a mild downhill past the Empire St Bldg, so I coast right by this guy, and sure enough,,, 5-4-3-2-1... here he comes, right around me, doing like 160 rpm and bouncing like a porn star on crytal meth. And looking over his shoulder every 2 secs, like yeah bro - I'm gonna jump on YOUR wheel?

Guess you showed ME, huh?


marlo said...

The messenger/roadie dialectic is painfully true. Who woulda thunk a bunch of stinky potheads would be so uptight? Yet they are.

Philip Barrett said...

PMS'ing Warthog? Porn Star on crystal meth? Gentlemen, today you outdo even yourselves!

Philip Barrett said...

PMS'ing Warthog? Porn Star on crystal meth? Gentlemen, today you outdo even yourselves!

Philip Barrett said...

crap - double post, sorry!

Anonymous said...

BSNYC -- No passing on the Brooklyn Bridge?

Well okay, if you say so.

But not because it's dorky (which it is).

But because in the decent weather, there's no room due to all the tourists walking in the bike lane.

And yet, that's not all bad.

Just two nights ago, two roadies, a commuter and a fixie found common ground after crossing the bridge and while waiting for the light at the Brooklyn end.

Seems a tourist on the downhill side of the bridge had stepped in front of the fixie trailing the group and had almost gotten gored in the gonads by what the fixie quaintly referred to as his "bullhorns."

Pamplona on Adams Street. Who woulda thunk it?

And yet ... for one brief shining moment, roadies, commuter and fixie stood united in the mutual bond of biking, sharing a communal nod of commiseration.

Then the light changed.

I get choked up just recounting the vignette.

Let the healing begin!

Anonymous said...

What no BMX?

Anonymous said...

...i rode a bicycle today & had a nice time...was it good for you too ???...

Anonymous said... the way, bikesnob, you asked for 'peace in our time' through a 'cycling summit' & gee whiz, i do believe you ended up w/ cycling's version of the 'tower of babel'...most everybody talking a different language...
...i'll leave it at that...

Philip Williamson said...


Ah, "third!", you cracked me up. That should be your blogger handle.

I gotta get my hate on. There are whole demographics of cyclists I've been forgetting to despise.

Chris "Stu" Stuart said...

Okay, so I'm a new road cyclist...grew up on a mountain bike, had a hybrid for getting around the city, and then, decided I loved biking enough to get myself a starter road bike, out of the box (I don't know enough about components or anything like that to put one together, and I work at a non-profit, so it had to be under $1K, though I've started saving up).

So, when I'm going up the West Side Bikeway on my morning commute to Midtown from Brooklyn, I pass a lot of people. I generally go as fast as I comfortably can, and that's pretty fast. My commute is 10 miles, which means I pass a lot of people, but am not tired by the end of it.

So what's the best way to indicate to someone as I pass them that I'm not doing it to be a dick? Or, at least, not consciously. They're just moving slower than me, and there's no judgment involved in that. Is there a place I can go (other than here, of course) to learn these things before I realize that I've been conveying dickitude to everyone I pass for the last year?

Anonymous said...

okay Stu,

a bit of advice from Europe. I know a guy whose cousin rides for Liquigas so I'm an expert in road racing.

You consider yourself a roadie. As an athlete, you should know there's a difference between training and racing. I'd say a 10 mile commute is good for some kind of training. It just so happens that there are some other cyclists using the same roads. You have to pass them, on account of slowing down too much would ruin your training.

Now it doesn't really matter that you never race (a lot of roadies never do), you can still train all you want. The point is that if you consider your commute a training ride, you're a roadie who just doesn't race. Otherwise, you're a commuter on a road bike.

What lot of them commuters don't know is this difference between training and racing. They see a bit of team kit and think there's a race going on. Which means they will try to draft you for a few kms and then "beat" you in the sprint up the Brooklyn Bridge or whatever. This ignorance of the rules of cycling which amounts to disturbing a good training ride is what I assume annoys people like bikesnobnyc.

(Now that I've written this I'm beginning to wonder if you even noticed BSNYC:s comment sep 28 at 4:12 pm)

Anonymous said...

At age 4 I had a tricycle.
At age 6 I had a "dragstar".
By 12 it was a "ten speed racer".
At 14 it was my first (and only) BMX.
At 16 another ten speed.
In the wilderness years I drove a car.
Late 20's it was over to MTBs.
And now, in the 30's, with the cars gone, its fixed gears for me.

What I really wish now is that I'd kept every bike I ever owned, so I could ride a different one every day if I wanted.

You can call me what you like, and I don't care. I'm just a bike rider...

aija said...

I am a fixie commuter. and the big wheels make sense, thanks. I admit I've looked at deep-vs in the past year, but managed to resist, considering then I'd be the biggest poseur ever. But I will admit to learning to a)trackstand (if I have to expunge references to track from my vocabulary, wtf do I call it now? suggestions?) and b)skid. And I use both skills for the daily commute. I save the backwards circles for geeking out in alleyways.
So, then. We can't pigeonhole the bike families. It's a continuum. Except for tri-bikes. Those things aren't related to ME.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. A variation on the Huffy Toss. It's called the Hipster Toss, and we round em up, drag em to Arizona, and Toss em in. Just a thought.

clintpatty said...

What is with the hate for Deep Vs? I recently passed on one for the Dyad instead from Velocity. Aside from the fashion thing, the Deep V is a very solid, quality rim.

Anonymous said...

Stu --

I'm no expert on etiquette, but I commute on a road bike from Brooklyn to Mid Town too on the West Side Highway.

Here's my two cents.

If someone is out for a leisurely ride or just spinning, it's okay to pass him or her (you can even give them the slight nod as you go by).

The thing you shouldn't do is roll up to someone going a little slower than you, draft him for a while, and then scream "on your left" as you pass.

That's just wrong.

On the other hand, if someone blows past me at high speed, I might try drafting him for a while. I can't help it. I'm lazy and undisciplined.

Anonymous said...

...matsku..."i know a guy who's cousin rides for 'liquigas' so i'm an expert in roadracing"...beautiful, that line alone should win a prize... it...any advice beyond that doesn't've captured the spirit...

Chris "Stu" Stuart said...

Of course I saw the comment from BikesnobNYC. That's what inspired me to ask "How do I indicate that I'm not being a dick when I pass?"

And, sorry, I didn't meant to imply that I am a real roadie. Just that I commute on a road bike, and when I do, I wear road bike gear. So people might confuse me for a roadie jerk.

I'm not training to race, I just want to be able to do longer and longer rides.

NYC is full of so much macho bullshit, and I'd just love to not inadvertantly make it worse.

Jim said...

Stu, nothin' wrong with a $1k entry level roadbike. My stable is mostly sub $1k bikes, they're very good. Guys on the $7k bikes that don't know how to ride them... now something's wrong with them, not you.

Being cool on the commute (and elsewhere around others) is about doing your own thing but doing it safe & steady, kind of like if you were driving. Fast is cool, slow is cool, swerving and lots of accelerating/braking in traffic, buzzing peds & bladers & slow riders, wheelsucking without permission not so much. Passing, slowing, dropping back, passing again, is my peeve, since a substantial chunk of those guys are trying to start a race, and a solid subset of that group will do something dangerously stupid at least once a day on the commute if you ride behind them and just watch. If you're doing intervals or sprints, be clear of others; communicate when you're passing somebody ('on your left' or an Incredi-bell)... just learn good roadie skills, the equivalent of using the turn signals on the car. Feel free to endanger your own life, but don't do it where it would endanger others.

Bicycling mag's website has good basic articles on group riding skills, and even if you aren't in a formal pack, things like hand signaling hidden obstacles, communicating when you are slowing or turning and other riders are present, are *extremely* good habits. PEZ and Velo News sometimes discuss this kind of thin gtoo. If you can find a good LBS group ride that has a welcoming vibe to it and watch the alpha riders, you can learn a lot from them too. It's like driving, more to doing it right than just gassing it and turning. Congrats on the new bike, welcome to the skinny tire club.

Anonymous said...

Stu, now you got me confused.

I wasn't being ironic, I just tried to give you honest advice on being a "roadie". That is what I've been trying for a few years and assume any normal guy that buys a road bike aims at at some level.

Then I hear this sensitivity speech from you. I'm figuring you might be one of those Americans who, when they see men in skin-tight costumes and hear it's from Europe, think that it's something cultural and deep like ballet.

Well it ain't.

I've seen Breaking Away, and those Cinzano guys gave this guy a valuable lesson. If you don't learn from me, learn from the movie.

Cycling in Europe is for decent working-class people who get to wear spandex (and cycling helmets au Swedish Volvo-owning family father) because they're tough enough to beat the crap out of anyone trying to make fun of them. Do you think that guys like 'il Killer' or 'the Lion of Flanders' have anything against macho bullshit?

The rules are there so that you don't mess around, not to keep you from hurting other people's feelings.

Now a reason why roadies never thought much of triathletes is that triathlon has ever been a sport for Greenwich, ct yuppies who think it actually is cool to wear the stuff they do.

Anonymous said...

Commuters passing roadies? What about roadies passing commuters? To wit, last night I'm riding home on my fendered single-speed toodling along at low speed enjoying a beautiful evening when a guy on a road bike worth at least $5000 blows by me. No problem there. He stops at a light up ahead and by the time I reach the intersection it's turning green, so without stopping I continue my toodling and this ass just can't bear that I've passed him. He gears down and starts sprinting around me on my right and then cuts me off to reenter traffic.
Spare me... ass.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. How close d'you have to be behind someone to class as a wheel-sucker? I'll tell you, reading these blogs is messing with my head...

There's only one route out from my home, and it's up a very steep (for me anyway) hill. Yesterday, at one of the T-junctions on the way, I met a guy grinding uphill on his ATB. He was on the steeper section, so I let him go first so he could keep his mo going, and pulled in behind him. I get claustrophobic in a bunch so the about two metre gap between us is about as close as I care to get. I was making no attempt to pass him because the road is single-track and cars come down the hill faster than they should, but I was clearly making him a bit twitchy. He kept looking over his shoulder, redoubled his efforts and pulled out another metre or so. Kudos to him, I thought, because he looked older than I am (51) and I couldn't go any faster.

At the top of the slope, the road levels out for about fifty metres before a T-junction onto another very steep gradient. ATB-guy didn't accelerate much and I thought about passing him (did I mention my claustrophobia?), but I thought "No, it looks like he might be stronger than I, and if I pass him I'll get in his way on the next steep bit (and be owned if he re-passes me on the climb...)". So I stayed a couple of metres behind him. He kept looking behind him (possibly the noise from my gears made him nervous; my hub sounds like a Panzer IV in the low ratios).

Then we pulled up to the junction, with me falling back as I pre-selected bottom gear (the one I call my great-granny ratio), and onto the steep section. ATB-guy seemed suddenly to slow with a snap-snap-snap from his shifters, and wobbled sharply from side to side. I almost lost my mo (which I know from experience would have meant dismounting and pushing my bike up the hill), so I pulled out and passed him. As I glanced back to make sure I'd cleared him before pulling back to the left (the near side in Australia), he gave me a dirty look and said something beginning with "F***ing".

Once I'd have shrugged it off, but now I'm consumed with angst. Was I an anonymous wheel-sucker, or in breach of some other rule of cycling etiquette? Was I a dick? Was he a dick? Aunt Abby please help me...

Unknown said...

Why do people HAVE to try to fit everything into categories?I'm as guilty(guiltier?)of this as anyone-but I am getting so sick of this divisiveness!Here we have BSNYC calling for peace,and all people start doing is arguing the terms and quibbling over semantics!Just like governments really!I say just call'em BICYCLES-as in NOT cars-so long as it has pedals and no motor other than the rider-that's cool!

Anonymous said...

Bike Snob --

I have the feeling that the Cycling Summit wouldn't resemble a cross between the UN meeting and a mafia sit down.

It'd probably look like the opening scenes from "The Warriors."

Not sure I'm ready for that.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, blog cut off the link to Warriors summit meeting scene.

Here's the end of the link, if interested.


Anonymous said...

cousin rides for Liquigas

That's what I'm going to name my band just as soon as I learn to play the guitar.

Anonymous said...


the link isn't really cut off, it's just not all displayed--it all shows up as you select it with the mouse.

Anonymous said...

I like bikes but don't actually ride, which category do i belong to?

Anonymous said...

I am surprised you missed this: "Track Stand" would have to be "fixed gear freestyle stand", or more aptly, the "fixed gear freestyle figure-8"...

Anonymous said...

If all you roadies hate triathletes so much, and if we're so dangerous to be around, how come every time I pass one of you in the park you then jump on my wheel?

I know I don't have any handling ability on the thing. Get off already and just go back to happily scorning my dust.

xxxo tri-girl

Anonymous said...

ah. give a hipster a brake!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Leroy... The Warriors reference brought a tear to my eye.

In a way, I sort of imagine the NYC bike scene being a bit like that incredible film. If not, it should be. Living and riding here in the great state, I honestly don't have any idea, though.

The film asks the question that all of the hand-holders and peace-keepers posting so far avoid and fear the most:

Which side are you on?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:23 --

What side am I on?

Hmmm, I think Cyrus in "The Warriors" may have been on to something.

We should all unite.

Although I must admit that Cyrus sounded a bit like a hipster fixie when he invited the assembled multitude to contemplate peace in their time by repeatedly inquiring, "can you dig it?"

Of course, things didn't work out too well for Cyrus in the movie.

So I guess the lesson learned is unification is a good idea, but you still shouldn't draft/follow even a metaphorical fixie.

You just can't tell about the skill set ... and the potential lack of brakes can be an issue.

Chris said...

The other night, my wife and I were on a training ride doing some tempo when we passed a couple of guys on fixies just toodling along. I think they were even doing some synchronized dancing as we approached from behind.

At any rate, we pass them at about 23mph and proceed with our pace. One of the guys decides to try and jump on our wheel and sit there for about 6 miles. We gap him a few times and when we slow down to avoid running over some parents and their kids, he whips around us sprinting for some imaginary finish line. He slows down and we roll up beside him. His comment, "Gotta represent fixed gear." Give me a break.

I commute on a fixed gear, but as a roadie I wouldn't have the gall to suck someone's wheel like that. I just wish we'd had a harder ride schedule for that night so we could have put even more pain in his legs because I know that 45x18 had to have been a bitch at 25mph.

Anonymous said...


(i think...)

adam ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Great White Hype said...

Anon 5:15, GOOOOOOOOLD!!!

And Liz, I believe they call it Le Tour. Grandiose that commute up a little.

90-something'th! (Do I get the same finish time as the leader if I was at the tail of the pack?)

Anonymous said...

Jason, I'm serious about the BMX'rs, some day the 'kid's bike' comments are going to come to a head and the thousands of BMX'rs are going to snap.

Doug, I'm from Springfield, my mom was born and raised in Northampton. Small world.


Matt in Seattle

Anonymous said...

who will be the 100th comment?

Men triathletes wear sports bras (incomplete shirts):

Men "fixie" folk wear knickers (incomplete pants):

The similarities do not end there . . . .

Jim said...

how come every time I pass one of you in the park you then jump on my wheel?

You are "Tri-Girl," yes?

Then why do you feel the need to even ask guys that question? Doesn't it sort of answer itself?
If you're a typical hot tri-girl, what you are attracting is not a paceline, but a fan club. You could take advantage of that. Should you choose to go out with a roadracer, you may have to deal with the disgusting spectacle of a grown man ordering a small salad for dinner while you eat the steak. Don't worry, just focus on his nice shaved legs and hyper-sensitive, greyhound-like demeanor. Your revulsion will pass. That's what my wife says, but she also recommends shots of Jagermeister if staring at his legs and the carbon fiber Pinarello (also seated at the table) doesn't do it for you.


Anonymous said...

Jim --

Re your response to tri-girl: That's what I was thinking, but was much too shy, sensitive, PC and ineloquent to say.

BTW -- 97th!

Hey, that's about where I wind up in a group of 100 riders anyway.

Wow, is that strange or what?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey, what length socks am I supposed to be wearing?

The Great White Hype said...

100th FTW!

Sorry, couldnt resist coming back.

Hate away.

Anonymous said...

I would like to have one exception to the no racing rule. You can only race a fixed-gear freestyler if your intent is to get them going fast enough that they cannot stop at a light/stop sign and they have to go skidding into the intersection to hopefully get hit by a car or stuff it into the curb, parked car lamppost etc. You then MUST pull out a brake an toss it at them while they are sprawled out on the ground and say, “you might want to try one of these”

jason Carey said...

fixed gear bikers are a flash in the pan, people who have the bikes as an affectation. and think they are so fuckin cool, yet, the more people who ride the better, just teach them how to ride and not threaten other pep's lives

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

One of your finest moments, snob.

However I would recommend an amendment of the naming of the section entitled 'nonemclature', to be hereafter known as 'the naming of things'. WTF is nomenclature anyway, this bit is about what things are called, right? Don't baffle people needlessly, this is important stuff.

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