Road cyclists are not universally loved. Some people see them as an annoyance, so whenever I’m out on the bike I ride assertively but with courtesy and respect for other road users and people I pass. A smile and a thank you go a long way on the bike I find, and I believe we all have a responsibility to give cycling a good name. Unfortunately my fellow cyclists don’t always see it the same way, and I often witness bad manners and habits which annoy me when I’m out on the road. Here’s a rundown of 5 annoying things other cyclists do that rankle the most…
1) Not Waving Back
I find this one strange, as a former mountain biker not only do you greet other riders you meet, but you will usually stop for a chat. For some reason the same can’t be said for road cycling, and a minority of riders refuse to wave back or blank me entirely as I greet them. Yes, I appreciate you are going flat out and may be setting a new personal record, but would it really hurt you to raise a hand or even a finger off your handlebars in acknowledgement? Remember: Cyclists greet cyclists.
Nothing annoys me more than riding out into the Brecon Beacons National Park near to where I live, and as I stop to get my breath at the top of a climb, seeing discarded energy gel wrappers thrown by the side of the road. In sportives I’ve ridden the problem is even worse, with people throwing wrappers everywhere. I can’t understand why riders don’t put them back in their jersey pocket. Weight? Afraid of getting sticky gel on your jersey? You’re not a pro racer in a grand tour (where organisers arrange the litter clean up afterwards), so respect the countryside and take your rubbish with you.
3) Breaking The Law
You know the kind of thing I mean. Going through red lights. Riding on the pavement. Undertaking vehicles on the inside. All unnecessary and potentially deadly activities that give cyclists a bad name. When I stop at traffic lights, I take the opportunity to practice my trackstand or take a swig of water. There’s no reason why you can’t wait for a minute or two. We all know that average speed isn’t really that important anyway.
4) Riding Two Abreast
This may be a controversial one, as contrary to the popular belief of many motorists, the Highway Code actually recommends riders cycle two abreast. The reason being that it is quicker and safer for a motorist to overtake such riders than it is to pass them in a single file formation. What’s my problem then? For me if the road is wide and quiet, then I don’t have a problem with it. However, on narrow or busy lanes where a car is unable to pass, I would rather ride single file and allow it to pass than frustrate the driver behind. It all comes down to courtesy again, and increasing the chances of drivers having a positive attitude to rider safety. And if a driver does show you respect by sitting behind you for a while, give them a wave as they pass to say thank you.
Wheel Sucker: One who rides closely to another rider for an extended period of time without changing position (moving forward) to gain a physiological and/ or aerodynamic advantage by reducing the amount of work he has to do.
As most of my rides are solo or with friends, I didn’t get a true taste of how annoying this tactic is until the Dragon Ride L’etape Wales this year. Rolling out of Port Talbot on a windy flat start, I soon realised that myself and my friend had acquired a few hangers on. Growing increasingly impatient waiting for them to take their turn on the front, we eventually lost them after 10 miles when we stopped for a comfort break. There are exceptions to this bad etiquette. If you are riding with a friend who is not as strong as you (or your significant other). What is the best way to lose a wheelsucker? Accelerate and try and drop him? Verbally berating him? Suck it up and accept it? I think vigorously clearing my nostrils will be my preferred method in future.
Are you guilty of any of the above sins? What do cyclists do that annoy you when you’re out riding?