Godless Bicycling

Introductions: what sort of cyclist are you?

This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  . 3 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #902

    Gallup’s Mirror
    Participant

    Your friendly three-step instructions:

    1. Answer as many questions as you like (the more the better), preferably with descriptions rather than a yes or no.
    2. Read what others have posted. Comment on anything you find interesting. Return later and comment on more comments.
    3. Chuckle to yourself. There is no third step.

    Thanks for participating.

    ———————————–

    1. Which type of bike(s) do you use? (Examples: Road bike, Mountain bike, Touring bike, Cruiser bike, BMX bike, Folding bike, Fixie bike, Track bike, Other bike (please specify).)

    2. Which of the following reasons for cycling applies to you? (Examples: Commuting, running errands or shopping, recreation and leisure, health and fitness, etc.)

    3. Do you wear a helmet? Why or why not? (Always, Usually, Sometimes, Never)

    4. Do you use cycling facilities (bike lanes, bike paths, cycle tracks)?

    5. Have you ever taken a bicycling safety course, read a book about bicycling safety, looked up cycling traffic laws or read traffic engineering studies about cycling safety?

    6. How safe do you feel when cycling? If you ever feel unsafe, why do you?

    7. Have you ever had a bicycle accident? If you have, what happened?

    8. Do you cycle less than you would like? If so, what puts you off cycling?
    (Pedestrians, motor vehicles, hilly terrain, the weather, road surface hazards, etc.)

    9. Have you ever cycled competitively, such as racing, time trials, freestyle, etc.?

    10. Is there anything else you’d like to say about cycling?

    #903

    Gallup’s Mirror
    Participant

    1. Which type of bike(s) do you use? (Examples: Road bike, Mountain bike, Touring bike, Cruiser bike, BMX bike, Folding bike, Fixie bike, Track bike, Other bike (please specify).)

    I grew up riding junker single-speed bikes which I cobbled together mostly from discarded parts. I used these mainly as utility bikes for delivering newspapers. I got a 10-speed for my 13th birthday and someone stole it that summer. I went back to using junkers.

    My favorite junker bike consisted of a rusty ten-speed frame (which was too big for me) fitted with a BMX gear and lockring, which allowed pedalling forward and backward (and was intended for freestyle BMX riding). I built the bike this way because derailers and multiple gears were costly and I wasn’t very handy with them, but a single gear is extremely simple to work with and cheap to buy. I rode that bike everywhere. I did not know it at the time but I had built a fixed-gear bicycle. I’d like to say I foresaw the fixed-gear craze of the late 1990s by over ten years, but it was a result of poor finances and feeble mechanical skills rather than anything visionary on my part.

    When I went to college I bought a road bike, but that too was stolen in my freshman year. I got my old junker fixed-gear out of my parents garage, replaced the old tires and saddle, and used that instead. Ironically, the new seatpost and saddle was the only quick-release part on the bike. And of course, someone stole it (forcing me to ride home standing up that day).

    After college I bought a high-end road bike and a mountain bike, and used both of them frequently throughout the 1990s. They were never stolen. This was because I kept them indoors and never left them unattended when I was riding. I bought a commuter bike with a gearhub and disc brakes and commuted to work year-round for several years in the 2000s. Somewhere along the way, I trashed my old junker (which made sense at the time, but I now regret purely for nostalgic reasons). I also saw fixed-gear bicycles become a sensation with a cult following, especially among bike messengers.

    Last summer I saw a used fixed-gear bicycle at my local bike shop. It reminded me of my favorite old bike. When I enquired the bike shop guy looked doubtful and tried to redirect me to a hybrid bike. I persisted. He said fixed-gear bikes are dangerous. He said it’s a passing fad. He said most people who buy fixies just end up switching them to freewheels or just selling them. I nodded and asked to try it. He reluctantly agreed. I rolled the bike outside. He followed, fretting. He warned me that I couldn’t coast, that the pedals might buck me off, that a pedal hitting the road in a turn would throw me to the ground, and was I sure I didn’t want to try the hybrid instead (it’s on sale you know).

    I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: It’s just like riding a bike. Well, it was. I hadn’t been on a fixie in at least 15 years, but my feet still knew what to do. I mounted, stood, accelerated, circled the parking lot and headed straight for a brick wall next to the sales guy. I admit it. I was fucking with his head. I decelerated, not using the brake, but by standing and applying backward pressure on the pedals. I came to a stop a couple of feet from the wall and managed to hold a track stand for several seconds (which is easy on a fixie). I pedalled forward slowly until the front wheel gently bumped the wall. I bounced off and pedalled the bike straight backward several feet, then stopped and got off.

    The sales guy, now agape, said, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

    I shrugged and said, “Didn’t know if I could still ride it. I’ll take it.”

    I’ve been riding that used fixie, almost exclusively, ever since. I still have my other bikes, but they’re just not as much fun. I had a mechanical problem with the used fixie last week. Rather than repair it, I’m about to get a new and better fixie from State Bicycles.

    2. Which of the following reasons for cycling applies to you? (Examples: Commuting, running errands or shopping, recreation and leisure, health and fitness, etc.)

    These days it’s mostly for fitness and running errands around town. Most of my rides are less than 15 miles, take me through urban and suburban traffic, and on terrain that is mostly flat or rolling hills.

    3. Do you wear a helmet or other safety gear? Why or why not? (Always, Usually, Sometimes, Never)

    I always wear a helmet. I recognize there is some controversy in the cycling community about whether or not helmets actually make adult cyclists any safer. I come down on the side of wearing a helmet. I’m convinced that my helmet once saved me from injury or death on the merit of an impact which cracked it (rather than my skull) in half. I cringe when I see cyclists without helmets, or cyclists wearing helmets so improperly that they might as well not be wearing them at all.

    I also wear full fingered gloves (which are actually work gloves). I have fallen or dumped a bike for many reasons over the years. My hands in nearly every case were the first to strike and grind across pavement. A nurse once used tweezers to extract a tiny rock garden from my palms, which resembled ground beef.

    4. Do you use cycling facilities (bike lanes, bike paths, cycle tracks)?

    Only when I must.

    Bike paths and cycle tracks are frustrations. Most of the ones I’ve used are full of slow-moving cyclists (like little kids on bikes with training wheels), rollerbladers, dog walkers, and any number of reasons to slow down or stop to avoid a collision. I prefer paved roads where I can maintain a higher speed for longer periods of time.

    Bike lanes, I have mixed feelings about. I’ve read a great deal about bike lanes and bike safety, including most of the major traffic engineering studies on bicycle safety done since the 1970s. Bike lanes are a mixed bag of politics, mostly involving motorist convenience and cyclist safety. Motorists tend to like bike lanes because they effectively remove cyclists from the roadway. Cyclists tend to like bike lanes because they feel safer riding in them. Cycling safety experts tend to dislike bike lanes because there is scant evidence that they make cyclists significantly safer, or require less skill of adult cyclists than the skills necessary to ride in traffic without them.

    5. Have you ever taken a bicycling safety course, read a book about bicycling safety, or looked up cycling traffic laws?

    I have never taken a course, but I have read every major publication about cycling safety that I could get my hands on, including ‘Effective Cycling’, ‘Cycle Savvy’, ‘Street Smarts’, ‘Bicycling and the Law’ and many others. I can explain New York state cycling law– which is archaic– mostly from memory.

    6. How safe do you feel when cycling? If you ever feel unsafe, why do you?

    I feel unsafe when a motorist overtakes me at high speed or at an unsafe distance. I am convinced this sometimes is done deliberately at worst, or carelessly at best. I think putting the cyclist in fear is a way the offending motorist expresses disapproval or frustration, perhaps hoping to dissuade the cyclist from using the roadway.

    7. Have you ever had a bicycle accident? If you have, what happened?

    I’ve been hit by a car once. I’ve been run off the road or ‘squeezed’ aside many times. The worst incident was an old guy in a Cadillac who pulled alongside, then swerved into me, leaving me nowhere to go except off an embankment at 25+ miles per hour. I once had a UPS driver pass me within inches, then stop his truck across the road, get out, and charge me with his fists clenched, screaming and swearing. (I pedaled away and informed the police, who did nothing.)

    8. Do you cycle less than you would like? If so, what puts you off cycling? (Pedestrians, motor vehicles, hilly terrain, the weather, road surface hazards, etc.)

    I would cycle more often and take longer rides, but I have a newborn baby daughter taking up most of my time. I take shorter, faster rides now. One deterrent when I do have time, depending on where I want to go, is the dangerous and hostile motorists I may encounter on a major street. I tend to choose less traveled roads when I can, but this only lengthens my trip a little rather than stop me from cycling. Hills are a factor as well, since I ride a fixed-gear bicycle and must use a gear low enough for the steepest hill I may have to climb.

    9. Have you ever cycled competitively, such as racing, time trials, freestyle, etc.?

    No. I like riding fast, but never had any interest in proving I was faster (or slower) than anyone else, whether to myself or others. Most cyclists don’t race and never will. Yet for some reason, racing cyclists are held in the highest esteem, which I don’t think is good for cycling in general.

    I dislike the misguided perception that the equipment and techniques used for winning races must be the best approach for all cyclists. I think some of this bad advice is given with good intentions. But I also think unscrupulous sales and marketing people eagerly take advantage of the misinformed so they can sell more bicycling products. I occasionally encounter a casual or beginner cyclist whom I suspect has fallen prey.

    I see a cyclist here in town sometimes. He wears a Trek team racing kit and rides a shiny Felt racing bike– probably a carbon fiber rig– with areobars. It’s a couple of thousand dollars worth of high-end equipment which doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re racing (or training to race). But one good salesman at the bike shop is all it takes. Maybe the guy is aspiring to be a serious cyclist. But he doesn’t look it. He pushes big gears rather than spinning. He sometimes rides on the sidewalk or against traffic. I have never seen him riding in any sort of hurry, or riding with other roadies, which are characteristics of training rides. We exchange waves or nods when we see each other.

    10. Is there anything else you’d like to say about cycling?

    Yes, but I’ve probably said too much for your attention span already.

    #922

    .
    Participant

    1. Which type of bike(s) do you use? (Examples: Road bike, Mountain bike, Touring bike, Cruiser bike, BMX bike, Folding bike, Fixie bike, Track bike, Other bike (please specify).)

    I’ve always owned a mountain bike, but I really want to try other kinds….I don’t know much about other styles except the mountain bike. I used to right in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque…good times!!!

    2. Which of the following reasons for cycling applies to you? (Examples: Commuting, running errands or shopping, recreation and leisure, health and fitness, etc.)

    I’m actually planning on selling my car as soon as my son is old enough. We don’t need a car. I want to bike almost everywhere…supposedly they’re going to improve the infrastructure in the Seattle area to make it more bike friendly…right now it’s “ok” but I think a little dangerous….I don’t need to go far except to take my son to his dad’s once a week, and the occasional appointment in Seattle. I figure when I want to go further I can find another alternate way to get there. I really want to practice what I preach. How can I motivate people to make different lifestyle choices that will reduce their carbon footprint when I’m driving a gas guzzler myself?

    3. Do you wear a helmet? Why or why not? (Always, Usually, Sometimes, Never)

    Ha….I have mixed feelings about this. I rode my bike as a kid and NEVER EVER EVER wore a helmet…and now for some reason I feel compelled to never let my son on anything with wheels without one! It does at times feel a little excessive…I guess I’m an overprotective mama…sigh….So now i lead by example. I do believe in helmets. Mostly because of all the asshole drivers around.

    4. Do you use cycling facilities (bike lanes, bike paths, cycle tracks)?

    There’s a lot of places here without bike lanes. They really designed this city like shit for bikers.

    5. Have you ever taken a bicycling safety course, read a book about bicycling safety, looked up cycling traffic laws or read traffic engineering studies about cycling safety?

    I really really want to!!! I haven’t but I want to…I think it’s so important.

    6. How safe do you feel when cycling? If you ever feel unsafe, why do you?

    I feel unsafe almost all the time but it has nothing to do with biking. It has everything to do with PTSD. I’m not a great candidate for riding on busy streets unless I can ride on the sidewalk. I know this about myself. It’s one reason a lot of my goals in this regard are coming along sssslllloooowwwwwlllllyyyy…I have to be mentally prepared. I plan on getting a new bike this summer to start training…

    7. Have you ever had a bicycle accident? If you have, what happened?

    No, but if I did it wouldn’t be good at all. I know I’m pretty suseptible to being afraid of things. It would probably trigger panic and that sort of thing. Even just thinking about the possibility of getting into an accident is sort of triggering. Damn I wish they would find a cure for PTSD!!! Sigh…but I don’t let it hold me back. It’s just something I have to work through. There’s always fear of some kind. It’s how you manage that fear that counts.

    8. Do you cycle less than you would like? If so, what puts you off cycling?
    (Pedestrians, motor vehicles, hilly terrain, the weather, road surface hazards, etc.)

    For me right now it’s just waiting until my son is a tad bit older…then I think the sky is the limit….

    9. Have you ever cycled competitively, such as racing, time trials, freestyle, etc.?

    When I was a kid I entered a race at the school carnival. Does that count?

    10. Is there anything else you’d like to say about cycling?

    I’m interested to hear from others….particularly around cycling with children…and about safety. Thanks Gallup!

Viewing 3 posts - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.