Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The full Lance.

When you're out on your bike, riding through the highways and byways of where ever it is you ride, do you greet other cyclist with a cheery wave of the hand, a happy smile and a shout of 'Good day to you fellow bicyclist, may your day be free of punctures'? I do.

Well, OK, I may not use those exact words, but a quick raise of the hand and a shout of 'alright' as I hammer off in an attempt at training sort of way.
But what sort of response do I get? Why do some cyclists acknowledge you, some ignore you and some look positively fearful of anyone else on a bike?
There seems, to some extent, to be an age / club thing going on here. Older riders will inevitably say hi, as will riders in a club group. Now that seems to be cos back in the day when cyclists ruled the roads (as we will again) the club ride was the backbone of our sport and a a very social backbone at that, thus you were always riding past other clubs and in a spirit of good companionship you'd acknowledge each other, so riders who have experience of riding in club rides will to a larger extent still be living the spirit.
Nowadays though those new to cycling often find themselves on their own, they haven't joined a club, as some clubs can be intimidating to the outsider, and so haven't had the joyful experience of riding with others. Very often these are riders who exhibit what I'll call 'The Full Lance', inspired by the exploits of Mr Armstrong they have donned the full US Postal / Disco kit, jumped on a team replica Trek and ridden off, mind full of daring do and winning Le Tour. They are displaying a British reticence perhaps, maybe they feel a little intimidated by acknowledging a rider from a sponsored club, maybe they feel superior - Lance was my hero and he's clearly not yours cos you're not dressed the same as he did. Or maybe they don't actually enjoy riding a bike and just do it for some reason best left in the dark recesses of their soul. Whatever there seems to some extent that the jersey is an important factor here.
Mostly I ride in the jersey of what a few years ago would have been called my first claim club, but is now just called my club, this is sponsored (as indeed is the jersey of my second claim club), but on the rare occasions that I run out of clean kit I ride in a plain jersey and just shout out the name of our sponsors as I ride along. On those occasions I get more of an acknowledgment from the Lancers I see.

But me I'll talk to anybody, so on the occasions I ride up alongside a Lancer and start a conversation they always seem happish to talk. But whatever, a few months ago I stopped at some lights next to a guy on an old tourer, seemingly held together by gaffa tape, as was the bike. This fella had an old 1980's Bell helmet on his head, and taped to the helmet was half a front light, it was one of the old one's your LBS used to sell in the 80's, a big square thing, with a giant lamp on the front. But in his case there was only the front half, the back was completely missing and open to the elements. I commented on this saying the back half of your light isn't there, at which point he looked at me as if I was an idiot and said 'Well that's because it's not dark, so I don't need it on do I?' Well told me, I just rode off shouting the name of our sponsors at some shoppers.

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