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Ask BikePortland: What’s with the racer vs. commuter vibe?

Posted by on April 20th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Cross Crusade #4-73
Is driving to a bike race all that bad?
(Photo © J. Maus)

This week’s question touches on a topic I’ve had many conversations about over the years. It comes from reader Steven Case:

“I do most of my commuting by bike and I also do a fair amount of bike races. In some interactions I’ve had with bike commuting advocates, I’ve felt a vibe of negativity towards bike racers/races. Have other people felt this vibe or held a grudge like this? Are there things bike racers may do that help or hurt the cause of commuting by bike? Is taking a car to a bike race really that bad?

I am interested in what other people think about this issue.”

Me too Steven. Thanks for asking about it.

There’s definitely a disconnect between those that think of bikes only a tool for transportation and those who see it solely as a tool for competition. I think Portland is way ahead of other bike cities in how our racing and commuting scenes overlap, but a divide still exists.

I know some folks in the advocacy world that just can’t figure out why, for instance, someone who lives in Portland would drive a few miles to PIR to race their bike. Why not just ride there?

And yes, there’s even a somewhat derogatory term, “car-toppers”, to go along with it.

Then again, as someone who used to be very serious bike racer, I can relate to people wanting the creature comforts of a car at the race venue, no matter how close they live to the event. Many racers have extra wheelsets and lots of other gear/food/clothes that would be hard to carry on their backs. Others have strict warm-up and cool-down regimens that can only be properly adhered to on a stationary trainer.

But enough of what I think; let’s open it up to the community. What do you think? Have you experienced this “vibe of negativity towards bike racers”? If so, do you think it’s warranted?


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Comments
  • Dave April 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    I think a lot of the tension from the “commuter” side of things is aimed more at the overwhelming perception of cycling as a sport in the U.S., rather than the athletes themselves. Of course, there are exceptions to that, but as a whole I feel like it’s more that way.

    As a person who only has any desire to ride a bike as a means of transportation (or for the occasional non-competition recreation), I often find it very frustrating from a legal, social and political point of view that people in the U.S. tend to view cycling only as a sport (because it really hinders the progress of cycling for transportation in a lot of ways, from infrastructure to the range of bicycles available in the market), but I don’t feel any animosity or negativity towards people who use bicycles for sport, it’s not their fault, they’re just doing something they enjoy.

    Personally, I don’t really care if they drive to a race, that’s up to the person to decide if it’s necessary or not, I don’t know what all is involved in racing, so I’m certainly not going to judge anyone for it. I might drive the 1 mile to the grocery store if I need to get something I can’t carry on my bike.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    How could a “vibe of negativity” possibly be warranted?

    “They’re not using their bike like I want them to!”

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  • Marcus Griffith April 20, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    A bike is a transportation tool first. Yet, there does seem to be a debate between riders if a bike is a recreational, sport or political tool as well.

    I have found the occasional conflicts between different bike groups a bit puzzling. On one hand, I have seen bike-fun members insult recreational bike riders (something about driving a SUV for 20 miles to bike a 1 mile trail). On the other hand I have seen a dismissal attitude from members of the racing/recreational crowd being directed towards commuters and life-style cyclist (normally along the lines about getting a job and shaving those nose hairs).

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Why is a bike a transportation tool first?

    I would say that almost all of my bikes are toys first; only two would be considered transpo-tools first.

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  • Dave April 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    they probably just meant it was invented as a transportation tool first (granted, it went through some refining before it was practical, but still).

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  • Brian April 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Seems natural that there is some level of disconnect.

    There are many parallels.

    Recreational swimmer vs competitive swimmer.

    Auto Commuter vs race car driver.

    Hockey player vs figure skater.

    We just don’t identify with people who are different that we are. Even though on the surface we are similar.

    And just to be clear. bike racer = hockey player and figure skater = commuter.

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  • Matthew April 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I’m a bike commuter and I don’t really care. My only issue with other cyclists are the ones who ride like crazy people, running red lights and swerving around cars and pedestrians (and ME) at unsafe distances and speeds. But why should I care what a person who races does?

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  • Anonymous April 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Judging by the number of racers I draft behind on Williams on Tuesday afternoons, I saw we co-exsist well.

    I also race on mondays, and find that often I get home on my commuter bike and then drive a couple of miles to the track, just because I need the room and don’t like riding my race bike at night with out lights and stuff.

    Cheers

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  • Rob April 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    As long as people are out riding, it’s cool with me.

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  • Gabriel Nagmay April 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    There is a real lack of solidarity between cyclists in general.

    Strangely, if you jump on a motorcycle and you get the exact opposite reaction. When I ride my bike (motorized), I get nods from the Harley tough guys and moped hipsters alike.

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  • jcsuperstar April 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I suspect some non-racers think some racers ride too fast on shared paths and perhaps too close to them as they pass (racers are generally comfortable riding in very close proximity to others). They also think they dress funny – which of course is just irrelevant tribal bias. And generally speaking, there are demographic differences between the two groups which represent cultural differences. There is always tension involved in cultural differences – though I think unnecessarily.

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  • mabsf April 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I think we need to differentiate between serious racers, ‘wannebes’ and people on race bikes/gear behaving badly.
    Having just survived an outing this Sunday on the Springwater Trail with my 7 year-old (I know that was stupid!), I had fumed most of my way home about people on race bikes passing us without any warning and in horrendous situations. This is one of the situations where I wish we would have a velodrome…

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  • beth h April 20, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Speaking as someone who works in the bike industry, who commute daily by bike and who pretend to race a tiny bit, too:

    1. The bike industry, especially in this country, is funded and fueled by what happens in racing. The reason there’s such a trickle-down of race-oriented styles and technologies to consumer-level bikes is because racing is where the R & D money — courtesy of race team sponsors — mostly is. That’s why so many bike shops — and bike consumer magazines — sell a lot of carbon fiber and lycra. It is the rare bike shop that refuses to sell either.

    2. Commuter bikes ARE beginning to make a bigger splash in the bike indsutry, but as yet the trickle-down hasn’t been large enough to bring down the price for something considered a quality “commuter” bike. Also, from a marketing standpoint, “commuting” just isn’t as sexy as “racing”, at least not yet.

    I wear blue jeans and oxford shirts and sneakers, have a bit of middle-aged spread and gray hair, and commute between 2,500 and 2,700 miles a year on my steel bike.

    Lance Armstrong has a sculpted athlete’s body, is always photographed astride a bike while clad in lycra team kit and rides a super-lightweight carbon machine with the latest components.

    Who do you think is going to sell more bicycles?

    When Lance announces that he’s going to commute by bike four days a week, then we’ll see a jump in demand for commuter bikes. In the meantime, schlubs like me will continue to be decidedly UN-sexy astride our bikes, and racing will continue to be a strong reference point for the majority of the bike-riding public.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    We have a velodrome, but it is a matter of getting people to race at the track and not on the street (as with motorcyles and automobiles).

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  • Matthew April 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Racing cyclists make cycling appear – both physically and financially – to be completely inaccessible to the general public because of the expensive bikes and clothing.

    Also, most racing cyclists do not believe in bike lanes, thus do not help advocate for them, and hold back cycling even more from the general public.

    And finally, racing cyclists, in my experience, have the least amount of respect for the rules of the road, that is, they are the ones blowing through stop signs and riding in groups that hamper auto traffic in a “critical mass with attitude” type of way.

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  • Larey April 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I commute by bike during the week in jeans or shorts and t-shirts, and then suit up in lycra kit for weekend road rides. The only vibe I notice is when I ride one of my commuter/touring bikes on my weekend road routes, the roadies who normally wave or at least nod don’t see me. Do these panniers make me look fat?

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  • R-diddly April 20, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I think in America specifically, for years there’s been a bias in the industry, and its publications and marketing materials, toward whatever’s hi-tech and expensive, which correlates highly with race bikes (and also fancy mountain bikes). With that, there has been a certain elitism toward bikes and riders that “aren’t race-worthy” or whatnot. When in fact those bikes (and riders) are just as valid, but for a different set of criteria. For example you might care more about saving $300 than you do about saving 300 grams. So “transportation” cyclists are only now starting to become (and/or wake up to the fact that they have become) a viable market on their own terms, and are asking for better products more suited to them, and are perhaps rightly pissed about having been mistreated and condescended to by the industry and its spandex-clad acolytes for so long. That’s my take on it. But on a more basic human level, I think people tend to get dogmatic and preachy about things they’re insecure about, or things that force them to realize that not everyone thinks as they do, and that the world will not conform to how they want it to be. Things they’re genuinely passionate about, they are too busy doing them and leading by example. But things they’re insecure about, seem to require that they conduct this judgy sales-pitch to the world. Everybody needs to make the effort to understand each other. It takes a little imagination. I understand for example that if I were a racer, which I’m not, I might not want to ride my $5,000 carbon bike down rock-and-glass-strewn Denver Ave. to P.I.R. On the other hand, I don’t own a car at all, and have arranged my life so that “driving to the ride” is pretty much impossible. If it turns out that I’m SOOOOO FLIPPIN RIGHT ABOUT THINGS, then pretty soon everyone will be doing as I’m doing, without my having to preach to them.

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  • Jake April 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I think it goes a lot deeper than this. What about road/mountain bikers, or cyclist/triathlon, or fixie/freewheel, or spandex/no-spandex? I’ve found myself on different sides of all these arguments. I believe it comes down to how we as humans organize the world we find ourselves in. If there were only three cyclists in the city, it wouldn’t matter. With so many cyclists around, though, the sub-classes become more important.

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  • KC April 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I’m a commuter/tourer. I have a story that illustrates some of the difference: I hit a pothole some while back and it threw a wheel substantially out of true. I went to the Bike Gallery, and asked them to fix it up as much as possible, and the mechanic just gave up on it. He suggested a new wheel.

    Then I went to City Bikes, which is very much geared towards the commuter. They were able to get it in workable shape again, and I got another year or so out of that wheel.

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  • fool April 20, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    i’m carless and a sometimes racer. i wear spandex at times, and my more practical cycling/car-free friends do sometimes laugh at me. but it’s in a poking-fun way, not a you-suck way. and i laugh at myself too (sausage man to the rescue!).

    but seriously, when i race, i ride to the race start. i have, in fact, put a trainer in my pannier and ridden it out to an event, rode the event on the same bike, and then rode back home with the trainer in my other pannier (you know, to balance things out). and i love nothing more than the looks that people give me when i pull up to a triathlon carrying all my gear in a huge saddlebag.

    i certainly could bring extra wheels/frame if i so desired, in panniers, but fortunately i’m not that serious about it.

    i don’t see why we can’t all just get along, though. i don’t hate anyone who doesn’t endanger my safety. which includes rather more cyclists than drivers–every cyclist who irritates a driver, or trains him to think cyclists make unexpected/illegal maneuvers is making my daily rides less safe. when i lived in texas, i said that drivers were the bigger problem, but drivers up here are so darn respectful for the most part that i don’t feel that to be the case.

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  • Dave April 20, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    KC: have you seen Sheldon Brown’s stuff on truing wheels, where he talks about bending rims back into shape over your knee enough to get spokes back in them? :)

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Matthew-
    I have to respectfully disagree with you.
    For “Least amount of respect for rules of the road” I have to nominate the fixie/SS hipster.
    I am also curious about your statement of most racers “not believing in bike lanes” and thus holding back cycling for the G.P.? How are you determining whether or not a person on a bike is a racer or not? I hope not solely by their attire. Check out Williams/Vancouver the next couple of months on Mon and Tue evenings; you will be sure to see racers and commuters alike.

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  • WOBG April 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Perhaps too obvious, but: A racer or wannabe racer who doesn’t also bike-commute doesn’t *help* — with congestion, pollution, fossil-fuel dependency, any of that greater-good stuff.

    (I don’t specifically mean bike-commuting *to races*. It’s hard to get to PIR in time after work.)

    Such folks are perhaps a little like wheel-suckers who won’t take a pull in the cultural paceline.

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  • Anne Hawley April 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Two things:

    1. As long as bike-riding in the US is seen primarily as a [competitive]sport and recreational hobby, public funding to support bike transportation infrastructure will be viewed by the majority of American taxpayers as social welfare for the leisure class. Making a strong and visible distinction between sport cycling and transportation seems very important to me for this reason.

    2. Personally, when fast riders on racing bikes and in racing gear are out at rush hour on the principal bike routes, passing slow-Dutch-bike me on the right and cutting ahead of me at lights, it takes a lot of the joy out of my commute. I’m happy to say that this problem seems to be diminishing–possibly as a result of my own growing confidence as a bike commuter.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    KC-
    If you are suggesting that BG caters to the racer crowd, you are mistaken. They cater to the money crowd and I can guarantee you that they can make more money truing that wheel than they do selling you a new one.
    There was a reason they chose not to fix it, be it their skepticism of the wheel’s integrity, lack of skill, or just laziness.

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  • fredlf April 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I think there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding/ignorance about what bike racing actually is. In the right-wing media rants against cyclists, someone is always railing against Lance wannabees in their spandex. I think some of that attitude sometimes extends to “everyday” cyclists who feel that racers give cycling a bad reputation for no other reason than they are racers.

    I’ve always found this kind of ironic. I am tremendously impressed by the skill, strength and endurance of pro riders and by the amazing dedication of amateur racers who are able to ride at a very high level while holding down real jobs and responsibilities.

    As a cyclist, I look up to someone like Jens Voigt or Chris Horner who manages to be both a fearsome racer and downright decent human being. I see them as role models whether I’m puttering about on my townie exercising the dog, or wearing my game-face and stretchy pants trying to get up Logie Trail faster than last time.

    It’s my hope that as cycling becomes more mainstream and common, these kind of “us” and “them” distinctions will break down and become “us” and “also us.”

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  • Paul Souders April 20, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    In my experience way more people commute than race.

    In my experience the second group is largely a subset of the first.

    In my experience not nearly enough riders, regardless of their sartorial choices, say “on your left.”

    In my experience something like 50% of cyclists will return a “hello” unless they’re in the drops. The ones who don’t are probably focusing on something other than me so I don’t take it personally.

    In my experience something like 10% of motorists will return a “hello.” Some of them seem genuinely shocked that other human beings even exist.

    In my experience, more bikes = better riding. Full stop.

    And because apparently we need this kind of disclaimer:

    I commute every day, 100+mi/wk. I ride some days in spandex (mostly grotty old sale-bin team wear) and some days in denim (whatever I’m wearing at work). I haven’t raced in a long time and I wasn’t that good when I did, but I still pull long epics on the weekend.

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  • maxadders April 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Every once in a while I encounter a non-cyclist who makes a passing remark like “where’s the race?”.

    It doesn’t matter that I’m wearing jeans and sneakers and probably a good 30lbs overweight– somehow I’m still “Lance Armstrong” in their eyes.

    It’s especially ridiculous coming from coworkers who live less than a mile from work, but drive every day, parking passes clutched tightly in their hands.

    I brush it off, but it still irritates me. For one, it’s corny, and two, it makes me see them in a different way– closed-minded and stuck on cars for all the old cliched reasons.

    With all the bike hype in this town, you’d think the non-cyclist would be well aware that not everyone on a bike is a “racer”. But again, there’s a guy who still thinks it’s funny that I wear a helmet.

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  • maxadders April 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Regarding racer-vs.-commuter interaction on Williams, for instance, I’ve never had a bad interaction with folks geared up en route to PIR.

    But wow, the timid fair-weather commuters can freak out when they’re passed. Never mind that the “racer” (often just a marginally faster commuter) is the one taking the lane…the freaked out commuter weaves and cuts in towards the parking lane because oh my god he’s going to get killed.

    I wish these folks would relax. Or at least save their dirty looks and frumpy disdain for another target.

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  • h April 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    you opened a can of worms…

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  • dan April 20, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I have no problem with someone driving to a bike race. I do think it’s ridiculous when people pull up to fun/group rides with their $5k carbon bikes on top of their BMWs though.

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  • Daniel April 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Down here in Bend, the overlap is much smaller. Elite racers are a dime a dozen but put 2 inches of snow on the ground and you’ll quickly wonder where the slogan “bike town, USA” came from. The only negative feelings as a commuter(who sometimes races) is that the group road riders who act as if traffic laws don’t apply to them, end up making me and other law-abiding cyclists look bad.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Jens Voigt is my hero (as cyclists go).

    So it would not be ridiculous if they showed up on a $79.98 bike from BiMart?

    I think it’s ridiculous when people think it’s ridiculous that some people have and spend money. None of your business what type of bike or car they own.

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  • fredlf April 20, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Anne @22, I disagree with your first point. I don’t think seeing cycling as a sport and as a meaningful transportation solution are mutually exclusive. You’re creating a false dichotomy. I might even argue that if bike racing was admired in this country, it could actually encourage more people to ride and improve attitudes towards all cyclists. Europeans seem to have no problem with enjoying racing and creating meaningful, extensive bike transpo infrastructure.

    Re: your second point. I completely agree, a cyclist acting like a jerk tends to take a lot of joy out of my ride too. I’m not going to make any generalization about what kind of cyclist tends to act like jerks since I have yet to see that any user group has a monopoly on idiocy.

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  • John Kangas April 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    This time of year especially, lycra on spotless road bikes indicates lack of recent riding experience, often enough to warrant a great deal of caution. The ones who’ve been sitting inside all winter are recovering fitness, may be stoned on an oxygen deficit from pushing so hard this early in the season, and can’t be counted on to make smart decisions. Racers on the street are also more likely to lack in social riding skills; other riders are for passing and intimidating in a roadie-oriented environment.

    I don’t mean to blacklist all roadies as rude and potentially a danger to others, but the other way around. Rude, inexperienced, and dangerous riders are most likely found in a peloton. Inexperienced casual riders exist, for sure, but they’re slow enough that even a cruiser with a bad attitude is more of an inconvenience than anything.

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  • Elly Blue (Contributor) April 20, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    It’s cool to see all the people in the bike-fun scene starting to check out the sportier sides of biking — what’s more empowering than realizing that just by commuting every day you’ve got the basic fitness and skills to get into a sport that you might previously have never even considered being a remote possibility?

    ‘Cross seems to be the big meeting point here. There are races you can enter without fancy gear, the promoters reach beyond just the athletic scene, and then you also have BTA doing outreach at races. Seems like something that could happen elsewhere too. It is a shame about it being such a driving destination. Maybe a fleet of SVO powered race buses is in order for folks who’d rather go that way.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    John-
    As we are just generalizing:
    Mountain bikers are the most dangerous (drunk and high probably) and P’farthing riders are the rudest (snobby and always looking down on others with their monocles and top hats).

    I will be sure to not was my lycra, oh wait- if I keep it clean maybe other riders will stay away from me!

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  • jocko April 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    time to chime in!

    Well it matters on the race: PIR races short-track and road, the tabor series and maybe the Krugers cross race are great ones to ride your bike to. I am always trying to race hard and finish strong so i will mostly try and hitch a ride to a race any further than Krugers (no car either, but I got gas money).

    I am a go every where on my bike type and most of the other racer pals I have are the same, and thus understand the commuter angle. Most of the conflict I get are from the “commuter racer”, those who treat their morning and evening commute as a race (they have never actually raced). They never let you know when they are passing, they pass in dangerous spots and never return a hello. Yep those guys are jerks.

    If any of you out there in bikeportland land are “bike-race curious” I would suggest the PIR Short-track series or the cross crusade as an awesome intro to bike racing check out http://www.obra.org for more info.

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  • Ethan April 20, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I suppose when fans leave the parking lot after a NASCAR event, they don’t feel like they have magically become a second class citizen.

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  • Jabin April 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I guess I’m somewhere in between. I ride a steel bike in jeans/shorts most of the time, but I commute for the exercise.

    I want to ride fast enough to get a good workout. I know how fast I need to go to make the lights on Williams and I take the lane and pass slower riders to keep up a good speed.

    It seems people think that anyone riding fast on their commute is some racer looking to “beat” everyone. I just want to get my heart rate up and burn off a little of my beer gut on my way home so I don’t have to join a gym or otherwise take time out of my schedule to work out.

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  • ME 2 April 20, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Brian #6

    I disagree. Anyone who shaves his or her legs for sport is definitely a figure skater and not a hockey player.

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  • Joe April 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    ride ride and just ride. I like the old saying, just shut up and ride! :)

    all aside people get tunnel vision with things these days. as riders we need to come together and respect eachother.

    wave on :)
    Joe
    x-racer 10+ years. dont get mad at the way i ride. all i ask hold your line. haha

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  • KC April 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    ekim113, there was definitely was a reason why BG didn’t true the wheel. He told me it directly. It wasn’t laziness or lack of skill. It was because he wouldn’t be able to get the wheel true to his satisfaction. At that shop if they got it “true enough” to use, there’s a strong chance their average customer would be unhappy with the work. So it’s not a criticism, they did the right thing given the orientation of their business.

    City Bikes, is very different. When I asked them if they could true the wheel, they knew exactly what to do because they’re experts at eeking out as much life out of the equipment as possible (while staying safe, mind you– they’ve always told me when they thought something had crossed into being unsafe). It’s just part of their values– commuter-centered values.

    So yes, there were reasons, and the point I was trying to illustrate. It was much better for me to go to the shop that reflected my values as a commuter.

    It seems obvious to me that there’s a substantial overlap between the “money” crowd and the “racer” crowd. Though they sell other stuff too, Bicycle Gallery sells racing bikes and caters to racers with all the Lycra you could ever want. Though if I were a snobby racer, I might not consider them to be “enough” of a racing shop compared to others. But compare them to City Bikes, which very rarely gets a used racing bike on its floor and is focused on stuff like rain gear, gloves, panniers, etc.

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  • ekim113 April 20, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    KC-

    Understood. I obviously did not understand the point you were trying to make.

    BG does stand behind their work, so if they felt it would not hold the truing (going back to structural integrity) they would not want to do the work.

    Makes sense for them and makes sense for the customer.

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  • fredlf April 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Not to hijack the thread but, I’m a former mechanic. I’ve turned away wheels based on my judgement that, while I might be able to make the wheel straight again, doing so would yield spoke tension that was so uneven that it would never stay true and/or would break spokes. It’s a judgement call.

    It is true that some of that judgement comes in assessing that particular customer’s needs.

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  • spare_wheel April 20, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    “But wow, the timid fair-weather commuters can freak out when they’re passed. Never mind that the “racer” (often just a marginally faster commuter) is the one taking the lane…the freaked out commuter weaves and cuts in towards the parking lane because oh my god he’s going to get killed.”

    So true!

    I think most of the commuters disturbed by “racers” are the timid types trundling along on their 40+ lb comfort/euro bikes.

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  • Lillian Karabaic April 20, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    @Brian, as figure skater and bike commuter, I would say that the bike racer = hockey player and figure skater = commuter is incorrect.

    Figure Skaters are very much focused on sport, and are typically athletes at a higher level of complexity and fitness than most hockey players. Figure skating is all about competition, unfortunately. And a hockey player almost never can do a double lutz, but as a figure skater I taught lessons to hockey players on speed/power skating.

    Just have to continue the analogy…

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  • Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie April 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Maybe for the same reasons I hung with so many different groups in high school: the band, the jocks, the stoners, nerds and clubbers – connected with each for different reasons – sometimes savoring specifically b/c of our differences – I relate to bike riding in the same fashion. racing, mountain biking, commuting, fixie, family SUB’s, hell, I’ll even smile and nod at a got damned unicycle now and again. I’ve never been much for compartmentalizing folks – cue the closing voiceover of The Breakfast Club.

    If you’re on a bike I’m gonna give you the benefit of… If you’re an a-hole that will prove out regardless of what type of riding you primarily do. If you go faster than me I’m gonna smile b/c in my head if not always my legs, I remember what it means to be young and want to go very very fast.

    And I’ll still get up tomorrow nodding and waving at everyone in the saddle. Yea, that’s me, stray well and nod back if you want…

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  • Kman April 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Interesting title for the post.

    I don’t really see a commuter vs. racer vibe. On a higher level OBRA and BTA are working together and forging stronger ties. We are actively encouraging racers to become BTA members to help the BTA have a more powerful voice. We’re all a member of the cycling community who benefit from more visibility of cyclists and safer streets.

    Personally, I actively encourage all kinds of cycling- whether it be commuting, recreational riding, racing or any other type of riding. All that I care is that there are more riders on the roads and trails. For us, as the number of riders increases, the number of racers will also increase. It’s the idea that as you grow the whole pie, our pie grows along with it. We all live in a cycling ecosystem and we’re all interdependent.

    In OBRA we put an emphasis on grass roots cycling and being welcoming to everyone. We actively discourage people from being “elitist”. And the whole equipment thing? It’s more the engine that counts. I know a racer who started last year on an old 22 pound bike with down-tube shifters and is putting the hurt on the guys with the expensive bikes (still on that 22 pound bike).

    We’re lucky to have such a vibrant cycling community in Oregon- and I appreciate it more and more every day.

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  • Charley April 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I would really like to see more people on bikes racing or commuting or whatever, no matter what. (I ride jeans to work, and lycra to train for PIR short track-though this is my first season, so I’ve not actually started yet). I’m betting I’ll end up driving to PIR because I won’t want to have extra clothing and a camera and all that on me when I race, and won’t have a place to store it, other than my car. Unless there’s a way to leave a camera and phone and such lying around and not have it stolen!

    As for who obeys the law better, I think all humans are guilty sometimes (all riders and all drivers). I would say, though, that large groups of people on bikes wearing matching team kit are highly visible ambassadors of the sport (or the transportation technology, if you will) and as such should bear the responsibility of at least slowing down for stop signs! I mean, it’s sort of to be expected to see tweakers on Walmart bikes swerving around and acting like they own the road, but I’d think that serious, competitive riders would hold themselves to a higher standard. So it’s dispiriting to see when they don’t.

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  • H April 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    It would be boring if we look the same. I find it is cool to see diversity of cyclists.

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  • are April 20, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    guy in a pickup truck on northwest thurman telling me to get out of the lane has two mountain bikes in the bed. i think if there is a versus vibe, it would be commuters versus racer wannabes, not racers per se. also, jon, while it may make sense to show up at an actual race with the trainer and the extra wheels, there is not much sense in racking it to a recreational group ride.

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  • N.I.K. April 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    A) Race race race race race race race race…

    B) It’s a bike, hurrah!

    C) Carbon? Clipless pedals? Bah, that stuff’s for Nazis, jocks, and rubes! Bodygeowhatsuh my eye, I don’t believe it for a second! $2000+ steel bikes and $200 wool pants, though…oh baby, now you’re talking!

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  • Brad April 20, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I commute and race. Everyone get along and ride! We are all doing something we enjoy.

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  • John_in_NH April 20, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    ooo boy, this is a topic.

    So my take on this, first the disclaimer ;)
    I commute 11miles+ round trip to and from school (and work and wherever else) in my part of the country I have either long distance cyclists (usually lycra wearing, although not always going very fast), Canadians loaded down with week packs, poor lower class citizens on Wal-Mart bikes screeching like hell down the sidewalks, fixie crowd at the university, weekend mountain bikers, and maybe 2-5 commuters. I am lucky I see anybody on the roads with me, as there is zero infrastructure for cycling. I always wave hi, and usually get a hello back :)
    Sometimes though its quite funny, I will pass a lycra cyclist on my Breezer euro full upright, going along at a nice pace :D

    The college kids and the poor in my community tend to disobey laws the most, running lights/signs, going wrong way on a street, riding on the sidewalk etc. The road cyclists are pretty good actually. :)

    Yes we have distinct communities, however I feel that many Lycra cyclists are against fully separated paths, because they can’t ride as fast, even though it gets more people on bikes. The solution is to have separated infrastructure for the rest of us and not mandate that it be used, or create basic bike lanes on the road for faster cyclists. Alternatively, you create bike infrastructure where 5 bikes can ride abreast (make it two way) like the Netherlands, this gives the slow pokes room and the faster cyclists plenty of space to pass around without freaking anybody out. If somebody gets on a bike for interest in racing great, if its commuting for health great, if its for seeing wilderness trails great, if its for doing tricks great. It means another person on a bike at some point in their week, and that’s important!

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  • pdxebiker April 20, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    When I’m on an ebike, people in racing kit seem to get the most bent out of shape when I pass them.

    When I’m on a non-ebike, people in racing kit seem to be the people that make me most nervous when they pass me.

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  • suburban April 20, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    This perceived topic is only important in Minneapolis anymore. Everything I yell at you when you are on your bicycle you will misinterpret as being about you and your kind. There is likely grant money available to remediate this inequity, if spun correctly.

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  • Matt April 20, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    I think snobbery or disdain for “car-toppers” may be due to a philosophical opposition to the contradiction of a bicycle being transported by an automobile.

    OR maybe, a bike atop a car is a symbolic wedge dividing the “haves” from the “have-nots.” A class-warfare type of thing…. For example, the image displayed for this article may conjure up thoughts surrounding the ability to obtain such expensive–and admittedly–sweet, comfortable gear. I think for some bikers, they wish they could afford a reliable car, nice road/mountain bikes, the money to go off and do these leisure like activities, and etc.. I know I sure do, sometimes when I see a BMW with a high-end carbon bike on top, I grind my teeth, get jealous of their privilege, and all of a sudden become self-conscious. I fight the idea of this life-style constantly and have to fight the disdain I may have for the very people I want to be.

    Its all relative I guess. I just want most people to ride there bike for most of their trips. Have fun doing, and be healthy.

    No need for antagonism.

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  • Steven April 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks for all the responses.
    I now realize how much effort we put into categorizing cyclists and even judging them based on their merits. It sounds like the perceived notions of racers may not be uniformly held or even justified, and probably the same with other cyclists. I obviously was just guilty of this… as other people pointed out, it sounds like we spend too much time defining ourselves and others in groups. We analyze the merits and downfalls of each group when we should work together with what we have in common.
    Thanks for opening my eyes to this notion.

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  • Bret April 20, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    A lively forum with lots of interesting opinions.

    That was meant sincerely.

    I wonder if the naked bike ride should have to endure the same scrutiny.

    I will race there on my commuter bike without spandex and wave to all.

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  • Pete April 21, 2010 at 12:54 am

    In recent years people (non-cycling friends, neighbors, coworkers) frequently put bicycle riding and being “green” in the same context in conversations with me. Recently I started wearing a team logo jersey (reluctantly – it’s a gift) and noticed something funny. I can show up on my high-end carbon race bike in lycra shorts and a yellow ‘commuter’ jacket and the conversation will tend toward me saving the planet. Last week when my neighbor and I conversed at successive traffic lights he joked about how I could offset his carbon by pulling his landscaping trailer (what, and throw my Ksyriums out of true??).

    Tonight I pedaled by (slowly) wearing club jersey but on my clunky old flat-bar hybrid laden with panniers… he shouted “Hey Lance!!”

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  • anonymous April 21, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I’m a full-time commuter and race mountain and cyclocross. I think it’s great when people choose to ride their bike to commute whether to work, or for errands, or to races. It’s better for their health, for the environment, and for traffic.

    However, when a race is too far to ride, or logistically very challenging, I simply wish more racers would carpool.

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  • bottombracket April 21, 2010 at 1:49 am

    My ‘problem’ with the racers goes along with #10 and #16. There definitely seems to be a huge lack of solidarity between the spandex warriors and everyone else. I am a big fan of bike touring and general road riding, but tend to ride in regular commuter style clothing. I can’t count the number of times on long tours that I will wave at, smile at or say hello to road cyclist, only to be rudely ignored or given a stuck up sneer. One would think that the fact that I just rode 800 miles on a bicycle would garner some friendly response from folks, but I guess that I don’t have the proper cycling credentials unless I blow hundreds of dollars on high tech cycling gear. I get the same response when I’m out on road rides around Portland. (And we all wonder why cycling is such a white-middle class phenomenon in Portland) Lose the attitude and just celebrate the fact that we are riding bicycles!

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  • voline April 21, 2010 at 2:28 am

    About a year ago I was riding at night when I pulled up at an intersection behind two guys in lycra on racing bikes and said, “hi”. They looked back at me on my commuter bike and looked away without saying anything. I’m not the most threatening looking person in the world, I assure you. I got a distinct “*We* are not one of *you*” vibe from them.

    I think I see a lot of class anxiety amongst the spandex crowd. Perhaps not the racers so much as the race-gear-wearing non-racers. At my local cafe on the weekends I would see people out for a not too vigorous ride to the coffee shop with their friends wearing racing-togs on racing bikes.

    I think all the expensive sport-wear is a way of saying to observers, “I am not just riding this bike for transportation. I have enough money to have a car. See, I’m just out here for the exercise.”

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  • Denmark April 21, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Props to the person who brings their race bike to the track in a trailer pulled by their commuter bike.

    Problem solved.

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  • Anona April 21, 2010 at 6:01 am

    I’ve noticed that when I ride my touring bike w/panniers home from work (usually along Skyline) I don’t get many hellos from the racer types. However, when I ride my racing bike people DO say hi (especially when I wear a stealthy BLACK helmet versus a PINK helmet!). It’s easy for me to scoff at the silly racer types on my slower days, and yet I zoom by a commuter on a hybrid bike another day when I’m zoned into my “workout”. I would think that a lot of people know what it is like to play both parts. And ultimately, in the life of one individual, it’s not playing two parts, it’s just riding bikes.

    As for the expensive fancy cycling clothes? Let’s see.. bike clothes are often spendy in general, and you often DO get what you pay for. Most of my wardrobe comes from the thrift store, except for my cycling clothing. If you see someone wearing a $400 pair of Sidis, it might not be because she has money to throw away… AND a lot of people I know get incredible deals through work, teams, etc. So don’t judge by tightness of jersey & flash of reflectivity strips carefully spliced into bum of bib shorts.

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  • beelnite April 21, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I think it sounds like the “pretend” racers are the ones that might foster the most ill will during the commute.

    That said – I don’t want anyone to feel judged because they wanna fantasize they are Lance… I do that all the time… even at my age it’s kinda fun.

    But it’s important to remember – and sometimes I too must remind myself – we’re just on our way to work or back home. My personal “Tour de Portland” shouldn’t affect anyone negatively or get me killed.

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  • Dave2 April 21, 2010 at 8:03 am

    We’re all cyclists. Racers are not environmentally unconscious nor are commuters pure and sanctimonious greenies. A racer customer of mine has suggested that a “one bike” stage race be promoted to facilitate carpooling to races. Unlike us dinosaurs who raced 40 years ago, he was telling me that it’s not uncommon for a rider to take 3 bikes and even more sets of wheels to a weekend stage race (road bike, time trial bike, wheels for various contingency.) With each rider limited to one bike and a spare pair of wheels, carpooling to races would become feasible again.

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  • Tankagnolo Bob April 21, 2010 at 8:09 am

    There is so much “Bolshevik” around this. BIKE WHEN YOU CAN, DRIVE IF YOU HAVE TOO. Simple, bike racing, mountain biking, BMX, all promote the idea of bicycling. So even if you have to drive your bike to a race, or mountain bike venue, chances are you will be on a bike more and in cars less throughout your life. So purists, chill out !!!!

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  • Kristen April 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

    I read a comment from “Dan” who doesn’t have a problem with people driving to the races but find is rediculous that people that have a large amount of expendable cash buy 5K bikes and strap them to their beamers for a fun ride. Frankly that sounded a little snarky. If I had that kind of expendable cash i would buy the best too regardless of where i was riding… don’t be a hater dan!

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  • Amos April 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I’m with ekim113, those penny-farthing riders are the worst! I once had one guy get his coat-tails stuck in his spoon break right in front of me on Williams and I took a header off of my velocipede! And don’t even get me started on Treadmill Bike riders!!!

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  • Carrie April 21, 2010 at 9:44 am

    I’m glad you brought this up. I am a mostly-commuter, rarely-racer. My husband races so I am not new to the “racing vibe.”

    My commute is up and over Terwilliger. In the summer, I notice a lot more racer-types out and they seem to have very little commuting etiquette. I’m often buzzed way too closely, without a word of caution. This is especially bad around September when we do the bike commute challenge and there are a lot of inexperienced cyclists out there. Being buzzed too closely without an “on your left” by someone more interested in their workout than common courtesy can frighten a new cyclist.

    And yes, that makes me feel very negative toward racer-types.

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  • A.K. April 21, 2010 at 10:01 am

    This thread has been very amusing, and serves to prove true a phrase I once heard, that nobody hates on cyclists more than other cyclists. I do believe that is true.

    I myself sometimes have to try hard to not to put people into categories. I get frustrated when I get boxed in by people on the Springwater who clearly have not been on a bike in quote some times, but also get frustrated when I get nearly sideswiped by “Lance” trying to jump the line when the trail is crowded.

    No matter what, we just need to try and remember that more people on bikes is better! Maybe the uneasy person on their 20-year old mountain bike will be the next convert who starts cycling to work regularly, then supports local industry by purchasing a new bike from a local builder. You never know.

    Also, people in general can be rude for any number of reasons. They don’t need to be clad in spandex or riding a tall bike to be rude.

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  • Uncle Muscles April 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Look… if we say “on your left” before passing, it’s guaranteed that half the time you’re going to instinctually move left, possibly causing a crash. I just try and give people enough space, but saying “on your left” is not the solution. Also, don’t let someone riding faster than you ruin your commute. Have some fun out there.

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  • Lisa April 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Matt @ 58,

    There will always be people with more money than you. There will always be people who spend their money differently than you. Why is that worthy of disdain? Why are you so quick to chalk it up to “privilege”? Many people work very hard for their money. If they want to buy a BMW and put their $7000 carbon racing bike on it, that’s their business.

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  • aaron April 21, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I appreciate the irony that the only time I drive my car is for a mountain bike ride or get to a race. It mixes it up a little and, heaven forbid, I actually ENJOY driving on those occasions. I don’t believe cars are the enemy here, it’s the lack of moderation or acknowledgment of other modes.

    As for calling people “wannabe” or “pretend” racer types just for wearing lycra… Ease up a little and give them the benefit of the doubt. Lycra has a use just as much as the fenders on a commuter. Chaffing, flapping fabric, and swamp ass can get pretty annoying on a 30 mile ride. It’s not much different than wet shins/back on a rainy day – These are options to make something more comfortable.

    Finally, since I’m on a rant here. These generalizations are ridiculous. It’s not any specific sub group that’s the culprit, it’s human nature. The same fool that is cutting you off, running lights, and disrupting traffic on his Sunday training ride is the same a-hole ziggzagging along and stopping in the middle of the Springwater with his 5 year old on a Saturday. It doesn’t matter what type of bicycle genre one falls into, people are either aware of their surroundings or they aren’t. In another 20 years, it’ll be that former 5 year old acting in the same selfish manner.

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  • carlos April 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

    “ON YOUR LEFT”

    *ring a bell

    SLOW DOWN
    ENJOY THE RIDE.

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  • Clinton April 21, 2010 at 11:29 am

    More irresponsible reporting. Is this to be the trend at Bikeportland.org? I think it is negligent, to lump the entire population of cyclist into two categories. The division is propagated by this type of attitude. It is easier to compartmentalize our feelings of frustration on an entire group, than it is to deal with the acute offensive situation caused by the actions of one individual. Faced with an inconvenient interaction, we have to decide whether or not we can argue our own position with conviction. Such as, “He passed me too closely.”; “She’s going too fast.”; “They cut me off.” Confrontation scares us. Generalizing our fears, makes them intangible. If we chose to address our complaints as they happened, to whom they happened with, we would realize that each cyclist is an individual, undeserving of the representation of an entire sect of the populace. We should spend more time thinking about, how our actions affect the people around us, and trying to understand one another a little better. This is the only way we’ll ever find any kind of solidarity.

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  • A.K. April 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Another thing I’d like to add:

    Passing etiquette seems to be very poor, no matter what “type” of rider you are. People cutting way too close without any warning annoy me. At least say “on your left” first. Even if you’ve been riding for years, it can be startling to all the sudden have someone beside you that you didn’t know was there before.

    I’m not a big fan of bells either, because you don’t know the intent of the rider unless they then call it out after the bell has been rung.

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  • beth h April 21, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    At # 46 and others in this vein:

    Take it easy on the “timid” bike riders. They spend a lot of money at the shops (and help keep them open to serve you faster types!) and are just as passionate about riding their bikes as anyone.

    If those “timid” riders took up commuting in recent adulthood, well, gosh — more props to them! There’s a LOT of fear to get over before you ever swing a leg over the top tube. Most of that fear is based on riding alongside auto traffic and is, unfortunately, well-founded.

    Here’s a suggestion: let’s all work together to make the streets and roads safer for all bike riders, and not just the most experienced ones who can hold their line and pooh-pooh bike lanes.

    When you pass a slower riders, give them LOTS of distance and time in advance. Bells don’t suck, but if you can project a vocal command is fine. And when you pass a slower rider, give them a few more inches of clearance so they don’t get spooked.

    Getting spooked in traffic is NOT a weakness or a character flaw.

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  • middle of the road guy April 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    If this article was in the Oregonian, people here would be complaining about how they are trying to stoke an argument.

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  • N.I.K. April 21, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    As for calling people “wannabe” or “pretend” racer types just for wearing lycra… Ease up a little and give them the benefit of the doubt. Lycra has a use just as much as the fenders on a commuter. Chaffing, flapping fabric, and swamp ass can get pretty annoying on a 30 mile ride. It’s not much different than wet shins/back on a rainy day – These are options to make something more comfortable.

    Extremely well-said. Complaints about people in kit not riding faster-than-blazes are dumb in the extreme. There is practicality in those garments, even if you folks mainlining old issues of the Rivendell catalog strongly disapprove. You can have your willful anachronism, or your fashion sense, but other people get to make their choice, too. First one to invoke Godwin’s the (tee-hee) “real” fascist.

    Now, people of any stripe behaving like irresponsible idiots…yeah, they’re idiots.

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  • Kristen April 21, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Lisa I completley agree! I have an almost $800 dollar Felt bike that I am so in love with and I had to save my pennies to get it. and i haul it around in my Honda Element which is 7 years old but paid for. Does it bother me to see someone on a super expensive carbon bike lounging next to a super expensive car, hell no! I appreciate that some people make more money than me but still enjoy the same things i do! For crying in the night, it’s a hobby, a sport, a mode of transportation it’s all of the above and it’s wonderful! Oh i also wear spandex ( not well i refer to it as a sausage casing)it’s extremely comfortable and it holds my chunky butt better than anything else. As far as saying “on your left” I say it anytime i am coming up on people and i give them plenty of notice and thank them as i pass. I just feel privledged to be out and about in this beautiful state, i don’t care if not everyone gives me a helmet nod as I pass, i will continue to give it to them!

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  • matthew vilhauer April 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    i’m a member of both camps-a roadie who commutes. john kangas-many folks have more than one bike (yourself included) so having a spotless fair weather bike isn’t out of the ordinary. clinton-i’m with you against the polarization of cyclists into opposing groups.

    to say one type of riders is worse than others? here’s what i see regularly.

    the senior guy i see riding around my neighborhood against traffic. i see him a few times a month and have nearly drove over him on two occasions, both when i stopped at a stop sign and he was coming from right to left against traffic. i have spoke to him several times about this and he’s always been friendly but continues to ride how he sees fit. now i just wave & say “take care”, which he responds with a smile and a wave.

    i see big groups on sport rides here in vancouver and they are for the large part void of common sense and respect for other road users. riding double and triple up below the speed limit jamming up traffic. blowing lights and stop signs (even had this happen at a light i was waiting for-wtf guys?). swarming around cars at lights. saw a group of 12 or so riders roll up to a red light on both sides (curb side & turning lane side) of a senior woman in a car and it really freaked her out. she didn’t know what to do and when the light turned green she just sayed put and the riders passed her on both sides and continued up columbia. i was behind her in my car and when we went trough the intersection and got up to them they were 2 & 3 wide casually riding up the hill at under 20mph, blocking traffic riding in the middle of the road. that sense of entitlement some cyclists have leads to lots of pissed of drivers. i’ve seen the same behavior on the east side esplanade and on the marine drive mup. again-wtf?

    i’d much rather get a smile and wave than the stink eye, a car riding the line on a bike lane on purpose (i’ve had this happen often on williams and vancouver) or someone deliberately cutting me off on my bike.

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  • trail user April 21, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    It doesn’t matter what your car or bike are worth. I drive an old beat-up looking mid 80′s Toyota that I built from junkyard parts and it’s the best handling/quickest car I’ve driven. It gets me to places quickly through twisty turning roads most SUV drivers wouldn’t dare go. I also ride a cheap Costco road bike that weighs 27 pounds but am consistently faster than most “roadies” I encounter. It’s not about the bike or the car. It’s marketing. Carbon and BMW’s.

    My trust fund doesn’t kick in until I’m 35 so I’m stuck with “junk” until then.

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  • Richard Masoner April 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Dave wrote:

    they probably just meant it was invented as a transportation tool first (granted, it went through some refining before it was practical, but still).

    Well, not really. Bikes were invented as a toy. Before the invention of the automobile, it was still a toy instead of serious transprotation, and it was mostly a toy for rich young men with time on their hands.

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  • pink pony April 21, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    I am a native Oregonian, all weather cyclist & commuter. Spandex/cycling gear keeps me warmer and dry in the winter and keeps my work clothes clean and funk free. Spandex is purely functional.

    I also race Cyclocross and will be trying my hand at road/ mtn biking this year for fun. Since nobody is going to pay me to race, I might as well do it for fun. Most Mtn bike/cross races are out of town. Most folks don’t have enough energy to ride to say, Hood River, get filthy and ride home. And nobody even talked about getting hurt while racing. I would rather have my vehicle just in case I have to drive myself to urgent care.

    Lastly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rung my bell & said ‘ON YOUR LEFT’when passing someone, only to find the cyclist(fixie,road or commuter)with headphones on and clueless to my presence.

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  • H April 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Be aware not every cyclist can hear you behind when you are trying to pass. He may be deaf, listening to music, tuning out sounds, overwhelmed, etc. Pass with caution please. They will thank you for that. Thank you.

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  • Mari Lynch April 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Here in Monterey County, where I’m personally not a racer, I’m really proud of all our cyclists–racers included. There are so many ways the different Monterey County cyclists (and non-cyclists–like the HER Helmet Thursdays businesses and organizations) work together to make this a more bike friendly place for everyone. This is a great place to bike, for visitors, locals, commuters, and racers.

    For a beautiful example of cooperation and mutual support among people on bikes here, see “Knights of the Central Coast” at http://www.bicyclingmonterey.com

    Velo Club Monterey really showed a soft spot for these young children and their parents. And it isn’t just special circumstances like these that bring out the best in our racers! I find the strongest riders from the Naval Postgraduate School cycling club are also helpful and caring to the everyday cyclists here. If you mention to a Velo Monterey or MORCA member that you’d be back in their dust if you came to ride with them, they encourage you about various pace levels and other options. They truly want to help others bike here–and that means on these club rides too.

    When you come to Monterey County, be sure to BYOB (bring your own bike), or rent one here. Then experience this awesome cooperation among cyclists for yourself!

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  • Kevin Wagoner April 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I think my happy disposition keeps me in a bubble because I don’t really hear much animosity between the Portland cyclist that are motivated differently. I spend a lot of time cycling with people that race. I’ve spent time working on projects or appreciating those motivated more on the creative side. I’ve participated in the bike activist events. I think in general there is a lot of appreciation for each other and every cyclist in Portland that makes this a wonderful place to ride!

    Groups like the BTA or the People’s Department of Transportation help improve our access and safety.

    The races groups help generate excitement that helps generate new rides (and bring us things like the De Ronde).

    Groups like Zoombomb or the Irondelles bring us great things like the Zoombomb, the nice art downtown, tall bikes, and other create cool things.

    Groups like Unicycle Bastards…that speaks for it self.

    There is obviously many more groups and individuals to acknowledge and appreciate in Portland.

    My suggestion is slap that bad vibe bastard on the back, offer to by them a beer, and start talking about the how cool cycling is and the bad vibe will likely go away.

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  • Dan Porter April 22, 2010 at 9:56 am

    I’m a year-round commuter, racer (mtn, cross, some road) and recreational rider (mtn, road, cruiser). Basically, I just ride my bike as much as I can because I enjoy it so much. Back in the early 90s, I used to commute to college in Eugene because I didn’t have a car, but I didn’t really ‘enjoy’ it. When I graduated and moved to Portland I drove my car everywhere. Then, I started bike racing and I realized that commuting by bike would give me some extra ‘training’ miles. About 10 years ago I started bike commuting full time. I commute wearing spandex (and even my kit). I also often commute on my racing bike. I wear the spandex because it is more comfortable in the rain (layers) and more comfortable in the heat. Also, it keeps my work clothes from getting funky. I commute on my racing bike if I’m doing a training ride in the morning before work, at lunch or after work. Sometimes I’ll ride my mtn bike in so that I can ride forest park after work as well.

    I try to ride to all the races I can (PDX short track, PIR, Tabor, Alpenrose blind date, etc.) and carry my extra gear/wheels on my back if possible. There is of course risk to that – Last year at the USGP of Cx, I crashed and pushed my derailleur into my rear wheel which ended my race early. I also had no way to get home and had to call my wife who was across town… I do try to carpool whenever possible and do drive to races occasionally.

    (Charley: I think your bag is safer at the various races at the sign in table than in your car. Last year a number of people had car break ins at PIR. Personally, I bring a cable lock and lock my bag shut and then lock the whole thing to a post near registration. I do this at both PIR and Tabor and have not had a problem).

    To be honest, I don’t really see conflict on the road between cyclists. I try to be polite to others and it is intern returned to me. The only animosity I see, is on boards such as this. Just reading the comments on this post or the ones on Forest Park access are appalling. Some of the stereotypes are just plain inconsiderate and rude and boarder line offensive. I actually see most of the negativity coming from the commuter types vs. the racer types (calling racers car toppers, Spandorks, etc.), but there I go stereotyping so I retract that. There are cyclists that make poor decisions that affect all of us from all the cyclist ‘types’.

    As others have stated – we all ride bikes, and for whatever our reasons let’s just be happy about that and be happy we live in such a place that provides so many riding opportunities (commuting, racing, riding, theme rides, etc.)

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  • Jace Thompson April 22, 2010 at 11:18 am

    I fully agree with Dan (and not just because he is a good egg..) I don’t get all the stereotyping that goes on around these boards. Everyone, and I mean everyone is on a different trip in life, as they are on their bikes. I commute as fast as humanly possible from Hillsboro to NEPDX (in spandex for anti funk sake) and on a nice/fast bike for the very reason that….I’m trying to get my a** home to my family in as little time as possible. If I didn’t, my life/work/commute distance arangement would force me to revert to firing up my car again….plain and simple, I’d rather ride, so as fast as safely possible it is. My apologies to those with more leisurely bike commutes.

    But I agree, the issue at the heart of most of the vitriol I’m going to guess is about the congested bridge crossings. I’ll pass on the bridges if I can, but always with a call out, and I’m also willing to take a breather if it’s just too jammed and take in the scenery before rolling again on the other side. And never pass on the right….I’ve seen some scary passes on the right, usually vs an inexperienced rider that is simply thinking they are following the signage to the law (bikes on the left, walkers on the right).

    But I see the bridge “issue” as a good one, as in time, I think it will inevitably force the city to invest in a rockin, centrally located foot/bike bridge. But I’m a dreamer… ;) And I’m an old timer…I remember when the Burnside was the only “good” bike crossing in town..back when the Hawthorne was about 4ft wide…

    We’ve come a long way, and have much more to come. But for cripes people, stop with the looking sideways at someone who is not wearing fabrics or maintaining riding speeds within your mode of “normal”. We all have our reasons, as you do.

    GOBLAZERS….somebody give Rudy some Tapas.

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  • Eric April 22, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Ditto Dan #91.

    I go by the slogan of my old LBS back in Atlanta (http://www.outback-bikes.com/).

    Ride What You Dig.

    I’m a year-round commuter, race cross, mountain bike, road bike, and just plain bike. I usually commute in my spandex because of comfort, but sometimes I wear my work clothes since I work in a casual office. Doesn’t matter to me what you ride or what you wear when you ride, just ride and have fun.

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  • Mary April 22, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I know it’s different things for different people, especially ’cause different places have different subcultures with different “acceptable behaviors.” Sometimes it’s good old fashioned class caste-ing and snobbery; other times there are real conflicts.
    Around here it’s a mix of all of ‘em, sometimes. Sometimes a subgroup gets an idea in the collective’s head (such as “bike lanes relegate us to second-class citizenship”) that’s divisive…
    It takes leadership to encourage debate amongst ourselves whilst knowing when and how to get together for a united front to the rest of the world.

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  • spare_wheel April 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Beth_h, inexperienced cyclists sometimes become distraught when I pass them at a safe distance. I’ve been told to slow down when I’m 6 feet into the car lane (at my own risk). I think some of the anger towards “racers” is irrational projection of the fears of timid commuters.

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