You’ve got a bike, a new kit and a few hours to spare. It’s time to get out there and go for a ride. But before you do, let’s brush up on some unspoken rules of the road. After all, good etiquette separates cyclists from … less courteous cyclists.
Below are eight things riders should refrain from doing.
1. UNSOLICITED DRAFTING
That rider in front of you might look like a convenient human shield, placed there by the cycling gods to block the wind. But think twice before sitting on a stranger’s back wheel. For starters, it’s rude … and a little creepy. The average rider also might not feel comfortable with you being so close to their bike, so it’s best to leave some breathing room.
2. UNANNOUNCED PASSING
At best, it’s unnerving when one rider speeds unannounced past another on a narrow path. At worst, it can lead to a crash. If the front rider’s not keeping a straight line, or moves left to avoid a road hazard, the passing rider risks hitting them and sending both cyclists tumbling to the ground. So don’t be stingy with those calls of “on your left.”
3. HALF WHEELING
This term refers to maintaining a half-wheel lead on your adjacent riding partner, causing the other person to constantly speed up. It’s annoying, and can be avoided by keeping a steady pace. Speaking of annoying …
4. USING INSIDER LINGO IN REGULAR CONVERSATION
Yes, like “half wheeling.” But consider the following phrase: “I smashed the climb, but then the pelo put the hammer down and dropped me. I chased for awhile before I bonked. Man, I was creepin’ out there toward the end.”
Translation: I climbed that hill well, but then the group sped up. I tried to catch them, but couldn’t keep up and eventually ran out of energy. Man, I was going slow toward the end.
Next time you’re relaying your weekend ride to non-cycling pals, stick with the latter.
5. NON-STOP TALKING
If you’re riding with a friend, by all means, talk as much as you like. But if you pull up on a stranger, don’t chew their ear off. For many, getting outside for a few hours on the bike is one of life’s true pleasures — an opportunity to reflect, relax and enjoy some peace and quiet. A simple “good morning” will suffice before you move on.
6. NOT GEARING DOWN FOR STOPS
Before you come to a stop, you want to shift into an easy gear so you can start back up again quickly. Forget, and you’ll have trouble. In solo riding, it only impacts the rider — so it’s not a big deal. But in group rides, it impacts everyone behind the culprit. As you struggle to stay upright and get moving, your companions must slow down, unclip or possibly stop. Again.
7. CHECKING YOUR PHONE WHILE RIDING
Texting while driving is a terrible idea. Texting while biking is also dangerous. Too often, we see riders consulting their phones, which means at least one hand’s off the bars, and their eyes aren’t concentrating on the road ahead. Attach a good computer to your bike, and you’ll have the time and your cycling stats available at a glance. The selfies can wait.
8. WEARING EARBUDS … IN BOTH EARS
Next to running red lights and not wearing a helmet, sporting headphones is just about the most dangerous thing you can do on a bike. But we get it — rides can be long, and a little music helps to pass the time. So if you want to listen to music while you ride, use just one headphone, and keep your left ear free to listen for cars and passing riders.