Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hills of the West Coast "Pro" Cyclists

Miles: 55 Climbing: 3900’ Route: Downtown Seattle--Mercer Island--Honda Hill--164th to the top of Lakemont on Cougar—Newcastle Golf Club--May Valley--Tiger Mountain from the north--Issaquah Hobart Rd.--Issaquah--Newport Way--Mercer Island--Downtown Attrition Rate: 10%

If you are going to have "Pro" written across your ass, maybe you should act like it, at least part of the time; like when there are others around? It's kind of like having your name on your golf bag; it's nice to have the game to go along with it. More later.

We had a nice group of ten for today's HOWC. Emil led the ride, and I don't know what he was expecting, but I thought we might have 20+ show. I guess the still chilly early morning discouraged some riders, but I think many people likely tired themselves out during Saturday's equally stunning weather.

We had some new folks today, and all rode well. We did have someone show up with panniers, not typical gear on the HOWC. I guess Baggage Man didn't get the memo...or read the ride description? In any case, he exited fairly early.

Jeff S is recovering from surgery, and it was nice to see him on the bike. He left early, not wanting to push it, and Reg N and I peeled off early as well, as we both had to get back to town.

Right at May Valley Road, we happened to "merge" with a local racing club, the one with "Pro" on their backsides. We found ourselves in one large paceline with a bunch of people we didn't know—never an ideal situation. As the cars piled up behind us while our now large group hogged the road, I cringed to think what was going through the drivers’ minds.

Some in our group had to work a little harder to catch back on after stop signs, as the Pros simply blew through, dropping at least one of their own in the process. Others in our group appeared to have trouble making up their minds as to which group they belonged with. It was easy to see the group mentality take hold. I was glad when we elected to opt out and wait for Baggage Man and another rider who had missed a light...and wisely decided not to run it.

As I saw large group after large group on May Valley, I was once again reminded of how delicate cycling's image seems to be right now. While some drivers enthusiastically support cycling, many others seem to grin and bear it. As you leave the Seattle environs, I think there is a little less grinning.

As serious cyclists, most of us know our rights, but not too many think of the responsibilities. A little courtesy can go a long way.


Mark C said...

Tom, I don't think most motorists are doing much grinning when it comes to large groups of cyclists. The City of Mercer Island is currently trying to figure out how to outlaw groups of 10 or more cyclists on its roads. We can expect more of this kind of hostility as the number of large groups of cyclists increases.

Tom Meloy said...

My point exactly, and that is why it is so sad to see large groups acting and thinking as if they own the road. It seems like a group mentality takes hold, and riders only think about themselves and their ride.

On open roads there are no issues, but when cars are "sharing the road", it would be nice if cyclists would single up, as well as split into smaller groups that are much easier to pass.

SuperLukerBee said...

1.) Why did you guys 'try' to hang with the pros?

2.) On this whole big group, little group thing. Is it really better to have 50 riders scattered along the road than in one group? I mean 50 riders is 50 riders and the car will need to deal with them. Maybe it comes down to the fact that cyclists make drivers' jobs more confusing and difficult (even for the ones with good intentions).

If riders agreed to ride one at a time spaced out by 100 meters on the Flying Wheels, would our friends out in the hinterlands still not be equally pissed?

Tom Meloy said...

Hanging with the "Pros" was not anything special; we were not riding half as hard as we do on the HOWC in the summer. Hanging was not my idea, but the group mentality took over. The other group turned into our group from the right (89th onto Coal Creek). Emil made the good decision to wait after both groups were splintering.

Note that I mentioned splitting into smaller groups, not riding individually. The worst thing 50 riders could do is ride one by one, forcing each car to make 50 passes.

Splitting 50 into two groups of 25, or better yet, three groups, separated by 100 meters or so, makes it much easier for cars to pass.