Monday, May 19, 2008


There unusual pleasures and annoyances today on the bike trail to Mount Vernon.

Usually, the MVT is one of the best afternoon rides - once you get past Belle Haven, it isn't crowded at all, there are nice views of the river, and plenty of shade if the sun is strong. And that was the case today, but there were additional factors. On the plus side, I scored one of my favorite biking achievements twice. I love passing riders on nicer bikes, who are all kitted out in expensive lycra, clipped in to their pedals and the very picture of the cycling geek. I wear old sneakers, a BMX helmet, and use straps instead of clips. Blowing past them gives me a great deal of pleasure that hints of schadenfreude. "Oh, you paid thousands of dollars for your carbon frame and are pounding energy goo? ON YOUR LEFT." It doesn't happen a lot, so twice in one day is a treat. Maybe not the best thing to take pleasure in, but there it is.

It was also an exceptionally nice day for a ride, no humidity and great temperatures. However, there were an unusually high number of folks out there who could not follow the rules of the trail, or even common decency. All too often, the cyclists who commit these acts are those same well-outfitted riders I enjoy passing. 1) YOU MUST GIVE A WARNING WHEN YOU PASS. It is not optional, it is the law. If you are riding too hard to give a verbal warning, you are riding too fast. Want to go faster? Get on the road, the limit on the trail is 15 MPH anyway. The MVT, especially, is too thin and too twisty to allow much margin for error when passing. Give me a heads up. 2) STAY TO THE RIGHT - also a trail rule. Just because you bought a yellow jersey at REI doesn't mean you are Lance Armstrong. Someone out here is going to be faster than you, and hogging the trail isn't going to change that. Don't be a dick. 3) If you are just out to enjoy a nice ride, don't ride side-by-side. Maybe other people don't want to get stuck behind you - be considerate of the fact that other people are using the trail in other ways. We can all enjoy it if we just show a little courtesy. 4) NEVER EVER STOP ON THE TRAIL. If you stop, get off the pavement. I do not want to run you over - but I will if you are just sitting there as I come downhill around the corner. There were people on the trail doing all of these things today, and it gets me worked up. These are not pet peeves - I really don't want to be in any more bike wrecks - they suck. The Park Service posts these rules up and down the trail so we don't have to go through the bruises, road rashes, and bent forks.

For all that, it was an outstanding ride. It looks like rain and riding the trainer for the next couple of days, so I'm glad I got a good one in.


Matt Boulanger said...

I agree with everything you said here, Dan.

The people you encounter, especially the all spandexed and 3k+ bike types are a special breed:

Those people are "pathletes."

I like cruising, and I like to hammer, too. The latter, I do out on the open road, where there are far fewer cruisers, tandems, rollerbladers, families, strollers and dogs on tripwire leashes to deal with. The former is for the path and the neighborhood, street clothes, sneakers, dumpster bike and all.

Matt Boulanger said...

Another thought- when asked, those racers you passed would swear they were on "a recovery ride," or "just finishing up a big day...."