Get Over It Already

Not to suggest that any of you grizzled cycling veterans need remedial instructions, but here’s my latest Outside column:

You’ll note that two of the five tips involve speed, and while that’s mostly me being lazy, it’s also because when it comes to “normal” urban cycling I really do think people ride too fast. People like to say cyclists are “entitled,” which is mostly just a function of the fact that 21st century discourse consists almost entirely of people pointing at other people they don’t like and accusing them of being entitled, but there is a certain amount of entitlement in thinking that you can ride through a densely-populated area as fast as you want. Cyclists resent having to slow down just as much as drivers do, and while impatient cyclists are obviously far less dangerous to the general public than impatient drivers, they can still hit people:

Sorry, if you fail to anticipate a pedestrian stepping in front of you in what New York City amusingly calls a “protected bike lane” then ultimately it’s your fault–especially after you just whooped at a bunch of other pedestrians who were doing exactly the same thing. Sure, maybe they’re “wrong” and you’re “right,” but what good is being right when you both wind up splayed out in the gutter? You know people are going to step out from between the cars and walk across the bike lane since the DOT in their infinite wisdom requires them to do so. In this case the errant pedestrian comes into view in plenty of time, too–and that’s from the perspective of the camera, which is probably mounted on the handlebars:

From the lofty perch of your saddle you should have an even better vantage point. Advocates in New York rightfully point out that drivers must exercise due care, all other laws notwithstanding:

You too should exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and/or domestic animals when riding. (In New York City pedestrians and domesticated animals are essentially the same thing.)

By the way, speaking of speed, how does this make sense?

It seems like saying “LA’s Best Shoe Store: It’s never open and they only carry gloves.”

And hey, I live by my own advice–not only do I ride slowly in the city, but I ride slowly outside of it, too. As far as I’m concerned even “Party Pace” is borderline reckless, and if I were to compare the speed at which I ride to any social scenario I’d place it somewhere between “group meditation” and “post-coital stupor.”

Proponents of the newest and latest in bicycle technology may ascribe my lethargic riding style to the supposed limitations of my antique equipment, but I can assure you that it’s not my cantilever brakes, or my 26-inch wheels…

…nor is it my Petersen-approved low-normal derailleur coupled with a friction shifter, which allows for effortless downshifts at the touch of a pinky:

No, the deliberate senior-shuffling-to-the-buffet riding style is all me:

This isn’t to say I shy away from highly technical trail features:

“Getting air” just means you’re not in complete control of your bicycle. The real challenge is keeping both wheels in contact with the ground at the same time:

Don’t worry, the phone was fine.

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