Friday, April 1, 2011

The different species of bike riders!

I thought spring would never come and that my bike would be forever chained to the trainer in my basement but behold, today I saw a robin and watched as the temperature rose. Yes bike season is back.

The first bike rides with any club are predictable.I have divided riders into the following categories. The first is the "new bike types" There are always those who have purchased new bikes, some hundreds of grams lighter at considerable cost. They maintain that this will make them faster and better riders. They forget that the most important component to any bike is not the frame or even the wheel weight, but the fitness of the rider. Too many Easter chocolates can make a difference!

The next type, or genre are the born again fitness types. They have enrolled in triathalons and will happily tell you all about their bench presses, their V02 max, their power output and will try to convince you that your methods, if you have any, are old school and outmoded. The best solution to these people is to make sure that you pass them early in the ride and drop them. This is the only way to cool their evangelistic ardour!

The new toy type comes next. These are individuals who have purchased a GPS system or a power meter. I have ridden with GPS riders, they miss the scenery because they are fixated on their tiny screens that tell them where they are. "Did you know we are in Kemptville?" "Yes" "How do you know" It is at this point that you point out the large "Welcome to Kemptville" sign for them to see. Maps are a thing of the past for these folks. A close second to the GPS geek is the heart rate geek. I have a heart rate monitor, it records my heart rate. The heart rate geeks have incredible monitors that beep and bleep when your numbers get too high, or fall too low. I suppose if you died...the monitor would call 911 for you. These machines are colourful and loud. Nothing ruins a lovely zen moment of riding in the country than BEEP BEEP of someone's heart rate monitor. As for me, I am very good at predicting my numbers. If I am panting, finding it hard to breath and maintain an effort, chances are my heart rate is close to its maximum. Biking is beautiful because of its simplicity.

There are the tire phobes. These are individuals who are convinced that the narrower the tire the better..and hence they cannot ride near gravel, sand, potholes...or anything else except a smooth paved velodrome. Yes they will tell you that a 22 mm tire is better than a 25 mm tire and you go faster. In fact, you do not, but no amount of physics will convince these people. Like religious zealots they preach the gospel of skinny high high pressure tires and slow the ride because of pinch flats! Heaven forbid that they should put on a puncture resistant tire..weight you know!

Bicycle clothing is another interesting thing to observe. I know that unless you are build like an olympian no one looks good in bike clothing..but that is not the point. The point of tight clothing is for wind resistance and efficiency over a long distance. While wearing loose clothing that catches wind like a parachute may not seem like an obstacle, once you ride over 80km, those little inefficiencies will start to slow you down more and more until you are dropped from the group. Yes while parasailing is a fun sport, a bike ride is not the place to practice parasailing!

The last type of rider is best described as the "I don't like groups I prefer to ride alone" This spells trouble. It means a rider who is not confident in their own skills to ride in a pack and a rider without skills is a dangerous one. In a headwind it is crazy not to form a peleton or a paceline, either staggered or straight. It is insanity not to shelter from the wind. What happens is that these riders will catch the wind, and fall further and further behind..eventually vanishing on the horizon.

This is what makes biking such a lot of fun!

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