Thursday, July 9, 2009

To pass or not to pass?

A couple of days ago I was riding along through Alpine on my early morning ride at a steady pace of around 20 mph when two other guys on bikes came up on my wheel, kindly greeted me and then passed me on the left. This was all fine and dandy until 10 seconds later they dropped the pace down to a leisurely 17 or 18 mph. I thought okay, I don't want to pass them right back as if I'm trying to show them up, so I dropped my speed down too. I figured they'd be turning a different way than my planned route within a matter of minutes and then I could pick up the pace again, no worries.

Well, as luck would have it, I found out after following them for another 5 minutes or so (including 3 turns) that they apparently planned the exact route that I planned! So what do you do I pondered? They probably think by now that I'm stalking them, since I'm following their every move. I probably should have just peeled off on a different route, except my problem is that when I decide on a specific route, I don't like to change mid ride. As I was debating what to do, the road turned to a short hill and then a short descent. I decided this is enough. No more tailgating and soft pedaling. I went into the drops, passing them on the little descent, settled back into my planned pace and didn't look back.

I guess the moral of this story to me is that if you're out cycling and you pass a stranger, it's poor cycling etiquette in my mind to then immediately drop you speed down a notch unless you're truly spent from your hard effort to make the pass.

Instead, consider one of my favorite things to do when you see a "carrot" riding in front of you, especially if it's a male rider on a road bike who is reasonably fit. Note: mountain bikes and girls on bikes don't offense intended, it's just a general rule as I'm sure there are plenty of folks in both classes that could drop me in a heartbeat. So, you see the carrot up ahead and you make a hard effort to catch the carrot, and then lay off the gas as you approach closer, matching the carrot's pace and recovering from the hard effort. If it's a climb, I especially like to then observe their form and wait until they are showing signs of weakening. When the time is right, you turn up the tempo again, only slowing slightly as you pass so that you can cordially say "hello" or "hey." Then it's goodbye for good. Definitely none of this pass and then slow down crap.

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