Let me tell you how to ride your bike

So this dude pulled up to me and said, “Can we talk? I have some concerns about the upcoming Sunday ride.”

In my world, “I have concerns” means “I have a problem, and the problem is YOU.” Either that, or it means “I have a problem and I’d like YOU to fix it.” It never means “Here’s some free money” or “Would you please sleep with my beautiful wife for me?”

“Sure, dude. What’s up?” I glanced at his helmet mirror and the giant flappy sign hanging off his saddle that said “Bikes May Take The Full Lane.”

“I’ve got some organizational concerns,” he said.

This was another DefCon 1 word. “Organization” is to my life what “battery acid” is to a rectal probe. “Oh,” I said.

“Yes. I’m concerned that if we have an extremely large group show up on Sunday we will need to instruct them to break into smaller groups for safety.”

“You reckon?”

“Definitely. Our first ‘take the lane’ ride on PCH was 100% successful in forcing vehicles to change lanes prior to overtaking us.”

“Our ride?” I asked.

“Well, your ride,” he corrected himself.

“Dude, that wasn’t ‘my’ ride. That was me riding down PCH and bunch of other people going with me. I don’t own it.”

“Yes, well, my organizational concerns are that if we have too many people it will actually be a problem, so we need to instruct them at the beginning to break into manageable groups and … ”


“Well, you. I mean, you could tell them … ”

We were packed into a tight formation on Vista del Mar as the peloton returned from a modestly-paced Tuesday morning NPR. Signage Dude had been shelled the second the pace picked up, and had been forced to wait for the ride to end in order to get back with the pack. “Dude,” I began. “You see that motherfucker right there?” I pointed to Dawg.

Signage Dude flinched at the obscenity. “Him?”

“Yeah, him. That motherfucker is one of the bad-assedest track racers in the country. He’s also a crit boss and one-man leadout train.”

“What about him?”

“You know what he’s gonna say when you tell him he needs to ride in some special group?”

Signage Dude knew where this was going. “What?”

“If you’re lucky, he’s not gonna say anything. Then he’s just gonna keep riding like he always rides.”

Signage Dude nodded.

“And that motherfucker there. See him?” I pointed to Bull. “That motherfucker rides ten thousand miles a year and breaks dicks as easy as you or I break eggshells. You know when you got your dick broke going up Pershing before we even started going hard?”

“Dick broke?”

“Yeah, dude, dick broke. When your fucking dick was hanging out of your shorts and getting whaled on so hard that it busted up into tiny little pieces and you had to pull over to collect the fragments, remember that? That was Bull taking his first warm-up pull. He had the whole fucking peloton strung out single file for two miles on the first lap. You really gonna tell the Bull that he needs to get in some fucking group to ride his bike?”

“Well … ”

“See that motherfucker?” I pointed to Rahsaan.

Signage Dude nodded.

“Motherfucker is the former elite national crit champ. Wins fucking races just by showing up and scaring the shit out of the competition. Dude is such a badass he has a tattoo on his butt that says ‘BAD.’ You gonna tell that motherfucker how to ride?”

“Well,” Signage Dude said. “No one here knows me. I’m new in town. But they know you. So you could tell them.”

“You got the first part right, bro. No one fucking knows you, or rather, they do know you. Every fucking biker on the NPR has taken note of that giant sign and they’re avoiding your ass like the plague. You might as well have a bumper sticker that says ‘Crashtastic Sam’ on it.”

“It’s for the cars.”

“I know it’s for the cars, dude, but the point is no one knows you. You can’t just show up from Minnetonka one day and start telling these motherfuckers how to ride their bikes.”

“But you can … ”

“No, dude, I can’t. I’m just a blogger dude who rides his bike. And you know what?”


“Most of these motherfuckers are out here for one reason and one reason only.”

“What’s that?”

“This is the one place no one tells them what to do. No old lady saying ‘quit drizzling piss on the toilet rim.’ No psycho boss telling them to ‘get it done yesterday.’ No sagdick husband saying ‘You ride too much.’ Get it? This is where we put our mental illnesses aside for a while and are, you know, free.”

“Yes, but in the name of safety … ”

“Fuck safety. If you want to ride your bike safely, take the fucking lane. I do. If you want to gutter bunny it, or ride ten abreast on a busy highway, or unicycle on the freeway, fuck it man, do it. No one gives a rat’s pecker. But the minute you start telling these motherfuckers how to ride, bro, you’re gonna be getting a little push back.”

“Hmmm,” he said.

“We don’t have much in this life,” I continued. “But while we’re on the iron maiden, we’re free. You fuck with that freedom at your peril.”

“I see your point.”

“Good. Glad you’re in town and glad you’re riding with us. See you Sunday, I hope.”

And I meant it.

42 thoughts on “Let me tell you how to ride your bike”

    1. Yep. The manual for “care and feeding of a Wankmeister” specifically says on page one: Warning: Wankmeister is prickly, unpredictable, prone to fits of passion, and surly when you least expect it.

  1. Arkansas Traveler

    Don’t be too hard on SignDude. He’s out there. He’s fighting the good fight. Some people just get mired in the details. And don’t fault him for assuming you hold sway over that bag of wheeled cats. It’s an easy mistake to make.

    1. Signage Dude is doing the right thing and is making the road safer for everybody. But that bag of cats can scratch pretty hard when told what to do …

      We’re riding again on Sunday, same drill as last time. Everyone who shows up is welcome to show up!

  2. One of the best lines of the year!! Every fucking biker on the NPR has taken note of that giant sign and they’re avoiding your ass like the plague. You might as well have a bumper sticker that says ‘Crashtastic Sam’ on it.”
    LOVE IT!!!!!

  3. Har! Was wondering when this conversation would happen. It’s been brewing since that Sunday. He tried having it with me at the Donut…..I just looked over and yelled as loud as I could; DUDE! GO TO THE FRONT!!
    His reply, “but my sign…..”
    Gotta love the Brit.

    1. I’m nominating you. Before we hit PCH I’m going to set up 50 or 60 chairs with a lectern and a microphone. Then we’ll munch on some snacks while you instruct us on the finer points of positioning. Shouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours.

      Next, we’ll elect a ride committee and draft a set of bylaws. Then, we’ll vote on the bylaws and anyone who violates a bylaw will get a brown star next to his name. After three brown stars, they’ll have to hand-wash a CBR port-a-potty after the Memorial Day crit.

      All participants will be required to pay monthly dues and wear their committee-approved safety mirror, a 27-inch device that is approved for 18-wheelers. Anyone who dissents will receive, yes, another brown star.

      Then, after we finish, there will be a ride de-briefing. Riders who have violated any of the bylaws will be assigned to a special skills class, held every Monday at 10:00 AM. Once they pass the skills class, they will be reintegrated into the ride, but only at the back.


    2. Agreed! Sounds like its time for a first annual Bike & Wank safety convention. I’ll book the space at the
      Vagabond-daterape Inn in San Pedro. No better place to talk safety.

      1. The ol’ Daterape Inn! That’s where I lost my virginity! She put a drug in my drink and had her way with me while I was passed out on the linoleum.

        You know, I think we could really improve the cycling experience by starting every ride with a safety lecture, kind of like on airplanes. I’ll bring a bunch of seat belts and a pair of handcuffs for Josh Alverson.

      2. Don’t forget the blue pills for OldDude and lube for Sausage. We’ll change the face of bike safety forever…….or at least it’s rear.

  4. Captain Willard: “Who’s in charge here?”
    Soldier: “In charge? I dont know, man. I’m just doing what I’m told –
    I’m just a working girl.” – Apocalypse Now Redux

      1. George Lucas: You should really think about releasing another version of Apocalypse Now.

        Francis Coppola: Why?

        George Lucas: Money. Now that you’re famous, you can add back all that trash you left on the cutting room floor. People love it. You’ll sell a million copies. It’s a lot like recycling trash – and everybody is super into recycling these days. You can even market it as “green”. Your “new” movie will be super “green”. And you will be a “hero”.

        Francis Coppola: But wasn’t it the struggle that made our work into art? Wasn’t it the fact that we couldn’t always afford to do what we wanted that made our creative juices flow? Wasn’t it for love of the craft that we fought to make our work the best it could be?

        George Lucas: No. It was never about that.

        Francis Coppola: Ok, cool. Count me in.

  5. I’m pretty much done with Baby-Proofing America. We need sharp edges to signs, we need morons to walk in front of busses while yapping on cell phones & finally – we need people to tell cycling tampons to join a bowling league if they are so afraid of traffic yet (passive-agressively) do this in the name of “group safety.”

    1. How rude of you!

      Now, I’d like talk with you about my plan for pre-race safety lectures at all future CBR crits. When would be a good time for us to talk?

  6. When a cyclist takes the road it’s understood that safety is his primary concern, especially when he rides alone. In a pack, in a group of guys who have thousands of dollars and time invested in this savage sport it is well understood. It’s like telling a bear its ok to shit in the woods when nature calls, duh. Cyclist make decisions in an instant of a second and we can feel when there is a dumb ass in the group so you get avoided at all cost. Stupid car drivers will never accept us so we trust that our number has not expired yet, but no amount of traing or lecturing will guarantee a safe ride. So ride like there is no tomorrow and may the force be with you Luke.

  7. i must admit i dont get half the shit you talk about, being a desert rat…but this one struck home and i found it to be hilarious. great share. see you when the sun comes up.

  8. There is a reason why organized events and races have safety lectures and legal waivers. They have insurance and potential legal liablity…and people still die. Crit crashes, velodrome crashes, heart attacks, car crashes, etc. This isn’t safe. Neither is sitting at home or at work. Earthquakes, Gas line explosions, terrorist attack. There is an assumption of risk inherent in all activities.

    When you go join an unorganized group ride, you ought be aware of the dangers involved and your own limitations. Similarly, you have to assess the capabilities of those around you.

    Simply put…this is an unorganized bicycle ride. You may die, and it will because someone did something stupid. Don’t let that someone be you. Train appropriately.


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