Rare bird

April 15, 2016 § 27 Comments

After many a ride Filds and I would recap the myriad stupidities of the day, and he’d always conclude, “Yeah, common sense. It just ain’t that common.”

As much as it pains me to say nice things about my friends, Gary Cziko and Pete van Nuys put on a seminar last night for our club, Big Orange. They are instructors for Cycling Savvy, a bike educational program for dorks.

In this case, however, the dorks aren’t the usual objects of contempt. They aren’t the people with panniers, recumbents, floppy dickhider shorts, helmet mirrors, sandals, and fourteen daytime lights. The dorks targeted by Cycling Savvy include everyone who doesn’t understand proper lane positioning. This means you.

Most of what Cycling Savvy refers politely to as “the lycra crowd” and I impolitely refer to as “delusional underwear pedalers,” considers itself expert at cycling safety. The reasoning goes like this:

  1. I wear my underwear on my bike and pedal fast.
  2. I enter one crit a year to get free crap from my team so I can call myself a bike racer.
  3. I have twelve top-10’s on the Strava leaderboard for 45+ men over 250 lbs.
  4. My bike is expensive.
  5. I ride in big groups.
  6. I’ve never been killed.

Of course if you ride with the lycra crowd long enough you realize that in addition to being delusional, many of them are wholly incompetent at bicycle riding, even many riders who climb well, sprunt well, and time trail well. What’s worse than their incompetence is that their insistence on bad positioning is built on an amazing resistance to criticism, let alone change.

After all, they’re wearing their underwear and have never been killed plus they got 10 kudos yesterday so they know what they’re doing, right?

Cycling Savvy’s curriculum politely but firmly begins with the premise that no, just because you ride a bicycle you don’t necessarily know what you’re doing. In fact, given the ignorance of law enforcement, the prejudice of cagers, and the lack of formalized cycling instruction, the chance that you know what you’re doing is quite small, because all savvy cycling begins with lane positioning, and a casual glance at any cyclist on any road reveals that most cyclists hug the gutter or the door zone.

It was fascinating to watch the Big Orange board get educated, a board that is comprised of people who have 12 zillion miles under their belt, who are already pretty expert at lane positioning, and who have extraordinary experience navigating large groups of idiots through the congested streets of L.A. It reinforced how badly we of the Underwear Tribe are in desperate need of education.

Unfortunately, the course is three hours long, which means your ass will be bleeding by the time it wraps up, and that doesn’t include the parking lot and on-the-road components of the class. The curriculum also contains too much information for the typical bonehead who has been roped into the session hoping to get a tip or two about how not to get killed.

Yet Cziko and van Nuys did a phenomenal job of introducing us to the law, the science, the logic, and the practice of controlling the fuggin’ lane, in addition to re-emphasizing the fact that if you put twelve boxes of Cheez-its in front of five cyclists they will devour everything down to the crumbs even when they’re no longer hungry.

I just wish they’d call the course “Control the Fuggin’ Lane, Dumbass!” and I wish more people would get educated. The rear-and-fore-facing videos showing how traffic responds to proper lane control are viscerally demonstrative of Cycling Savvy’s other premise: The life you save will be YOURS. Learning all this from people who themselves have been cycling longer than most of us have been alive, and who are professional, educated, and smart, was an added bonus.

Ultimately, if you think you know how to ride on the road, the chances are good you don’t. Because common sense just ain’t that common.



For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog, Gary, which is the least you can do for me. Pete does. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!

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§ 27 Responses to Rare bird

  • Brian in VA says:

    I’m always amazed at gutter huggers whenever a car approaches instead of gauging the situation and taking the lane when it’s called for.

    I’m with you and your friends, Wanky. Common sense is an oxymoron.

  • cgnewgirl says:

    10 “Kudos” to you for today’s blog. (Originally typed, “10 Kiddos” but caught that one. HAGD

  • I think that uploading a link to those videos alone + FB sharing could go a long way in being instructive to our underwear or sandal wearing, rearview mirror crowd.

    • fsethd says:

      I think many of them are on YouTube already. I’ll check for the link.

    • The videos are great. But nothing compares to the immediate feedback you experience in real time while varying positions and using a mirror.

      When you see motorists instantly respond to your change from, say, right tire track to left track, you really get it.

  • Tom Paterson says:

    Well, there isn’t such a thing as “common sense” in the first place so it’s no wonder not many have it.
    Experience, assimilation of same.
    Some people want to learn– and some don’t, as noted above.
    That part is simple.

    “Have a nice day!”

  • Gary Cziko says:

    Pete and I appreciated the opportunity to present the CyclingSavvy classroom course to Seth and Big Orange board members and discuss how the course could be fine tuned to the needs of club and competitive cyclists. I believe it was a very informative evening for all involved and another indication of how seriously Big Orange values the safety and education of its members.

    The CyclingSavvy link provided in the post leads to related materials and videos. Accessibility to CyclingSavvy will greatly increase with publication of its online course in the coming months. This will allow cyclists to access and review the materials on an on-demand basis. Three free preview lessons have already been published and can be accessed at http://online.cyclingsavvy.org (then click on CyclingSavvy or CyclingSavvy Mastery and scroll down to one of the “Preview” lessons). Or go directly to http://online.cyclingsavvy.org/courses/cyclingsavvybasic/lectures/578438 to learn about traffic law and bicyclists position on the roadway.

    Actually, most cyclists already know how to drive, but don’t fully apply that knowledge to cycling in traffic due to our society’s beliefs that cyclists are not real traffic and need to saty out of the way. But CyclingSavvy is more than lane control. It also provides tips to reduce the stress and increase the joy of cycling, such as how to get a busy road all to yourself and choosing lanes to minimize conflicts with motorists (see http://online.cyclingsavvy.org/courses/cyclingsavvy-mastery-in-development/lectures/605517).

  • Fug, yeah! (I’m a Cycling Savvy grad).

  • channel_zero says:

    What’s worse than their incompetence is that their insistence on bad positioning is built on an amazing resistance to criticism, let alone change.

    Haha! So, so true. Dog forbid you mention they might want to relax their elbows a little while being towed around, tongue on the front wheel, by faster riders and suddenly you are a ____bad_word_here__.

    Good thing they have a power meter and more carbon, better than last year’s carbon.

    • fsethd says:

      Last year’s carbon has been proven by independently funded labs owned by Michael Sinyard to be worse than this year’s carbon, which is stiffer, harder, more ramrodd-ish, and feels smooth, glistening, powerful, mighty, and slightly hot to the touch.

  • marc caruso says:

    Great read thanks Seth. I wish i could get a cycling savvy class in my neck of the woods. I hoping with the endorsement from you a world resound cycling lawyer racer and blogger. I can obtain this. And put to rest the.notion that riding in large groups is so dramactically different than solo rides. Also thank you gary or signage dude for convincing seth back in september of 2013 to get the ball rolling.

    • fsethd says:

      One of Gary’s comments to this post has a link to Cycling Savvy, where you can get your Cs.D. online, or will be able to in a little while.

      • Marc Caruso says:

        I know the problem with the online course is tribalism arguments. Oh that was filmed in Florida or california or North Carolina people drive differently here. Cyclists are treated better there. We can’t do that here. But yeah Im seriously thinking about the online course. I have checked out the free previews.

  • Evan says:

    Last telo there was someone leading the pack through the door zone on the back stretch at 30+mph. That felt hilariously unsafe. Of course not unsafe enough to do anything about it, like give up the precious draft of the rider in front of me.

  • Jody says:

    Read your column, watched the video, went for a ride on my ebike. Btw I have ridden a road bike for 30+ yrs. Trucking along at 25 mph on a section of dangerous road I took the lane for 3 blocks. A “road cyclist” in a car passes me illegally and is screaming at me to move over….bummer.

    Today I ride 101 hwy in Leucadia in a sharrow lane going 20mph and a sheriff pulls along side to tell me I should move over near those nice parked cars. Very disheartening….

  • Serge Issakov says:

    Isn’t it nice to be able to utilize your incredulous look?

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