Saturday, July 4

Forester Plus & Minus One on Independence Day

If I could keep only one cycling book, the one in the picture would be it. After my last post, I took Frankenbike for a spin up to the Southlake Town Center Starbucks. I'd not ridden there since last fall. The ride, while not particularly far, or difficult, illustrated a timeless truth that Forester understated in his book, and it also illustrated a factor which, I fear to say, no longer appears true. I do hope I'm wrong on the second.

Plus - Forester devotes a full chapter to cycle commuting. He understates what commuting can do to a cyclist. I compare my ride to even the last time I went up there and I was shocked. Commuting to Haltom City might have been a good experience, and it definitely laid a sound foundation for my current commute, but riding to Fort Worth Alliance Airport has fundamentally changed the way I ride, in almost every way. Maybe ChipSeal seeming more mellow in recent months isn't all him changing. More on this in the future.

Minus - Forester frequently talks about club cyclists as being street savvy due to their many miles and their community. On the way to Starbucks, I saw a flock of club cyclists. I think the days that Forester speaks of are gone, at least in NE Tarrant County. They looked like the guy that Doohickie called me a snob about. At least I was going in the other direction this time.

Takeaway - If you haven't read this book, do it. Ignore the irritating characterizations about the competence of those that disagree with him, and the endless space devoted to explaining how to rebuild ancient equipment, so that you may fully absorb the many timeless truths contained therein.


Keri said...

Club cycling has undergone a transformation in the last 30 years. The oldtimers still think a cycling club is where you learn to be a good roadway cyclist. That was once true. It no longer is.

This is my theory:

Sometime between the 70s bike boom and the 90s bike boom, the oldtimers got, well, old. The 90s bike boom was the Lance-wannabe boom. Yuppie fitness freaks swarmed the bike shops and bought the lightest, high-tech equipment they could afford. They didn't know a damned thing about smart cycling. Of course, where was the League of American Bicyclists? Sucking the industry tit... and the industry doesn't care about education.

The few places there were still clubs of old guys riding steel, these newbies found them quaint, irrelevant and slow. What could they possibly learn from a bunch of fossils wearing jerseys that said "Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter"?

They were clueless. Many of them now are still clueless. But with thousands of miles of experience, they think they're experts. They ride on the edge-line and teach new riders that is the sign of competence and skill. They ride through RTOLs, ignore stop signs, run red lights, swoop carelessly across the road to make left turns. They mindlessly suck wheel and follow the leader — the blind leading the blind.

They blather on about the 3ft law and harassment. And you can't tell them anything. It's the toy bike mentality. They are "playing" on the road and they inherently don't believe they belong there. That manifests in an inferiority complex that makes them forcefully resistant to riding in the lane — even as far right as the right tire track.

Club rider psychology is a wall I'm almost done trying to beat my head against. I just make myself available to new riders and teach them paceline techniques in a VC framework. The way the oldtimers did. Hopefully enough of them will change the current culture. But peer pressure and the need for acceptance belongs to the dark side of the force right now.

Doohickie said...

ChipSeal does seem more mellow lately.... wait a minute, Steve... it could be both of us and not him!

ChipSeal said...

I'll change your perception with my Independence Day post!

I did a long solo ride a few years ago while I was a member of GDB and I wrote a fide summery describing the trip. I mentioned that on SH 34 there was a wide and clean shoulder, but I didn't travel in it, I got a ton of grief.

They seem to think, as a group, they have a PR responsibility to "stay out of the way". Sheesh!

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