Out of My Way, Boys!

What follows is a glimpse at the mindset of a female bike commuter. I assume I’m not the only one who has these thoughts and impulses. :)

I am not a competitive person, more happy when everyone is a winner. As the weather warms and I see all the – mostly male – cyclists jockeying for position in the bike lanes, I feel a combination of amusement and annoyance. Opting out of the commute-as-race mentality is one reason I love riding my Dutch bike.

That said, sometimes my ego kicks in when I ride Betty Foy and I end up pushing myself a lil’ more than usual. There is a correlation between this phenomenon and listening to Lady Gaga on my iPod.*

I’m not delusional regarding the limits of my skillz and my petite steel mixte, but I can ride pretty fast. On my Betty Foy, I pass the majority of cyclists on the lakefront path, except for those serious guys and gals in jerseys, especially in the spring when most are emerging from hibernation. (On the streets I usually take it easier due to all the traffic.)

Anyone who rides at least 10 miles a day, every day, all year is bound to get pretty good at it.

Today was one of those ego days.

On the lakefront path this morning, I saw in my rear view mirror a lycra commuter gaining on me. I decided to kick it up a notch, thinking he would eventually pass, but at least I would show that I’m not such an easy mark. To my surprise, the distance between us grew and soon he was far behind.

On the streets this evening, I had to deal with guys all up in my space, trying to crowd me out at lights. You know what I’m talking about – riders stopping next to me and creeping ahead before the light turns green. This behavior pushes my competitive button for two reasons. First, crowding me at an intersection is unsafe when I’m trying to maintain my line between moving traffic and parked cars. Second, the stereotypical attitude – based solely on my gender and appearance – that I am an obstacle to be overtaken irks me. Not so fast, boys! Methinks you should get out of my way. Yeah, I’ve got a pink helmet, basket, skirt, heels. And…? Sure enough, I soon left those guys behind.

Most of the time I’m happy to let others expend energy on this kind of stuff while I la la lalala along, taking in the scenery, especially while riding my Oma.  But sometimes I can’t help asserting myself.  It’s kinda fun!  I even start daydreaming about racing on a Sweetpea Little Black Dress wearing lycra, but really I’m very risk averse.  Plus, those hardcore women would kick my ass ;)

{And now, random scenes from my Chicago day. Note the very special Dottie fuel: gourmet cupcakes!}

*When riding in the streets, I sometimes listen to music, only in my right ear and at a very low volume. I’ve assessed the risk and determined it safe for my situation. Plus, it does wonders for my sanity and general cheeriness.

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89 thoughts on “Out of My Way, Boys!

  1. Anne Hawley says:

    Wonderful post! I agree with you on all counts, and have had those exact experiences.

    I, too, use a one-ear listening approach, though my preferences is for audiobooks over music. I feel perfectly safe and undistracted doing it, but I would never go the full stereo route. Hearing the world is too much a part of cycling safety and pleasure.

  2. tina says:

    you are amazing! i admire your cool and gusto at the same time. for myself, i seriously wait for those competitive racers to pass me, they frighten me! and since my accident, i never attempt a race with the stop light or biker. it’s too risky here in sf since i notice cars even trying to race me or the light. my boyfriend is the worst! he is always ahead of the gang and i’m always at the end of the tail but i prefer it that way so that i can see and enjoy what’s all around me, rather than trying to get ahead of what’s in front of me.

  3. eva says:

    This post made me sooo happy! I love your writing style – so fun and light hearted, yet packs a punch.

    I always chuckle a little bit when I pass a 10-speeed spandex warrior while riding my 3-speed in a dress. When Im riding my crazy carbon bike i get a bit more aggressive .. but lets be honest- I’m about a buck-o-five can put out like 80 watts . i get dropped so fast! haha

  4. Aaron says:

    Ok, not to be mean here, but I think what you said needs to be addressed logically. You said:

    Methinks you should get out of my way. Yeah, I’ve got a pink helmet, basket, skirt, heels. And…? Sure enough, I soon left those guys behind.

    Most of the time I’m happy to let others expend energy on this kind of stuff while I la la lalala along, taking in the scenery, especially while riding my Oma.

    The second part says it all. Statistically speaking, the riders next to you usually get it right. Think for a moment from their positions. When is it safest to pass another rider on bike-laned roads? At intersections of course. I use a mirror and thus pass on the left between intersections when safe, but if I see that I’m quickly catching up with someone as we approach the next intersection, I have no problem with getting on the person’s left at the stop — in a position to make my safe pass when the light turns green. The passee benefits too: instead of getting startled at a bike suddenly passing on the left (squeezing by) while in motion, the person sees me pull up. And when the light turns green, whatever annoyance should quickly be dispelled when I get far ahead.

    Am I competitive? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t race other commuting cyclists, I race cars. I like to see the same cars again and again throughout my commute. And competition aside, I just like going fast. Just like you typically enjoy la-la-la’ing along. We all have our preferences, and we’re all just trying to stay safe out there on our way to and from work.

    • Dottie says:

      I must not have explained the situation well enough. I have no problem with a faster cyclist passing me safely. I am talking about people who make the situation more dangerous because they obstruct my path and create confusion – often cycling directly next to me and another car through an intersection – and then I end up passing them anyway. In this case, I was not lalalaing at the time, I was riding fast. [edit: I slightly toned down this response :)]

      • Aaron says:

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as patronizing. I’m not defending bad cycling. I was just reacting to the gender- and clothing-stereotyping bit. Stereotyping generally works in the case of cycling, at least where I live. If I see a “hipster” or a man in a tweed jacket (I live and work near a university) I assume that I’m faster and act accordingly. I always think it’s cool when I encounter someone who likes to go fast, too, especially if they’re not “dressed” to go fast, but it doesn’t happen that frequently.

        Again, I apologize for coming across as patronizing. You’re clearly an excellent cyclist.

        • Dottie says:

          I took out the patronizing part, but I guess I was too late. My reply was more about every comment that’s ever gotten under my skin, and yours was the unfortunate one that finally got a reaction. Sorry about that.

          I should have explained more clearly that the guys crowding me at the light today did not seem very skilled at safe riding and were generally all up in my business. You’re absolutely right that it’s generally safer for a faster cyclist to position him or herself clearly ahead of a slower cyclist at a stop light. Thank you for providing another point of view.

          Group hug :)

          • dukiebiddle says:

            “that the guys crowding me at the light today did not seem very skilled”

            Springtime. Typically, I’ve become more than happy to let the go fasters smoke me when I’m riding my 40+ lb basket bike; but this time of year I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit the guilty pleasure of blasting past go fasts with squeaky chains and wheezing lycra riders while on my tank of a utility bike, cheerfully saying hello. Of course, they just end up running all the red lights so I get stuck behind them over and over and over again [annoying!] anyway, but at least it’s less lonely.

  5. Cherilyn says:

    Oh, those boys!

  6. Kara says:

    I loved this post. Very empowering.

    Last week, my friend and I were at an intersection with our (matching) pink helmets. And a lycra-clad bike guy came up next to us. Then a guy from a car called out, “You girls can take him!” We all found it pretty funny. Made us feel like that there’s room for everyone on the road.

  7. Rosko says:

    The intersection thing would irk me. Honestly though, my first ride a few weeks ago, first longer than 15 minute ride in 8 years, on my first bike in 2 years, I got passed by a gal just cruising along leisurely on the Illinois Prairie Path (a Crushed Limestone Path, which I’d never ridden) and was glad that she did. Even though it’s a mostly protected path, it’s also easy for the uninitiated to get lost. I kept up with her, about 30 feet, the rest of my way.

    • Dottie says:

      Kudos on picking up bike riding again! When I re-started two years ago, my tempo certainly was nothing to write home about :)

      I’ve never ridden the IL Prairie Path, I’ll have to try that sometime.

      Also, thanks for the earlier comment about the camera store. I’ll have to check it out if I’m ever in the area.

      • Rosko says:

        The IPP, especially past Lombard and into the various other branches, is quite nice. It’s mostly canopied by trees, and even though the limestone adds some resistance, the beauty makes up for it. And if you ever come into the store, just ask for Harry. That’s me!

      • Melissa S. says:

        Dottie, you have ridden the IPP, silly! Remember? We all rode until we couldn’t ride anymore!

  8. Steve A says:

    At the website link is an excellent analysis by John Allen about riding with earphones. He suggests that you might be better off to just put both earphones in but keep the volume down because the one-ear approach may change the apparent source of sounds. I keep my earphones at a volume that gets drowned out when I’m riding into a stiff headwind or bombing down a hill.

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by eva // èvoluer and Let's Go Ride a Bike, Let's Go Ride a Bike. Let's Go Ride a Bike said: New post: Out of My Way, Boys! http://bit.ly/abx3SI […]

  10. darren says:

    mo’ power to ya Dottie!

  11. Miss Sarah says:

    There’s this one part on the high level bridge in Edmonton where you have to take quite a steep (but short) hill. Those dudes are ALWAYS trying to pass me. All I hear is “crunch” and “click” as they’re gearing up like crazy and egg beating their bikes. I just stay in gear and slowly yet surely, pass them. On the Pashley! Shame on those men with their special bike outfits!

    I save my panting for when I’m clear at the top so they don’t realize that I actually had to work to get up the hill too:)

  12. Glad to see I am not the only one who fantasizes about racing (in my case at the velodrome!) while riding a distinctly non-racy “lady bike” : )

    As for road cyclists – inexplicably, they tend to flirt with me on the bike paths, including winking, smiling and waving. Other types of male cyclists don’t seem to care about me one bit, but the tighter a man’s lycra and the racier his bike, the more he tends to stare at me in interested amusement. Still haven’t figured that one out.

    • Nicolas says:

      Funny. I dunno, maybe they perceive the gender roles to be well-aligned (male road warrior, lady on a lady bike) enough to flirt… While the regular-clothes commuter sees you as a normal person, just riding on a bike, and they don’t flirt with you just like they wouldn’t randomly hit on someone walking on the street.

      Nice post, Dottie – I think the baseline is that skill is a more important factor than power for getting around a city fast on a bike. Anticipate, place yourself smartly, pick your battles (against cars and against traffic lights), and you’ll go as fast on a city bike as the weaving, stop-and-go sprinting, red-light-jumping guy in the lane. Just son’t let him get to you, or put you in dangerous situations.

    • dukiebiddle says:

      I’m gonna guess they’re experiencing a bit of the narcissistic “I’m working out and consequently women want me” male amorousness. If their lycrafits match their bicycle frames they’re also peacocking… for those ladies who are attracted to space aliens, I guess. Sometimes, we really are morons.

    • Sigrid says:

      lb ~ as one who hangs out often with the men in lycra and fast bikes crowd, if they are ligit they are likely seriously admiring your ride. people who are into biking, are into biking. men in lycra like to flirt ~ that’s not always a bad thing. ;)

    • Dave says:

      It’s the lycra and the tip of the seat pinching off the blood to their “brains” :)

    • Elan says:

      “As for road cyclists – inexplicably, they tend to flirt with me on the bike paths, including winking, smiling and waving.”

      Inexplicable! :)

  13. anna says:

    Go on, girl! I do the same. Not for competition, but to show some of these “I’m faster than you because I’m a guy”-(that’s why I have to sneak in front of you at red lights)-guys, that they can’t keep up with me. It’s a lot of fun :).

  14. aparisiancyclist says:

    Hello, Dottie!
    I confess I do the same, even if I am not, as you, a competitive person. We don’t have very much jersey speed addicts, but normal dressed riders, and some of them like to race. My pleasure is to show them the bicycle doesn’t make the cyclist, especially when I am with a heavy Dutch bike.
    The game, Dottie, when you find one of them, is to let him pass you, to follow, and to maintain your speed one meter behind him (your front wheel at the level of his back wheel, for example), and being seen by him. Accelerate with him, keeping the distance. When you see he is starting to be out of breath, put the higher gear and pass him as if it is nothing for you… My favourite game…
    But you need to have the legs for! Or to compensate the power with the speed of pedaling.
    What a pity I am so far away; I would like to see the jersey guy trying by all means to pass this “normally” low cycling girl, and being humiliated!

  15. Erich Zechar says:

    Nice post – thankfully out here we’re totally absent of shoalers – most of the kids actually seem to ride on the sidewalk, even on streets with bike lanes. That irks me a bit.

    Anyway, say what you will but I foresee a day when you’re proudly racing on that Little Black Dress, rocking the Super Relax team jersey.

  16. Sigrid says:

    funny that you should post this. I have had a slightly similar post in mind after my ride the other night. certain people are annoying in the Spring; I am all for people biking, but H and I have each experienced one too many rider making it dangerous for us. many of these folks seem to disappear as the summer wears on. most of the time I too just let it ride and be my own rider or alter my speed to let them by so safety returns to my sphere, but sometimes kicking it up a notch and leaving someone in my wake is just a tidge too fun.

  17. Trisha says:

    And, this is exactly why it’s sometimes fun to be the only cyclist on the street! Now that it’s spring, I see other riders at least 2-3 times a day, but they rarely happen to be riding behind or in front of me. As a moderately competitive person, though, I admit to some triumph the first time someone was riding in the bike lane behind me and I *didn’t* get passed. ;-)

  18. That is a BEAUTIFUL picture!!!!!!

    • Tinker says:

      Yes, I agree, Looking GOOOD! And that is the point, isn’t it? As the guy used to say on Saturday Night Live, imitating Fernando Lamas, “Its better to Look good than to Feel good.” If you can do both, you have it made!

      Maybe the Lycra Crowd that wants to ogle women do so in silence because they are so out of breath, holding in their stomachs, and attempting to look Pumped Up that they can’t say more than a word or two without beginning to gasp like a boated trout. Bad for the Image, don’t ya know?

  19. E A says:

    Perfect post! I’ve been wanting to post about the male need to leap frog me for a while now. Sheesh!

  20. cycler says:

    You captured my sentiments exactly-
    When you bike all winter you don’t lose the muscles you build in the summer, so even if you don’t wear the stereotypical “fast” clothing, you’re going to be faster then someone who hasn’t ridden for 6 months. I’m temporarily riding my DL-1 which between uncomfortably high gearing and big wheels is a pistol, and I can really move on it- I think I’ve surprised a couple of shoalers, with a jaunty bell ring and an “on your left!”

    What is particularly annoying is when they squeeze past at an intersection, run the light, and then they’re going so slowly that you catch them and then have to pass them (safely) in traffic. It’s especially annoying when the pattern repeats several times in several blocks.

  21. katie says:

    What an awesome post! On my college campus, I usually have no problem biking faster than everyone else – but then many of those everyone elses for some reason feel the need to bike on the sidewalk instead of on the road. I will say it does make me feel good to zoom past them while they are fighting pedestrian traffic! (and then, someone on a real bike with actual gears might pass me… single speeds can only go so fast!)

  22. Mike says:

    Love this post! Right on the money, on so many levels.

    Not sure what this phenomenon at the intersections is all about. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you look fast or slow–latecomers to a stop light often pull right ahead, like they’re the first one there.

    Then, of course, you have to work past them while they fumble to clip back into the pedals…

  23. donnarino says:

    My peeve is people who pass me going really fast and don’t ring their bell to warn me.

  24. Janice in GA says:

    ::cheers you from the sidelines::

    I’m still really slow and not strong, but in my defense, I’m 57 and haven’t ridden regularly for about 8 years. But I’m doing 12 miles or so most days. It hasn’t gotten easier (or faster) yet, but I’m going on faith that it will. :)

    I’m deliberately riding my older, heavier Trek hybrid with big fat tires too. Can’t build muscles w/o working, right?? :)

  25. Maria says:

    I love that you don’t let the boys out ride you!! I can imagine that the crowding would be very annoying and dangerous. Can’t they’ll all just share the road.

    Love your outfit. I would take you seriously.

    Lulu Letty

  26. Dave says:

    Reading as a guy who basically has the same preference for cycling as you seem to have, I get much of the same experience. I generally ride quite slowly, and always in normal clothes, and I’m happy to let anyone pass me in almost all cases, and often get the same assumption that a guy in a suit or corduroy blazer (and sans helmet!) or whatever is obviously going to be “in the way” and not know what he’s doing.

    However, on my Raleigh (which really has more of a touring bike geometry), I am capable of riding pretty quickly (as you said, 10 miles or more per day, every day, you build up some leg muscles whether you’re trying or not), and sometimes it is fun to give the speedy set a run for their money.

    I especially love to do this on slight declines, where the weight of my “heavy” steel bike and the bump-resistance of the wide tires gives me a clear advantage over the much more common aluminum and carbon bikes with teensy, high-pressure tires. I’ve coasted past guys on racing bikes on slight declines before who were pedaling hard. That’s a fantastic feeling :D

    What I think is funny, here in Portland, is that many cyclists will inch into an intersection, even when there’s a bike box there (and thus, automobiles are already stopped well behind them). Those are also the people who are usually expending twice the energy it would take them to start again trying to do trackstands in the intersection, and then nearly falling over about 2 seconds before the light turns green.

    I also often pass cyclists starting at a green light who are trying desperately to get their feet back in the pedal clips, or shoes clipped to the pedals – that actually creates a dangerous situation a lot of times, I’ve almost hit people before because they suddenly stop pedaling while they are fidgeting with their pedals.

    If you come visit Portland, I’ll race you down the waterfront path! :) (and have every expectation of being beaten) :)

    • Dottie says:

      Interesting. Sounds like it’s largely to do with bicycle and clothing style, not only gender.

      • Dan says:

        Indeed! I’ve had women and girls cut around me at red lights and then ride slower afterwards (including female bicycle police), pass and then immediately stop, or pass so as to force me into the support columns on the bridge at Navy Pier. I can’t comment on the relative proportion of the genders of rude riders, but it is certainly not an exclusively male trait. And, the same things happen whether I’m riding my Linear recumbent or my WorkCycles Omafiets.

        (from Lakeview)

  27. Willis says:


    Richmond VA has ample cyclists for a city this size but not a whole lot of commuters (well…gainfully employed one’s…I guess plenty of college students but they aren’t awake at 7:30am). Either way I love your blog and the feminine perspective and I always forward it to all my female cyclist friends (and my wife too even though she really dosen’t ride but shes 7 months pregnant right now so I’ll let her slide on that one, maybe with your help will have her on two wheels soon!) and as a male I agree the competitive commuting attitude is a little irritating from my perspective too. Most days on my ride home I take a trail by the river here in Richmond and where the trail ends is a parking lot for the park that leads to a road frequently used by people training for crits or triathalons or something….rarely is there a “on the left” as I climb the hill that they have just bombed on the other side of the road and a bell simply weighs too much to have on your carbon bike I guess. The road is quiet though so little traffic but I hear what you are saying….look at how some of these people ride amongst cars and disregard stoplights so the courtesy they ignore with other people on the road probably isn’t going to be manifested for another cyclist either I suppose…..in the words of Pooh….oh bother. I just wanted to let you know great work with the blog and keep staying safe and I’ll ring my bell if we happen to pass in either direction.

  28. Dottie, I LOVE that skirt! Where did you get it?

  29. anon says:

    I’m a little uncomfortable with the thrust of this post. Coming from a site that has done an incredible job of demystifying cycling for the lay person.

    I’ve been commuting in Chicago for the past three years. I commuted in Philly for a year and a half before that on an old 10 speed. I got fixed-gear envy and have been using that for the past three years. I convinced myself, like I’m sure many other people, that fixed gear riding with a messenger bag was the most sensible way to commute. Ignorant of bike commuting’s long, glorious, pre-twenty-first century history that was generally free of fixed gear cycling.

    When I first started commuting in Chicago I picked up terrible habits by following all the other cyclists around me. Passing on the right, never calling out, getting angry when passed (especially by girls) and racing, using my front brake as an emergency and awkwardly skidding and occasionally falling down, using drops aggressively for no reason, running reds and ignoring stop signs, racing to make it past yellows, and exhibiting insane bike road rage.

    These are all symptoms of the pervasive urban pathology that is modern bike commuting. My former commuting self had at least two or three near death experiences every day I commuted. I realized that my safety was inversely proportional to how much I obeyed the herd. My knees were also shot from all the skidding and my shoulders were in serious pain from overloading the messenger.

    Since then I’ve become, in BSNYC’s terms, a Rivendell riding fuddy-duddy, sans Rivendell.

    I call when passing, wait at lights when there are no cars while other commuters pass me, using a pannier, realize my helmet is just risk insurance and doesn’t make me a safe bicyclist, etc… In other words, I obey the unspoken safety rules that commuters have obeyed for generations.

    My commute is stress free and I look forward to it.

    I am vehemently against the commute-as-race. It’s hard to completely purge yourself of the urge, but it never leads to good things. Moreover, it encourages other cyclists to think that racing is appropriate commuting behavior. Most commuters in Chicago still race. Which is unsafe for the commuter and everyone else commuting.

    There is nothing wrong with riding fast. And, as Sheldon Brown advises, you should ride your cadence. But most people who commute aren’t athletes. We’re nerds by nature who are riding because it’s fun and good exercise. The race urge, as compelling as it is, is completely irrational. No one respects for going fast. No one really remembers. If you want props, go race in a formal race or an alleycat, if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, racing really has no place on the commute.

    • Trisha says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I don’t think that your perspective and Dottie’s are very different, though — she’s not advocating risky or competitive behavior, just expressing frustration with cyclists who underestimate her skill because of the way she looks, and being proud of the physical strength she’s gained from regular bicycling.

      You say we’ve helped demystify cycling for the layperson, which is a great compliment. But part of that, at least to us, is being honest about our feelings and experiences, even if they’re not always 100% warm and fuzzy.

  30. E A says:

    really diggin’ the b&w shots!
    we so need to go out photographing together.

  31. welshcyclist says:

    I know where you’re coming from, I’m a commuter first and foremost, but it irks me, more than a little, the way the lycra crowd, roadies whatever they call themselves, totally ignore me. Not a word of hello, how’s it going etc.. Sadly I’m not able to leave them behind, speed isn’t my forte, even though I commute 40 miles a day, guess I’m getting too old. One thing I have to say though, I’d certainly make an effort to keep up with you, because, as always you look totally fabulous. What’s more, if you were cycling in my part of the world, you’d have a posse of admirers, trying to keep up. Thanks again for your great posts and pictures, this black and white one is very striking, you make a great subject, who takes your pictures?

    • Dottie says:

      Thank you. About half of the pictures of me I take using a timer and dumpster, the other half my husband takes for me. The ones he takes (such as the one above) are usually the best, obviously :)

  32. Vee says:

    woot! Go dottie go!

  33. David says:

    Personally, I don’t mind watching young attractive women pass me by……….

    I encourage it.

  34. Even though I’ve barely ridden in the past three or four years, I really enjoyed this post! When I did ride regularly for my commute to and from campus, I dealt with the same type of behavior, and always wondered if it was elicited by my skirts and helmet with cherries on it or if it is just that some cyclists, like some drivers, are naturally aggressive.

    Thanks for a lovely post!

  35. David says:

    I don’t think the lycra crowd is that bad. But if you’ve ever been to little Madison, there’s not a lot of them compared to the upright regular bikers downtown. The lycra are on the outskirts of town, and in the country.

    However, there are people in lycra, that, well, probably shouldn’t be wearing tight lycra, if you know what I mean. It’s like yeesh, do you have to wear that in public?

  36. eliza says:

    omgosh! I just came across this blog and I totally love it :) one question – is there any way to ride a bike while maintaining a decent demenour whilst in a mini skirt? if so, I may ditch my metro pass for a bike this summer….you have me inspired :)

  37. […] mindset of the female bike commuter, who rides faster and looks better than the boys do. Biking in Chattanooga — no relation […]

  38. txell says:

    i’ve just discovered your blog and it’s amazing, i add you to my favourites list.
    kind regards from BCN!

  39. RJ says:

    I think it’s interesting that your post has caused a lot of “upright” cyclists to admit that they LOVE doing exactly what you’ve complained about– passing cyclists in a competitive manner.

    Isn’t it possible that some of us dressed in lycra are dressed that way to be comfortable? Because our commute is long and hilly? And that we, like you, can also not care about people’s paces?

    I have to stand up for the lycra– because people (peer cyclists!) lump us into a group and throw stones at us all the time. because I ride bikes of all fashions, both in jeans and tight shorts– and because the goal of my blog is to show both sides (skirts and shorts) that the “other side” isn’t so bad.

    Because hey, we’re ALL riding BICYCLES!


    • Dave says:

      RJ: I’m sure that for a long, hilly ride, lycra could be more comfortable, and there certainly are good reasons to wear it.

      I realize it’s not a fair categorization to lump everyone wearing lycra into the speedy crowd (which is partly why I specifically said the speedy set, and not the lycra set in my previous comment). In fact, I see a lot of people around Portland wearing lycra but not riding hard, and a number of people wearing normal clothes and riding quite fast. I would say I get buzzed by hipster fixies about as often as lycra racers.

      It’s not one particular genre of riders that is the problem with regard to this, it’s just the few riders who feel their need for speed outweighs other concerns – just like it’s not ‘cyclists’ or ‘drivers’ who are jerks, it’s just the few people who are jerks who happen to choose one or the other mode of transportation.

      Simply going fast is not the problem, going fast at the expense of the safety/comfort/right of way of others is the problem, and I try really hard not to do that ever.

      You have to realize too, that those of us who generally prefer riding in normal clothes, calmly, for everyday errands who don’t ride for sport often get kind of the short end of the stick in America, because (at least speaking for myself), I not only get all the same disregard from people driving who aren’t used to bikes on the roads, I also tend to get similar disregard from “experienced” cyclists, who are still a much larger group, and who do assume I don’t know what I’m doing. I think that’s where some of this angst comes from, and so know that I don’t consider everyone in lycra to be an asshole, it’s just that there is a particular type of person I often receive condescension from, and most often, they are the racing type. It’s hard not to get frustrated with that, and I hope you won’t take it personally if it gets complained about, just as I don’t take it personally when readers of (for example) BikePortland.org complain about all the stupid slow cyclists clogging up the streets.

      I agree, we’re all in it together, and the more of us we get out on the streets, the less we’ll (and everyone else will) notice the jerks among us, as the percentage will go down.

      Well, now that I’ve written a book, I hope some of that makes sense. Cheers!

    • Dottie says:

      Absolutely! Represent :)

  40. David says:

    Strange also, is people here complaining of passing cyclists not warning them. I hate being warned! It startles me. You see I’m slow, and don’t care about people passing, everyone passes me. But I’m so sick and tired of people shouting “on your left”! It’s like what am I going to do? Suddenly, randomly, veer to left. When I’m perfectly content just riding in the right of the bike path in a straight manner, alone.

    I’m convinced the only reason people shout “on your left!”, is to affirm that they are faster, it pumps them up.

    It’s to the point that I crank my Ipod now on busy bike paths so I can’t hear people shout “on your left”.

    • Janice in GA says:

      Respectfully disagree. :)

      I watch my rear view mirror pretty religiously, but on the rare occasion that I miss someone coming up behind me, I appreciate SOME kind of notice. When I’m on the multi-use path and approach a walker from behind, I usually cough loudly (I know, lame) or something, just to let them know I’m there. I have a little bell that I can ding, but that seems fairly obnoxious to me too.

      I just want to let someone know I’m there without startling them.

      • David says:

        Like I said people shouting “on your left!” startles me. There’s no need, when I’m in dedicated paved bike lane, on the right.

        Okay, it would be the equivalent of a car honking everytime they pass by. No need. It’s the responsibility of the person in their lane to look before making any move, because someone might be passing.

        I realize I’m probably the only one that hates someone saying “on your left”, but I do.

        But yes, I will say it when passing a group of pedestrians, or bikers doubled up together talking and not paying attention, taking up the path. Then I myself, will shout “on your left”.

        I’m thinking of getting a horn.

  41. Maria says:

    My commute is really short (2.5 miles) so I intentionally keep things geared up so I can get the maximum workout from the short ride (and then I can totally rationalize skipping my real workout on days when I’m just too pooped to care!) Then, on the weekends, when I hop on my super light road bike for a long ride I’m always amazed at how fast I can ride!

  42. Doohickie says:

    I had one of those rare competitive moments on my commute today as well. Where I get on the MUP, a guy in full kit, carbon bike, yada-yada, was trundling along, adjusting his iPod buds, and straying all over the lane. I had a head of steam and didn’t want to lose it so I have him the ding-ding of my bell and called out assertively “On your LEFT!” He made way for me and that was that. Or so I thought.

    I looked back in the mirror and he was still just kind of cruising along. I looked back and noticed he was now getting closer. I’m riding my hybrid, loaded panniers and all, so this isn’t necessarily a fast bike. Like you, I figured I would just stretch out the chase until he passed me. Like you, I actually increased the distance between me on my heavy hybrid and him on his carbon fiber wonder. Boo-yeah.

    Would you mind if I posted the first picture from this post on my Bicycle Commuting Blog sometime soon? I would like to approach it from the angle of looking good while commuting. You always look good, but that picture really captures the thought.

  43. Catherine says:

    This is where having an e-bike gets interesting. I was at a very popular intersection for bikes recently, and was of course pulled in front of by just about all the other cyclists that came up behind me (I was in my work clothes and in heels). Then, green light and a little juice from the e-bike and I was ahead of all of them. One actually called out “don’t think I can’t see that motor on there”, and I replied “not trying to fool anyone, just trying to get home!”. Not sure if he was being competitive, friendly or a jerk about e-bikes, but I don’t care :).

  44. Catherine says:

    Oh, and PS. I’ve been listening to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” practically on repeat for a week now. Addictive, I tell you.

  45. Kate says:

    Ha! I absolutely know what you mean! There is a substantial hill that I have to ride up just before I get to work and it gives me such a secret thrill to casually cruise past the lycra clad cyclists – I also have a pink helmet and am usually wearing a dress. Too funny!


  46. David says:

    I guess I still don’t know what we mean by “lycra clad”? There’s plenty of peeps wearing lycra. That are obvious, casual, novice cyclists. Probably take a bike out couple times a year.

    And then there’s the peeps that have those sponsored jerseys on, the italian racing bike, the whole get up. Are we talking about those? Or all lycra people in general?

    Realize that while you are “racing” them and passing, that they probably aren’t racing you.
    Also, some are probably in the middle of a 30mi ride (compared to some of you that commute a couple miles). I’m not sure I would pat myself on the back too hard, just for passing them.

  47. Cameron says:

    Love the spirit of this post and glad to read from today’s that you and the fleet Betty Foy are none the worse, though your tights must’ve been something :(

  48. Ron says:

    Nice post.
    First, I wear lycra when I commute – not to mimic racers, but to be comfortable. I also love “working” while riding – to get the best workout I can! So, people that dilly dally along, then crank it up when I pull up behind them kind of annoy me, but only a bit. They can’t generally sustain my speed for as long as I do, but gain some illegitimate sense of superiority out of staying ahead of me for a few blocks. They should ride their own ride.

    Second, I find myself getting crowded out at lights too, but because of the gray in my beard. I definitely enjoy smoking by these riders! Competition makes me work harder – again, a better workout. I only have so many hours in a week for biking, so anything that cranks me up is good.

    Thanks again for the interesting read.

  49. […] as any fourth grader on a bmx… Cycle Ladies can definitely hang with boy bikers, like this story from LGRAB. Don’t be scurred, ride it and own the road like Shy Ronnie owns the […]

  50. … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More: letsgorideabike.com/blog/2010/04/out-of-my-way-boys/ […]…

  51. elektrik says:

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More here: letsgorideabike.com/blog/2010/04/out-of-my-way-boys/ […]…

  52. […] Out of My Way, Boys! – This article is by Dottie from Let’s Go Ride a Bike.  A funny read for Cycle Ladies getting pumped to tear up the streets! […]

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