The Commuter Challenge

commuter challenge This time of year, with le Tour on, STP coming up, and the nice weather, more commuters and enthusiasts are out riding. I call it the commuter challenge when seemingly passive, recreational/commuting cyclists don’t like to be passed or chase you down, pass you, and want to compete across the bridge, up the hill, and down the bike path.

I think it’s the natural competitive spirit we all have, the bike brings it out, and it’s intensified when I’m kitted up in team gear. No team gear and the commuters don’t seem to care, but with the kit on it’s commuter challenge time. Pam reports the same thing when she rides into work and we’ve both decided to just sit on when a commuter challenge goes down, let that commuter pull you home or to work, and enjoy the ride.


Funny.. I think that’s one of those things that makes you go really?? I thought that only happened to me!:)

I remember one time in particular when I had just passed this little old man on this ancient cruiser that was making the most awful squeaking/screeching noise.  About 100m down the road I get a red light.  He catches up and of course goes past me and pulls in ahead of me.  When the light turns green again I pass him before we’re through the intersection.  Another guy had been behind me (in full kit with treetrunk legs and riding a nice Aquila track bike no less) and when we’re both past squeaky he pulls up along side and says as ALWAYS the ones with the rusty chains, isn’t it?

Ha! I’ve found myself being blown from a ride and hoping for a commuter to come by, challenge me, so I can draft him down the trail. Did you ever see squeaky again?

Ha! So true. I think im going to dress down from now on so I dont get so many challenges all day long!!

I don’t take kindly to lazy wheelsuckers, I give them the pothole surprise.


Any good wheel sucker would know to watch for the pothole surprise! This one time, I tried to ride behind a “back to the future” bike guy, that had a recumbent wrapped in aero material. He can go about 45 without even pedaling hard. I motorpaced for as long as my legs could take it and that was the fastest ride home ever.

Yeah, It’s just one of my pet peeves, people that suck on my rear wheel for miles and miles and then try to drop me on an upcoming hill, sooooooooo wrong.  I used to ride with the PWTC way back in the day when Reagan was in office.  I was known on the club rides as HAMMER and there were those that would hang on for dear life on my rear wheel and then after 10+ miles of my hard work they’d try to drop me on a hill as a way of saying thank you? Of course my reserves were astounding, I’m a diesel engine baby.

Snork!  I like passing people on the commute, but I dont like it to happen more than once. Might have to be social.  If you pass me twice, I’l back off.
  I do pedal my a** off until right behind you (but I’m not going to wheelsuck - that’s too intimate) and then go to deep, slow breathing because of course, I’m just cruising :-)  I’m generally confident (arrogant :=)) enough to figure if I’ve got to work to pass you, though, you are fast and know it, and know I’m working.

Pam, my wife, told me about a co-worker that realized how competitive she was during bike-to-work month. She asked Pam, “hey, do you let people pass you? And, Pam said, “well the commuters challenge you.” And she said, well, I don’t like that one bit and I need a better bike I think.

The question is, who is who? Are we just picking on casual commuters turned competitive? Does it depend on who passes who first?

I have been bike commuting since mid-2004 to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum here in Chicago along the lake shore drive bike path. I do it year-round, and switch to city streets when there’s too much snow or ice. It’s about 10 miles each way, so I get at least 100 miles in per week.

It’s always really nice from October to about March, and then you start getting these types.

I always like a good rabbit to chase; sometimes they catch me being lazy and sneak up on me. But the goal is usually to pass people with enough of a difference in speed that they don’t try in the first place. :)

If I get smoked, I usually am okay with it because I’m carrying about 35 extra pounds of crap on the typical day (chain, laptop, clothes, etc.) But I’ll still try to give anyone a run for their money, including the bike messengers or team riders who get up around 30 mph.

So yeah, I guess I’ve been in both situations before.

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