An answer from the commuters

After Byron’s Commuter Challenge post on Monday, it was funny to see an answer from the commuters Tuesday, on the BBC website, no less:

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Cycle warriors

It’s by a London commuter who has ditched the Tube in favor of cycling since the July 7 terrorist attacks in London.

He outlines the standard complaints (rude drivers, parked cars, “the thwack of a poorly-applied England flag as a car overtakes”) and cops to occasional misbehavior by riders, before blowing the lid off the “Great Race.”

The small number of cyclists who are in the know duel with great nonchalance and no acknowledgement of their opponent. The trick is to cycle at maximum speed until the point of overtaking, and then sit back in the saddle as you pass, looking straight ahead as if the mere breeze is carrying you forward. I even have a scoring system which gives double marks for passing anyone wearing Lycra. Overtaking a bike courier would theoretically score five, but I have never done it.

I’m pretty comfortable at the back of the pack, but even I would get demoralized if I was passed by a guy in a suit on a mountain bike.

Best reader reply is from “Simon:” “The first rule of The Great Race is that you never mention The Great Race.”

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.

Everyday Cycling

Looking for more news about the le Tour scandal on BBC Sport, I found that British Cycling has launched Everyday Cycling, a “brand new initiative that aims to appeal to the broad spectrum of leisure cyclists, from commuters and family cyclists through to mountain bikers and sportive riders.” Sounds just like Bike Hugger! In the states, we’ve got the League of American Cyclists “working for a bicycle friendly america” and in Seattle the Cascade Bicycle Club that do an amazing amount of work including the Seattle to Portland ride.

Also see Cycling for Health, a program sponsored by Group Health to get people out on their bikes hopefully everyday.

Photo of the day

Psycho bike, by reallyreallyrosie.

The Tour de France Goes On

While the scandal, drama, accusations and denials continue, the Tour de France goes on. Yesterday, Black Friday as it’s being called, I wasn’t even sure if I’d want to watch the race or care anymore. I was that stunned, as everyone else was. Alas, CNN is covering it now on cable, NPR has ran multiple features, and more updates have been published from the NYTimes and Cyclingnews.

Despite all the bad news, the good news is that OLN has upgraded their studios, graphics, and overall coverage to look more like ESPN2 than Waynes World and Americans could sweep the podium. Without the big names, the race is wide open and TDFblog will cover all the action, including the Americans, in detail.

How does the Tour Work?

I’m often asked about how stage races like the Tour work and explain that cycling is very much a team sport. You can think of like a football team, with the goal of moving the ball down the field, toward the end zone. A cycling team’s goal is to get their leader to the end of the race, with the lowest expired time, which puts him at the top of the General Classification (GC) and in the yellow jersey.

A team consists of stars and domestiques. Domestiques are the worker bees of a team, responsible for looking after the team leader and the other stars. The stars are climbers, sprinters, or ride for GC, like Lance did. In the Tour, the leader is a well-rounded rider that can climb and time trial. The team’s main purpose is to protect the leader, so he saves all of his energy to attack an opponent in the mountains and be fresh for the time trials.

The Tour is like a chess game, with many strategies being played out. It’s also a big show, the superbowl for the rest of the world. At times riders will breakaway and the peloton (group of cyclists) doesn’t chase them. This is because those riders are not a threat to the GC, are out there getting TV exposure, and going for a sprint or stage win.

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