Cyclists Who Don’t Like To Ride Their Bikes?

I’m a cyclist who doesn’t like to drive his car. Nine of ten rides I do, I do from my house. In fact, of all the rides I’ve done this year, I can think of three for which I put my bike in my rack and drove to the ride, and two of those were mountain bike rides. Apparently, though, my attitude is a very minority position.

There’s several of us who have this same idea about riding. Every weekend we meet together at the UpTown shopping center and either ride south to meet everyone else at the main starting area, or we head north of town to do our own thing. Ditto Sundays. We always post these rides on the local club and racing forums. Yet we almost never have double digits.

For whatever reason – I think it was the chance to see all the sunflowers in bloom – we had an unusually high number today, twenty five at one point. The really odd part, though, was that most of these folks live within two miles of our normal weekend ride start at UpTown. I’ve seen all these folks on the group rides south of town, yet they never join our rides at UpTown. Rather than roll from their own driveways, they get in their cars and drive ten miles to unpack and start from Ellerbe Road Baptist Church or some other out of town starting point.

There’s plenty of reasons for this. Could be they can’t stand our little group and don’t want to ride with us. But they did today, and they all talk to us when we see them on the other rides. It could also be inertia, but that doesn’t explain the decision to drive-to-ride in the first place. The stated reason, when you ask why they don’t ever ride from home is usually “I don’t like to ride through town.”

To each his own, but I wish more riders would rethink that reasoning.

The big fear behind it is traffic. And if you road out of town on Line Avenue at eight in the morning it might be valid. If you know the town and the back roads, though, the traffic is, if anything, better than what you’ll find out in the country. We can ride right through the middle of town at seven on weekday mornings side by side talking the whole way, with hardly a car passing us. You just have to know the routes.

There’s also a little fear of some of the “areas” a ride from town might cross. We do not ride through any bad areas, but even if we did I have no fear of ghetto riding. I’ve explain why not here, but essentially it’s because I’ve done it enough to feel safe anywhere and also because even if my chances of getting shot go up, my chances of getting hit by a latte drinking, text sending, make-up fixing SUV driver go down.

The last objection is too many miles, or too much time and energy in the wrong places. In other words, the thinking goes, why spend time riding through town when you could spend it riding in the “nice” areas. My first response is that driving to the start normally does not save a lot of time. For me, and by extension anyone else in southeast Shreveport, to get to the typical ride start at ERBC on time you have to load up and leave your house a half hour before the start. Know when I have to leave if I ride? Forty minutes prior to the start.

My second response brings me to the title of the post: I thought time on the bike was the whole point. Given the choice between time on the bike in a supposedly less nice place to ride or time in a car, I know what decision I’m making. It’s a corollary of the bad-day-fishing-beats-a-good-day-at-work principle. Even if the trip through town is nothing but something to endure on the way to the real ride, I’d still rather do that than spend that time in the car.

I don’t think that time is wasted, either. For one, most of the routes through town go through interesting areas. The scenery is not bad. The roads are generally in good shape. It’s a nice warm up before the ride and then a nice cool down afterwards. You get extra miles. Most importantly, it’s a great time to b.s. with other riders. Once you hit the open roads, everyone is too concerned with going fast to do much talking. Meandering through town, though? Perfect time to talk about whatever. So I don’t think the time riding to the ride is wasted time. I just wish more people would figure that out.

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2 Comments on “Cyclists Who Don’t Like To Ride Their Bikes?”

  1. mauriceloridans Says:

    I’m not a “roadie” but a utility cyclist who dreams of touring. The things that worry me about touring is the high speed differential, the lack of shade, and the boredom of rural roads versus city riding.

    Your efforts to resolve the puzzle are to be commended. The objections to urban riding don’t hold much water.

  2. mauriceloridans Says:

    Things… “are”. excuse the grammar.


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