How not to be a 'fish and chips' cyclist.

by Dapper Giles   June 4, 2014  

Just like the terrible title, this is a terrible article.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/recreational-cycling/10846828/How-...

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Actually it was a pretty good article. All sound advise bar the final point. Join any club or rub shoulders with a club cyclist they will say much the same thing.

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posted by giff77 [1051 posts]
5th June 2014 - 7:12

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I don't understand why it is a terrible article. Could you explain?

The title may be frivolous but as Giff77 stated, it contains the exact same advice any club cyclist would give an aspiring cyclist.

posted by dannycarr2k [19 posts]
5th June 2014 - 8:14

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I found it patronising, but now that my indignation has faded. It's actually pretty sound advice and now feel a little silly.

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posted by Dapper Giles [49 posts]
5th June 2014 - 8:26

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Neither terrible nor good, just didn't entirely agree with it.

I'm not saying 'hello' to everyone I encounter on a bike, sorry, that's just ridiculous! Any more than I say 'hello' to every fellow pedestrian. (Granted, that might be a city/countryside thing).

But 'don't ride in the gutter' (or the door zone!) is valid advice and possibly useful to tell those new to cycling.

The last point on that list, however...hmmm

(Also, personally, I am never, ever dressing as he does in the picture in that article! OK that's just personal preference - each to their own)

I guess the point is he refers to cycling as a 'sport' or possibly a 'hobby'. Its not, its a means of transport!

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [668 posts]
5th June 2014 - 11:15

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Exactly, not everybody wants to sportive to work in the morning, chain gang to the shops or time trial to a friends house for a brew.

I think this sums it up pretty well:
http://t.co/tf7htOTG2y

posted by farrell [1406 posts]
5th June 2014 - 12:18

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I am bemused by the obsession with team issue kit. I have always been more comfortable mixing and matching with MTB kit such as 3/4 length shorts and a sensible jersey. The only time I go "full lycra" is winter and then it's longs and a soft shell, possibly a dorky woolly hat and a head torch to match, even a beard. The bike needs to be practical and capable of taking a variety of tyres from skinny to lumpy.

I commute, I bimble to the coffee shop, I go out mountain biking, I love night rides down the lanes. Sportives are just not my thing although I have given time trialing a thought.

posted by MKultra [212 posts]
5th June 2014 - 12:39

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It's written from the point of view that everyone who buys a road bike and tries a sportive wants to be like him, a 'proper' cyclist. they don't.

there's a fairly major logical flaw in his argument too, which is that the guy most culpable for riding directly into the path of the road race wasn't a "middle-aged middle manager throwing himself willingly onto the nation's roads" but a club cyclist following the race. and i've seen plenty of videos of road racers crashing thanks to a victory salute.

the "i'm experienced and this is how it's done" attitude is the one that pervades the kind of cycling club that has three chaingangs and no social ride, that wonders why it's not getting any new members

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7324 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:40

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Bang on Dave.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [530 posts]
5th June 2014 - 13:48

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lots of things wrong in that article, in my experience most cyclists I meet on the road do say hello apart from people in club groups who usually ignore you, Henley road club seem particularly snooty, maybe the writer is a member there?

Yes I am a bit overweight and wrong side of 40 but I ride because I enjoy it, it keeps me fit and I can fit it in alongside family life so I don't feel the need to join a club in order to fit in, go on club runs or enter races.

However I was in a club when a teenager and raced then and did all the group stuff, if that's what people want then a club is a great thing but not for me right now.

posted by gdmor10 [30 posts]
5th June 2014 - 15:05

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Agree with Dave. There's some trepidation about clubs, I admit that I was nervous about joining, expecting to turn up on my first club ride and get dropped by the end of the road, but our club offers a huge range of rides, from introductory rides, to a regular social pace (12-14mph ave), up to the 20mph ave. fast paced rides. We've got development chaingangs, where people can get a great workout and learn good technique for riding fast in a group, but without having to keep up with racers. It works well, there are options for all levels.

However, I'd also agree that club cycling isn't for everyone, not all people on bikes/cyclists want to cycle in a club environment, sometimes I don't - the lure of cycling somewhere far away on your own is all too great and a solo ride can be just the thing.

I found the article a bit like the recent Kirsty Allsopp piece, there's parts that I agree with, but it's not what I'd prescribe for everyone, we're not all the same - that applies to pretty much everything we do in our lives so why try to make a one-size-fits-all?

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [256 posts]
5th June 2014 - 15:43

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Can't get too excited about the article either way. Fairly bland, a few good points, a few indifferent or disagreable points.

I do think there is a certain "cliquey-ness" that pervades from most road clubs - its almost inevitable - since I'd hazard a guess that most riders who've never ridden with a club won't know much about the hand signals and calls that make cycling in a group at speed on the road safe(r).

I'd been riding 20 years or so before joing a predominantly road based club and would never have known about the hand gestures for indicating potholes, indicating loose road surfaces, the need to move out etc. And I did my cycling proficiency to keep me safe on the roads all those years ago, so what more did I need to know??! A lot, that's what! Knowing such hand gestures and other things like not half-wheeling won't necessarily be obvious to novices but its these kind of that minimise pile-ups and crashes when riding in a group. On the flipside, I can see how this almost 'dictatorial' but necessary etiquette can come across as a kind of cycling snobbery.

posted by mtbtomo [54 posts]
5th June 2014 - 16:37

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gdmor10 wrote:
lots of things wrong in that article, in my experience most cyclists I meet on the road do say hello apart from people in club groups who usually ignore you, Henley road club seem particularly snooty, maybe the writer is a member there?

Not only Henley, my nearest club are an arrogant bunch who treat solo riders as though they are invisible - I was badly left hooked by a group a couple of Sundays ago, plus being ignored by them when I was by the side of the road with a mechanical last year.

I've joined the appropriate club for every one of the various activities I've done over the years and had every intention of joining a cycling club. Having seen them in action, no chance.

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posted by Crosshouses [185 posts]
5th June 2014 - 18:59

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Apparently I'm not a 'proper cyclist'. Well thank christ for that, they sound like a right bunch of elitist arseholes. Sad

Just vinegar on mine please, and some mushy peas too. Smile

posted by GrahamSt [79 posts]
5th June 2014 - 19:13

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Actually the more I think about this article the more it sounds like a desperate has been trying to prove their own credibility against a wave of new cyclists who are only doing what society is telling them to do I.e. Getting outside and getting active.

I was thinking on the way home tonight cycling along the Thames and the real reason I ride my bike is because it makes me feel like I am 12 years old going to meet my mates in the park without a care in the world and a pocket full of penny chews.

Yours irate in reading etc

P.s. I rode to work everyday through the winter does that make me credible or still just a middle aged middle manager. Thinking

P.p.s I will shave my legs if I want too, mostly because they then look better in high heels. Big Grin

posted by gdmor10 [30 posts]
5th June 2014 - 19:44

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Not all clubs are cliquey or stuck in the 1970s. I have benefitted greatly from club membership even though I have always done most of my riding solo. We are a varied bunch of people who have one thing in common. However, it's certainly not necessary to join one to enjoy cycling.

Like each comment here, the article is merely one bloke's point of view. That he was quite quick 'back in the day' is irrelevant. I certainly would NOT recommend it to newbies or non-cyclists.

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posted by Simon E [1947 posts]
5th June 2014 - 22:48

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Don't worry, be yourself.

posted by Beaufort [148 posts]
6th June 2014 - 7:37

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Hmm, this guy has obviously never ridden a sportive. Numbers go on the handlbars at the front so the photographers can identify you when they are sorting through the thousands of pictures. They also identify you as a participant. Anyone who did Tour of Flanders will have noticed the checkpoints at which anyone without a clearly displayed number was pulled off the route by the police. Numbers also "allow" you access to feedzones. I'd hate to think how a hard plastic board with sharpe edges would make the back feel after a few hours.

Maybe he should follow Wiggo and "lower" himself from Ex-pro to Sunday sportive rider before claiming to be all knowing.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [291 posts]
6th June 2014 - 8:30

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Simon E wrote:
Not all clubs are cliquey or stuck in the 1970s. I have benefitted greatly from club membership even though I have always done most of my riding solo.

I think a lot of clubs are struggling to adapt to the new interest in cycling. I know my club is looking at re-organising it's club run structures to make it more inclusive, but one of the problems is that you need people who are happy to run short social runs as well as chain gangs. If all your current membership is into racing then who is going to sacrifice their time to run the beginner runs etc?

Of a membership of around 160 there are only a handful who actually volunteer to do anything, many people join clubs to consume rather than contribute.

This isn't just a problem with cycling clubs though, my wife is chair of our PTA and, even though there are 100 kids at the school, there are only about 10 people who ever do any fund raising.

posted by Chris James [182 posts]
6th June 2014 - 9:20

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My race bikes both have numbers on the bars because that's the way we do it.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2194 posts]
6th June 2014 - 9:36

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Ha... my thoughts when I read 'how not to be a fish and chipper'... simply stop riding chipper races!

The term chipper developed as a way to describe low level amateur races... you were essentially racing for no more than a chip supper. Somehow the term has developed to be applied to riders who focus on these low level events (my self included), and since to anything that could be described as not playing the part of a proper racer.

Anyway, I digress.

Club riding is an interesting one. I turned up to a club ride a couple of years ago after a long break from group riding and I was amazed at the dangerous riding that was prevalent. As someone as old school as the journalist in this article, I resorted to type and quickly started explaining how it needed to be done.

I wasn't trying to be a prick, superior or anything, I was simply trying to ensure people acted in a way that was safe. Alas, I understand now that no one wants to be told what to do, and my comments weren't welcome on that ride... I left them to it... and read about their crashes on facebook.

I guess if there is a point to this its this... there is a certain level of competence required for group riding... this needs to be learnt... someone has to teach you... who should, and how should that be done?

I would use an analogy of it being like buying a small plane, and just rocking up to the local airport and taking off with a 'no, I don't give a damn about the control tower, I'm just going to fly my plane when and how I like'.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [269 posts]
6th June 2014 - 10:07

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I ride regularly with 5 others, our ages range from 25 to 50 & none of us would consider joining our local club for a number of reasons which include;

They are right smug tw*ts when out on the road.

None us want to race or do TTs, we are happy just doing sportives together.

We ride purely for fun of it and enjoy all the bolloxs & the one-upmanship of Strava whilst knowing it's all daft.

The kit is utterly minging.

Cycling has changed but the clubs appear incapable of changing with it.

Pain is just the French word for bread.

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posted by S13SFC [89 posts]
6th June 2014 - 12:44

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gdmor10 wrote:
I was thinking on the way home tonight cycling along the Thames and the real reason I ride my bike is because it makes me feel like I am 12 years old going to meet my mates in the park without a care in the world and a pocket full of penny chews.

Yep, this his how riding should be:
https://31.media.tumblr.com/add3a8467c7b649c25d32762a4e29d8c/tumblr_n6nx...

posted by farrell [1406 posts]
6th June 2014 - 12:56

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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:
Club riding is an interesting one. I turned up to a club ride a couple of years ago after a long break from group riding and I was amazed at the dangerous riding that was prevalent. As someone as old school as the journalist in this article, I resorted to type and quickly started explaining how it needed to be done.

I wasn't trying to be a prick, superior or anything, I was simply trying to ensure people acted in a way that was safe. Alas, I understand now that no one wants to be told what to do, and my comments weren't welcome on that ride... I left them to it... and read about their crashes on facebook.

I guess if there is a point to this its this... there is a certain level of competence required for group riding... this needs to be learnt... someone has to teach you... who should, and how should that be done?

I would use an analogy of it being like buying a small plane, and just rocking up to the local airport and taking off with a 'no, I don't give a damn about the control tower, I'm just going to fly my plane when and how I like'.

you turned up at a group ride that you weren't a regular on, started telling everyone what to do and found that wasn't welcome? what're the odds, eh? Thinking

if you show up to a club run and you're new and you say "you're all doing it wrong, i'm an experienced rider" then even if you're not trying to be a prick, you're going to come across as one. why not have a chat with the ride leader afterwards?

i dunno, there's different levels to this. if you show up at a chaingang and you can't through and off, you should expect to get an earful for it. but a club run? i've been on plenty of club runs and sportives where people's behaviour on a bike has left something to be desired, but there's been vary few instances of things that are actually unsafe. for all the whining about MAMILs not knowing one end of a bike from the other, there's precious little by way of actual incidents on sportives that are worthy of any note.

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posted by cactuscat [302 posts]
6th June 2014 - 13:37

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Interesting.

I have ridden with both Kingston Wheelers and Epsom (as a real novice on return from a long - long - hiatus). I wasn't a member of either, but was made to feel welcome. The club rides were of a good pace for a newbie. Kingston has at least three groups to help in this way. One is an ideal "dads" group (ironically led by a woman!), which is ideal for those who need a shorter run. But, all paces were catered for and there was plenty of catch up time allowed. I managed to pick up the etiquette pretty quick, which helped. And, even if you're a bit slow, a turn on the front is appreciated - you get to know pretty quickly whether it is getting boring and, "thanks, but you're welcome to sit in"!

As it stands, I haven't joined either. But, that's because I don't have the time to commit to regular rides and actually helping out and throwing myself into the club. I'm sure they'd appreciate the subs, but I'd always feel guilty that I wasn't pulling my weight.

As for the article, the general sentiment of riding sensibly and courteously is fine. However, it does come across as a bit judgemental and exclusive, ie if you aren't a club member or aspiring to be a racer, then you're not worthy of his (their?) time. I don't think that is a very helpful attitude. I suspect that a great proportion of cyclists couldn't give two hoots about racing or, even, doing a sportive. Most just want to enjoy their riding, or just get where they're going.

posted by Jimbonic [107 posts]
7th June 2014 - 11:36

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