The past week has been a turbulent one for bicycle/driver/pedestrian relations. I’d just like to say to my fellow bike folks that if you can’t follow the tenets of my new hero Reama Dagasan of the Critical Manners bike ride, at least stop punching motorists and bashing in their windshields when they piss you off. No matter how justified it may be, this type of behavior only fosters bad feelings toward cyclists, and aggressive people have a poor way of dealing with their bad feelings. I like to stay out of politics on Fancy Notions, but this whole situation is getting very ugly and I think everybody needs to cool down and have respect for one another before someone gets killed.
Enough of the sermon; let’s get to some advanced biking etiquette and superstition, shall we? Yee haw!
ETIQUETTE: On long bicycle races, cyclists will need to take what are known as “comfort breaks.” They need to urinate. Often, a senior rider in the race will organize a group comfort break, in which the peloton slows down enough so that anybody needing to relieve him/herself can do so and then return to the pack without too much effort. If you are not partaking in the comfort break, you should not take this slowing-down as an opportunity to attack and get ahead in the peloton. And if you’re a photographer or TV reporter covering the race, it’s really not cool to take photos of a cyclist taking a comfort break.
SUPERSTITION: Cyclists have some pretty common superstitions, such as hating the number 13 and worrying about spilling salt. If you are given 13 as your number for a race, it is acceptable to affix the 13 upside-down to your jersey. As for the salt, everybody knows that spilling salt awakens the devil and causes him to lurk behind your left shoulder. To get rid of him, just throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder so as to hit him square in the face. That’ll show him.
Now, if you’re like Danish cyclist Michael Sandstod, you might laugh in the face of this superstition. And you’ll be sorry. According to the Daily Peloton:
‘”Sandstod knocked over the salt shaker. Everyone waited for him to perform the usual ritual of pitching salt over the left shoulder. But to his teammates’ horror and disbelief, Sandstod didn’t pick up the salt. Instead, he spilled it again on purpose, letting the grains sprinkle on the tablecloth, on the carpet.” The next day, Sandstod crashed on a steep downhill. He broke his shoulder, fractured eight ribs, and punctured a lung. He spent the night in the ICU hooked up to a respirator as his wife and teammates waited for word about whether he would live or die. Sandstod survived his crash and retired from the sport in 2005, but to this day, riders whisper his story in hushed tones across team dinner tables in an effort to convince stubborn non-believers.’
Many thanks to Smoothie and Nicole for the racing tips!