Bike Handling in a Group Setting; The Friendly Shoulder Bump… Or Elbow, as May Be Necessary (and Probably Wiser).
This post was prompted by reading Bike-Handling Basics #6: How to Do Pro Tricks (Read number 5 for the cool shoulder…)
A few weeks ago we had a double pace-line going of around 20 cyclists. Not big by our standards, but not small by any stretch, either. We were cruising down the road at a spirited 22-mph pace when the road started getting choppy along the right side. I was in the left part of the right lane. My counterpart up front started inching closer to me, to the point he started going over the center crown of the lane. He pushed me closer to the double-yellow until I simply wouldn’t go any further left. I’m not getting my handlebar anywhere near over the yellow for anyone… he inched closer.
Now, right there, most people will freak out a little and say something. Not a bad reaction, indeed. Another cyclist starts crowding you like that, it gets dangerous.
Well, folks, there’s no need to get belligerent about being crowded a little. Also, there’s definitely no need to cross over the yellow line into opposing traffic. The key is to ever-so-slightly bend your elbow so it extends beyond the end of the handlebar so it rubs against your counterpart’s elbow. If they’re novice enough to crowd you during a ride, they won’t be able to hold it together when you start putting an elbow into them.
In my case, I wasn’t nasty about being crowded. I didn’t jab my elbow into him, and I certainly wasn’t trying to get him hurt. The elbow did its job, though. I just kind of eased it out there till he bumped into it… After bumping arms with him twice, he moved off of me to the right a little bit and that was the end of it.
As it turned out, I didn’t know why my friend was crowding me like that until he mentioned that the right side of the lane was horribly choppy and he couldn’t keep the pace in the bumps. Things get chippy in a group sometimes. The elbow, or even pushing a on another cyclist’s hip to let them know they’re getting into your personal space a little too much is a great way to set boundaries and diffuse a situation before it gets too messy
Just remember, you get too pushy and you could end up knocking a bunch of your friends down in the process. It is very important that we exercise care, caution and restraint, always remembering that we’re traveling down the road at 40 feet per second.