As a beloved, Bloggie hall-of-fame-winning, and very influential blogger, it is now very rare for me to go riding without being accosted by other cyclists. Many of them (you) simply want a signed 8 x 10 photograph, and for that purpose I now always ride wearing a Camelbak HAWG filled with an assortment of photos of me in different outfits and poses.
For efficiency’s sake, I have even pre-autographed a number of these photographs for common names. If, for example, your name is “Barbara,” (currently #4 in the US), I will be able to give you your pre-inscribed photograph (“Barbara! You’re awesome. Ride hard and keep reading the blog. XOXO – Fatty”) with practically no delay at all.
You think you’ll get the same treatment from Bike Snob NYC? No, you will not. In fact, he’s likely to punch you in the throat. Or push you down. Depends on how foul a mood he’s in, really.
Why do I do this? Because I am all about service, that’s why.
Sometimes, however — and this is as surprising to me as it is to you — I will encounter another cyclist who neither recognizes nor approaches me. At those times, it falls to me to talk to them, in order for me to share the important insights I am invariably experiencing.
I am certain you are interested in what I say, and in what circumstances, so that you can emulate me.
Your Saddle is Too Low
Something I have noticed about every cyclist that has been riding for more than six months is that they have become truly expert in bike fit. Of course, it irritates me no end when these cyclists try to instruct me on how I should position my saddle, how long of a stem I should be using and so forth, because I truly am a bike fit expert.
And of course I love to share this expertise. I am a sharing person, after all.
I like to start out with a friendly greeting. “Hi there, great day for a ride, isn’t it?” I will ask. This puts us on common ground (we agree that it is in fact a good day for a ride), establishes that I am interested in their opinion, and intimates that I am very observant (I have noticed the suitability of the weather for cycling).
Once my lucky patient (I think of everyone I help as a patient, and think of myself as a kindly doctor) has agreed that the weather is in fact good for riding, I follow up with, “I’ll bet your knees hurt, don’t they?”
Stunned by my perspicacity, my patient will usually agree. Unless, of course, their knees don’t hurt. In which case they will reveal, “No, not really.”
Undaunted, I will then reply, “Trust me (and how could they not trust me?), they will soon.” And then I will tell them that they need to raise their seat the correct amount, which I am able to discern simply by looking at them. This is easier than you think, believe it or not. Use the below guide to help you help others:
- If their legs never achieve an obtuse angle, they probably should raise their seatpost about 2″ (that’s 5.08 x 10^-5 kilometers for those of you who prefer metric units).
- If they have to shift their buttocks to reach the bottom of each downstroke, they should probably lower their saddle about 2″ (see above for the metric equivalent).
- If their knees keep hitting their chin, it may be time to consider a larger frame.
I believe this pretty much covers all the possibilities.
And the great thing about this technique is that I don’t need to be on a bike to use it. I have found it equally effective when shouted from a car.
I Want You to Know About the Awesome Ride I Am Doing
When mountain biking, I am often not actually on my bike. To the casual onlooker, it may seem like this is because I am pushing my bike up the hill, but the truth is, I am simply going at a slow enough pace to allow others to catch up with me, so I can tell them about the magnificent mountain bike ride upon which I have embarked. By knowing this, the person I am talking to can aspire to — someday — attempt a similar ride.
I like to begin by feigning interest (after, of course, I have cemented our relationship by commenting about the weather): “Hey, what kind of ride are you doing today?”
Naturally, this appears to show my interest in the other person’s ride, but in reality it is setting them up to reciprocate my question.
“Oh, I’m just exploring a little bit today,” I’ll reply off-handedly. “I started by climbing up Grove, connected that up to the Great Western to get to the top of Timpooneke. I rode that for a while, and now i’m riding to the top of the Alpine Loop. From there, I think I’ll take Ridge to South Fork Deer Creek, back up to the summit, then along Ridge to Mud, down Tibble, and then probably back home.
“Or I might add a little something to it if I have the time. Just depends.”
I especially like that last part — that it’s my available time that’s the limiting factor, not the fact that this ride would leave me completely cooked.
Note: I only use this technique when I am on a very long, impressive ride. And am pretty sure the other person is not. And I always be sure to say the route fast enough to make the other person’s head spin, and too fast for them to comprehend it.
I Am Considering Killing You for Your Food
This may come as a surprise to you, but there are times when I get hungry on the trail. Hungry enough, even, that I eat all my food and wish for more.
When that happens, I am always very happy to meet a fellow cyclist.
“How’s your ride going?” I ask, weakly.
I do not listen to the response.
“Yeah, I’ve been out for a pretty long ride,” I say, regardless of whether I have been asked how my ride is progressing. “I sure wish I had unnndndngngghh.”
I should point out that as I say “unnndndngngghh,” I let my knees buckle, and use the nearest tree to keep myself from falling over entirely.
“No, I’m fine,” I reply, in answer to the inevitable question of whether I’m OK. “Just a little hungry, I guess.” Of course, I’ll protest when offered food, but never for too long.
And I want to point out that I’m not exactly taking something for nothing, because I almost always offer a high-value item in return.
An autographed picture of me, for example.