How to Be Nice

08.24.2010 | 7:33 am

The Runner and I were in Park City last weekend. Mostly, our objective was to give the kids a fun last weekend before school, as well as to broil my frontside.

Thanks, however, to the happy coincidence that all of our kids are late sleepers and The Runner and I are early risers, there was a beautiful little window in the morning where we were able to (on morning one) go for a nice three-hour mountain bike ride or (on morning two) on a ten mile trail run.

On each of these outings, we came across lots of other people — cyclists, runners, hikers — and each and every one of them were nice.

Well, each and every one of them . . . except one.

The Shrew

As we get into late August, trails start to show a little wear. They’re looser than at the beginning of the season, and any section with a meaningful grade is going to have at least a little dust on it.

Not enough to be a problem when riding, but probably enough to mean you need a few extra feet to stop.

The above is relevant to my story. Trust me.

So The Runner and I were on the Mid-Mountain trail, and after about 1500 feet of climbing, were enjoying rolling along the top. Along the way, each time we encountered a rider, an exchange like this would take place:

“How’s it going?”

“Good, you?”

“Awesome. Perfect riding day.”

“Yeah, for sure. Have a good ride.”

“Same to you.”

If the trail were wide enough (not common), this exchange (yes, this exact exchange, every single time) would happen without anyone stopping. Usually, though, whoever was going downhill would pull over to the side, letting the climber go by.

But then, one time, as we were descending around a corner, we came across a woman, climbing.

The Runner — who was in front of me — got over to the side and stopped. I got over to the side but — due to the (cleverly aforementioned) dirt on the trail, had not come to a complete stop by the time the woman climbed by.

Let me be clear: I was in the process of stopping, I had moved over to the side, and she had ample room to get by.

The woman said (as she rode by, unimpeded and without having to change her line in any way whatsoever), in a disgusted voice, “You’re supposed to stop and move over to the side to make room for people climbing.”

I was stunned. Speechless, momentarily. Flummoxed.

And then, when I had regained the ability to speak at all, it was only enough to make a weak reply.

“I was trying to.”

Time Passes

And that was the end of the exchange. She went on uphill, and we went on downhill. Every single other person we came across — cyclists, runners, hikers — did the “hey, how’s it going, have a good ride” exchange with us.

But I kept going over that moment with the snotty rider. And I kept getting madder and madder.

So, after half an hour, I told the Runner, “That woman got under my skin. I’m still pissed.”

“Me too,” said The Runner. And we agreed: we had moved over as soon as we had seen her, and had stopped as quickly as we could. The woman had been able to continue her climb completely unhindered.

She had simply been rude. And smug. Snotty, if you will.

Had we been in a big city, that kind of pissy in-your-face self-empowerment wouldn’t have bugged us. It would have been expected, even.

But this was on singletrack. And we were all mountain biking. And when I’m out mountain biking, I expect everyone to be cool. And that expectation is so very nearly universally met, when it isn’t, I’m thrown for a loop.

Yes, flummoxed.

How To Be Nice

So, for the one-in-one-thousand people who don’t intuitively grasp this, I’d like to now spell out what I believe has heretofore been the unspoken cardinal rule of mountain biking:

Be nice.

This rule, I believe, encompasses and supersedes all other rules of mountain biking. So yeah, descenders yield to climbers, because that’s the nice thing to do (because it’s easier to restart going downhill).

But climbers, be understanding if the descender can’t defy physics and stop on a dime.

When racing, if you’re going to pass someone, sure, say “On your left.” But how about saying, first: “How’s it going?”

Because that would be nice.

Don’t litter. Because that would not be nice.

Don’t poach trails. It’s not nice to steal.

If you see someone who needs help, help. That’s the nice thing to do.

And, basically, leave any corporate boardroom, big-city, in-your-face behaviors at home. You’re on a bike now. In the mountains. On a trail.

So just be nice.

PS: As an example of “How to be Nice,” check out the email I got from Liz C yesterday afternoon:

Team Fatty,

I did the Livestrong Challenge in Philly this past weekend…was supposed to do the century but got diverted to the 70m mile course. However, about mile 30, right on a steep climb I got a flat tire. About that time the skies opened up with pouring, pounding rain. As I was taking out my new tube and getting the wheel off my bike I was in complete misery. I’m not the fastest tire changer and knew I’d be there awhile, in the rain and losing time. I figured there was no way anyone was going to stop to help me in the middle of a climb while it was pouring rain.

How wrong I was!

Carlos from Team Fatty sacrificed his time and momentum on the climb to stop and help me! He not only made the change go faster, he also used his CO2 pump to ensure we inflated the tire with speed.

I’ve lost four uncles, an aunt, a cousin, and a grandfather to cancer. My own father is currently in the hospital after surgery, and is fighting Multiple Myeloma – so I set out yesterday to raise money and awareness for this great cause. But on the course I was not only buoyed by my mission of cancer awareness, but reminded of the brotherhood/sisterhood of not leaving a cyclist down on the road and the kindness of strangers in the most miserable of conditions.

I’ll probably never see Carlos again, but he’s definitely a great ambassador of your team. Thanks again for all you do!

Liz C

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.


  1. Comment by Nic Grillo | 08.24.2010 | 7:56 am

    Carlos is awesome. Mountain bike trail lady is a troll. Simple.

  2. Comment by Nooch | 08.24.2010 | 7:56 am

    Sometimes I do wonder about how ‘Nice’ can be absent from so many people’s personalities, and what our society is coming to that a random act of kindness can be viewed upon like sainthood.

    I was driving home from a trail a few weeks ago to find a guy on the side of the road trying to fix a flat. I pulled up across the street and ran over in the rain to check on him. He had gotten a huge gash in his tire and was trying to tie a tube around the outside of it to keep going, at least to the train station. I took one look at his repair and knew it wasn’t happening, so I mounted the bike up on my other roof tray and drove the dude to the train station. Later he posts up on the forums thanking me for not leaving him out in the rain.

    It’s the fact that someone, another cyclist, could leave someone out there is absurd.. And people like your shrew just compound to the fact that society is generally not nice.

    But alas, we’re fatties.. In philly this weekend I offered my wheel to whomever needed a pull through the rain, and every disabled cyclist on the side of the road got a friendly ‘need a hand?’ from me. Guess we’re just nicer than most!


  3. Comment by Paul Guyot | 08.24.2010 | 8:00 am

    One of the reasons your blog is my Start Page – and one of only three blogs I ever even look at – is that, with all the Open Letters, and silly stories, and funny pics, and cool contests…

    You still get it, Fatty. You get what it’s all about.

    Here’s to your readership tripling this year.

  4. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 08.24.2010 | 8:04 am

    Nicely done, Carlos.

  5. Comment by Greg Furry | 08.24.2010 | 8:07 am

    Thanks for sharing, it is a shame that sometimes we need to be reminded of the golden rule.

    I know exactly what you mean about rude behavior on the trail, it really throws you since people are generally so nice. I was mountain biking at Blankets Creek in Georgia and couldn’t get over how out of their way nice everyone was.

    We met some locals and they not only told us about their trail they became our tour guide for the day. I was with my family and we were riding as a group. We would periodically pull over to let the slower riders catch up. One particular time we all pulled over and were only missing my youngest son, age 8 at the time. As we waited a 20-30 something year old guy came cruising by, ipod blasting and grunted as he went by. We were all off to the side so there was plenty of room to pass. We asked if he had seen my son and he didn’t hear us because of his headphones. I decided to head back down the trail to find my son. Just around the next bend I found him off the side of the trail tangled up in his bike and struggling to get up. We asked if he was down when the guy went past, he was. The guy just blasted past an 8 year old kid struggling to get up after a fall. Luckily my son was just fine but the guy didn’t even bother to ask if he was ok.
    The trails were fun and everyone was able to get back to having a good time. All you can do is follow the golden rule and not let others get under your skin.

    keep up the good work!

  6. Comment by Wine Dog | 08.24.2010 | 8:07 am

    Can you imagine being out on a nice ride and being that angry? I feel sorry for her. Bitter, party of one your table is ready.

  7. Comment by Shrew's Advocate | 08.24.2010 | 8:09 am

    I find that making excuses for an offensive person’s behavior helps me to avoid anger, and even empathize with the offender. So, perhaps she was having a monumentally bad day: her dog died, all her nylons ripped and her polo ponies all ran away. Or maybe someone in front of you didn’t stop at all and nearly knocked her down. Or maybe a small mammal was at that very moment biting her big toe.

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to the follow-up post entitled “Taming of the Shrew.”

  8. Comment by Wes | 08.24.2010 | 8:13 am

    there’s one in every bunch. Livestrong.

  9. Comment by Roger Whitney | 08.24.2010 | 8:14 am

    The kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing.

    This is one of the best things about endurance sports and MTB

  10. Comment by Ashley | 08.24.2010 | 8:18 am

    Good job Carlos!

    Had a great time in Philly this past weekend, too bad Mr. bad-ass blogger wasn’t there, and Lance said he wished you were there to keep the pace high.

    I will definitely be there next year, and hopefully partaking in more pre and post-ride debauchery.

    I look forward to seeing everyone’s pictures, especially all of us Fatty’s enjoying the downpour…

  11. Comment by Jenni | 08.24.2010 | 8:21 am

    We all ride for different reasons. Fatty, maybe that day was the day she was riding because she had just lost her loved one to cancer and she needed to get out and leave it on the trail. Maybe she was about to accomplish a major goal and got panicked at the thought of having to stop and just neglected to see that there was enough room.

    I say send her your compassion instead of disdain that on this day, she was really needing the trail and not the people- we have all been there, though we may all deal with it a little differently.

  12. Comment by Terry Miller | 08.24.2010 | 8:22 am

    Nice job Carlos. And nice job Fatty for spreading that gospel. Maybe the woman you ran into was having a really awful day(although how awful could it be while mountain biking? Maybe she was trying to relieve some stress). I’m not nice or compassionate by nature(although I always have been on trails, that’s just natural, right?), but I’m trying to learn to cut people some slack. Hopefully whatever was bothering her was relieved by the ride and she’ll be more pleasant next time.

  13. Comment by Dan | 08.24.2010 | 8:22 am

    Fatty, I too would have trouble with the shrew. Uncalled for attitude is something that just irks me to no end. What we have to do is not focus on these rude, inconsiderate individuals, but on all those, like Carlos, who are genuinely nice, helpful adn considerate of others.

    Life’s journey is much too short to focus on the negatives, let’s concentrate on the positves and let the others sort themselves out.

  14. Comment by Jenni | 08.24.2010 | 8:23 am

    I didn’t read Shrew’s Advocate before, but I’m right there.

    Especially about the small mammal biting her toe.

  15. Comment by Neil Warner | 08.24.2010 | 8:26 am

    +1 to all above. My mind is turned to the great Douglas Adams,
    “Then one day around 2000 years after someone was nailed to a tree for saying how good it would be to be nice to each other for a change”

  16. Comment by Bruuks | 08.24.2010 | 8:28 am

    I’m in the same boat as Fatty – this kind of behavior really gets under my skin in the moment. But, when I rationally think about it, I look back on days I’ve had on the bike when I’ve been in a bad mood because of something going on and just needed to get out and ride. You never know exactly why someone is rude – they could be having a bad day and you caught them in a low point, or they could just be that kind of person. I always try to give them the benefit of being in the first category, just having a one-off bad day. But, sadly, some people are permanently in the self-entitled, the world owes me something, state of being, and rudeness is just in their nature.

  17. Comment by MattC | 08.24.2010 | 8:29 am

    Jenni…that’s a NICE way to look at it and I like it! We have no idea as to why she was bitter at that moment. What’s that saying about walking a mile in someone’s shoes before making judgement? (that way when you find out what’s wrong, you are a mile away and you have their shoes). But I can relate…it’s amazing how one rude person can totally get under your skin and nearly RUIN a good ride! It takes a real force of will to look upon the rude person w/ compassion and keep your smile. We should all “Endeavour to Preserve” (from Outlaw Josey Wales).

  18. Comment by bikemike | 08.24.2010 | 8:30 am


  19. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 08.24.2010 | 8:31 am

    Way to go, Carlos!

    I really dislike the way one rude person can get under your skin and mess up the experience of all the courteous exchanges. Thankfully, like your experience Fatty, most others on my trails are friendly as well.

  20. Comment by Robert B | 08.24.2010 | 8:36 am

    I’ve never commented before but wanted to send some props to Carlos for taking time to be a great person. And to Liz for taking time to recognize and voice her appreciation. Today I am going to try and be like Carlos & Liz.

  21. Comment by AngieG | 08.24.2010 | 8:47 am

    Carlos- Way to fly those Fatty Colors!!!

    FC- I agree with what others have posted but have a little to add. What if…. she was having a bad day and after coming across you and the runner and your wonderful attitudes, she thought about her comments and realized she was not nice. What if, like you, she thought about it her whole ride and feels terrible about her shrew like behavior. What if your attitudes actually helped brigthen her day. Maybe your example has helped her be more cognizant of her actions and she has become more comitted to try and remain positive in the face of a terrible day.
    Its a possibility!!! I mean look at all of us that come back everyday for some Fatty Friendliness! :-)

  22. Comment by RANTWICK | 08.24.2010 | 8:50 am

    I sure wish you (and I) had excellent comeback reflex time. When someone is a shrew (or doofus) I, like you, never have the right response at the time, and it just burns after.

    I suppose that in order to have such quick comeback reflexes, you would need to assume the worst of people to be ready. I take it back. I’m glad you (and I) aren’t ready with a sharp retort. Flummoxed it is.

    Nice post, man.

  23. Comment by Heidi | 08.24.2010 | 8:50 am

    There’s a sticker I see on a lot of cars in our area these days: Wag more, bark less.

  24. Comment by Steve Z | 08.24.2010 | 8:52 am

    Good advice for mtbrs – and everyone else, too. How about a FatCyclist “Be Nice!” jersey??

    Steve Z

  25. Comment by SactoDave | 08.24.2010 | 8:55 am

    On your left Fatty. How’s the sunburn doing?

    Great post. I think the shrew flatted on the descent!

  26. Comment by LovetoBike | 08.24.2010 | 9:03 am

    The subject of miserable people is interesting. I have worked in retail in the past, and although 99 percent of the people can be quite pleasant, the one that is not so nice can really affect how you feel about yourself and your job. Hence my speedy exit from retail. You would think doing something fun like biking would eliminate the grouches, but apparently not. I am guessing that this person is only biking for exercise and not for the mere pleasure of it. I am thankful for the joy that cycling gives me…! Grumpy people stay out of my way, I’m coming through.

  27. Comment by Erik | 08.24.2010 | 9:03 am

    Yeah, baby! I frequently commute along a bike path from Seattle to Microsoft. It’s nice and safe 25 miles in the dark in the winter, if a bit boring. The thing is, I’ve ridden thousands of miles on that path, and I feel like it’s _mine_ now. And it always irks me when people come over to use my bike path and aren’t nice. I’ll stop and help folks with a mechanical – I mean, geeze, they’re on my path, I’d be a terrible host if I didn’t help ‘em. But the folks who are wantonly rude while riding or have their German Sheppard on a 50′ leash stretched across the trail, well, I kinda wonder who invited them over anyway. And I usually consider how hard it would be to turf them into the (conveniently located!) river next to the path.

    The thing is, it’s always _your_ trail. In the sense that it’s always your responsibility to be a great host. And it’s always the _other guy’s_ trail and its your responsibility to be a great guest. And if you have a big dog that needs to race back and forth 50′ while walking down the path, fine, but stay the heck off _my_ bike path.

    Nice article in Salon about a positive car / bike interaction today:

  28. Comment by Weaky6 | 08.24.2010 | 9:11 am

    Another example of nice at the LT100 2010 by fellow Iowan, Dr. Louis DeWild, Kona qualifier and MTB aspiring biker. His family blogged it here.
    “stopped to assist a critically injured rider” Keep it real.

  29. Comment by Erin | 08.24.2010 | 9:15 am

    I agree: let’s approach each other with patience and compassion.

    But where does that leave Shrew? She might have had the worst day ever. Does that somehow legitimize taking her horrible day out on someone else? A person who’s a jerk because she’s having a horrible day is still a jerk, and has succeeding in bringing something negative into the lives of people who didn’t ask for it. Where’s her compassion?

    Sometimes people are jerks. They might be struggling and under stress, but that’s a fantastically lame excuse for being rude to other people. Those of us (and I’ll bet this is almost all of us) who have had to work in jobs where being nice WAS the job – not an option – know that you really can be nice even when your heart’s not in it. As my Dad says “it doesn’t cost anything to be nice.” The Shrew didn’t even have to be nice; she merely had to hold her tongue.

    I’m not suggesting that Fatty and The Runner ought to have responded in kind. I am suggesting that there’s no good excuse for being as ass.

  30. Comment by GJ Jackie | 08.24.2010 | 9:57 am

    Recently we were camped on the Rainbow Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon (18 mile long mountain biking trail in the middle of nowhere). The trail literally went though the middle of our campsite. We enjoyed greeting the riders who came by. But several guys didn’t even slow down or utter a word. What’s up with that? It’s not like they had hurry to get back to work.

    Our kids kept a running tally that first day — 14 riders, 3 jerks. Fortunately on all other days we saw less than 5 riders/day, and all were nice. But those 3 jerks still irk me.

    Oh, I have to say HI to the Fat Cyclist Alex who rode through and did stop to say hello. He works with you Fatty. Another “nice” guy.

  31. Comment by Alyssa | 08.24.2010 | 10:00 am

    Way to go, Carlos—that rain was brutal and anyone stopping to help someone out with it coming down in buckets deserves a hero medal.

    We have a similar Shrew that sits a row in front of us at home games for our local WNBA team. Being enthusiastic fans, we like to cheer on our team with gusto during the games. Since she and her family bought those seats last season, she has sat game after game with her fingers in her ears each time we give any verbal support to the team. Without ever saying a word to us, her body language speaks volumes about how she feels for us and our behavior.

    A few months ago my partner was carrying a cup of Diet Coke to her seat and spilled an infinitesimal amount of it onto the Shrew’s husband, who was sitting next to her. My partner apologized up and down to him with utmost sincerity, and he was fine with it. The Shrew, on the other hand, turned around with annoyance and hissed, “Is it beer?”

    As uncomfortable and annoyed as she can make us feel with her negative demeanor during the games sometimes, I also have to kind of feel sorry for her, and wonder why she even comes. Carrying an attitude like that around with you has to take its toll, especially when you can’t enjoy yourself in such a fun and exciting environment.

    I don’t need to tell you this, since you already know, but keep up your positivity and we’ll do our best to do the same. Maybe at some point, it will rub off on these Shrews that cross our paths, and they can take it and run (or ride) with it, too!

  32. Comment by CJ | 08.24.2010 | 10:03 am

    I’m shocked the friends she was riding with didn’t call her out. Oh, wait, she wasn’t out riding with a group of friends? That’s weird.

  33. Comment by KanyonKris | 08.24.2010 | 10:12 am

    I also ran into a Park City shrew (maybe the same one!) a few years back. We were climbing, she and her group were descending. She told us to make way, I replied that uphill has right of way and kept pedaling as I moved as far to the side as I could go. The annoying thing is, the trail was wide enough for both of us, but she wanted me to clear off anyway. Some people.

    The longer I live the more I find it’s true that:


  34. Comment by NYCCarlos | 08.24.2010 | 10:14 am

    awwwwwwww shucks… you guys!!!!

    I’m honored to be considered a “great ambassador” to team fatty. I like to think that each and every one of us would have done the same thing had they seen Liz off to the side of the road… she looked like she really needed a buddy! I was just glad I had the skills to get her on her way!

    Keep paying it forward Fatties!

  35. Comment by etiquette freak | 08.24.2010 | 10:27 am

    Hate to be all negative here – but if your wife was in front of you and she was able to come to a complete stop – by definition – you, going the same speed, with more reaction time, should have been able to do the same. I’ve responded similarly – after having been buzzed a million times by the downhill rider – I feel compelled to remind the downhill rider of proper etiquette – if they don’t stop, given ample opportunity. The more you remind people of it, the more it gets around. Sorry…keep up the good work on the blog though..

  36. Comment by TomE | 08.24.2010 | 10:50 am

    Been in this same situation Fatty. Hate those blind corners and it always makes me a little nervous for what I might “find” as I round the bend. Keep killin’ ‘em with kindness!!!

  37. Comment by Karst | 08.24.2010 | 10:55 am

    “…if your wife was in front of you and she was able to come to a complete stop – by definition – you, going the same speed, with more reaction time, should have been able to do the same.”

    Not necessairly…you are forgetting basic physics, among other things. Fatty is more massive than the Runner. If they are going the same speed, he has a greater momentum to overcome in breaking, and may not be able to come to a complete stop in as short a distance.

    The characteristics of the single track in those few dozen feet also bear on the issue. She stops at a point farther along the trail than he does.

    Finally, how close was he following? And how far ahead are their eyes focused? She may be seeing a farther “effective” distance than he is, because he may be focused only on the ground between her bike and his bike, with a slight bit of attention focused on subtle change in her speed. She is likely to have a longer focus in attention in the forward direction.

  38. Comment by 3d brian | 08.24.2010 | 10:58 am

    Of course the uphill rider has the right of way, but I’ve never thought that means you have to stop and move to the side if both of you have room to keep riding.

    I’ve had a number of people going downhill slow way down so it’s safe and comfortable and continue riding down as I ride up – doesn’t bother me at all.

    I’ve also had people not slow down at all and just about run me down – perhaps “the shrew” has had a few too many of those experiences?

  39. Comment by Joel P. | 08.24.2010 | 11:02 am

    Carlos, you rock!!! It was a pleasure to have endured the rain with you this weekend.

  40. Comment by Clydesteve | 08.24.2010 | 11:13 am

    umm, thanks, ‘freak – wouldn’t have realized that.

    My kids like being reminded of their manners, too. Makes ‘em feel all grown up.

  41. Comment by Doug | 08.24.2010 | 11:34 am

    Good on ya Carlos! If you want to read a similar story follow the link (simply inspiring):

  42. Comment by Doug (WAY upstate NY) | 08.24.2010 | 11:39 am

    All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.
    These are the things I learned:

    * Share everything.
    * Play fair.
    * Don’t hit people.
    * Put things back where you found them.
    * Clean up your own mess.
    * Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
    * Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
    * Wash your hands before you eat.
    * Flush.
    * Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
    * Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
    * Take a nap every afternoon.
    * When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
    * Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
    * Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
    * And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

    ……..Robert Fulghum

  43. Comment by Doug (WAY upstate NY) | 08.24.2010 | 11:40 am

    BTW. Philly was AWESOME.

  44. Comment by centurion | 08.24.2010 | 12:27 pm

    If that happened where I live (NJ) the response would have been swift and sure, and only two words.
    But the secret, Fatty, is to just not the A-holes of the world control you. Be Nice.
    PS. Carlos is THE MAN!

  45. Comment by Rob M. | 08.24.2010 | 12:29 pm

    Thank you PhillyJen for all your work and to whomever was responsible for that delicious Team Fatty chocolate cake.

    I add my complements to NYC Carlos for his kindness and grace in the rain of Philly.

    To those who were not there, I will try to explain the weather. At times it was sunny and at times it was cloudy. Other times it rained a lot. Cloudburts.

    One rider accurately described it to me as “When you went down a hill the rain drops felt like hail.”

    The drops were actually painful. Seriously.

    Glasses didn’t help because, I found, the headlights of oncoming cars would bounce off the wet lenses and cut visibility to zero. So I rode the last 20 miles, or so, without eyewear.

    But NYC Carlos was not alone in his kindness.

    Other Team Fatty members encouraged one another. We encouraged (non-Team Fatty)Livestrong participants and they encouraged us.

    There were many, many hundreds of spectators who stood on the sidelines to cheer, and clap, and ring cowbells.

    I can’t estimate how many volunteers and spectators stood along the finish line to cheer us and congratulate us as we finished in the adverse conditions of rain and steep hills.

    Most of all, I would like to recognize a family who was most helpful. They live on one of the steep hills between the rest stops. During last year’s ride, the temperature was very hot and this family stood in the middle of the road handing out much needed cups of water to those who did not want to lose momentum on the hill. Of course, you could stop (and save face) and catch your breath while sharing their hospitality.

    This year, they were present again, standing in the middle of the road while handing out water and offering plastic bags to protect our cell phones from the rain.

    You can meet the nicest people when you are on your bike.

    I thank all of you.

  46. Comment by nibbler | 08.24.2010 | 12:42 pm

    It’s interesting how people get so wrapped up in their “own thing”. I just completed the Colorado Relay and I would say about 50% of the runners I encountered in the dark didn’t even say, “hi”.

    I was about to pass a runner who suddenly started limping and stopped to ask if she was okay. She looked at me like I was going to beat her down and mug her. Seriously. I definitely wear my crabby pants from time to time, but I wasn’t going to leave her out on Hwy 6 at 2AM by herself if she couldn’t run.

    So, to all the Carloses and cheerful athletes out there: your niceness and common decency are definitely appreciated and hopefully your good attitude is contagious.

  47. Comment by Joel P. | 08.24.2010 | 12:47 pm

    That is too funny. I used that exact Josie Wales quote in a text to my family with 20 miles to go on the 100 mile route Sunday. Apparently I was one of the few lucky or unluckey ones who made the cut off at the 70 mile turn.

    Joel P

  48. Comment by Bryan | 08.24.2010 | 1:09 pm

    Heres to Carlos, and to everyone that was at the Philly Challenge! It truely was a great (and wet)event. 99.9% of bikers are among the nicest people in the world and that played out all day during the Phlly Challenge. I thought that people would start to be annoyed with almost every biker asking “are you ok?”, but I never ran across one. Only a wet smile and a “Yes, thank you”. I was truely impressed by all of the riders and even more impressed with the volunteers. Heres to a great 2010 Challenge in the books, and an even better one in 2011!

  49. Comment by Daisy @ 3pinkdrinks | 08.24.2010 | 1:34 pm

    Fatty! Thrilled to hear you were enjoying The Greater Radtown Region over the weekend. Although I wish I would have known, as I am the unofficial ambassador of the area and would have loved to have played hostess for you and The Runner…

    Sorry about your encounter with Shrew on such a beautiful trail, one of my favorites, by far. Maybe she was indeed, just suffering in the Pain Cave on her climb and couldn’t muster a smile.

    Or maybe she should borrow a page out of my book and realize that she’s not going to be scouted, or sign a contract, or win a medal on this ride… and thus should stop taking herself so seriously.

    Either way, I hope that encounter doesn’t reflect poorly on the Greater Radtown Region, which in my book, is clearly and utterly RAD. We would love to have you ride here again.

  50. Comment by Hawkeye | 08.24.2010 | 1:37 pm

    Awesome story about Carlos and Liz C. Don’t let the lady on the trail get you down. Maybe she was out of breath, and what she said came out wrong, or she wasn’t able to pick her words correctly. Yeah… that’s it.

    I’ve had many a flat on the way to work. And I have been known to just throw the bike on my shoulder and run the rest of the way if I am close enough, or go about the repair on the side of the highway. Usually never getting a second look from drivers. But when I get the odd “hey man, need a hand?” Or the toot of a horn and the offer of a ride, it makes me smile. I never accept help. Just hard headed. But I always thank the people, give a handshake and keep going. It takes just a few short seconds to offer help. If the person needs it, they are thankful. If they are like me, and don’t want it… it still not only makes their day, but their week. I will gladly accept 25 angry horns, and matching middle fingers in traffic, for a single offer of help, needed or not. Just makes you feel good to know someone is watching out.

    Carlos, if you are reading this, THANK YOU on behalf of anyone who has ever had a hicup on the road, and needed help. People like you changed me into the guy that stops to offer help too. And you get to meet so many cool people that way.

  51. Comment by RachelGio | 08.24.2010 | 1:50 pm

    Thanks to all nice people. Being mainly a roadie (sorry ’bout that!), I am STUNNED at how many people can’t freakin’ WAVE!!!! If you can’t be in a good mood on a bike rollin’ along, regardless of tire size, etc., get the hell off your bike, go home and sit on your couch and be in a pissy mood. When you’re ready to be nice, you can come out again. But not a minute sooner! HARRUMPH!!!!

  52. Comment by CompleteFaith | 08.24.2010 | 1:53 pm

    As I read through all of the comments here it’s easy to see that we have all been on both sides of the track.

    I recently read something that basically said as we observe people, in our minds we build a life for them. We imagine every little piece of their day even without thinking about it. And when doing this we are never right about them.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to defending rude people, but I find myself wondering if the Shrew wasn’t kicking herself for the rest of the ride for the way she treated you.

  53. Comment by bahama mama | 08.24.2010 | 4:17 pm

    I was the shrew once (hopefully only once!). A guy was trying to be nice and I was trying to come to terms with losing my mom. I ignored him. It was very rude of me and something my mom would NEVER have done. I still feel bad about it.

  54. Comment by Yukirin Boy | 08.24.2010 | 4:31 pm

    Bravo Carlos!

  55. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 08.24.2010 | 5:31 pm

    The shrew will live an uphappy life. There’s that.

    Carlos rocks.

  56. Comment by Karen | 08.24.2010 | 6:01 pm

    I’m glad you posted this. You have such a wonderful way of making politeness seem so pleasant! And I guess that’s because it totally is.

    So here’s my beef. A few days ago I was out and about, all upbeat and cheery, smiling at people and generally feeling all was well with the world, when an older (but not senile) gentleman walked by me and said, “Smile!” I gave him a bigger smile in case he hadn’t noticed the pleasant look already installed and told him to “have a nice day!”

    But then I started doing a bit of a burn. “Smile!”?? Why? What gives him the right to tell me to smile, for crying out loud? You know what that is? That’s panhandling! He gave me nothing to smile about, only ordered me to do it. Next time I see him I think I’m going to kick him in the shins, that’s what!

    He and the biking woman ought to make an interesting couple.

  57. Comment by Bee | 08.24.2010 | 6:31 pm

    Maybe the Shrew is a native of my current living area? A few weeks ago, I flatted on a morning ride. The valve of my replacement tube then broke off in my pump. I was four miles from home. One guy pulled out of his garage (with bikes in it), pointed and laughed. Two people on cycles ignored me, one actually changed sides of the road so she could ignore me better. Of all the people that day, only a local rabbi was able to help me out. (He asked if I was hurt and loaned me his phone). Oh, and the REI mechanic gave a me a free tube later.

    So yeah, Shrews and Mean People get under my skin. So I pretend all Shrews come from Connecticut (where I grew up and where I’m currently living for the second and hopefully last time. Why did I ever give this state a second chance?), because I associate this state with weenies.

    Of course, sometimes, I go way too deep inside my head. I realized I was riding angry and grumpy today, and turned around to go home and sulk in the shower. (Other times, I’ve turned towards the least occupied version of the road to ride angry until I mellow out.) Sometimes one just has to realize when one isn’t fit for human consumption.

  58. Comment by Miles Archer | 08.24.2010 | 7:24 pm

    Go Carlos!

    And thanks to the random dude who was getting his bike out of his car in Moraga, CA this weekend and let me use his floor pump.

  59. Comment by Marcus | 08.24.2010 | 7:45 pm

    Instead of trying to defy physics, why not use it to your advantage? Next time an irksome shrew/[insert male form of shrew] gives you grief when you are trying to stop your descent and she/he is climbing, put out one and hand use her/him as a buttress to help you stop.
    Sure you might knock them over, but at least you will be stopping for them.

  60. Comment by Grant | 08.24.2010 | 7:48 pm

    “Doug (WAY upstate NY) | 08.24.2010″ gave a good list of good behavioural rules to live by. We recently received some advice along the same lines, but much more simplified:

    Be safe, be kind, be respectful.

    I think it is a great summary, and will be instilling this principle on our kids – for both on the trail and off!

  61. Comment by NoTrail | 08.24.2010 | 8:34 pm

    It was great to meet so many of you on the course in Philly on Sunday. If you ask me, the ‘liquid sunshine’ just added to the challenge of it all.

    Let’s pray for real sunshine next year.

  62. Comment by El_Animal | 08.24.2010 | 8:36 pm

    I’m nice except when I’m not. While doing a marathon race, the trail was ugly muddy. I wasn’t able to pedal, I had a really bad “chain suck” case, to the point when my rear derailleur almost broke. With a lot of frustration I’am just putting my feet on the trail and I hear a young lady saying “oh great dude, right in the middle of the trail”. She did not give me the chance to be nice and I behaved just the way she expected. I did not move 1 inch, she callrd me a jerk, I pleased her by being a big one.

  63. Comment by Triflefat | 08.24.2010 | 8:50 pm

    Not quite on topic, but not too far off, this quote from Adam Lindsay Gordon must have been written with fatty in mind
    “Life is mainly froth and bubble
    Two things stand like stone –
    Kindness in another’s trouble.
    Courage in your own.”

  64. Comment by Chris | 08.24.2010 | 8:57 pm

    While riding tonight I stopped to adjust my saddle, at least a dozen riders slowed to ask if I needed help. Yeah, that’s why I ride…

  65. Comment by Lucky Cyclist | 08.24.2010 | 10:48 pm

    Identical experience over at Glenwild a few weeks ago. (Minus your wife being there).
    Big Gal on a Gel saddle, the trail actually split, there were two trails so I logically took the one on my right, as soon as I committed, she faked right went left, and we both put a foot down.
    I apologized, and she ripped me up one side and down the other. Then I swore, and rode on.
    I think it’s Park City.

  66. Comment by Jenn | 08.25.2010 | 2:13 am

    A neighbor did something very similar to me on our very first day in our new house in Germany. She has since and will forever be known as “Frau B**chface.” The only German, btw, to ever be nasty to us like that; just unfortunate coincidence that she was our welcome wagon.

  67. Comment by Jenn | 08.25.2010 | 2:20 am

    OH! Just thought of a better story! Between the time when I started and finished a ride last week, the wind picked up from zero to about four hundred mph (I have a heightened sense of drama). I was still about 15km out and struggling, when another cyclist slowed at my side and said something that I didn’t understand because my German stinks. I apologized and indicated I didn’t understand, to which he responded by making a universal “hop on” motion with his hand and allowing me to draft most of the rest of my way home! Danke!

  68. Comment by cece | 08.25.2010 | 5:05 am

    I had a run in with a very mean man on a horse a while back. Here in ABQ we have a trail called the Bosque that runs along the river and is an open space multi use trail. We all know that horses and riders have the right of way when crossing the path.

    One day, I saw a huge horse and rider crossing the path and slowed my bike down to yield to the horse. The man started shouting and cursing at me and calling me “Fat Ass.” I slowed down even more and waitied for him to cross, but he did not. He and his horse stopped in the middle of the path. They would not budge. I had to stop and did so. Then the man tried to back the horse up into me and I was faced
    with “a Horses ass.”

    I could have said something to this effect, but it was a bit dangerous at this very moment. So I just booked it around and away from this rude man. Being nice is not a thing I think we can teach some people. You are either kind or not.

  69. Comment by Lindsey | 08.25.2010 | 5:29 am

    Way to be awesome, Carlos!

  70. Comment by Cardiac Kid | 08.25.2010 | 5:55 am

    Carlos is clearly a good chicken. Good on yah!!

  71. Comment by Jeff | 08.25.2010 | 7:26 am

    Go Carlos! If I’m on the side of the road witha mechanical, or just trying to breathe, almost all cyclists will ask if I need anything, have what I need, etc. If they don’t, I don’t consider them cyclists, just poseurs. To be a cyclist, you have to be nice.

  72. Comment by Jenni | 08.25.2010 | 7:50 am

    Fatty, perhaps you need to write a trail etiquette post. I wouldn’t have known to yield. But then again, I don’t mountain bike. Yet.

  73. Comment by Alison Wonderland | 08.25.2010 | 8:38 am

    I find that in the throws of serious exercise (like a big climb) I tend to get really crabby. But I usually regret it later, maybe she did too. Maybe she did too.

    But in general I’m all for niceness. Lets see if we can get it going off the trail too.

  74. Comment by AngieG | 08.25.2010 | 9:11 am

    @MattC and @JoelP- I believe the proper quote is “Endeavor to Persevere”
    I miss spell this word all the time too!! :-)

  75. Comment by Katherine | 08.25.2010 | 9:41 am

    Would all of you please join IMBA’s National Mountain Bike Patrol? We like to have nice MTBers on board, and all of you would make excellent ambassadors in addition to the great ones we already have. :-)

  76. Comment by MattC | 08.25.2010 | 10:20 am

    @AngieG..thanks for the correction…apparently my spellchecker is from Hogwarts school of magic. It’s a great quote, even if I can’t pronounce OR spell it right.

    @Katherine…more info please on the IMBA mt bike patrol?? What’s involved (ie: does it cost me $?) I’d be interested in hearing more…

  77. Comment by Jennifer | 08.25.2010 | 10:22 am

    We have these “rules” that we like to live by:

    Rule #1 – Don’t look like ass (either in appearance or actions)

    Rule #2 – Don’t let your family friends etc look like ass (see #1)

    Rule #3 – DON’T BE THAT GUY*! (we all know THAT guy, don’t be him!)

    Rule #4 – Be that guy*! (you know the guy, they guy who is awesome, etc, all the things you always try to be, that guy.

    It works for many situations. That lady broke Rule #3 flat out.

    *guy is being used here generically meaning anybody of any gender.

  78. Comment by Steve | 08.25.2010 | 1:06 pm

    God bless you, Carlos. Go Team Fatty!

  79. Comment by Mark in Boise | 08.25.2010 | 2:20 pm

    Niceness does count. Great post.

  80. Comment by evil3 | 08.25.2010 | 2:23 pm

    It’s always that 1 person who hates everything, then they give all of us bike riders a bad name to the rest of the world. And they wonder why so many people think we are all bad, but yet if they were nice in the first place every one would be happy.

    On a side note, at once point in time I was once of those riders that just passed you with out saying a word. Of course that was when I was still in high school so I would say I have gotten nicer since then.

    Although it is rare for me to see other people out riding for some strange reason (I do see people every now and then, but I could go for a month at a time with out seeing any one) lmao

  81. Comment by Maggi | 08.25.2010 | 9:31 pm

    Like all Team Fatty members, Carlos is not only kind, he’s also ridiculously adorable and funny as hell.What, you want proof?

    Carlos, prior to the ride.

  82. Comment by Patrick | 08.26.2010 | 2:27 am

    You’ve encapsulated what I love most about cycling, when you’re out on a ride strangers say hello to each other, i feel more connected to the rest of the world by being on my bike. I can only hope that the lady you encountered reads you’re blog and realises the error of her ways. Kudos to Carlos too, I hope I would do the same in similar circumstances.

  83. Comment by Jim | 08.26.2010 | 5:36 am

    >>>>Be nice.

    We have a similar rule on the East Coast, along the lines of “Don’t be a dick to strangers.”

    You need to leave enough play in the joints of your rules to allow for execution of the Prime Directive 1.0, Always Bust Balls. I wouldn’t want to ride at somebody who couldn’t make fun of me after I’ve had a big crash. When there’s an opportunity to have fun at someone else’s expense, it’s rude not to; it’s like turning down a free drink. So you help those who need it, observe good trail ettiquette, but to paraphrase Alex Baldwin’s character in Glengarry Glen Ross: ABB – A-Always, B-Bust, B-Balls. Always Bust Balls.

    It’s not just a good idea… it’s the law.

  84. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Livestrong Philly 2010 Report, Part I: Fatties To The Rescue | 08.26.2010 | 7:34 am

    [...] « How to Be Nice [...]

  85. Comment by Pam | 08.28.2010 | 7:12 pm

    I went for a ride today. Was having a crappy day… not feeling good, legs felt terrible, etc. I start hearing a weird clicking noise so I get off to check it out. Turns out to be something super minor, but as I was at the side of the road making an adjustment, a cyclist going the other way slowed down and asked if I needed help. I said I had it figured out, and he said ‘Okay!’ and sped up again and was off.

    Suddenly the rest of my ride was so much better… just because someone was nice enough to be sure I was okay. It still makes me happy to think about!

  86. Comment by Steve | 08.29.2010 | 5:49 pm

    I agree with the bit about being nice. However, around Melbourne, Australia, the convention seems to be that the riders going uphill make way for those going downhill. Doesn’t this make more sense, since it is easier for the climber to maneuver and stop?

  87. Comment by BR | 09.3.2010 | 6:19 am

    Interesting cultural commentary. If you think your encounter with Rude Climber Woman was bad, you should try cycling in Sweden sometime. I’ve been living here for about five years (expat from the Bay Area) and despite all that time, I continue to be amazed at how rude people are here.

    A cycling example: I was out for a ride a few weeks ago on my road bike, and stopped to fix a flat. This was on a wide paved bike path alongside a road in a residential neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon, and the weather was sunny and pleasant at the time. I’d pulled off to the side of the path, taken the wheel off my bike, and was sitting there with my tire levers, spare tube, and hand pump. Because I’d just bought new tires that were very stiff, and I’m not that good at swapping tubes, it took me about 15 minutes to fix the tire. During that time, I’d estimate at least 20 people or groups, including several people who were obviously out for training rides (team jerseys, bike shorts, helmets, cycling glasses, etc.), went by me.

    In the Bay Area, I’d expect just about every one of them would have at least offered a “got everything you need?” as they passed by.

    Here in Sweden? NOT A SINGLE ONE.

    Only after I’d already finished everything and was putting the wheel back on the bike did one guy slow down and ask if I needed help. I was so surprised that I actually took the time to thank him for saying so — even though I was good to go at that point.

    There’s a traditional saying here, “ensam är stark,” which roughly translates to “alone is strong.” It might sound like a folksy tribute to old-fashioned self-reliance, but in day-day-life, it just sucks.

    Given the choice, I’d take Rude Climber Woman on an otherwise awesome trail in the U.S. over any riding here in Sweden, anytime.


  88. Comment by DevilsAdvocate | 09.5.2010 | 1:36 pm

    It bothered you so much, because you knew that you were in the wrong. We all come across self-centered cyclists, so her statement of proper etiquette was fine with me.

    You don’t take responsibility for disturbing her ride (although you do try very hard to explain how she wasn’t really justified in feeling annoyed.)

    Then to top it off, you show your mysogyny by calling her a “shrew.”

  89. Pingback by Livestrong Philly 2010 Report, Part I: Fatties To The Rescue | Cheap kids bikes | 09.8.2010 | 2:20 pm

    [...] whose proceeds go to benefit Livestrong. You can see how dapper it looks on Kunta, Carlos (yes, THAT Carlos!), and [...]


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