Handlebars and Bikers

plain_bicycle_icon_largeAnd no, I am not talking mustaches. This summer I have noticed a phenomenon during my Canal Path biking cruises. What I have noticed almost without fail is that those of us who toot-toot along on our up-handle bar bikes smile, say hello, and are basically friendly. What I have noticed almost without fail is that those who careen along on their down handlebar bikes don’t smile, don’t nod, and ignore any friendly overtures.

I’ve been pondering this most of the summer, or at least while I’m riding along the Canal Path, wondering why the rude behavior among most of the down handlebars. Here are some other things I’ve noticed:

  • 99% wear very serious-looking helmets
  • 99% wear what appear to be official (expensive) biking togs
  • 99% cruise along quite quickly
  • 99% take up the whole path when they ride in pairs or groups and take their time getting out of the way of other (up-handlebar) bikers

On the other hand, besides a general friendly, open approach, here are some facts about the up handlebar folks.

  • 75% wear helmets
  • 75% wear plain jeans, shorts, and T-shirts
  • 75% huff and puff up hills and coast happily down hills
  • 75% quickly and generously get out of the way of passing or approaching bikers

I’m not sure what this all means except for a loose hypothesis that perhaps the down handlebars are ‘serious,’ competitive bikers who focus on one thing – winning whereas we “up” types seek to enjoy life, smell the roses and be in the moment. Notice the wording – “up” handlebars and “down” handlebars. Hmmm.

So, next time you’re out riding your bike, see if you can confirm my scientific observations or engage me in debate regardless of your handlebars.

About

An author, a teacher, a candlestick maker? I am lucky enough to have followed my muse through a most eclectic life of many careers, many interests, and many friends and liasions. Two beautiful children, now grown and one their own, several books -- the penultimate accomplishment dream come true, a hores trainer, a college professor, and a stint in corporate America to validate my feelings that I never, ever want to go there again. So I donned my ruby slippers and dared to take those different paths, those diverging paths, and that has made all the difference! (Thank you, Robert!)

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6 comments on “Handlebars and Bikers
  1. echo says:

    Fun post. I’ve never heard the term “up” vs “down” handlebars. I’m not entirely sure I know what you mean, but my best guess is that by up you mean flat/straight across? And by down you mean road bars? That look kinda like ram horns? And up/down refers kind of to the sitting position — upright vs leaning forward/down?

    ANYWAY, just wanted to make sure that I am accurate in that before I continue =)

    One thought…Some might be ‘up’ one day because they are just wanting a relaxed ride. Then, they might be ‘down’ when they want a serious workout. Same person, different mood.

    I have never seen the ‘ups’ taking over the path. In 3 years of consistent and steady biking. They are the ones, in my experience, who ride single file, alert people of their approach, and get out of the way. Cruisers, on the other hand, tend to be the ones who waddle all over the place and brake in front of me, and show a general disregard to others.

    As for me? I bike for fun and exercise. Used to have ‘down’ bars, but never took my rides that seriously. I now have ‘up’ bars because the others hurt my back, but I miss my road bars because I was able to have pretty blue tape (my favorite color) and mountain bike bars are boring. I have a VERY serious helmet, that I wear all the time, because I love my brain. I like to be comfortable when I ride, so I never ride in cotton t-shirts and jeans. I have some cycling clothes because they are more comfortable and allow me to ride for longer, but I tend to ride in normal workout clothes from a discount store. Within a single ride, I switch from cruising to speeding around depending on my mood and how much energy I have. I both love going FAST as well as taking my time and enjoying the scenery. I love riding with others and chatting when I can (never taking up the path, and always letting others pass me). I have absolutely no interest in competitive biking. None whatsoever…but I really do like to go fast!

    That’s why, as I say in my about me page, I don’t fit into any group or category of cyclists =D

    • madmuser says:

      Hello echo!! Thanks for the response. My article was partly tongue-in-cheek, and definitely part serious. I speak from observation and observation alone, though a few local others have confirmed my observations. When I am riding on the Canal Path, I make a point to greet those passing me by in the opposite direction. There is a pattern. Most of those on the racing style bikes (down-handlebars) do not greet in kind. Grrrr. Another phenomenon that grates me is while driving I am often relegated to less than my full and rightful lane by some enthusiastic racing sorts who insist on riding tandem. Were these not clear and unadulterated patterns, I would never have brought them out here. It would be fun to engage in a study to confirm/dispute our respective thoughts.

      Happy riding!!

      • echo says:

        I figured it was tongue in cheek 😀 and, in many cases, you are spot on with your description. But, alas, humans are too complex to fit into such categories

        you might like the book Bike Tribes! I loved it, and it is basically an extended version of your post. It’s quite amusing and funny.

        And my mistake, I didn’t catch you meant the road while driving (and them taking up the road). That is another story…not sure where you live but that is probably legal for them to ridr side by side. Whether or not you should is an entirely different matter… And you still aren’t supposed to hold up traffic when you do it. But yea, I have definitely heard of that.

        However, the lane is everyones–thinking of it as your “rightful full lane” isn’t much better. Granted, it could be another tongue in cheek kinda of statement 😀 so my oncoming rant might not apply to you at all! But if they are ahead of you then you must yield, and it is their lane. You must always give at least 3 feet of space when passing. That might be why there are two abreast–too many drivers have passed them too closely because they wanted to stay in their rightful lane. Not saying you do, just saying that plenty of drivers do and it makes us scared to be on the road, which makes us use whatever tool we have to keep us safe. Like taking the lane.

        They could also be riding two abreast because they are jerks. Absolutely.

        And, for me, most days I smile at everyone passing by. Other days, I’m in such a bad mood I was to growl at them for looking at me. Or, I am trying to get a good workout and don’t want to get out of the zone. I wouldn’t take it personally, don’t let them grate you and ruin your good time on the path–even if it is just one moment of irritation! Your body and mind don’t need it.

        Stay happy, stay riding, and keep writing! I like your style!

      • madmuser says:

        Thanks for your kind words. *smile* Have a great riding weekend!

  2. Can I just say what a comfort to find someone that actually knows what they are discussing over the internet.
    You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    A lot more people must look at this and understand this side of the story.
    It’s surprising you aren’t more popular since you surely possess the
    gift.

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