Futile racing

HarryB

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 22, 2007
1,317
3
London
I have always wondered why when I catch up and overtake a cyclist dressed head to toe in lycra they always spend the next 5 minute panting on my tail before overtaking me (usually through a red light). This morning I had the answer. This particular cyclist stormed through a pedestrian crossing after both myself (inside lane) and another car (outside lane) had stopped. The only problem was the pedestrians trying to cross the road on a green man who were genuinely shocked and took a step back. Luckily they were looking before they crossed but they then spent 15 seconds trying to work out if our lights were red or green and never actually crossed the road!

So at one junction I started a casual conversation about red lights and if he had noticed the pedestrians trying to cross. He said he hadn't seen anybody and wanted to know about my electric bike. "To be honest mate I was trying to get ahead of you and I am really enjoyong the work out" were his precise words. I am mystified by the idea of racing somebody like me - what on earth is the motivation. The only time I ever consider myself racing is a quick burst of speed when trying to get a better position in the traffic. I am not sure what the pleasure is of pitting myself against another cyclist in London's traffic, powered or not.

In the end I think we parted friends as I eased back, let him overtake and he waved goodbye at the next junction. I suppose I should be grateful they are racing on bikes not cars!
 

Bikerbob

Pedelecer
May 10, 2007
215
0
Isle of Man
Maybe not in London, Harry, and I certainly don't condone dangerous riding or breaking the law, but out on quiet country roads an element of friendly competition can be entertaining. At weekends in my area there are often groups of lycra clad cyclists around and I have fun giving them a run for their money on the hills, particularly if they don't immediately realise that mine is an electric bike. (Out of season one group often includes Mark Cavendish - the Commonwealth gold medal winner and Tour de France rider. They can go past me at an unbelievable speed up hill but the repartee livens up the day). I overtook two men on a tandem the other day going up hill and when they caught up with me on the other side we had a friendly chat before they shot away. I see no harm in that:)
 

HarryB

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 22, 2007
1,317
3
London
I spoke to somebody at work who is a very keen cyclist - lyra and lots of sweat and he says if he sees another cyclist in the distance it is his duty to overtake that cyclist. So I suppose it must be a fairly common thing among the keener cyclists. I'll never be able to get involved because I always stop at the lights (I am very lonely there) and so in effect one arm is tied behind my back. At least I now understand the cyclist 1 foot behind me panting away is trying to make a point, something I hadn't realised before.
 

Tiberius

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 9, 2007
919
0
Somerset
...another .... in the distance it is his duty to overtake
Quite so. I race in a peculiar branch of motor sport, and I don't understand those who go on about the idea being simply to take part. A vehicle in front is an offence against god and man and something must be done about it. At least by doing it on the race course I don't feel the same way on the road.

Nick
 

carpetbagger

Esteemed Pedelecer
Nov 20, 2007
744
18
blackburn
Quite so. I race in a peculiar branch of motor sport, and I don't understand those who go on about the idea being simply to take part. A vehicle in front is an offence against god and man and something must be done about it. At least by doing it on the race course I don't feel the same way on the road.

Nick
so what branch of motorsport do you race in ?:confused:
 

HarryB

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 22, 2007
1,317
3
London
Quite so. I race in a peculiar branch of motor sport, and I don't understand those who go on about the idea being simply to take part. A vehicle in front is an offence against god and man and something must be done about it. At least by doing it on the race course I don't feel the same way on the road.

Nick
Yes I can see the point of motor sport and indeed cycle racing - man and machine pitted against each other. I have even been known to do the odd track day (stictly no racing allowed). I just find it comical that I am dressed in a duffle coat and I am being raced by somebody in a lycra suit! Not sure I see the sport in it.

I have been reading up on the topic and apparently there are all sorts of rules when you cycle race in London. You are allowed through red light but not on the pavement. My guy cheated by going on the pavement so maybe he has not read the same rule book.

Sorry it is a quiet day at work....
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,940
22,582
Some people are just competitive all the time, whatever they do.

A cycling neighbour and friend of mine for 25 years was always the same, on returning from a ride with friends, he'd be reciting his success points of the ride very loudly, reliving the moments. He also used to take part in competitive canoeing, hang gliding and anything else he could think of, always trying to best someone or other.

He was academically below average through schooling disadvantages, and after we became friends he seemed to be self concious about that as well, hating anyone bettering him in anything, so he enrolled as a mature student on university courses.

Personally I think that's bonkers! First is a place, last is a place, what's the difference?

Best way to race is for the field to be split and each half start from opposite ends. Then two people can be first. :D
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Footie

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 16, 2007
549
10
Cornwall. PL27
Like many here I too am seldom moved to rush to the front and be first. In fact I can honestly say there have been several times when I have deliberately held back to let someone else win – or at least that’s what they believe :)
So perhaps this short little story may amuse.
While pitting bicycle against bicycle is a worthy match for racing - what about a bicycle against a motorcycle?
The story starts with an old Yamaha twin 200 I had. While out riding it one afternoon I found myself on a stretch of road much favoured by race cyclists and often used for road trials.
I knew the road was frequented by cyclists so took it nice and easy. In time I passed a Lycra clad cyclist puffing away. Unfortunately, six or seven corners on the bike faltered and started to run on one cylinder. I pulled in and set about taking the plug out thinking it was to blame. In the meantime the Lycra cyclist flashed by. At the time I smiled and paid him little attention. A few moments later the bike fired up and I was away again. Yes I caught the racer up – and yes - six or seven corners on the bike faltered again and started to run on one cylinder. I pulled in and hurriedly tinkered with it as the racer flashed by. I got the bike going and gave it lots of throttle in the hope that I would make it home before it did it again. I passed the racer and it conked out again. As the cyclist passed this third time I burred my head into the engine area to hide my shame. I eventually, got it going and made it home. But I never saw the cyclist again – so I was never able to challenge him to a re-match.
I am sure the cyclist found it amusing – that is if he even noticed I was there
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Jeremy

Esteemed Pedelecer
Oct 25, 2007
1,010
3
Salisbury
Here's a clue to Nick's form of motorsport:

His vehicle doesn't have wheels, yet travels at high speed on land and water...............

Jeremy
 

ITSPETEINIT

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 11, 2006
492
0
Mere, Wilts
Lycra v. tweeds

Hello everyone who would like to know why a lycra-clad cyclist pursues the cyclist in front.
It may not be 'in the spirit of competition' although it happens in motoring too. It seems to be difficult, indeed almost impossible. to maintain a distance behind the car in front perhaps because the driver behind has the advantage of longer reaction time.
In the case of the cyclist it is because drafting (being 'on the wheel' of the bike in front) saves, probably, 30% of the following cyclist's energy.
I cannot see that a fit Lycra-clad cyclist would have much trouble in 'seeing off' an electric 'dreadnought' capable of a mere 15.5 mph assisted speed. If they did not feel fit they would not try it. I recall something amazing whilst out cycling one day. It was the rider of a sit-up-and-beg glued to the wheel of a fast road bike, riding at about 25 mph, their legs spinning like 'egg-beaters', I think that is how it is referred to.
Of course, they (lycra clads) are probably not aware of the maximum assisted speed of the majority of e-bikes. If the e-bike is derestricted, what joy! Lycra-clad can enjoy the benefits of a wind break travelling at 21 (ish) mph for, possibly, the next 15 miles.
In my fairly recent human-powered cycling days (I was 58 at the time and suffered from mild angina) I usually travelled at 16 mph on the flat, but much less on hills sometimes reduced to 5 or 6 mph. This is where the electric bike scores, but who can take the credit from the competitive triumphalism.
I wore lycra too: apart from giving one a psychological boost (like go-faster stripes on a car) except when 'studying a map' half way up a hill. It is extremely comfortable since it is purpose-made for the job especially at the rider's point of contact with the bike. It can also slightly improve the rider's aerodynamics.
Then there is, of course, the 'camaraderie'. It is very strong ethic amongst the cycling fraternity even those on e-bikes that meet others propelling push bikes whilst out on the road. There is usually the cheery "good morning" (afternoon) , or "hi" as the case may be. They (proper cyclists - those steeped in the camaraderie culture) will always stop to give assistance where possible. That is to be encouraged.
Peter
 

HarryB

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 22, 2007
1,317
3
London
Thank you Peter for your insight into this interesting group of people. My normal cruising speed with a restricted Torq would be 16-17mph not 15.5 (excepting hills and headwinds). Certainly I have chatted at lights with another cyclist amazed at the speeds I seem to be going while keeping flow with the traffic. And this with a bog standard Torq with a weak battery. In the end, electric or not, it is a bicycle and speed is all in the gearing and legs. I confess my legs have morphed since riding the Torq with it's dodgy battery, I have got very fit so thank you Mr Ching at Ezee.

You would be amazed at the number of lycras cruising at 15mph in London - I suppose they have been to the shop and kitted themselves out. The real lycras, as seen in France on Sundays are a different breed and seem to be cruising at 25mph not a speed I could ever achieve even if I took the duffle coat off.

As for the slip streaming I am well aware of what they are doing and always slow to a ridiculous pace so they are forced to overtake (if I cannot out run them) as I cannot stand the idea of somebody 1 foot behind me on London's roads. There is not much camaraderie on my commute and I get the odd comment about cheating - not a great line in conversation starters.
 

ITSPETEINIT

Esteemed Pedelecer
Dec 11, 2006
492
0
Mere, Wilts
Lycras and Posers

Thank you Peter for your insight into this interesting group of people. My normal cruising speed with a restricted Torq would be 16-17mph not 15.5 (excepting hills and headwinds). Certainly I have chatted at lights with another cyclist amazed at the speeds I seem to be going while keeping flow with the traffic. And this with a bog standard Torq with a weak battery. In the end, electric or not, it is a bicycle and speed is all in the gearing and legs. I confess my legs have morphed since riding the Torq with it's dodgy battery, I have got very fit so thank you Mr Ching at Ezee.

You would be amazed at the number of lycras cruising at 15mph in London - I suppose they have been to the shop and kitted themselves out. The real lycras, as seen in France on Sundays are a different breed and seem to be cruising at 25mph not a speed I could ever achieve even if I took the duffle coat off.

As for the slip streaming I am well aware of what they are doing and always slow to a ridiculous pace so they are forced to overtake (if I cannot out run them) as I cannot stand the idea of somebody 1 foot behind me on London's roads. There is not much camaraderie on my commute and I get the odd comment about cheating - not a great line in conversation starters.
Hello Hal:
It is true: not all Lycras are dedicated cyclists.
London is a difficult place to ride. The last time I rode there was in 1947. Country roads are better. One does not get impeded.
I used to average 16 mph on my Torq, over a hilly course of 8 miles but it was not a breeze, more like invigorating - I had to go some and it was not sustainable. But I am pretty sure the Torq in restricted mode cannot be pedalled up to 25 mph. Significantly, David Henshaw in the Presteigne 'Rally' only achieved 25.3 mph on the home straight and that was with the derestricted version.
There was a 'war' (of words and competitiveness) between Mountain Bikers and 'Roadies' at one time early in the history of MTB's.. The former took the view that the 'roadies' were somehow inferior. I could never understand how they could perceive such a difference between riders who were, after all, cyclists.
Peter
 

HarryB

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 22, 2007
1,317
3
London
Yes the most I have seen is 22 mph under my own steam - never 25. I seem to hit a brick wall and cannot exceed this without the benefit of a hill or tail wind. I can only sustain this speed for 30 seconds or so - a bit useless really. I must admit to being tempted to get a super lightweight racer rather than another ebike as I may be fit enough to not need the assistance and it is certainly a faff with all the charging and battery problems I have had.
 

Ian

Esteemed Pedelecer
Apr 1, 2007
1,333
0
Leicester LE4, UK.
A few weeks ago I was nearing the summit of a long slope on my Torq at about 14 mph when I was easily overtaken by by a very ordinary looking chap sitting on a cheap looking mtb with no visible signs of mechanical assistance. I was gobsmacked as at this point I usually catch the lycra mob who are begining to feel the effects of the long drag and are out of the saddle and down to about 10mph.

It still puzzles me how he did it, I sometimes get passed on the level but I've never before or since been passed by a conventional cyclist on any decent hill.
 

flecc

Member
Oct 25, 2006
45,940
22,582
London is a difficult place to ride. The last time I rode there was in 1947. Country roads are better. One does not get impeded.

Peter
You would be amazed by the difference today Peter. On a recent drive up through some South London boroughs on a weekend day, despite the usual solid convoys of traffic in both directions, the bikes around, both parked up and ridden, outnumbered the motor vehicles by a huge margin. Not only were the large cycle stand zones full of bikes, but the pavement railings along the streets had bikes locked all the way along, sometimes two deep.

And because of the numbers of bikes around, motorists are much more bike aware and in some cases very helpful.

Just ten years ago I would hardly have seen a bike on that trip, it's a transformation that I still find astonishing.

It just took one man to do it, the Mayor forcing through cycle friendly policies, spending millions every year on cycle facilities and instituting the congestion charge to restrict motoring.
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