It’s takes all types

I ride part way to my office on the Guadalupe River Trail in San Jose, California.

Like many urban bike trails, this path can be busy with a mix of cyclists and walkers of all ages. Since walkers are the “more vulnerable user” on these paths, I relax and slow to nearly walking speed, no matter what bike I happen to ride that day.

This past couple of weeks I’ve seen “Rex” on the trail. I toodle along at maybe 7 MPH, but Rex always races for his life — grimace, sweat drenched, wearing baggy black shorts, grimy gray t-shirt under a high viz safety vest, and an ancient foam helmet. He also has a flat bar, pannier-equipped steel commuter bike with supposedly superior “upright” seating, but Rex is always hunched over with his chin hovering just over the stem as he grinds his way to work. Go Rex.

I’ve been commuting on my fancy road bike this past couple of weeks. No pannier or rack on my bike because I ride in what I wear to the office. Today, that happens to be casual dark brown slacks and a long sleeve blue button up dress shirt.

On our daily encounters, Rex has even given me “the look” a couple of times. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rex heads straight to BikeForums to brag about riding faster than the Lance-wannabe with the crabon bike. Whatever, dude.

This morning, I’m sharing the path with walkers and slow way down to wait for a gap to open through the congestion when Rex veers out of nowhere, bumps me off of the trail, throws a nasty look my way while scaring the crabon out of pedestrians as he weaves through at 15 MPH.

Dear Rex. You’re a jerk. Slow down before you hurt somebody, okay? A crowded trail is no place to try for a Strava KOM.

Something kind of similar happened to the OC Weekly food writer Dave Lieberman a couple of weeks ago. He’s riding sedately on the Santa Ana bikeway. A group of Lycra-clad roadies — you know, my type of cyclists — come the opposite way. Barney on the wrong side of the path refuses to give way and collides head on into Dave. Barney blames Dave for the collision and kicks Dave — as in he literally kicks with his cleated shoe — when Dave is still down on the ground. The police are involved, and witnesses back Dave up. You can read about the encounter here.

Dear Barney. You’re a jerk. Slow down before you hurt somebody, okay? A crowded trail is no place to try for a Strava KOM.

David vs Barney via Ted, who points out Barney and Rex may also get annoyed with slow cyclists in the way when they’re driving their cars on the street.

9 Comments

  • bikesgonewild
    September 6, 2012 - 3:38 pm | Permalink

    …”we” will always be our own worst enemy…

    …unfortunately…

  • September 6, 2012 - 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Going by your description I think I’ve come across Rex on the San Thomas trail twice. Once he was riding behind some walkers in the direction of Agnew and yelled “come on” at me as I was riding in the opposite lane (towards Monroe). Guess Rex wanted to overtake the walkers, but is too good to slow down and wait for oncoming cyclists to go past first.

  • Chip
    September 6, 2012 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I guess I’ve been lucky enough to avoid Rex or *cringe* been riding aggressively enough to not draw his ire. I have to remind myself, sometimes, not to be a “Cat Sixer” to use BSNYC’s term.

    How do y’all control your desire to zip along?

  • type3john
    September 6, 2012 - 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I used to commute on a path. Lots of incidents with walkers and dogs forcing me to slow down. It also had many diagonal cross streets making it very dangerous at 20+ mph. I started commuting through neighborhood streets. It added a mile, but is much more smooth riding and I dont scare any old ladies.

  • September 6, 2012 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Chip — I think I mellow with age. You’ll get there :-)

  • September 6, 2012 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    Yep, when I want to go fast I hit the streets. Guadalupe River Trail is pretty empty most of the time, though. The bad one near my office is San Tomas Aquino Trail — very popular with walkers. Los Gatos Creek Trail can get pretty congested too.

  • September 6, 2012 - 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I think we’ve all run into “Rex” :-)

  • Jennifer
    September 7, 2012 - 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for reminding me not to be a jerk! Lately a residual fear of motor traffic has resulted in pent-up aggression being expunged on the Lakefront Trail, other users be darned. I think it’s time for me to join a bike club, because that attitude is neither safe nor polite.

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