Posted by Evan McNeely on

Cyclists are assholes: Not Your Average Car-vs-Bike Article

Cyclists are assholes: Not Your Average Car-vs-Bike Article

Cyclists are Assholes: Not your average Car vs Bike Article

This is not the typical "bike vs. car" blog post you might be used to seeing on the internet. This is not a "rah rah go bikes go" article in which I debate all the reasons why drivers are stupid and cyclists deserve to do whatever we want. Nope, this post will argue the opposite. Not because I believe bikes and cyclists should stay at home; in fact, I am a professional bike racer and I love bikes more than a young woman loves binge watching the Mindy Project. Cyclists have every right to be on the road but, more specifically, we have a right to share the road with other traffic. At the moment, we aren't doing the sharing part very well and we are developing a bad reputation because of it.

Cyclists are assholes on the road. Not all of us of course. Some of us are decent and respectful and use a hand signal every once and a while. However, a lot of cyclists aren't and, in the public's eye, we would would score a 100% on the Asshole Rating Exam. Remember, no offence, I'm a cyclist too.

We get this shameful reputation because, more or less, we go where we want to, when we want to, and how we want to when on the road or pathways. Unfortunately, in fighting for our right to be on the road, we have developed a sense of entitlement to it. Pedestrians on the pathway: are in my way. Cars on the road: get in my way. Stop signs and red lights: just slow me down. If we want cars to respect us on the road, we need to act like we actually belong on the road.

Now, I'm not some cycling-etiquette prophet, sent down from the heavens to smite cyclists who careen through stop signs. It is possible that I am just a guilty as the worst of us for acting in this way. I go out on my bike everyday trying to be better. It seems like the only way to stop this car vs. bike feud, is to change ourselves.

I believe that most pro-cycling articles do a very good job at fueling our entitlement to be on the road. They always list the reasons why cyclists can, and should, be on the road and make sound arguments to backup their beliefs. It's just that, after reading, we all head out with a newly inflamed ego, ready to tell someone off when they question our rights, as if we can do no wrong. Understanding your right to be on the road is a good thing. Walking away from these articles with the idea that everybody had better listen up and get on the program, is not.

For example, the Idaho "stop as yield" law is very efficient for us cyclists. It is a law, practiced in some states, that allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs. Of course, cycling bloggers everywhere are pumping it up and lobbying for it. It is in essence a law that allows us to do whatever we want.

Some argue this law for safety, stating that it is safer for a cyclist to roll stop signs and red lights, than to stick to the side of the road. To me, that is like saying to it is safer to swim out into the deep ocean when a shark is in the water, because shark attacks happen in the shallows. There is no way it is safer to ride into the intersection, when others don't expect you to, then to sit on the curb and wait. 

Most cyclists practice the Idaho Stop without it actually being a law in their city or country. Going to the extent of arguing that since cyclists don't follow the rules of the road, maybe we should just change them. Yes world, change yourself in order to conform with us. That is what assholes expect of society.

Cyclists aren't just assholes, we are hypocritical assholes. When we ride off the road and onto the city pathways, where bikes are now the fast moving vehicles, we literally use the exact same arguments against our walking companions that we despise drivers for using against us. It can be no easier for me to outline this than with the chart below.

Drivers Opinion of Bikes on the Road

  • Slow me down, have to wait to get around you, when I'm trying to get home

Constant argument is that we only cause a driver to loose 3 second of there day to not kill us

  • Erratic and make sudden lane changes and turns
  • Don't obey stop signs or red lights or intersections
  • Ride 2 abreast and clog the whole lane

Riders Opinion of Pedestrians on the Paths

  • Get in my way when I'm trying to ride zone 1

In reality... we would only loose 3 seconds if we did actually try to slow down (we don't)

  • Walkers always erratically drifting left and right. 
  • Don't pay attention to the yellow line. Runners on the wrong side of the road and cross lanes with no notice
  • Pedestrians always taking up both lanes of the path while getting their walk on

"Sooo, how about you stop calling us assholes and give us a solution," you might be saying. It all starts with a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Giving respect is the only way to get some down the road.

 

    Show drivers that you are willing to share and cooperate on the road. Every time you blaze an intersection, you just reinforced the asshole-cyclist persona. The only way to prevent this is to stop and smile and be patient. Maybe, just maybe, wave a car through a stop sign before going on your way. Don't be the asshole. We can't turn every cyclist into an ex-asshole, but we can change the way others see us by showing them respect first.

    Ways to help re-brand cyclists as the good guys we are:

    1. Be patient and wait and stop lights (especially if other people are watching)
    2. Stop at stop signs and wave a driver through
    3. Single out on busy roads to give a driver more space to make a safe pass
    4. If riding double file, intentionally single out just to let a driver pass (I had a school teacher who performed an experiment. If drivers saw him intentionally single out or move over to give space, they in return gave more space when passing)
    5. Use a bell on the bike paths
    6. Wait behind pedestrians for a safe passing opportunity on bike paths
    7. If somebody buzzes you on a narrow road, make a heart with your hands and blow him soft, sweet kisses
    8. If someone calls you a faggot, respond with, "why yes, I do believe in gay marriage thanks for noticing." Then proceed with the same gesture as in #7

    If you made it this far in reading this post, you are one of the people who can change things around. The others, who closed the tab after being called an asshole for the first time, are a lost cause. So share this article and tell people your thoughts.

    Now go out and ride. Be the nice guy. Show the world that we belong on the road.

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    An Entrepreneurial Adventure – bike racing and socks

    An Entrepreneurial Adventure – bike racing and socks

    Big News: An Entrepreneurial Adventure - bike racing and socks

    The following passage is taken from the Sneaky Socks journal.

    I may have studied Engineering in University, but over the last few years I have become an entrepreneur at heart. The allure of creating something new that is entirely your own, the challenges that this brings, and the rewards of never working a “real” job (on someone else’s schedule) slowly became irresistible to me. This is why I started Sneaky Socks 6 months ago and have some exciting news to share.

    Looking back, my falling for this entrepreneurial bug was inevitable. Being a professional athlete is, in every way, the same thing as being an entrepreneur. If you’re a bike racer who has worked countless hours for no defined wage amidst of a landfill of sacrifices in order to land a contract, then congratulations, you’re an entrepreneur. You are creating a brand in yourself that other brands want to partner with. The business is you and your purpose is to sell product through racing. The parallels between professional sport and business ventures are endless. The highs and lows, small wins and big losses. The unquestionable dedication and confidence required to succeed. The scheduling of time and sacrifices made in light of “the big picture”. Athletes make good entrepreneurs for good reasons.

    Six months ago I designed some socks and got 240 pairs made up. The margins weren’t big, but it gave me a way to connect with people at a different level then just reading my blog and seeing my name in results. With all the positive feedback I received on first 240 pairs, I decided to take things up a notch.

    I spent the three months following this decision researching and ordering a sock knitting machine and the necessary yarn to make socks on my own. Yes, that involved a significant and bold investment to make happen. Much like sport, nothing comes cheap and easy. I often find myself asking who the #$!& does this?! I found an industrial machine, usually purchased in quantities of ten, and said, “yes I’ll take one please and thank you.” Supposedly I am this person, and for some reason it seems totally reasonable and within reach.

    This machine will allow me to have more freedom in the designs I produce and time it takes to do so. I will be continuously pumping out new stuff in a way never seen before. Hence, disrupting the sock game as it is currently known. This #sockdisruption will come in few different forms. Once a design sells out, it will not be brought back into stock. Choose wisely and act quickly. I will offer custom design services for teams, clubs or businesses with no minimum order requirements. Finally, a sock-O-the-month subscription service with production designs not available in store. Prototyping is currently underway and the above initiatives will be launched when ready.

    As a small way to say thank you to all the people you have supported me, I am giving a free pair of socks from my first product run to EVERYBODY has already purchased a pair of socks thus far. I will also give a free pair to EVERYBODY who buys a pair of the original order I made 6 months ago (limited stock in some sizes). Order from the website. I’ll send you a pair now and the second pair when they are ready. Enjoy.

     

     

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    Bonelli US Cup 2016

    Bonelli US Cup 2016

    35 degrees, 50% humidity, a salty film coats your entire body. Sweat stings your eyes. You’re in downward dog. The sweat pours down your chin and into your nose. You drown silently. Unable to breath. Sweat blocking your airways.  30 other people, somehow enjoying this. That is hot yoga.

    I enjoy regular yoga, the room temperature kind. But after spending 3 months in the brisk Victorian climate we needed to get hot before moving south to LA. Heat acclimation was the final step in what was the most productive winter of my cycling career. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was fee to go and train where ever I pleased. I chose Victoria.

    In Victoria I trained under the Canadian National Team coach, Dan Proulx, with several there athletes with one common goal: get fast. We all worked together to push our boundaries, making the long hours and hard workouts seem effortless. Many times I almost didn’t think I was training enough. Until, that is, you hit the third week of the training block and can’t remember whether Monday is before Wednesday or after Friday. It feels effortless because you’re with other people all doing the same thing. That’s called teamwork.

    So we did hot yoga and I did everything I could to not complain about it. I put a sock in it. Funny story is, the Bonelli Park US Cup was not hot. In stark contrast to typical SoCal conditions, it rained hard and it was chilly. But I came from Victoria, where 16 degrees and rain was a nice day. I was at home again.

    Unfortunately, I overlapped wheels in the first 30 meters and very narrowly avoided a hard crash. With both feet unclipped, riding my top tube like a prized bull, I braced myself expecting the worst. After nobody crashed into me, I carried on with my day. At this point I was pretty far back in the field and my “race” was technically over. I put my head down anyways and started chugging away like Thomas the Tank Engine. I managed to claw my way back into 15th place, a personal best, with no complaints.

    Time for rest. Sea Otter Classic is next weekend.

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    5th Birthday Party

    5th Birthday Party

    Update: 5th Birthday Party

    I can't remember my 5th birthday party. What kind cake did I have? How many presents did my grandma give me? Where the hell did I even live when I was five?

    I can't remember when I last wrote a post, for my avid and intrigued fans, the same way I can't remember my 5th birthday party. I know there wasn't any cake and my grandma didn't give me a single present and I was located in Ottawa at the time. I know that since then I have driven across the country and am writing this from Victoria. So there's a lot to discuss and little time to discuss it.

    Since the last time I wrote (besides driving across the country) I graduated University, found a girlfriend, started a sock company, appeared on the cover of a magazine, learned how to play the ukulele, ate lots of cookies.....

    I know the one part that sentence you had to re-read was "found a girlfriend", so I'll start there. I forget to put on deodorant 29 days out of 30. I can't grow a beard. My wingspan is longer than I am tall. Obviously some girls find these things attractive. So there you have it.

    I also graduated from Carleton University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. My acquisition of the Iron Ring here by ends my pursuit of an Engineering career. If you tell me to stop tapping it on things I will punch you with it.

    I started a sock company: Sneaky Socks. In these early months, Sneaky Socks is purely a way for you, my avid readers and intrigued fans, to support my attempt at bike racing while also getting cool stuff. You can buy socks at the bottom of the post. My ambitions for this company are to one day gross enough profit to buy out the government with campaign donations and make it illegal to wear any other socks but mine own. Triggering a never ending cycle of money in to my pockets as well as my arrogant children. There is a metaphor in there somewhere, I'm sure. But I'm an Engineer; I don't do metaphors.

    The final piece of the puzzle, I drove across the country to Victoria. I am here living with Norco teammates and friends, Haley Smith and Andrew L'Esperance, to train full time for the 2016 season. I'm a graduate now, I have a lot of time now. The weather here is awesome (sorry Ontario)

    Oh yea, I learned how to play the ukulele.

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    Canadian Cycling Magazine – The complete guide to disc brakes on road bikes

    Canadian Cycling Magazine – The complete guide to disc brakes on road bikes

    I don’t race on the road. But I do train on the road a lot and have ridden disc brakes exclusively for the past few years. They are loads better, and attempt to explain why they are better in the article below. I debunk, explain and elaborate on every concern and speculation I have heard about the transition to disc brakes on road bikes. Comment and share if you like the article and want more.

     

    disc road

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    GP Gloucestershire

    GP Gloucestershire

    Race Report: Grand Prix Gloucester

    I wore my sunglasses inside. My Smith casuals, with matte tortoise print, obviously made me look like a Calvin Klein model (from the neck up at least), but that’s not why I was wearing them. I was wearing them to hide the extra-large handbags I was carrying under my blood shot eyes. I was sick. I looked terrible. More of a Pepto Bismol model than Calvin Klein.

    Ironically this happened just days after I bragged about “not being sick for over a year.” Which was true and I was right to brag about it. But know, as if all the germs inside me had consolidated and trained for one big attack, I was ragingly sick and not even sure I could race my bike.

    I had driven 8 hours down to Gloucester, MA the day before for the Craft Grand Prix of Gloucester; possibly my favorite cyclocross race on the calendar. Graciously, my host family allowed to be antisocial and sit in a dark room all morning listening to The Big Short on e-book. Alone and wearing sunglasses. I took some Severe Cold and Flu medication, all completely legal in competition, and started to feel alive again. Despite one ingredient which warned of severe liver damage if consumed in large amounts, this stuff was amazing. I probably still looked like the slowest moving zombie on The Walking Dead but at least I was moving.

    I got to the race and started warming up and felt OK. The wonder of the head cold is that once you start moving you can keep moving, as long as you never stop. So I raced and, besides a very slow kick off the start line, I was doing ok. I moved up a lot of positions before flatting. Everybody was flatting. Spare bike, wheel change, back in the game. Then a big crash over the barriers which took me out. It wasn’t a bounce-up-quickly kind of crash, it was a crawl-to-the-side-of-the-course kind of crash. Up to this point, 4 races in to the season, I have hopped the barriers every race. Until this time I failed.

    Sunday morning I felt like a zillion bucks. At least, in comparison to the morning before. No need for sunglasses. I felt good after a hard race the day before and ready to go at again. I got a much better, which put me inside the top 15 and counting. Near the end of the race, however, it seems I went a little to “red” and lost a bunch of places. I needed to back off and chill for 2 laps before getting back in the race for the last lap.

    Somehow racing  decently so far but with no result to show for it yet. I can wait until Winnipeg.

     

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    Cross Vegas World Cup

    Cross Vegas World Cup

    Race Report: Cross Vegas World Cup

    Pulling the handle of a slot machine, my first casino gambling experience of my adult career. In an airport. (I’m 23, why did it take me this long?)

    Click-ick

    Slot machines are one of those things you will never understand until you do it. I watched thousands of people hunched over little LED displays thinking, “Why?”! The blue-light of the screen scorching the backs of their retinas,  increasing their chance of eye surgery 10 years hence. Slot machines are equivalent to booking eye surgery while betting away handle fulls of cash.

    Click-ick

    And then you play and go  “Oh, this is kinda fun!” The high pitched beep that once drove you crazy from afar is now white noise. Almost pleasant.

    Click-ick

    Within a few short minutes we were up 50% on our principle. Easy money. With Kyle Douglas betting the credits and me pulling the handle, the world was our oyster. Should we have walked away then with a 50 cent pay day? Probably. But the feeling of invincibility drives you forward until all your credits are gone. One dollar down the drain. I could have bought a coke.


     

    This was my first slot machine experience; my first Interbike experience; my first Cross Vegas experience, and my first cyclocross World Cup experience. Las Vegas is a pretty magical place. Not only because of all the shows, lights and crowds but because the tourist attractions are the hotels themselves. People come to tour hotels. Whoever pulled that off is a magician.

    Cross Vegas was the most high-energy cross race I have ever done and one of the funnest races I have ever done. Accept for that back stretch, in to the wind and up the hill. That wasn’t fun. Since this was a week of many firsts, I really had no expectations for myself results wise. I had never raced 80% of the people in this field. No idea where I stacked up.

    So when I found myself in roughly 35th position (after starting in 60th or so) I was happy with the way things were going. I felt comfortable, with only one, straight, power section giving me a hard time. So it was disappointing when I powered around a corner in to a ride-up stair feature to find four guys on the ground in front of me. You needed to build speed/momentum in to these steps so I had little time to adjust or slow down for the yard sale in front of me. My front wheel slammed in the wooden step and you can fill in the rest. I ran to the pit and received a spare wheel to finish the race on. The massive chasing group had long gone by then leaving me few people to reel in and pass, crossing the line in 54th.

    I’m happy with the form I had for the start of the race, and the start of this cyclocross season. Some strong rides from Canadians Jeremy Martin, finishing 35th in his first ever cross World Cup, and Geoff Kabush who rode in to about 20th place before suffering a mechanical and dropping back.

    I think I’m addicted to cross now.

    [photo credit to Ken Anderson Sports Inc]

     

    Posted by Evan McNeely on

    Ellison Park Cyclocross

    Ellison Park Cyclocross

    Race Report: Ellison Park Cyclocross

    “Should I just quit?”

    “No, stop being a puss, ride the damn bicycle.”

    A few of the conflicting arguments my conscious brain was having during my first cyclocross race of the season. I hate dropping out of races. Hate it. I’ve only done it two times in what is nearly 8 years of racing. The first time was strategic; I had a 9 hour drive to crush and if I pulled out early I would make it home before 2 am. The second time was not strategic, it was very depressing. Lifting up the course tape and walking away from the competition through a crowd of on-lookers thinking, “what is wrong with me?”

    That terrible feeling is what kept me in this race, despite it being one of the most miserable times I’ve ever had. The heat of the sun, without a cloud in the sky, raised temperatures to above 30 degrees Celcius. The humidex rendered shade meaningless. I had no energy. My little ring could not have been small enough. But I managed to ride around until I got pulled. Then I watched some impressive rides some people battling the same conditions as I was.

    I used that Saturday race to fuel my motivation for Sundays event. The same course, but in reverse. I was able to race. I was riding my bike well in every section of the course. I was able to push the pedals hard and suffer again. I finished 12th, outside of the points and well back from the leaders, but far better than the previous days attempt. Proper suffering and bike handling was all I needed from this weekend. I can build on that over the next 2 months.