Saturday, October 13, 2012

Trans Iowa V9: Thoughts On Gravel Road Riding Etiquette

My friend Ari, who himself is a passionate gravel road rider, Trans Iowa Veteran, and soul leader of the "Slender Fungus Cycling Association", has posted on his blog some awesome gravel road riding etiquette thoughts and pointers. I hope Ari doesn't mind, but here are his bullet points. (You still should follow the link to read the rest.)
1: People live out there and need to be respected.

2: Do not leave your garbage out there. pack it in your jersey pocket or on bike and dispose of properly

3: If nature calls, find a spot where you are not visible.

4: Ride on the right side of the road so you don't get killed by a truck coming over a hill.

5: Be an ambassador and don't make the rest of us look like idiots. Wave and say hi. Maybe one day a rider will be stranded and a farmer will offer a ride.

6: If you have an encounter with a dog, for your own safety don't harm the dog as you will be harmed by a farmer that has the dog to protect his property. Most dogs will let up once you pass the property line. If they don't, get off the bike and use the bike as a shield until you can get away. Refrain from spraying the poor animal with any chemicals. We had an accident where a repair bike had an unlocked canister of pepper spray and when one of our mechanics went to put the bike on the stand that thing went out and sprayed us. It was terrible and it took me all day to feel better.

7: If you gravel grind at night please use a blinker in back and a bright white light in front. A cyclist just got killed in my old neighborhood while a pickup truck was passing a slow moving vehicle. It had a head on collision with a cyclist that was riding in the dark with no lights. The unfortunate cyclist was a family man on his way to work. It bums me out tremendously.

Great tips! These are super important things to me as well. If you ride in Trans Iowa, you are an ambassador for cycling, gravel road riding, and lastly- for Trans Iowa. Now normally we don't ever have an issue with these things, but I stress these points, as does Ari, because we care about riding and how cyclists are perceived by the public. But more than this- we care about your safety, and the freedom we have to be able to do this activity.

Besides, most of this is just plain smart.

Special thanks to Ari for his brilliant post. I hope you do not mind my borrowing some of it!


jkeiffer said...

I agree, but at the same time its kind of sad that something like this even needs to be posted at all.

Guitar Ted said...

@jkieffer: Well, yes, it is sad. The thing that Ari is concerned with, and I am as well, is that more and more folks are showing up at these events to race/ride/challenge themselves. I would estimate the number of organized events has doubled in the last 12-18 months easy.

More people = more chances for folks not using their heads out there. We want to preempt stupidity before it happens, not having to come out with this after the fact.

MG said...

Amen... Great points. We don't want to be the ones those folks think about when they think about "those idiot bikers". I always try to be the one that proves that notion wrong, especially in rural and small town settings. I grew up in a small town, so for me it just seems like what you do.

Good points on dogs and pepper spray too... In more than 20 years of gravel grinding, I've been fortunate to only have ever had one run-in with a dog ever escalate to actual contact. It was a scary day... Those always are, but you live, and that's empowering in itself.

It's good to share this stuff though because a lot of new riders lack perspective to know that not thinking, or not preparing, can have very bad consequences when you're alone in the middle of the night on a gravel road with no support. Being prepared with the right tools and knowledge will go a long way towards keeping everyone safe, no doubt.

Thanks again,

Guitar Ted said...

@MG: Hey, you are welcome, Brother! You are one of the good guys, and you and the fellows in Lincoln all pretty much "get" this concept. I always have had the highest respect for you guys down there because of that.

Thank you for setting such a great example for others like me to follow!