Why Are Roadies Such {expletive deleted}?

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Jun 8, 2015

 Dear Uncle Dave;

Thanks for your advice on passing on the right. I gave up e-cycling along 16th because I hurt my hand punching a cab.  I’ve been using cycling routes more now.  Which leads me to my next question.

What’s the (expletive deleted) etiquette on drafting. Every so often some (expletive deleted) in spandex who thinks he’s hot (expletive deleted) sees me pass him then hauls (expletive deleted) and rides behind my tire… literally like a foot behind. This isn’t the tour the France or grand fondo; I’m going to work and generally weaving in and out of bikes along the bike routes… plus all the lights and (expletive deleted) so I kinda think it’s not the right time or appropriate to pretend we are in stage 11 of the tour heading over the Alps. Plus, isn’t it kinda rude?… I mean if some (expletive deleted) tailgates me in my car, I don’t like it…

I have asked two people in the last few days to back off then I let them go in front of me; of course they don’t like this and take the opportunity to give me (expletive deleted) for riding and electrical bike at which point of course I can’t keep my mouth shut so I start in on them… general theme is: I’m going to work, this isn’t the grand fondo… I don’t want you rear ending me or getting in an accident so (expletive deleted) off. Shouldn’t the draftee be comfortable with the drafter crawling up their (expletive deleted)?… or is my comfort level secondary to exerting 10% less energy for the same amount of speed?… did I not get the memo I was on the UPS team?… where’s my doping program? WTF?

Advice please. 

Dear Ape:

Thank-you so much for your second question. Once again, it is a revelation and has brought much joy to Uncle Dave land.  Please, keep fresh questions rolling in. It would make me very happy if you became the Alec Baldwin of Uncle Dave.

What I love the most about your questions is the challenge that they present. You have unique experiences that have most likely never been faced any other being and I feel honoured that I am a part of this exploration into human nature. You’re a trail breaker and a visionary and I’m humbled by your existence.

Before we get into our over-the-top road bike bashing, let’s just take a moment to recognize that all sports attract a fair number of jerks who act like assholes. But it feels like there is something special about the jerky assholes who happen to ply their trade as road cyclists. Perhaps it’s because their considerable speed allows them to pass, annoy and harass an insane number of people every time they go for a ride? Or maybe we just really can’t stand people in brightly coloured clothing? Who knows. The point is that most people riding road bicycles are fine upstanding citizens. But the ones who aren’t make a huge impression.

Now, on to the libel and name calling. It seems like you already know a fair bit about road racing culture, but I think that we need to dig a little deeper into the worst aspects of this scene to find the root of your problem.  This, after all, is a sport where the greats are deified, emulated even, for their alpha male dickishness. Where the poster children for success are convicted cheaters whose only transgression was competing during an era where “everybody was doing it.” All that aggression and terribleness has filtered down and infected some at the grassroots level.  Where it is considered normal to scream at a person for a minor infraction in their weekend group ride “peloton” and where EPO has invaded even the lowest ranks. The whole reason that some of these amateur Lances are out there is to prove that they are the smartest and fastest cyclists on the road.

And you’ve stumbled upon a couple of king meatheads at the top of the road cycling idiot pyramid. Not only that, but, you’ve challenged their superiority. You refuse to take your rightful place on the bicycle hierarchy and are flying very, very close to the sun. Jumping on your rear wheel is just the road biker way of telling you that you’re not as great as you think you are. You should think about taking this as a compliment.

What I’m most impressed with though, is that without even trying, you’ve figured out a way to troll the trolls. Mountain bikers hate it when they’re pedaling with all their might up a steep road on the way to a trailhead, only to have some spandex clad buffoon go smirking by on a 10 pound “bicycle” with the rolling resistance of a maglev train. Here you are giving them a taste of their own medicine. Well done.

We would probably serve ourselves well by recognizing the type of person that you are dealing with and considering how we would respond in other situations.  If you were to encounter this guy driving his car, he would probably be the one flashing his lights, tailgating and passing on a double yellow through a school zone.  In this situation, everybody would know to give this guy a wide berth.  They would realize that engagement and/or confrontation is a really bad idea.  But what am I saying?  You’re a trail blazer and none of this applies to you.  Heck, from you description of how you ride your e-bike, you probably are this guy, tailgating and flashing his lights.  We need to think a bit differently.  Here are a number of alternative responses if you again encounter this situation in the future.

1) Verbal confrontation – We’ll call this the “status quo” option, to which we will compare all other options.  Our baseline.  No advice needed.

2) Threatening gestures – During his reign of terror, Lance Armstrong was known to threaten opponents with comical gestures.  “Zip the lips”, etc.  Imagine yourself as a comic book villain and act accordingly.  Draw your fingers across your throat…shake your fist…smack your fist into an open palm…all good options.  You could also embrace the most likely Euro-centricity of the offender and give him the “V” sign.

3) Physical confrontation – If words and gestures don’t cause an end to the situation, you may have to really ramp things up.  Although this may seem really appealing, there’s a chance you wind up arrested or have the crap kicked out of you.  Just to cover myself for the inevitable court case, this is not recommended.

4) Domination – Experts tell us that if we encounter a wild animal in the woods, it’s best not to make direct eye contact as they will perceive it as a sign of aggression or dominance. The underlying assumption here is that said animal will kick the crap out of us and we need to recognize our place in the world. But you’re better than this guy on his over-priced carbon fiber grocery getter. You’ve got a motor. Turn around, stare deeply into his eyes, twist that throttle and pedal off into the sunset. This is the only language he will truly understand.

It goes without saying…please keep in touch and let us know how this all pans out.


Uncle Dave

Note: We here at Uncle Dave have taken to running our questions devoid of any editing.  Spelling mistakes and confused ramblings remain, unless the error taps a shadowy portion of my psyche that requires correction, things are left as is.  This week, I have questioned this policy. Not due to any grammatical error nor offensive ramblings.  After all, those seem to add rather than subtract from this week’s message. But due to facts stretching things to the limit of credulity. Do we leave all of the information in and let you, the reader, enjoy the full scope on offer? Or do we selectively edit to align this situation more closely with one that would border on socially acceptable?  I mean, if I read this and didn’t have independent confirmation that these events happened and were real, there’s no way that I would believe them to be true.  Can we honestly expect you, dear reader, to follow along and take a leap of faith that we haven’t made this all up?  It feels like there is no right answer.  So, we’ve kept all the facts but have edited 3 e-mails down to one question.  We’ve also ceased corresponding with our e-bike champion for now, as each new e-mail has required a re-write and we’ve run out of time.


APE – your prize is a pair of Specialzed Ground Control Tires. Size 650b. Not recommended for your e-commuter.

Roadies and e-commuters seems like a match made in heaven to us. Not so much it turns out.

Got a question? Send it to Uncle Dave.



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ExtraSpecialandBitter  - June 9, 2015, 5:21 p.m.

EPO stands for Electronic Performance Optimization. Didn't you hear about all the bike checks in the Giro? So therefore Ape is a doper and he's just feeling the rage when his drug of choice doesn't perform to the level he expected.


rvoi  - June 9, 2015, 11:38 a.m.

I thought the whole point of riding an ebike is that you don't have to take all the steroids? Choose one or the other, AP.


bobloblaw  - June 9, 2015, 9:46 a.m.

Roadie rule #238: If you don't want someone on your wheel, drop them.

Oh, your e-bike isn't fast enough to drop drafting roadies? Maybe you should have bought a real motorcycle.


Gus  - June 9, 2015, 9:16 a.m.

The thought of someone on an e-bike "weaving in and out of bikes along the bike routes" and then finding someone drafting them rude makes my blood boil.


Merwinn  - June 9, 2015, 10:26 a.m.

If many (but not all) ebike riders had a clue on riding etiquette and what the red, amber and green round lights mounted on the posts meant, they wouldn't be so hated by others.


ana  - June 9, 2015, 11:08 a.m.


There's a ton of ebikes on my commute, I haven't noticed them to be any particular menace. I've certainly seen a lot less of them weaving through other bikes on the bike lanes/ roads than I see from other roadie's. I think this is because they're less confident cyclists, and don't like to do anything they see as dangerous. Also, ebikes generally go 20mph or less, not really super fast.

What I do see all the time is random shmucks not getting off my wheel (I'm also on my road bike). I don't know their skill level, I may have to stop quickly or turn for other path/ road users. At the very least, pull your weight and take a turn. I'm trying to commute, not pull a paceline.


Johnny Smoke  - June 9, 2015, 7:23 a.m.

Most of them aren't intentionally rude. Like, when you when you wave at a roadie and they don't wave back? It's not that they're dicks, it's because if they take their hands off the bars they'll fall over…


Cr4w  - June 9, 2015, 8:40 a.m.

No skills or no courtesy? I guess we'll never know.


ExtraSpecialandBitter  - June 9, 2015, 5:19 p.m.

I always find it the other way around. I wave and say good morning or hello to people and I tend to get blank stares. I'm a roadie… and a mountain biker (mountain biker came first, but meh). I don't understand this argument. If the guy tails you and doesn't say anything, then that is a faux pas and he is likely a tri geak pretending to be a roadie.


Poo Stance  - June 10, 2015, 8:38 p.m.

I'm a fan of the roadies I exchange a wave with one day while Im out on the road bike and the very next day the same roadie snubs me when Im on the XC bike


JasonZ  - June 9, 2015, 6:37 a.m.

brake check!!!


kain0m  - June 9, 2015, 5:06 a.m.

I would just go ahead to annoy them. Every time they pull up to your rear tire, slowly decrease your speed. At some point they will get fed up, try to overtake, which is when you will speed up again to your regular "cruising" speed. Repeat that procedure a few times until the roadie is sufficiently annoyed. They will either keep a distance from now on, or confront you verbally - to which you simply reply "Did I not get my point across yet?".


litespeed74  - June 9, 2015, 6:54 a.m.

This method works well…then I go suck his wheel for the rest of the ride… hahaha. I often pass a roadie then see them bridge up to me but I have to wonder…why not just ride that fast on your own??


Stephen Bassnicki  - June 9, 2015, 4:38 a.m.

Do what I did one day. I locked up my back brake and slid my back tire from side to side, and he then slammed into the back of my bike. Thus causing him to wipe out. 🙂 Here is were it gets good. He is freaking out, and I am on the phone to the police now. He is yelling "I'm going to have you charged, bla, bla, bla…. Police show up. He starts running his mouth to the cops saying that I made him hit the ground. I smiled. And said yes, he ran into my back tire. Long story short. He got charged with riding recklessly. He had to pay for my back rim, and his carbon bike was now scratched to shit.


Pete Roggeman  - June 9, 2015, 12:51 p.m.

Kinda like jamming your brakes when someone's tailgating you. You get rear- ended, possibly whiplash, need a new bumper, the two of you have to go through a claim, the hassle of a repair, maybe you cause a traffic jam on the bridge while sorting it all out, but damned if you didn't get your point across.


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