Seven people you'll encounter on your ride to work
From the leapfrogger to the magic mystery shortcut master, here are seven characters you're sure to see on your ride to work
Do you ride your bike to work? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you’re part of a growing trend. A rapidly increasing number of Brits are cycle commuting in cities all around the UK and their reasons for doing so are nearly as diverse as the types of bikes that they use to get from A to B.
Whether you’re riding to work for extra training, or you just can’t stand spending what feels like half your life on public transport, or maybe the bike ride is just plain quicker than sitting in a car in traffic – commuting by bike has some massive benefits.
But it can also come with its own little annoyances, and some of those are inevitably caused by the people around you, be they motorists, pedestrians, or other cyclists. We’ve taken a light-hearted look at some of the characters you’ll definitely encounter on your ride to work.
The leap frogger
You know this rider. You have an irrational dislike of this rider. He or she always has to be in front of you when you’re waiting at a light. They will duck-waddle their bike through a tiny gap which, until that moment, had not existed, just to nudge their wheel a couple of inches ahead of yours.
And then what happens? They go off from the light first and you overtake them within a matter of seconds. Repeat this silly little charade ad infinitum, or until one of you reaches your destination. Just make sure you past them one last time just as they are pulling over or turning off towards their office.
The phone fool
Yes, we all have mobile phones, and no, there’s nothing innately ‘wrong’ with staring at them. However, as with all things, there is very much a time and a place, and ‘as you walk blind into the path of traffic’ is neither the time nor place for checking your WhatsApp messages.
The worst example of this is when pedestrians are actually heads down, scrolling away, and oblivious to the fact they’re strolling along IN A BIKE LANE. Here’s a clue for you, if the floor behind your phone screen turns from regular pavement to bright blue/red/green tarmac, you may have strayed into the wrong place.
Matey boy rides a road bike, but insists on trying to trackstand at every set of lights as if he makes a living delivering documents to the City on a fixed gear. Predictably, he can’t hold the stand for longer than a few seconds, so always ends up unclipping and scrambling to get his foot down. If there is any justice, the lights will go green exactly as he touches his foot to the tarmac.
A variation of this is the rider who can’t trackstand at all and just inches very, very slooooooowly through a pedestrian crossing while the light is red. As if, by moving really slowly, it for some reason doesn’t count as running a red light?
“Hey! Hey, buddy! You might want to start pedalling because the light is green and there’s about ten tonnes of angry steel behind you that really wants to get across this junction!"
Whether they’ve had a rough night, or are just distracted by checking where they are on their phone map, there always seem to be a few sleepyheads each morning who manage to miss the light in front of them turning green and wind up standing there like a lemon.
Remember, we’ve all made this mistake and it doesn’t take much to get caught out, so be nice! Just helpfully yell the word ‘GO’ as loudly as possible, to gently indicate that the lights have changed colour.
The white van-gry man
Hey van driver, why so angry? Is it because you spend every morning listening to the Chris Evans breakfast show? Or is it ‘cos you spend three hours a day in a tiny tin box that costs you hundred of pounds a month, while cyclists whoosh by you with enormous smiles on their faces and get where they’re going twice as fast?
Both, to be fair, are legit reasons to be angry – but that’s no reason to take it out on other road users by using your conveyance as an offensive weapon. If you wanna smash into things, go enter a demolition derby.
The magical mystery shortcut master
Most commuters will have encountered some version of the MMSM; he or she will appear at some stage in your regular commute, riding somewhat slower than you are going. You will overtake them / leave them at a set of lights, and think no more about it. Until somehow, inexplicably, they reappear in front of you a little bit further along your route.
Either this mysterious individual was mastered the art of wormhole travel, or they know about a shortcut you don’t. Infuriatingly, you never remember about their mystical powers of teleportation until they reappear, so you always forget to follow their wheel and find out exactly how they do it.
Some mysteries are not meant to be solved.
The ‘did you get dressed in the dark?’ rider
How people don’t know how to dress appropriately to ride their bikes will remain a source of constant mystery for years to come, if not for all eternity. It’s pretty simple stuff.
If your window is covered in water droplets and all the trees outside are pointing sideways, it’s probably a good day for a jacket and some gloves. Likewise, if everything out there looks unusually bright and dry you might want to reach for the lightweight jersey and a pair of shorts.
On most commutes you’ll see at least one person who is either woefully unprepared, or just incredibly optimistic about their chances, riding through a hurricane in a baggy cotton T-shirt and some old football shorts. Or a snow storm in bib shorts and a short sleeve jersey.
Not everyone can afford - or wants - the very swishiest tight-fitting gear to ride their bike in, but a waterproof coat - even a packable poncho - are within the reach of everyone and will make your travels much, much more enjoyable.