It is said that “the meek shall inherit the earth”. I’m of the opinion that it’s actually the excruciatingly, teeth-on-edge-settingly cheery and polite who shall win that particular prize when push comes to shove.
Out on the roads, I try my level best to say hello or cheerily acknowledge each and every cyclist I pass. Many return my effort with a chipper response, while almost as many, seemingly, just blank me with surprising levels of rudeness. Others merely look confused, as if I’ve shouted at them in Swahili.
Heading out on a ride with attitude brewing isn’t going to make anyone feel better about life, including the rider in question
For me it’s a part of the beauty of cycling, that sense of being part of a larger community and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside from it. I understand that some riders are in the zone and therefore probably completely oblivious to anything else at all, but it’s the ones who stare at me and make absolutely no response that really puzzle me.
It’s not just on the roads either. When I’m out and about in the hills I’m acutely aware of the “them and us” attitude with walkers and mountain bikers.
I believe it is possible for us to work towards halting the worst of the escalating friction
My approach to this is to greet every single walker with the most outrageously pleasant hello I can muster while gasping my way up a hill. It’s hard – if not actually impossible- for a walker to embark on the whole “you shouldn’t be riding here” rant (even when it’s perfectly allowed I hasten to add) if you’ve just been extragavantly friendly, shared your view on what a perfect day it is and wished them a great walk.
Most of the time the response is a surprised but pleasant exchange but - as out on the roads - sometimes there’s just a void where you’d hope for a smile. I greet my fellow mountain bikers with the same enthusiasm and courtesy, unless they are clearly adding to the friction between local walkers and riders with what I feel to be anti-social and thoughtless behaviour.
Please smile back and share the love with another rider, walker or road user.
We all have to share the roads and trails with an assortment of others. It’s just something that we have to accept, or hang up our bikes. But I believe it is possible for us to work towards halting the worst of the escalating friction that seems to be growing like a canker in the world of bicycles.
Heading out on a ride with attitude brewing isn’t going to make anyone feel better about life, including the rider in question.
Instead, acknowledging the simple joy of being out on a bike, having access to beautiful areas, great views, the feeling of breath moving in and out of powerful lungs, blood flowing through muscles is surely something that can bring a visible smile and some genuine bonhomie?
So, on your next ride, if you see someone waving and grinning like a maniac and loudly extolling the virtues of the MOST WONDERFUL day, please smile back and share the love with another rider, walker or road user.
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