I recently came across a possible new breed of cyclist, though I’m sure readers will correct me if I am behind the times. I have blogged about Slobusfacticus sometime before but that was a few years back when I was a member of the local fitness club.
Imagine the scene on the Busway cycle path. It is about 3 metres wide with a gravel surface for most of the width. A narrow strip has worn which is smooth and free from gravel and this is where cyclists tend to aim for. There is room only for one bicycle on this narrow strip at anyone time, with cyclists who need to pass each other one clearly has to move sideways. This is the scenario that brought me into a near-miss with Slobusfacticus.
The narrow strip is definitely on one side of the cycle track and as I was travelling east from Dunstable it was on my left. So if I were on a road, that would be my natural position. I could see a cyclist coming towards me and I was kind of expecting him to pull over so we would pass each other on the right hand side. No. Not so. He was determined not to move at all as he lumbered along. I was thinking of MJ Ray’s advice (see MJ’s comment on this post) about showing a hand gesture to indicate my intention but that would have been risky if I needed veer off one-handed onto the gravel part if he didn’t respond. Our closing speed was about 30mph (Slobusfaticus 10mph + me 20mph = 30mph) and I wasn’t going to risk a head-on collision so at the latest possible moment I veered off. We passed each other uneventfully.
So what is Slobusfaticus like?
Probably worth me describing how Slobusfaticus appeared. It was a He. Definitely. Definitely a man. Dressed in jogging bottoms and a huge hoodie and the hood coming right over his head as far as possible making it clearly difficult to see where he was going (explains a lot here!). Cheap trainers with the laces flapping around as he grunted his way along. I only caught a glimpse of the bicycle, or rather his position on it. In common with riders of most Bike Shaped Objects the saddle was way too low and he was using his heels to heave down on the pedals as he lumbered along. As we passed each other I briefly heard his BSOs sounds which were of creak, squeak, creak, squeak, creak…..
Does this mean I’m a cycling snob?
Phew I thought, that was a fortunate escape, near miss etc. I reflected as I pedalled on. While I was mentally chastising him, does this mean I’m turning into some kind of elitist cyclist, all snobby about bicycles and cycling behaviour? Does this mean I’m turning into some kind Jonathon Vernon Smith (JVS) of the Busway? Eeeeek. Note to self, carry on reflecting on the speck in my own eye and not the plank in someone else’s eye. Nevertheless, Slobusfaticus, please could you play the game, keep to the left and allow other cyclists to pass you on your right hand side? Thank you.