Last year my riding buddies were dropping like flies. In spite of that I ended up riding nearly as much as I do in a typical year. Which means that I spent a lot of time riding solo. Now I don’t really mind being a lone wolf, but what I do mind is that doing so usually results in cars not noticing me as much. And in 2012 I had a lot of close calls.
For that reason alone I’m a big fan of all cyclists because research shows that the more people who ride, the safer it gets. Quite simply, drivers get used to seeing people on bikes and even if they are not always conscious about it, they may at least be thinking about it in their subconscious.
I always smile when I come across this trials/BMX park in downtown Austin. And I do mean downtown—it’s just two blocks away from our busiest intersection. It’s city sanctioned in the sense that it’s perfectly legal but there are few signs if any, and when the creek that runs behind the park turns into a river and wipes out half of the jumps, the city does nothing to restore the park. The riders are the ones who put it back together with picks, shovels and sweat.
Now I’ve never ridden one but I can say without much hesitation that I don’t want to have anything to do with a trials or a BMX bike. I don’t want anything to do with building one either. It’s just another fabrication problem that I’d rather not have to wrap my head around. Make no mistake though, these guys are riders. There is little doubt about their fearlessness, resiliency, skill level, and determination.
I’ve been around cycling long enough that I’m always amazed when I come across one group of cyclists attempting to separate themselves from another group. (In Marin County, the home of mountain biking, the guys on cross country rigs would look down their noses at the guys on dual suspension rigs. And every mountain biker would look down at anything on the road. And the roadies weren’t innocent, they returned the favor.) When I see someone riding down the road I’m happy they’re out and it matters very little what they are riding. (To be honest though, how they are riding can sometimes be an issue.) So, the next time you’re out, wave to the next cyclist you see. No matter how different than you they may look, they are probably more like you than you’d like to admit. And they have your back when it comes to fighting for cycling infrastructure, room on our roads and trail access.