Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Wide Stance

I love to race where "race" means that I never stray off my commute and I don't run red lights (you can if you want but I'm way too chickenshit for that stuff at my age) and mostly I just try and pass and "win" on the long straight-aways.

I've never found the words to really describe how much I love this, this pedaling as fast as I can, this being a middle-aged lady on an off-rack bicycle flying down the road swooping past the other commuters until I encounter a like-minded racer and we fight for the front place, sometimes one of us drafting behind the other.  On a good day we worker bees, we ordinary people form a pace line of sorts, skimming along the road like lithe little swallows on their way to Capistrano.

I love that stuff.  I won't say it makes life worth living (my family would be that bit) but it makes life so incredibly rewarding on a daily basis, this racing, this beating heart, these well-powered lungs.

What is one teensy tiny annoying fly in the ointment?

The wide stance.

Please guys.  Please.  Stamp out The Wide Stance.

I guarantee you women are nodding their heads right about now, at least any woman who has been on a bus or subway.  The Wide Stance is a guy who sits like this:


See?  See how the guy is taking up two seats and has his legs all spread out?  I mean we get it, we get that your testicles are the size of bowling balls and that they need adequate room for breathing and ventilation but we (the rest of the non bowling ball world) would really like to sit down sometimes and when you allocate a seat to each testicle it makes it that much harder for the rest of us to find a place to sit down and rest our weary dogs.  

What does this have to do with bicycling and racing home on my commute?  A lot, it turns out.

Ever seen those teeny tiny hard roadie seats?  Mmm-hmmm.  Here's how it goes.  You and me are at a red light.  It turns green.  You take off in front of me and that's cool, I like a good fast pace.  But then you do it.  You slow down.  And you move way out to the left until you are within about two feet of the double yellow.  You can do this because we are riding on Bicycle Boulevard, and because of that we should be having a great time tearing up the road as we hurtle our respective work laptops home to rest for the evening but not you.  You slow way the hell down and then sprawl your bicycle across the entire lane.  

You totally know I'm there.  I mean you were behind me at a red light ten seconds ago, remember?  I try and pass and you move further to the left.  I think about the right side (although I am a big believer in the right side) and you move over there and so I head back to the left and you are there.  

Cmon, man!  Cmon.  You're inching along now at a bare 12 mph and I'm dying to make a run for it but you are all over this road who ever guessed a skinny bicycle could take up that much room!  And so I finally risk life and limb to pass way the hell over in the oncoming traffic lane and I do get away from you and your giant testicles, one for each side of the road and I continue on and totally drop you know why?  The real commuter racer types don't win because they block off anyone from passing, they win because they ride faster then the next person.  See how that works?  

I got my whinges with girl bicyclists but I'm trying hard and I can't think of them ever trying to actively block someone from getting around them the way you do with your extra wide stance.  

Rapunzel, to me, "Can I see that picture?"
Me: "Sure.  It's not that exciting."  [I scroll up] "Just a guy taking up two seats."
Rapunzel shakes her head "Wow.  And he could easily fit in one.  Some people."  [shakes head]


  1. Hey, Chafe:
    My wife and I are in PA visiting my sister in-law this week. She lives on Gailen Avenue, works at Stanford Hospital. I didn't bring a bike this time, but borrowed her ride. Do you live nearby?

    1. My commute home took me past Ramos park - a few blocks from you. Email me at