Everyone knows him. He is in every group ride. He is like an omnipresent veering fool on wheels. Yes, we’re talking about The Squirrel.
Characteristics of The Squirrel are as listed:
- Has been an avid cyclist for a whole five or six months
- Loves to talk or chat during a ride
- Never looks back before taking any kind of action
- Suddenly decelerates without warning
- Crosses the yellow line on the flats
These are just a few of the many traits that make our majestic friend so enjoyable to ride with. If he’s not trying to talk it up about meaningless things like the weather or how the Colts are going to do at the Super Bowl, then he is talking about his wife or children. Some have come to believe that cycling is not enough for The Squirrel in terms of venting life’s problems. You are his auxiliary escape mechanism. The only downside is that he is nearly taking down six or seven riders in the process.
The worst thing about The Squirrel is that there is there are no real distinguishing or explicit visual features about him that will give him away. The Squirrel may end up looking like this:
or even just every day cyclocross friends on the road with you:
The only thing you can do for a squirrel is some serious behavior modification and reward him when he uses techniques like these:
- Following traffic rules
- Riding predictably
- Using hand signals (no, not those hand signals)
- Staying out of the way of vehicles
- Not overlapping wheels
Explain to your wandering-wheeled friend that his erratic steering could have someone end up in the ditch (even him).
Eventually if The Squirrel does not change his acorn chasing, divergent ways then make a plan with the rest and shake him off your wheels and keep him several meters behind you. If he doesn’t get the idea then… maybe The Squirrel should take up another sport and stop riding like he is on a wild wacky action bike.
I have come to notice that oddly enough… Squirrels aren’t as prevalent on off-road rides as they are in group road rides. I’ve never had someone try to chat side by side with me on a mountain ride, nor really have anyone overlap wheels. You think with The Squirrel’s home naturally being in the woods there would be a higher chance of encountering them… Maybe I am just lucky?
So lets review this:
- First, Avoid The Squirrel.
- Second, Educate The Squirrel
- Third, Leave The Squirrel in your dust.
I hope this PSA has given you the knowledge to have an upper hand on one of the many obstacles you will be faced with this spring. Just like GI Joe said, knowing is half the battle.