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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-25-10, 12:45 AM   #1
LarryKingsShoes
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Honkers

Greetings!

I went on a ride with my brother today and we were honked at by a couple of drivers. I was just curious how common this form of (in my opinion) harassment is amongst Clydesdales.

We are both bigger gentlemen (about 250 pounds) and were riding our road bikes on a trail. This particular stretch of trail is a 20 mile long path that connects two towns (with one town in the middle). There are several miles of the trail that go parallel to a highway. The trail also leads to a sidewalk-like section of trail that goes through the final town.

On two different occasions, drivers honked near us. We didn't see any other traffic around so I just assume that they were aiming it at us. I realize that it's possible that it was directed toward something else or their motivation was not to harass us, but I tend to expect the worst out of people; even if it is undeserved.

It seemed to me that these particular drivers did not like seeing two bigger men riding bikes on their trails. We get harassed for being overweight and now, apparently, we are prone to harassment because we're trying to do something about it; you can't win if you try in this world.

This isn't the first time I've been honked at for no apparent reason. Is this just something that I'll have to deal with as a heavy rider? I'll probably get a lot of HTFU responses, which are deserved, but I'm also curious how common it is for bigger people to get harassed by drivers while they ride.

On an unrelated note, I finished the entire 40.5 mile round trip trail. It was a great accomplishment for me because it is the longest ride that I've done. It felt great and I'm looking forward to doing it again, and then some! I'm finally committed to shedding the pounds and keeping them off, all while enjoying my newly found hobby of cycling! This sub forum has been a great inspiration!
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Old 07-25-10, 12:54 AM   #2
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Congratulations on that ride! That's quite an accomplishment.

My sister and her best friend are the two people I ride with most, and we've been honked at a number of times. We're girls so it's different. We're also in and around a huge cycling community. So it's different. But it doesn't happen every time, and usually it isn't worth paying attention to. Basically, if someone honks at you and it isn't a safety issue or a form of encouragement, then you can say authoritatively that that person is an idiot. My mom has always told me not to care what idiots think

As a rule, the honking is the worst thing honkers are going to do to you. They're just crying for attention so don't give them the satisfaction (sounds like you didn't). Just keep an eye on them til they're not a safety concern. (Get a mirror if you don't have one!)
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Old 07-25-10, 01:41 AM   #3
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I'm 230-245 and I get honked at from time to time. I am startled and first instinct is to get upset but most of the time it's followed by a thumbs up! Not everybody realizes and knows that a honk scares the poop out of the rider. Some just don't know cause they don't ride.

Matter of fact, I've never had a driver honk at me as a negative gesture.
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Old 07-25-10, 04:51 AM   #4
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You would be shocked to know how many drivers do not realize that cyclist have rights to be on the road.. When people yell at you to get on the sidewalk, this is said out of sheer ignorance.. When someone honks, smile and wave, if you give them the bird you are just playing into there mindset that cyclists are jerks.

The honking has nothing to do with being a clyde, small 150lb rider get honked at all the time too..
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Old 07-25-10, 05:36 AM   #5
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You would be shocked to know how many drivers do not realize that cyclist have rights to be on the road.. When people yell at you to get on the sidewalk, this is said out of sheer ignorance.. When someone honks, smile and wave, if you give them the bird you are just playing into there mindset that cyclists are jerks.
Well said. Few people are malicious, most are ignorant. I try to wave and say thank-you whenever possible.

If anything, I think I get honked at *less* than the zero-body-fat crowd in spandex. My guess is that people are amused to see me tumbling down the road.
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Old 07-25-10, 08:23 AM   #6
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I don't mind being honked at. I do mind people yelling at me. A couple of months ago I was on a ride along South Mountain in central PA, and some drunk guy - or someone acting drunk - was shouting mock encouragement to me as I climbed a small rise. He was on the other side of the road, so far away I couldn't see him, but his voice carried well. When I passed the house again on the way back I rode as fast as I could to get by the place. He must have gone inside, or I was just a blur, because I didn't hear anything.
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Old 07-25-10, 09:25 AM   #7
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Being a big guy also and where I live there are lots of trails and bike lanes and a ton of people ride I have never been honked at but I have gotten many thumbs up from other riders and cars drivers and what it does it encourages me to continue with my new motto "From Big Al to where is Al?"
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Old 07-25-10, 09:45 AM   #8
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Being a big guy also and where I live there are lots of trails and bike lanes and a ton of people ride I have never been honked at but I have gotten many thumbs up from other riders and cars drivers and what it does it encourages me to continue with my new motto "From Big Al to where is Al?"
My favorite story is from last year. I was on a ride with BF poster Bautieri in Camp Hill, PA, and I'd been struggling up one of those awful climbs in the town while Bau waited at the top. After I'd completed it I was at an intersection waiting alongside Bau for the light to change to green. A truck pulled up and the driver complemented me on climbing the hill. "I was behind you and I said to myself, 'Is he gonna make it?' Good job, man!"
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Old 07-25-10, 10:42 AM   #9
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I have been honked at several times and each seems to be a different meaning. Once had a gal give a group of us a short honk, seemed like she was doing it to let us know she was coming around. Had another honk and pass with a thumbs up. I noticed that he had a Oregon bike license plate as he passed. The only negative honk I have gotten is when I had stopped to make a left hand turn at a stop light. I was in the turn lane could not trip the light sensor. I waited for two light cycles before going thought the red light. No one was around, but a car coming from way behind me. He gave me a honk, thinking I was just blowing through the light. For the most part, honking is fairly harmless. On the other hand, having things thrown at you and being buzzed repeatedly by a group of red necks in a pick up come to mind as things that have happened to me which I have found more bothersome.
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Old 07-25-10, 10:46 AM   #10
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On Mt. Diablo, after climbing for 10 miles you get to the 300 yard last stretch - a narrow single lane up to the upper parking lot, narrow enough that a car can't safely pass a cyclist. This road doesn't really go anywhere - there's a parking lot for the museum at the top, then you turn around an go back down another single lane road. At this point the grade kicks up to 16 - 18% - brutal after you've already been climbing for more than an hour. The first couple of times I did it, I had to walk up part. The third time, a bozo in an oversized pickup truck with a very loud diesel comes up behind me and starts honking his horn just as I started thinking I wasn't going to make it. I got stubborn and refused to give him the satisfaction of getting off my bike and getting out of his way. I made it to the top, and have never walked that stretch again. In the end, he did me a favor - since then I just refuse to stop on climbs.

JB

PS - the fun part is on the descent it's very easy to go much faster than most cars - the looks on most drivers' faces as you come up behind them and then they can't shake you is priceless. Unfortunately, there's enough blind swithcbacks and stuff that there's really no place to pass slower cars. On almost every descent I catch up to someone.

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Old 07-25-10, 10:50 AM   #11
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I hadn't even considered the honking as a kind gesture. It's cool to hear that a lot of you get positive feedback from drivers and other riders. The encouragement can go a long way, I'm sure!

I'm not letting it bother me anymore because it is bound to happen again. It just feels good to finally be getting out there and taking control of my weight.

The Historian: that sounds like a very crappy situation. I would have done the same thing (speeding by or even bypassing that house altogether). I've been fortunate enough to never have any verbal remarks made toward me, as a rider. I don't think I'll take it very well when it does happen, though.
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Old 07-25-10, 11:19 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by LarryKingsShoes View Post
I hadn't even considered the honking as a kind gesture. It's cool to hear that a lot of you get positive feedback from drivers and other riders. The encouragement can go a long way, I'm sure!

I'm not letting it bother me anymore because it is bound to happen again. It just feels good to finally be getting out there and taking control of my weight.

The Historian: that sounds like a very crappy situation. I would have done the same thing (speeding by or even bypassing that house altogether). I've been fortunate enough to never have any verbal remarks made toward me, as a rider. I don't think I'll take it very well when it does happen, though.
There are honks and there are honks, a short quick beep, should be taken as friendly, a long beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep probably not. Got one of the later today, not sure why, the road is clear and 5m wide, the car was a mid-size, maybe 3m wide, so passing even within the lines shouldn't be difficult. I think a lot of this comes from all those PSA's in the 1950's and 1960's about how pedestrians and bicyclists need to watch for and by implication stay out of the way of cars. Some drivers took this implication as meaning it's backed up by law which it most often isn't.
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Old 07-25-10, 02:16 PM   #13
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Every now and then, a driver will honk insistently of the passenger(s) will scream loudly as they pass me. 99.9% they're excited teenagers.

However, I have yet to be assaulted -verbally or otherwise- by a driver. Mind you, I either ride in a group -safety in numbers- or, if I'm alone, I sacrifice speed for extra caution.

I'm kind of lucky that where I live:
  • There are very active groups of triathletes and road racers, so people are used at seeing cyclists on the roads.
  • It's a smaller city (50,000 people at most) where there is 3 degrees of separation at most. So the cyclist you hit may be someone you know...
  • With one out of two bridges closed for overhaul, the City has been promoting cycling as an alternative transportation. Even if they're just short-distance commuters, there's a lot more people on bikes who may now see things differently. I hope...
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Old 07-25-10, 07:27 PM   #14
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I try not to guess what people are thinking any more. I know some of the honkers I have encountered were just letting my know I was being passed. Kind of a motorized version of "on yer left". Some are jerks, and some probably hit the horn on accident while dialing the phone, pouring coffee, or reading the news paper. I find the vast majority of drivers are at least tolerant of cyclists. Especialy if the cyclist is riding predictably and not flagrantly breaking laws. I say don't sweat it, but keep your eyes open, and be safe.
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Old 07-28-10, 03:46 PM   #15
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ha ha honkers - hooters got mixed up there for a bit i got honked at a while back just a car of teenagers wishing me well in their own way as for giving people the finger i wouldn't cos you never know who you might do it to. i agree with mtalinm just wave and keep going. or ignore them but think positive
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Old 07-28-10, 04:07 PM   #16
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I've been honked at many times, but never for being a Clyde. It's always because I'm on the road in a bike, and a driver wants my position, and because they want me to know it. So I ignore them as best I can. Usually they'll pass in the next lane, and that's the end of it.
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Old 07-28-10, 09:22 PM   #17
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I hadn't even considered the honking as a kind gesture. It's cool to hear that a lot of you get positive feedback from drivers and other riders. The encouragement can go a long way, I'm sure!

I'm not letting it bother me anymore because it is bound to happen again. It just feels good to finally be getting out there and taking control of my weight.

The Historian: that sounds like a very crappy situation. I would have done the same thing (speeding by or even bypassing that house altogether). I've been fortunate enough to never have any verbal remarks made toward me, as a rider. I don't think I'll take it very well when it does happen, though.
I'm used to it, unfortunately. Non-cyclists shout things because I'm fat or because I'm a cyclist. Cyclists say or write things because I don't look like they do.
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Old 07-29-10, 03:17 AM   #18
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On Mt. Diablo, after climbing for 10 miles you get to the 300 yard last stretch - a narrow single lane up to the upper parking lot, narrow enough that a car can't safely pass a cyclist. This road doesn't really go anywhere - there's a parking lot for the museum at the top, then you turn around an go back down another single lane road. At this point the grade kicks up to 16 - 18% - brutal after you've already been climbing for more than an hour. The first couple of times I did it, I had to walk up part. The third time, a bozo in an oversized pickup truck with a very loud diesel comes up behind me and starts honking his horn just as I started thinking I wasn't going to make it. I got stubborn and refused to give him the satisfaction of getting off my bike and getting out of his way. I made it to the top, and have never walked that stretch again. In the end, he did me a favor - since then I just refuse to stop on climbs.

JB

PS - the fun part is on the descent it's very easy to go much faster than most cars - the looks on most drivers' faces as you come up behind them and then they can't shake you is priceless. Unfortunately, there's enough blind swithcbacks and stuff that there's really no place to pass slower cars. On almost every descent I catch up to someone.
I can see that happening on the last part of Diablo. Super steep and no room for a car to pass. Good on you for powering on up despite the truck. And yeah, the descent is fun...despite the blind corners, you will always descend faster than than the cars. Fun.

And, responding to other posts..some honks are positive. I have received the double toot (two quick honks) multiple times as a sign of encouragement or to warn me that said vehicle is passing. Usually, though, it is a sign of encouragement and is sometimes followed by a thumbs up. Of course, I also get the teenagers yelling from the car on occasion. Ignore them.
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Old 07-29-10, 09:53 AM   #19
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I've become a bit of a connoisseur of road side harassment over the years.

My favorite to date was when I was out on a tour. On a Saturday, this guy in a ratty old pickup truck slows down and pulls up next to me. His buddy leans out the window and yells "GET A JOB, *******!"

I took that as a moral victory on my part.
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Old 07-29-10, 10:04 AM   #20
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My favorite to date was when I was out on a tour. On a Saturday, this guy in a ratty old pickup truck slows down and pulls up next to me. His buddy leans out the window and yells "GET A JOB, *******!"
I think he got the last two words backwards, and was telling you to become a proctologist!
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Old 07-29-10, 10:49 AM   #21
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I think drivers just honk because many feel bicycles should be on the bike paths and not on the road, even if the cyclist is abiding by the rules of the road.

I was riding in a small town in W. Mass a couple weeks ago where the speed limit was 25mph through the center of a small village. This area is a notorious speed trap and since there were cars parked on both sides of the road I had no choice but to ride in the lane for maybe 1/8 mile. According to my bike speedo I was exceeding the speedlimit (27 mph) and this B***h in a Matrix HONKS at me (there was no on comming traffic and she could have easily passed me despite it being a no passing zone. Anyway as she sped by after I was able to move over once I got past the area with cars paralled parked on the side of the road (these weren't parking spots either just the shoulder of the road), I yelled "The Limit's 25" and she gave me the finger! Oh well normally I never get honked at...
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Old 07-29-10, 11:28 AM   #22
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I'm used to it, unfortunately. Non-cyclists shout things because I'm fat or because I'm a cyclist. Cyclists say or write things because I don't look like they do.
First time I recall seeing that mentioned. And I agree there's a bit of "you don't belong" in the cycling community. Bothers me not because I wouldn't belong to a club that would have me as a member.
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Old 07-29-10, 11:38 AM   #23
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First time I recall seeing that mentioned. And I agree there's a bit of "you don't belong" in the cycling community. Bothers me not because I wouldn't belong to a club that would have me as a member.
This must be dependant on which part of the country you are in. Around here in New Orleans, there's a little bit of snobbery amongst the Cyclists here but it's not from the Spandex wearing Tri-weenies it's from the Hipster ******s on their "Fixies". I took my Mountain Bike with slicks on it up to Huntsville Al a couple months ago and a roadie passed me and said "Hope you're having a great ride!". While when I was up in Massachusetts riding my Jake the Snake Crossbike even way out in the countryside I got zero wave backs or even a headnod from the roadies I passed in the opposite direction. Hey "F' You" just 'cause I'm wearing a MTB helmet and am on a crossbike doesn't make me any less of a rider than you.
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Old 07-29-10, 11:55 AM   #24
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As someone one said, if they are honking at least you know they have seen you.
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Old 07-29-10, 03:29 PM   #25
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This must be dependant on which part of the country you are in. Around here in New Orleans, there's a little bit of snobbery amongst the Cyclists here but it's not from the Spandex wearing Tri-weenies it's from the Hipster ******s on their "Fixies". I took my Mountain Bike with slicks on it up to Huntsville Al a couple months ago and a roadie passed me and said "Hope you're having a great ride!". While when I was up in Massachusetts riding my Jake the Snake Crossbike even way out in the countryside I got zero wave backs or even a headnod from the roadies I passed in the opposite direction. Hey "F' You" just 'cause I'm wearing a MTB helmet and am on a crossbike doesn't make me any less of a rider than you.
Oh it's nothing I worry about. I am truly a loner and associate with people on a sporadic basis and when necessary to accomplish something. Otherwise I keep to myself. My parents said I have always been that way. ?? I tried being a "member" of various groups but I eventually tire of it and slide away to do my own thing. Eh??
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