Being overtaken by another cyclist (and doing your own thing)
I like to think I am reasonably fit, able to cycle 80 miles or so without too much trouble (although my usual spin is nearer to 25 miles). I am not 'super fit' nor do I particularly want to be. I don't cycle fast but generally ride at a pace I can keep up all day if needs be. That is generally. Sometimes I put on a burst – up a hill, say – or I might stop for a few minutes to gaze on the landscape. My bikes are probably a bit slow and besides, I realise it's pointless trying to keep up with an equivalent 'younger man' or woman. So I tend to be overtaken by other cyclists more than I overtake them. I don't care. In fact I try to ignore other cyclists as far as possible. This is not always easy.
The other day I was cycling along, my mind elsewhere, when I was overtaken by a man on a bike. He shot past without saying anything. I don't care about that either. Do your own thing. But then, about 20 yards in front, he slowed down. I heard some puffing, a muscular bloke in very short shorts and T shirt, riding some kind of hybrid. It happens a lot – they shoot past then slow down. Why?
Do walkers try to pass the walker in front? No. So what is it about bikes? Anyway, along we went with him 20 yards in front. I tried to ignore him. We came to a dip where you freewheel down then power up the other side. It's one of my favourite 'power spots' but he began to slow down and it became clear that doing my own thing would mean me overtaking him. "This guy is an idiot," I thought to myself as I began to catch him going up the hill. But if I re-pass now he'll think I'm trying to prove something. I'm not. I'm going at my own pace, so just go on past and say nothing. As I said, not always easy. I saw him look sideways, pretending to enjoy the scenery. As it happens there was a junction up ahead so I stayed, ten feet behind, until we got there before coming up alongside. He went left, I went right.
Afterwards, of course, I knew the man was not an idiot at all. He just felt like overtaking the cyclist in front (me) and having done so, there is no obligation to stay ahead. This was of my own making, a lapse, letting the presence of another cyclist influence my ride when all I needed to do was ignore him completely. Must try harder next time.
It's a strange thing though, the instinct to race, or at least to pit oneself against a 'target' cyclist. I don't know if this is a male tendency or if women feel it too (I am also overtaken by females and I really don't mind – in fact I like it). That same day, incidentally, I passed an old chap I often see on his bike. I passed him only because he was stopped for a moment. He's 70+ with wiry build, normal clothes, rusty old fashioned bike, behind his saddle a canvas bag with holes worn through. He sits quite upright and pedals at a slow cadence but it's useless trying to keep up. After a minute or two, effortlessly, he cruised past at the start of a long hill. I lost sight of him on a bend, expecting to catch a glimpse of him again as I went round, but he was gone. He never says anything, no acknowledgement, nothing.