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How to enjoy the Blueway

Published 9 months ago 25th September 2021 by Barry Meehan

During these uncertain times a type of social weariness has infected I know on the street and because you people. You pass someone you both are wearing facemasks there is a moments hesitation before acknowledging each other. Sometimes the chance has passed before you realise that it was someone you knew. You passed each other without saying hello.

Sometimes the chance has passed before you realise that it was someone you knew. You passed each other without saying hello.

Out on the bike the same is true, although a type of coolness has been creeping in for a while now. I remember when I started cycling you knew every other cyclist that you would pass on the road by name, so it was easy to acknowledge each other. Over time as the popularity of the sport grew there reached a point where I no longer knew everyone that I encountered. Initially it was a bit disconcerting, but I quickly realised that we were all part of the same tribe. We are all cyclists.

No matter if you had ridden 16 Tours de France, or if you are out for the very first time doing a lap of the by-pass. We all shared a common interest and that created a small bond that deserved to be acknowledged. We waved, saluted, nodded our heads or just said hello. We did what came naturally. Over time though, an aloofness crept in. It was not confined to any particular type of cyclist. It could be a first cat racer or a guy who had just completed his first 50k. Days came when I was on my own, out on some backroad and would see a fellow cyclist approaching. As we passed within 2 meters of each other I would give a little flick of the wrist along with a ‘Howaya? In I reply I sometimes received a stoney stare as my 1 fellow cyclist passed by without the slightest 1 hint of acknowledgement. It peed me off for the next few kilometres. Did they not realise that the Oakleys only hid their eyes and not their entire bodies?

For some it was just rudeness, for others it was a form of shyness. I like to give them benefit of the doubt and put it down to shyness. In which case the key to saying hello or acknowledging your fellow cyclist is to give them enough time to get over their shyness and respond. To this end I now always go first in plenty of time. Going first means not waiting for the other person to do anything. You see a cyclist and as soon as they get within 10 – 15 meters of you the greeting begins. Try it, even with a face covering they should always respond, just in case they do know you.

Greenways and Blueways are another very important place to go first. These can be real battle zones so before I get into this too much here are a few good rules to follow when cycling on any greenway or blueway.

Use a Bell. 60% of walkers will have headphones in and won’t hear you but for the other 40% you can let them know well in advance that you are coming up behind them. If you don’t have a bell you can do like my friend Niall does and sing a song. His song of choice is Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia. It might not be everyones’ cup of tea but it definitely lets people know he is on the way.

Give space. When passing a walker, runner or a dog, think how you feel when a bus or a truck passes within centimetres of you out on the road. That’s what it feels like for a walker when you pass too close on a blueway or greenway.Slow down. These aren’t the places for Strava KOM’s. If a low number on your bike computer is going to ruin your spin, or mess with your average speed just pause it or turn it off altogether.

Go, first and be really, really friendly. The reason for this is coming up below: Our local Blueway is a fantastic amenity for everyone. Walkers, families, runners, dog walkers and cyclists of all shapes and sizes get to enjoy it together. The scenery along the river overlooked by two mountain ranges is truly spectacular. The traffic free environment is incredibly peaceful.

But and there is a but, the percentage of scowling faces is pretty high. There are a percentage of people out there whose conversation has general air of complaining, moaning and criticising about it. I’m not saying that its’ right or wrong, it’s just the way it is. These can be people who have a lot of time their hands and with not a lot to do.

That’s why Joe Duffy can find so many people to ring in to his show in the middle of the day. Someone with a lot of time to kill (that’s another issue) may like to go for a stroll along the blueway or greenway to put down some time and maybe get a bit of exercise along the way.

When a jogger or runner goes past it can annoy them but when a cyclist goes past then they have just encountered a speeding maniac that they are obligated to tell everyone they meet for the rest of the day all about. They have the time to tell a lot of people and also have the time to contact and write to local councillors.

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