Lessons Learned from RAW
My husband, Eric, and I just returned from a weeklong bike tour through Eastern Washington. The bike ride, called Ride Around Washington or RAW was organized by Cascade Bike Club. There were about 230 people on the tour.
We had a wonderful time. We saw parts of Washington we’ve never seen before, the ride had plenty of character-building challenges and we rode through some spectacularly beautiful areas. More pictures below.
As one might suspect, with so many people spending time together over several days, there were more than a few etiquette faux pas. Thankfully, I also witnessed many displays of good etiquette. Let’s start with the bad so we can end on a positive note.
We were supplied port-o-potties at each of the rest stops and at our camps. As a line queued up for the blue rooms our first night a guy jumped the line and opened one of the port- o-potties and walked in, while the rest of us stood there waiting our turn. He must have noticed that one that looked occupied was actually available, but since there was a line he should have offered the open port-o-pottie to the first person standing in line. Nope, he showed no interest in being courteous. I mentally put him on my “don’t bother getting to know him” list.
Bad Bike Etiquette
We rode on some busy roads that had a small shoulder, so it was not feasible to have two people riding side by side without blocking traffic. A few people didn’t seem to care that they were blocking traffic and actually creating a back up as they stubbornly continued to ride side by side. These people give bike riders a bad name. Biking etiquette is to be courteous and aware of traffic and not block cars from passing.
The bike ride is challenging, no doubt about it. We rode between 70 to 80 miles each day and dealt with rainstorms, 100 degree heat, huge steep hills, a few scary busy roads and some food challenges. Some complaining was in order, however, some people complained the whole time despite the many good things that outweighed the bad things. Some people just like to complain. No matter what, they will find something to criticize. This really gets old. We can choose to be negative and find fault in everything, or we can change our attitude and find the positive.
Despite this being a group ride where we eat, ride and camp with 230 people each day, some riders were decidedly anti-social. They didn’t seem to want to interact with others at all. They pitched their tent far away from others, they waited to eat after the majority were finished eating, they avoided talking to others and seemed annoyed with people in general. Come on, this is a GROUP ride. If you want to shun others don’t do a group ride.
Now for the good behavior.
I witnessed many selfless acts where people gave of themselves to help others. After a rider fell and hurt his knee the first day of the ride, several people stopped to help him until he was taken to the hospital.
During the thunderstorm downpour, one of the volunteers stuck it out, despite being completely soaked, and made sure the riders were sheltered and taken care of. She was a superhero.
Another rider let me and another woman go in front of him to use the port-o-pottie when he heard how badly we needed to use it.
As I mentioned we had many challenges on the ride. But the riders who impressed me the most were those who were able to find the positive in everything. After the sprinklers came on at 5am in camp (Thankfully, Eric and I stayed in a hotel that night), soaking tents and their contents, I overheard one woman say “well at least it wasn’t 3am.” What a great attitude!
There were so many friendly, delightful people who made a point of being social. I had numerous nice conversations with other riders and staff members. We may not have talked about much more than biking, but I was impressed by how many people made a point of engaging others.
Great Biking Etiquette
While there were a few riders who could care less how their riding impacted others, the majority practiced good biking etiquette. Many riders were great about moving over to the right as traffic approached. In fact, one of the town residents made a point to of sharing with us, as we were sitting in a coffee shop in her town, how impressed she was that the riders were like flying geese, moving in formation to the right as she approached them. Other riders made a point of saying “on the left” as they passed.
Despite the few rude and negative nellys, the tour was a lot of fun and Eric and I will have many fond memories of the ride.
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