Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Was Cat 6'ed By A Fool

Are we all familiar with the concept of Cat 6 racing? It's essentially a joke term for cyclists who turn every ride into a competition -- racing other cyclists on the road, whether those other riders know they're being raced or not. Some people refer to it as "commuter racing" though it is in no way limited to commuters. Licensed racers are ranked from Cat 1 through Cat 5. No license is needed for Cat 6.

I have to admit that I have enough of a competitive streak that when I see another rider up the road, I sometimes see them as something like a rabbit to a greyhound. They serve as a little motivation, encouraging me to push a little harder than I might when I'm riding alone lost in my thoughts. I try not to be too much of an ass about it, though.

The other day, on my ride home from work, I had a Cat 6 encounter that left me kind of speechless.

Cat 6 Racing (photo from Good magazine)
Somewhere along the first mile or so of my 15 mile ride home, I saw a rider going the opposite direction. With a hi-vis yellow vest, I thought he might possibly be another bike commuter - though it's rare I encounter them in the area. I couldn't say what kind of bike he was on, though it had a bit of "gravel-racer" look to it, and had disc brakes. That was all I could identify in the moment I saw him. He nodded as he went by.

Another half-mile or so down the road, I got to an intersection with a traffic light where the minor road I was on crosses a broad major highway. I went through the intersection when the light turned green. The light doesn't stay green very long for people on the cross street. Once I was across and hadn't gone more than another 20 yards or so, someone blew past me in a full-out sprint. It was the guy I saw moments earlier on the gravel bike. I can only assume he turned around shortly after I saw him and went into chase mode. He was probably sprinting through the intersection at top speed as the light was changing, and was still charging along as he blew past me.

He yelled something unintelligible as he went past.

I think it was a victory yell.

On my loaded commuting/touring bike, I normally average about 15 miles per hour. A decent pace, but nothing brag-worthy. A brief thought flashed through my mind to give chase, but I quickly dismissed it. I still had another roughly 14 miles to go, lots of hills, and it was my second ride of the day. I didn't need to "save face." I let him go.

Within another half-mile I approached the first of several hill climbs on my afternoon commute. I saw the Cat 6er about a hundred yards ahead of me, out of the saddle, hammering and flailing away up the climb. When he got to the top, he did something truly bizarre.

I could see him dismount his bike at the top of the hill, then raise it up over his head - holding it up in some kind of dickish victory celebration. Even weirder, I could see him, still holding the bike aloft, as he then started doing what looked like squats. What the hell?

Is that a thing now? Some kind of biking/lifting cross-training thing? Or was he still "celebrating"?

After I topped the climb and sped down the other side, I pedaled towards the next intersection. The Cat 6er, still well ahead of me, turned right. I, gratefully, turned left to go home.

I half expected to have him turn around again and take on another pursuit. Thankfully, I spent the rest of the ride in solitude.

I don't know who he was. I'd never seen him on the road before. Don't know if I'll see him again. Don't really care, either.

Anybody else seeing this kind of weird behavior out there?


  1. Sounds as though you were cast as The Pack in Walter Mitty’s little breakaway fantasy. There are less desirable things to act out, I suppose.

  2. Are you sure this guy didn't have a camera pointed at him? It sounds like a lampoon! And a very social-media-ready lampoon at that.

    The only experience of mine remotely like this is far more innocuous: due to random circumstances, I have from time to time been riding with a good bit of momentum and passed another rider out of convenience when they did not have the same momentum. Some misinterpret the pass as a challenge and proceed to go all out. This being a college town, the odds are good that the other guy has a considerable advantage, and I have been left in the dust, as if to say *how dare you.* Testosterone is a funny thing; thank god it lets up a bit after 40. I am assuming this is about testosterone and insecurity, because if it's with someone you know, it's just horsing around.

    1. I guess I wouldn't be surprised if the guy had some kind of video camera -- seemed the type to want to capture every one of his life moments on camera for all to see on social media. But to what end? An "epic" Cat 6 video?

  3. Brooks, your storytelling is hilarious!

  4. Sounds like you have encountered a " Hipster ". They are prevalent here in Austin.

  5. Haha, hilarious image.

    Maybe he was doing laps and you just happened upon him at his turn-around point? I can't figure the lift/squat thing, though. Some kind of cross-fit thing? Or, he was just simply a nut. That scene would have had me giggling all evening.


  6. Well, he at least was funny, in a weird way. The celebration make me chuckle.

    I do love a little bit of "cat 6 racing" tough, if it stay good natured. I have a regular opponent on my commute, who become an ally when the wind is too strong. Lots of good fun, plus you get a workout.

  7. Nothing wrong with a little rabbit chasing. But once caught I try to refrain from wheel-sucking. That's in bad taste. As for the guy in your story I guess you could say mental illness does have a funny side.

  8. Not sure if this is a Cat 6 or just plain bullying.... But the other day I stopped in a park on the way home- noticed a guy on a Niner RLT or RTL or whatever staring at me. Being the only minority in a fancy small community park, I'm use to this behavior. Then the weird happens. The guy comes over and asks "fan or cyclist?" I guess it's what I get for only have one hat and it says SRAM. He asks what I was riding. I tell him an 83 Super sport. He shrugs. I say a Schwinn. He laughs. Some moments later, I go to leave and get one block to see three guys on modern bikes standing. I hear a comment about my safety vest, and then laughter. I proceed. They follow. Then sprint past like I was sitting on a curb. I gave it a go.... waste of energy. These guys being well over 6 feet and me a miserable 5'4. I anticipated them waiting up ahead, but they were not. One was seriously on a Trek pilot. At the least, it could have been a Crappondale.

    1. Yeah - I think your experience goes beyond Cat 6. Those guys were just @$$holes.

  9. Me 50 yo with a steely front sus. meets kids in the parking lot on fs carbons. They take off on the local "fitness" trail, used for keeping in shape mostly, weird to see FS bikes on this route but whatever. I soon find myself on their back wheels, they do NOT want to pull over or even let me by in the turn-offs. I finally go through-woods to hit the trail ahead of them. Now they are 50 yds back and "chirping?" cursing and was pretty funny. So after 15 minutes they finally got dropped. 1/2 hour later I meet them again while climbing a large twisty and of course they are going the wrong way (trail is route-specific) downhill and have no knowledge that climbing gets right of way. As I pull off, one of the monkeys screams "get a real bike"! I didn't even waste my breath stating I passed them on a hardtail miles ago. Was a weird day.