Dear Back Roads Century Riders,
We are asking that you read this message because our ability to host the Back Roads Century depends upon riders obeying the law and conducting themselves in a courteous manner.
More than anything else, the fantastic scenery and roads of Clarke County, Jefferson County and the Northern Shenandoah Valley make the Backroads Century such a great ride. Our ability to use these roads for an event of this size has been jeopardized by the conduct of small minority of our riders.
After previous years’ events, we received strongly worded complaints about the conduct of our riders. Residents complained of riders riding in large groups refusing “move to the right” and blocking traffic; of riders being overtly rude and insulting to residents; of riders blocking roads and intersections, particularly near rest stops; of riders failing to follow instructions from law enforcement personnel; of riders crossing the center line and other traffic violations; and of general rude and inconsiderate behavior that has no place at a public event.
This behavior is not only insulting to area residents, it poses a danger to your fellow riders. If one cyclist is rude to a driver, the driver will tend to be more aggressive with the next riders he encounters. Blocking the road forces cyclists behind to slow suddenly, increasing the risk of a crash.
We wish we could say this is an unfortunate case of a few bad apples ruining things for everyone, but reports from residents along the route have made it clear that such conduct was rather commonplace throughout the day. A commonly expressed complaint was that we treated the public roads as our private roads for the day. Berryville and Clarke County officials have made it clear that residents are not interested in hosting the Back Roads Century if such behavior continues.
As riders ourselves, we certainly understand the sheer fun of riding with friends and teammates, and hundreds of fellow cyclists in a big event. The camaraderie and shared excitement make rides like the Back Roads Century one of the highlights of the cycling season. We do not want to take that away from any rider, but for the sake of all riders, both present and future, but we are going to insist on certain standards of conduct that will assure that we all have a safe, outstanding day on the bike and that local residents will look forward to having us return next year.
We do not think it will take much effort on our part to strike this balance. We simply ask that riders follow some basic courtesies as they ride:
1. Follow the Golden Rule:
- Act like you would want any driver or cyclist to act as if they were driving in your neighborhood, in front of your car or bike. We are riding on public roads that residents depend on to run routine errands and travel to and from their homes. We are not on a closed-course set aside for our sole enjoyment. Please ride with that in mind.
2. Obey the Law!
- Stop at stop signs and traffic lights
- Do not cross the center line
- Yield to pedestrians
- Obey direction from law enforcement
- Ride abreast only when there is no traffic in sight, and quickly form a single-file line to the right when a car approaches.
3. Be courteous and considerate
- If there is a “car back,” form a single file line to the right and allow the car to pass
- At intersections, allow cars to go first so they are not held up
- Do not litter
- Wave, say hello and thank residents you encounter to convey that you appreciate them hosting us for the day
4. Follow common-sense rules of public behavior
- Do not urinate in public, aside from being illegal, this is unwarranted; we have plenty of facilities at rest stops and there are public restrooms along the route. Do not be gross.
- Do not shout obscenities, particularly near residential areas or where children are present
- Set the tone for the ride. Ride safely and considerately, and let other riders know it is THAT kind of ride.
We have made arrangements for additional law enforcement to be present on the route to assure that cyclists and drivers respect each other and the law. Police have, and will cite violators.
Potomac Pedalers volunteers and SAG drivers on the course and at rest stops will be monitoring rider and vehicular behavior. Dangerous and illegal conduct by either vehicles or cyclists WILL be reported to law enforcement. Riders who do not follow these basic rules can removed from the ride and sagged back to the start, and may be barred from participating in future Back Roads Centuries.
We are reaching out to the community in many ways to convey our appreciation to our hosts. These efforts include meetings with community groups and officials, making donations to local organizations, buying rest stop supplies locally, encouraging riders to visit local businesses and take advantage of all Clarke County has to offer.
Do your part to be a courteous guest so that we can look forward to enjoying this ride for many years to come. We look forward to seeing you at the Back Roads Century!