Why do riders say “CAR BACK”?

Loma Mar store construction continues.

Loma Mar store construction continues.


Yesterday the Devil’s Slide Ride rolled by as I climbed Alpine Road, so it was not unexpected that I rode with some of these participants raising money for Parca, an organization supporting people with developmental disabilities.

All well and good. However, the “car back” crowd was out in force. I can’t say what causes this quirky and annoying behavior, but I wish it would stop. It’s entirely unnecessary, even in the unlikely event the person ahead has a hearing problem.

If you disagree and you say “car back” or “car up,” I’d like to hear from you. Give me your reasons for stating the obvious. Just be civil about it.

I decided I didn’t want to be a curmudgeon and make a rude comment, so I just slowed to a crawl and let the rider pass. I then picked up the pace and followed. It worked: no more incessant “car back” chirping.

Loma Mar store creeps toward completion. The exterior looks to be in place, minus the windows. Maybe it will open before year’s end.

6 Responses to “Why do riders say “CAR BACK”?”

  1. Bryan Wilson Says:

    Hi Ray,

    I agree with you for the most part, especially when the call gets passed up a long line of riders like a game of telephone. I think “car back” can be helpful, though, when the rider ahead clearly doesn’t know there’s a car approaching from behind. For obvious reasons this is more frequent with electric cars. I’ll also generally limit it to the people I’m riding with, because others don’t necessarily want unsolicited advice.

    Love your blog, especially the historical pieces. It’s fun and inspirational reading!

  2. ted Says:

    Bryan, way to keep it real….well said…..there may be a time a place for this phrase…..perhaps it’s overstated needlessly and that’s why folks like Ray may be disturbed by the over usage……consider it a learning curve Ray…..most folks have not ridden one percent of all the miles you have logged over the years…..ride bike!

  3. equake Says:

    I have not been in a situation like this, probably mostly because I bike later in the day, but I can imagine it to be very annoying. Even in the unlikely event you don’t notice, it is not like a car is in the business of driving over you. When there is just marginal shoulder (as is mostly the case here) as long as you drive a steady line, not too far in the lane and not too close to the edge of the road, but kind of in the trail the right tire makes, cars have no problem passing you safely. It will also leave you a bit of space to swerve right when necessary (say with traffic both ways approaching).

    And when you bike about the speed of the rest of traffic use the full lane when appropriate, down hill for example, you’re allowed to and you won’t invite drivers to pass you at high speeds. I also tend to use the full lane when I bike over a narrow bridge, with traffic approaching both ways, discouraging the car behind me to pass on the bridge. Highway 9 has a number of these tricky spots, between Santa Cruz and Boulder Creek for example.

    Bike in a predictable manner, obey traffic laws, but also make yourself visible, don’t bike too close to the edge of the road, you may use the full lane when it is safer, and when going at the same speed as other traffic.

  4. Ray Hosler Says:

    Of course there’s always the exception. When a group of riders is jabbering away, not paying attention, a “car back” is called for.

  5. Sourav Says:

    But, it is recommended for safe cycling šŸ™‚

    https://www.heartcycle.org/Tours/TourInfo.aspx#Safety

  6. Jimbo Says:

    In a related vein, I was riding a class 4/5 criterium once (yeah, I’m not very fast) and some guy kept calling out “Slowing!” as we approached the corners. He finally stopped doing that when I responded with “Accelerating!” on the way out of a turn.

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