Grizzled cycling fanatic Keith Velaski cruised the Midtown Greenway westward on a serene summer night. The single dad occupied the front seat of the tandem bike he shared with his teen special needs child, Doran. Riding next to them was the youngster of the family,12-year-old Luke, who was pedaling closest to the path's center line.
With their bike lights on, the three dudes hadn't yet crossed under Hennepin Avenue when a passing biker flew by Olympically chafed.
"Get the fuck on your own side of the path!" the man barked at Luke.
Could this be the handiwork of a pathlete?
Cyclists who blow by kids, commuters, and casual bikers on city paths — a.k.a., pathletes — are the scourge on Minneapolis' riding scene. Some are hardcore jocks in training. Others are poseurs riding the newest, shiniest bikes, decked out in peacock spandex. Either way, they share common traits: impatience, attitude, and a general disdain for anyone else who wants to share the paths.
Former pro and Minnesota cycling icon Gene Oberpriller, co-owner of One on One bike shop on Washington Avenue, has no love for pathletes.
"It'll be a Sunday afternoon and families are out and here these guys are riding as fast as they can like the place is theirs," he says. "If they think they're so hardcore, they should be riding on the street."
Long known for being a ridiculously fast rider, Ben "S.K." Davies considers pathletes to be a menace in a category all alone. "These triathletes, or whatever they are, are going down the Greenway as hard as possible, never mind there are commuters and whoever else is riding. I mean, they fly by without regard for anyone else. It's not cool."
City Pages attempted to interview cyclists on the Cedar Lake Trail yesterday who looked to match the profile. They flew by.
Velaski has been riding hard for a quarter-century. He's raced hundreds of times, including the Leadville 100, the 100-mile mountain bike race in the Colorado mountains.
"I started riding when you could still buy a Bridgestone at the Alt," says Velaski. "Back then, they were these snobby dicks, who, if you wavered in the [race] line at all they'd yell at you. I think that elitist dick attitude has moved from racing and onto paths in the city."
The area's recent economic good times has resulted in a swelling pathlete population, according to Velaski.
"Today, it can take the form of any any jack wagon walking into a store and buying the nicest bike and the nicest clothes so he looks like a pro. Any sport that has that component to it, you're going to have douchebags," he says. "What makes them dicks the most is the lack of patience for everyone, kids especially, who might not understand the nuances of riding in the city. This doesn't just apply to riding, but life in general: Don't be a dick.…
"It's just dumb for these wannabe racers to be swooping around people. They're not fooling anybody that they're some great racer because they're going fast on a bike path in the city. If they really think they're going to be Mr. Fast Guy, they should do it on the road."
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