Posted by: Jennifer Sage | February 8, 2008

Cycling Humor – a Passing Score

This is so funny I think all roadies should read it!  Someone sent it to me via email, and I’ve given credit to the author. However, at the end, see my additions for your score if you’re cycling in France….


Humour: A Passing Score

By Elden “The Fat Cyclist” Nelson

Extra points for a friendly slap on the back? (AFP)

It doesn’t matter whether it’s during a race or a recovery ride. As cyclists, we simply can’t help ourselves. Every time we get near another rider, we must chase them down. And any time we pass another rider, it’s a victory. Just how much of a victory, however, depends on a number of factors. Fortunately for you, I have created an objective and thoroughly scientific method for determining the value of each cyclist you pass. 

The objective of assessing your passing score for each ride is simple: get as many points as you can on any given ride. Equally simple are the basics – each time you pass a rider, you get to add one point to your score. Of course, it would be ridiculous for you to get the same credit for passing a four-year-old on training wheels as a semi-pro in a time trial tuck. That’s why you must apply the following score adjustments. And, of course, you must apply these same adjustments in reverse whenever you are passed, subtracting points based on these same factors. Hey, that’s only fair.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Bike Factors

Every cyclist I’ve ever met is confused by the title of Lance Armstrong’s first book, It’s Not About the Bike. “Well, what else could it possibly be about?” we ask. We’re not being argumentative; we simply just never think about anything else. Naturally, then, the bike your opponent – that is, the person you’re passing – is a crucial factor in your score:

    Expensive Bike: If the person you’re passing has a bike that costs more than 50% more  than your bike, give yourself an extra point. If the bike costs more than  double your bike’s cost, give yourself two points. Regardless, be certain to  comment on what a nice bike the person you’re passing has. There’s nothing  quite so satisfying as a backhanded compliment.
    Misidentified Bike: If you’ve pushed  yourself as never before to catch a cyclist on the road, thinking how  awesomely fast you’re going to appear as you blow by, only to discover that  the person you’re passing is on a mountain bike or a hybrid with frame  material that can best be described as “rebar,” subtract a point from your  score.
    Silly Bike: If you pass a recumbent, add ten points to your score, as  long as you are going 10kph faster – at a bare minimum – than he. Be sure to  snort in derision as you go by.


It’s very nearly creepy how carefully cyclists study one another’s legs. I of course except myself, because I never do this. That said, your passing score relies heavily on the attributes of your opponents legs.

    Hair: If the  person you pass has shaved legs, give yourself two extra points. If he has  shaved legs and you do not, give yourself four extra points, because he’s  going to eat his heart out when he sees that he just got passed by what  appears to be a Fred.
    Rookie  Mark: If your victim has a chainring mark  on his right calf, subtract a point from your score. If he has a chainring  mark on his left calf, add two points to your score, but only if you can find out how  he managed that trick.
    Tattoos: If the person you pass has  a bike-related tattoo on one or more of his calves, add ten points to your  score. You have just defeated someone who identifies so closely with cycling  that he is advertising it, permanently. Say “Nice tattoo,” as you go by. You  may also want to add, “What is it, exactly?”



This one’s tricky. The truth is, many riders will wear a jersey in support of their favorite rider or team, and that doesn’t mean anything. Thus, to assess how many points to give yourself for what the cyclist you’re passing is wearing, you must look at the full package:

    Full Kit – By  this, I mean everything: helmet, shorts, jersey, socks, gloves. If he’s outfitted  like a full-on pro, give yourself seven points. If it turns out that  he is a  full-on pro, give yourself ten points, unless you stop him and ask for his  autograph. In which case you must reset your score back to zero and give up  biking forever, because you are shameless.
    Club Kit – If he’s wearing just the  jersey or just the shorts, no point adjustment is made. If wearing both, you  should give yourself two points. If the club kit is ridiculously ugly <> , give yourself three points. This is a judgment call, but I  think I can trust you on this. Unless you’re one of those people who design  really ugly club kits. If you’ve designed a jersey that is regarded as ugly  even by your club, you must start every ride for the rest of your life with a  score of -10. You brought it on yourself, man.

What they say

There’s a fair chance that the guy you pass will say something as you go by. This tells you something about how deep the wound has gone – or, in other words, how complete your victory is.

    Greeting: A  simple “hello” or “How’s it going?” means nothing. Your score does not  change.
    Congratulations: A “Hey, nice climbing” or “Keep it up” means that they –  unfortunately – bear you no ill-will. Subtract a point from your  score.
    Excuses: This is the holy grail of passing someone – they are so deeply  humiliated by your passing that they want a chance to explain themselves,  usually by saying something about being at the tail end of an all-day ride or  being told by their coach they must keep their heartrate under 80. When this  happens, smile knowingly as you go by, then double your score because I  guarantee the person you just passed will be able to think of nothing else for  the next 72 hours.

Other Factors

There are a few other miscellaneous factors that affect your passing score. Be certain to make a careful note of each of them.

    Gender Misidentification: If you think you’re passing a man and it turns out to be a  woman, subtract two points. If you think you’re passing a woman and it turns  out to be a man, add three points. Why the inequality? It is not for you to  question.
    Knee In Gut: If the other guy’s knees squash into his gut on each  upstroke, you get no points for passing him. Unless your knees squash into  your gut, too, in which case you get an extra three points.
    Re-Pass: If, after  passing the other guy, he makes a superhuman effort and passes you again, give  yourself an extra two points. This may seem counterintuitive, but this kind of  re-passing is your victim’s way of admitting that you have cut him, and cut  him deep.
    NoPass: If it turns out that the other guy really was just spinning along and is now  happy to ride at your pace and chat, and seems capable of riding at your pace  and chatting even though you are at your absolute upper limit, and continues  doing so until you explode and collapse in a quivering mass on the road, set  your score back to -25, for you have just been totally pawned.

Final Results

After each ride, be certain to tally your score and then evaluate yourself on the following scale:

50+ points: You are the stage winner. Puff out your chest. Add this score to your race resume, for it is a magnificent accomplishment.

20 – 49 points: Not a bad ride, but you may want to exaggerate your score when comparing with your friends. Since there’s no way for them to disprove your score, you should feel confident in your “exaggeration.” Hey, you think your friends aren’t “augmenting” their scores, too?

Fewer than 20 points: You may want to consider changing your training route, so as to encounter different riders. After all, it isn’t how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose.


OK, here’s where I add my own point assessment to the mix for those cycling in France. 

Beret:  If the person you are passing is wearing a beret, add one point.  If someone wearing a beret passes you, however, you subtract 5 points.  Chances are he (or she!) also has a 40-year old ten speed.  If that same person passes you while climbing a categoried col (such as Alpe d’Huez or Galibier), then turn around and ride back down.  

Baguette: If they are carrying a baguette on their bike and you pass them, add one additional point, unless of course, you can get them to share their baguette with you, then add one more point.  If someone carrying a baguette passes you, subtract a point, unless of course you can get them to share the baguette with you, then add three points.  If you can also get them to share that hunk of cheese, slab of paté and bottle of wine in their basket, then forget the points for the day and bon appetit!  (Oh, and don’t forget to say Merci! Please see previous post).

Bonjour: Chances are, as you pass, they will chime in with “Bonjour!”.  If they don’t, you get another point. But if they do and you don’t respond back with a pleasant “Bonjour monsieur” or “Bonjour madame”, then subtract 10 points and re-read my previous post on Common Courtesies in France!

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  1. I give myself 10 points when passing a male cyclist (I’m a gilrl). Mostly bacause I know how that make them feel:-D I passed a friend some years ago, and he has never forgotten it..

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