Ride rules, policies

Rain or shine: The ride goes on regardless of the weather. If it rains, remember that braking distances increase. If threatening weather appears, you are responsible for seeking shelter. Ditches can be safest in a tornado. Don't get under trees in a lightning storm. Don't be a knucklehead: Be weather aware by watching the skies and checking your smartphone.

No refunds: This ride supports Gateway East Trails, a 501(c)3 charity that builds trails in southwest Illinois. If you cannot make the ride after you register, you can deduct the registration fee from your taxes. Costs are incurred after you register, so please don't ask a charity to eat those costs.

Helmets: Helmets required? Hel-met yeah! You must wear a bike helmet that meets federal safety standards, properly adjusted and fastened. If you won't do it for our solicitors at Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, do it for the loved ones facing a lifetime of caring for your traumatic brain injury.

Etiquette/safety short version: Extend the pinkie when drinking from your water bottle. Observe all biking safety procedures, including passing only on the left (never passing on the rider ahead's right), announcing that you are passing by clearly stating "on your left," riding no more than two abreast but single file when traffic is present, staying to the right so others may pass, really staying to the right if going uphill and you think you may suddenly poop out and stop, not crossing the center line to pass, not passing on curves or blind spots, announcing hazards to other riders such as "car back," "car up," "gravel," announcing "slowing" or "stopping" as you approach an intersection, coming to a full stop with one foot on the ground at stop signs and obeying all traffic laws, so help you Moe. It is also nice to offer aid if a fellow bicyclists is on the side of the road. It is also nice to thank and heed the volunteers and law enforcement officers who are working to keep you safe. It is not OK to give fellow riders a two-finger eye poke or hit them with a monkey wrench. Remember, the ride is about Stooges, not for Stooges.

Etiquette/safety long version: Don’t be a stooge. Care about the ride and riders using these common-sense suggestions.

1. Care for your steed.
Have your bicycle prepared for the Tour de Stooges, and keep it in good condition. Have what you need to change a flat tire, including the knowledge and gear (you can wait for SAG, but what fun is that?). You will be fine with most bikes on these routes, but don’t try to ride the century with a mountain bike or your pennyfarthing.


2. Care for yourself.
You know your physical condition. Don’t ride the century if it’s your first ride after a long winter. Be honest with yourself about your condition when you pick a distance. There are plenty of rest stops, so be sure to hydrate early and often. Fuel yourself with small, regular amounts of food to maintain your energy level. Avoid the “bonk.”

3. Care for your head.
You MUST wear a bicycle helmet and wear it correctly.  Most bicycling crashes involve injury to the face or head. Wear bright clothing. Be noticed. Expect cool or wet weather and bring appropriate clothing. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

4. Care to communicate.
Signal all turns and stops. The law says that you must, but this point can’t be overemphasized. Most bike crashes involve two or more bicycles and most are the result of riders not letting others know their intentions. Sound off when passing. Use phrases such as “on your left,” or “stopping.” Communicate the presence of motor vehicles to fellow bikers with “car up” and “car back.” All bikes within earshot of such a verbal warning must immediately, smoothly and safely move to the right as far as feasible.

5. Care to correctly stop.
Stop off the road surface. First, let those behind you know of your plans by saying “slowing” and then “stopping.” Then, call out "rider off" and make sure no bicycles or motor vehicles are immediately behind you as you prepare to stop. Stop at the right edge of the roadway and immediately move to the shoulder. Then, stay clear of the roadway. Stopping is especially dangerous at the crest of a hill or on a curve. When returning to the road, check the traffic and announce "rider on" before you pedal off. When underway, ride in a straight line and don’t weave. Ride to the right, leaving as much room as possible for others to pass on your left. When passing, never cross the yellow line or center line. Wait for those ahead of you to move to the right and then pass safely. If you must dismount and walk up any hills, first use the rules mentioned above, and then walk on the far-right side of the road, single file. Riding uphill in the middle of the lane and then losing your momentum until you stop is nearly guaranteed to cause a crash or at least an unkind word from your fellow riders. Stay to the right if you’re unsure of making it to the top of the hill. While pacelines are not forbidden, they are discouraged. Pacelines must ride at a speed consistent with the surrounding traffic. They must slow down in congested areas.

6. Care to follow the law.
Obey traffic laws. In Illinois, bicyclists enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as motorists. We are expected to stop at stop signs and lights, obey yield signs, not cross double yellow lines, signal for turns, not cut corners. Above all, ride in a respectful manner.

7. Care to use common sense.
Don’t be a victim of circumstance: Use your brain and common sense when you ride. You must be constantly thinking ahead and alert to what’s going on around you. Pace yourself. The Tour de Stooges is not a race. Don’t try to keep up with someone who is stronger and better than you.

8. Care to be sober.
That’s not a question. Do not drink alcohol or be under the influence of any medication that would tend to impair your physical or mental abilities. This is true of any bike ride, not just the Tour de Stooges.

9. Care to care.
Don’t be a Moe. Be considerate of others. This applies to motor vehicles as well as fellow bikers. Remember that we are guests in this community. The bicycling skills of those participating in the Tour de Stooges cover the full range. Each rider must look out for someone else, as well as for himself. Be a predictable rider. Don’t make others guess about what your next move will be. Don’t surprise other riders with anything you do. Be courteous to passing vehicles and other bicyclists. Instead of riding several abreast, go single file and let those behind you pass safely. Cooperate with Tour de Stooges volunteers as well as law enforcement officers you encounter.

10. Care to be safe.
Keep your head up and your ears open. Never wear earphones or headphones when riding. Listen as well as look at what’s happening around you. Immediately give right-of-way to emergency vehicles, plus pull over to the side of the road and stop. Watch for loose sand and gravel and other debris on the roadway. Take extra care on some of the Tour de Stooges’ poorly paved roads — there aren’t a lot, but there are some. Watch for debris, potholes and cracks. Be very conscious of riders around you as you maneuver on any rough roads.