Sunday, December 11, 2005

Disease Riders

I think we've all encountered groups like this on the road, whether it's a charity ride or a large local club ride. It's one reason I don't like to ride in or near big groups. Groupthink seems to dictate that the composite IQ is inversely related to the square of the number of members. Or something like that.

Excerpts follow:

Disease Riders: Pedaling For Dollars With No Sense
Posted on November 30, 2005

(Editor's Note: Maynard Hershon of Tucson, Ariz., is a well-known journalist who has been writing about cycling for nearly 25 years.)


Don't get me wrong. I admire the thousands of cyclists who collect pledges and attempt long, hard charity rides. I think it's great that people use cycling and other athletic events to raise awareness and money to combat disease.

Many of these people do 100-mile rides after decades of smoking, drinking and watching TV -- and five non-consecutive weekends of training. They're examples to us all.

Not only do they get out and get in shape, they help countless others. They support medical research. They keep many annual charity rides alive. They support the bicycle industry. They are the salt of the cycling earth.

They scare the shit outta me.

...They have traveled here from near and far. You can read their home states on their jerseys. You're aware that they've raised money for a worthy cause and that they've conquered their personal fears of tough physical challenges. They're here to celebrate those victories. They deserve our congratulations.

I admire these people. I'm petrified of them.

I have to pass them; they're going 11 mph. Spread completely across our narrow path, they're laughing and chatting, unaware I'm behind them. Oblivious. I have to ask them to move over so I can pass.

I wait for the right moment. Surprising them is not a good idea. Anything might happen.

Eventually I ask. Though I speak in an unthreatening tone, I watch the group wobble and weave in the road. I pray no one locks bars with his buddy, no one brakes suddenly, no one screams and freaks and takes down Western Civilization.

Once I pass that group safely, I feel relieved, but my relief is short-lived. There's another group just like it up the road.


Blogger yumanbing said...

What a pompous ass!

7:37 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I agree with Hershon - there are too many riders out on the road with inadequate skills when it comes to group rides. They can't pull out a water bottle without wobbling. They can't look over their shoulders without swerving to the side. When you overtake them and say, "On your left!" they turn their heads to the left and swerve that way too - right into the space where you were planning to pass.

But like he says, you have to admire them for the effort at raising money for charity. Yet it would help enormously if they invested a little time learning how to ride in a paceline or a group.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

Oh c'mon, how are they supposed to learn?

12:26 PM  
Blogger yumanbing said...

I couldn't stop thinking all day about what Mr Hershon wrote. I'm just glad that when I started to ride I encountered pleasant, helpful people who weren't frightened or angered when I wobbled and weaved as they tried to pass. Though I was slow and didn't dress right and rode a cheap inefficient bike, they exercised patience and always encouraged me to continue to ride. After all, for the vast majority of us, riding is about fun. A group ride with lots of newbies is a perfect opportunity for us old timers to encourage, instruct, welcome more people into our lifestyle.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I know I lean on this horn a lot, but in Road1 we try to instruct students in the basics of group riding; holding a straight line, signaling, and being able to glance back without weaving.

It's good that you met patient, skillful riders when you were a newbie. That seems to be the exception rather than the rule. But absent a Road1 class, regular club rides can make a cyclist safer in a much shorter time, as opposed to the way I learned through trial and error.

9:02 PM  

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