Friday, December 12, 2008

Group Ride Rules for the Holy Cyclist

"Dude, Why am I sweeping your ride?"

To me, cycling is best done in large numbers. Give me the Solvang Century with 5000 riders any day of the week. Davis Double? Check. Riding Solo? Bullshit. But if you are going to ride with others, there are rules by which Dudes must abide, and this depends on the ride itself. I'm not talking about rules of how to ride your bike, I am talking about decorum and respect for the people with whom you will be spending the next couple of blissful hours with - don't start off the ride with bad karma.

1) "The Ride that's been going for years" (Spectrum, Valley, Noon). This ride has only one rule. "Starts at X:XX". If you're late, you chase. If you get dropped, that's your problem. Everyone meets at the coffee shop and the biggest swinging dick notes that he owns that position and says "LET'S GO".

2) "Ride with your buddies". You know everyone coming on this ride, or if not it's just because someone has brought along someone worthy. You set a time, suggest a route, and we're on. Everyone says yes or no, often you ride to the start together, and you wait for everyone to show up. This ride is by definition "No Drop", which means whoever is in the best shape repeatedly tries to drop everyone and then nonchalantly sits up, then bitches that they haven't been able to get out and ride much.

3) "The Mailing List Ride" (SF2G, GGTC, WNR, bikeforums) This one is the most complicated and the primary focus of today's lesson. Someone sends out a ride notice, with a general description of route and pace. People are encouraged but not required to RSVP. Some people just show up without notice. The ride leader is required to show up, unless nobody RSVP's in which case the ride leader can start drinking to excess and oversleep the ride, the lurker can suck it if he was so non-committal as to not RSVP.

The mailing list ride is perhaps the one place in cycling where sandbagging is punished. Advertise a "NO DROP" ride, and Aunt Mildred might show up on her rusty Schwinn expecting a guided tour of half of Marin County. Because one thing you are required to do if you are the "Ride Leader" and you advertise it as "NO DROP" is that you make sure everyone makes it home. If you were hoping to spend the day in a blissful bath of lactic acid and pokey and dopey show up, that's your problem. "Ride Leader Sweeps"

Years ago the day after Davis, I went to a "Beginner's Ride" around Paradise Loop with the SFTri Club. I figured 30 painfully slow miles might be just what I needed after 200 brutally hard miles the day before. The "Ride Leader" promptly went off the front (in her aerobars of course). First I had to "rescue" some guy whose derailler hanger broke and threw the derailler into his spokes, tearing apart the wheel. He was of course "Getting ready for a my first triathlon, but it's only a half Ironman, next weekend". Not only did he not have a marginally working bicycle, he didn't have a cellphone. Wonderful.

Next, way out on the backside of Paradise, someone flatted. As I watched the "Leader" ride off into the mist, I examined the situation. Rusty Nail through the tire. The 26 inch tire. Mounted on a bike with no toolkit, no spare. After removing the wheel, there were 2 massive punctures. 30 minutes later I had managed to McGyver patches onto his tube and get him rolling again. 31 minutes later someone sent back by the "Ride Leader" showed up, saw that we were OK and he tucked back into his aerobars and rode off, leaving me to nurse the newbie back to the Marina where I dropped him off at a bike store and barked at him to get a bag, levers, and a tube. I rode home and sent a nastygram to the tri club mailing list expressing my disdain for the "Ride Leader" and the fact they didn't tell their "Beginners" to show up with at least the barest of tools.

Which brings me to today. After my Wednesday Ride was a 3 hour bloodbath with just 2 riders the whole way to Mountain View, I was hoping to ride again on Friday at a slower pace with more people. SF2G always rides on Friday, but nothing had been posted. So I broke the seal and send out the smackdown, taunting people who would be so softcore as to use the cold weather as an excuse to not come out. It worked - 18 riders showed up at 6:30.

Friday is always "No Rider Left Behind" which is not exactly "NO DROP", but close enough for Google work. I stretched the legs out on Cortland and a little bit more on San Bruno Ave. We regrouped at Bayshore, after the three little hills were over. As we rolled down Tunnel, Scott Crosby rolled up and said...

"Dude, Why am I sweeping your ride?"

He had a point. I did put the first post out. And while I wasn't exactly off the front, I wasn't waiting up for the back end either. One could try to excuse this by denoting that we had 18 riders and multiple groups were sure to form, but this is bogus. If someone who doesn't know where they are going is dropped off the back from the last group, the "Ride Leader" is to blame.

However, there is a Corrollary to the "Ride Leader Sweeps" rule. If the "Ride Leader" is married and his wife is 7 months pregnant, and what is being swept is this...

The "Ride Leader" has the right - nay the MORAL IMPERATIVE - to relinquish his duties as sweep to a single Male from the pack.

Now, Scott has a lot of miles in his legs. He knows more about cycling than most people will ever hope to know. So not only does he know the "Ride Leader Sweeps" rule as he pointed out, but he most likely knows "The Corrollary". What gives? Scott was probably taking it to another level and just blowing me shit. What Scott was not accounting for was that I have a lot of juice with the Bike Gods due to my extreme levels of piety and general Holiness. While I was willing to forgive Scott his transgression and immediately re-asserted myself as sweep, the Bike Gods were not amused. They struck down with furious anger and did smite Scott with their karma as before I could even relate to Scott my sincere aplogies for my transgression, his tire was rendered sans l'air.

The Bike Gods had rendered their verdict. However, even the most pious of cyclists must respect the Bike Gods at all time. I fell prey to human frailty and let myself be amused by Scott's fate. The Bike Gods turned their vengeance upon me - after the rest stop they brought Scott back to the group and allowed him to foment a split in the Autobus, stealing 3/4 of the harem. In the end, much like on Wednesday, I rode in a group of 2 people from San Mateo to Mountain View. Fortunately my last companion was genial and jovial, the sun was rising over the San francisco Bay, and everyone arrived at their destinations intact.

1 comment:

Frank Irwin said...

Great post, Murph. I remember hearing about that SFTri ride...