ABC

The bike club I joined in January was profiled in a neighborhood newsletter as having A, B, and C groups. The A group could be classified as the “serious” bikers – fast pace, long distance riders on high-end bikes. The B group would be what I call the “15 mph crowd” – those who like to ride, and have pretty good road bikes, but just can’t keep up with the As. The C group would be parents on hybrids, kids, oldsters on cruiser bikes, people who ride short distances for fun and a little exercise.

Lately, discussions on the club’s Yahoo! group about As and Bs have been getting contentious. A couple of self-described B riders have used the term “weenie” to label the Bs. Others have taken umbrage at that – they want to be respected for their decision to ride for fun and not get roped into speed contests.

Another group has begun breaking down the Bs into B+, B and B-, or “wannaBe” groups, which has put some into high dudgeon over the whole labeling thing. One of the organizers of the club’s Sunday ride, which is open to anyone, takes issue with classifying riders at all. “We’re all one club,” he says.

Some self-classified B riders say they just want to make sure other riders of their caliber are on the Sunday ride, so they’re not left far behind on their own (These are no-drop rides, but it’s been known to happen). Other self-classified B riders are trying hard to become part of the A group, and are training hard to get it done.

It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden with the club. My last ride with them was in late January, and was a great experience. I got to see a route I hadn’t ridden before, and while there was no way I could keep up with the better riders, I did fit in with a group that was content to travel more slowly than the ride leaders. But I had bike issues and weather issues in February, and was out of town two weekends in a row in March.

This Sunday, I hope to join them again. I have a good idea who I can ride with, and who will leave me behind quickly. The longer distances the club rides will challenge me to build my mileage, and for now, endurance is what I’m after – not speed.

So, I guess I’m a B rider. Don’t care. I want to ride, not race. We’ll see if the ride breaks up into two distinct classes of cyclist. If it does, maybe I’ll just have to make friends with the ones at roughly the same level as I am – and we’ll all know that despite well-intentioned “one club” protestations, we really do fall into separate and unequal rider classifications.

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10 thoughts on “ABC

  1. I’ve been wondering this for a few days and since you posted again about your club I’ll ask. What club are you riding with? And why so secretive about it (I don’t see in your posts where you’ve actually said the name). Or is it one of the clubs where the first rule of the bike club is don’t talk about the Bike Club?

  2. Sounds like the “B+” riders should move up to the A group! Maybe it will make them work more then they can be the weenies for a little while!

    I can definitely appreciate riding with a group of your experience level though. I’ve ridden with people above and below my level and neither are as much fun as when I’m in the right group…but the “right” group depends on my mood and how fast I’m feeling on any given day!

  3. You have a wonderful way of expressing your thoughts in a “live and let live” way. We (as humans) have an innate need to categorize and classify and name, and it has been argued that this is merely an expression of another innate tendency towards prejudice. Seems it’s showing itself on your club’s Yahoo group.

    There was a time when I thought about racing… but then I realized that it wasn’t the competition with others that I enjoyed, but the competition with myself. I can try and better myself in whatever way I choose w/o pitting ego against ego in the racing scene or the next club ride. Like you, I’m out there to enjoy myself, and be healthier for it.

    My Garmin has a fantastic feature that allows you to race against previous times on a given course. I can’t wait to use it on my training rides (not so useful on my commutes, as I change the route up a little fairly frequently).

    I am in pseudo training mode for some rides coming up, and it certainly helps to ride with people of like mind for motivation and encouragement. That doesn’t mean those that ride for other reasons are somehow the lesser for it.

    Ride the pace you want, for the reasons you want, and let others do the same.

  4. Personally I avoid club rides. Too much mob mentality that leads to illegal riding (blowing off red lights and stop signs), especially among the “elite” riders (note–I did not call them cyclists–they are just bike riders with more dollars than sense).

  5. Usually, I see A, B, C as being designated thusly:

    A) Advanced riders, almost always competent riding in traffic. Usually fast, racer people.

    B) Intermediate riders, usually slower, rides on the road but not with the confidence of A. Would probably rather stick to bike lanes for on-road travel, but not always.

    C) Children, bike path and sidewalk riders. Usually slow.

    This designation is almost always used in transportation discussions at town hall meetings when discussing provisions for cyclists.

    HOWEVER, our group rides are rated by speed, and some rides openly admit that they break up by speed group. From our ride calendar:

    Ride Ratings:
    S: Slow – 10 to 12mph
    L: Leisurely – 12 to 14mph
    M: Moderate – 14 to 16mph
    F: Fast – 16 to 18mph
    VF: Very Fast – 18+mph

    There are two particularly notorious clubs out here with reputations of blowing stop signs and riding 5 abreast without getting out of the way for motorists. Fortunately, there are still a few clubs in KC with some kind of structure and respect for traffic laws. Those same clubs usually tend to be free from elitism and dissent within the group.

  6. Mike, I’m not naming the club because I don’t want to inadvertently offend any members. As I get more comfortable as part of the group, and build up a level of trust, maybe then I will.

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  10. Thanks for the class breakdown. It’s great to know where I stand in order to know where I need to go. It is unfortunate that derogatory labels and negativity is atached to such a great activity. Must I remind everyone that no matter how special you think you are all road bikers look like dweebs in their spandex. See ya out there in my shorts and Nike Free Runs clocking 40 on my Hybrid!

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