The Noob Helps a Noob

Today, the club was planning a 52-mile ride east of the city. I haven’t been doing enough base miles to handle a 52-miler, especially with the recent humid weather that has hit our area, so I volunteered to lead a “B” ride to a nearby town. Distance would be about 36 miles round trip.

I must have publicized my decision too late, because only two people were interested in doing the B ride, and one of them set off with the A group. They were going down a four-lane divided road with no shoulder and fast traffic. I told the other B rider – someone new to the group – that we would take a safer route.

I had met the young lady – Tina – once before, at a meetup organized by another biking acquaintance. We follow each other on Twitter, but had never ridden together. She indicated she was up for 20 miles, and when I told her how far we’d go, she agreed.

It wasn’t long before I realized she was not used to club rides. She fell behind almost immediately. I slowed down to keep a reasonable gap between us, and waited for her at lights. This was going to be all right. I had ridden hard the previous day, and didn’t mind taking it easy on the Sunday ride.

Three miles out, we reached our first major challenge: a pretty good hill. I’ve ridden it many times and am used to it now, but it still makes me work. I stayed seated as I climbed, figuring it would keep me closer to her. Once I crested the hill, I coasted down the backside. I looked back – and no Tina. I pulled over and waited. No Tina. I reversed course to find out what the problem was. She was pulled over at a turnoff, hunched over her bike. I thought she had a mechanical.

“Need any help?” I called. By now I could see she was just taking a breather.

“That hill really took it out of me,” she said.

We waited a few more minutes, then set off again. I soft pedaled, and averaged about 9 mph, but she still fell behind. This was our pattern for the rest of the trip. She did a great job of staying with me through a dicey section, as we had to brave heavy traffic and cross under an Interstate highway bridge. But once we were out on a semi-country road, she had trouble keeping up.

I pulled into the entrance to a mobile home park and waited. “This is where I usually make a rest stop,” I lied, as she pulled even with me. “Grab some water, walk around a little, or sit.”

“I think my rear tire is soft,” she said.

Soft, nothing. It was flat. We moved her bike to a shady spot and took off the rear wheel. She had a fancy tire lever that hooked under the bead then attached to the axle. The bead was supposed to come off easily. It didn’t. I got my stuff from my bike and took off the tire, then put in her fresh tube and pumped it up. While I worked, she was busy texting on her phone. I finished, and she said, “My roommate is coming to pick me up.”

As we waited, we chatted about biking and her new venture: a triathlon. “I still have to swim and run today,” she said. “This is the fastest I’ve ever ridden.”

It took us over an hour to cover 10 miles.

Her roommate showed up, and I rolled the bike to the SUV. On the way, I squeezed the front tire. It was very soft, too. Clearly, she couldn’t have continued the ride.

I went on to Creedmoor by myself, and headed back to the ride’s start. Everyone from the 52-mile ride was already there.

“Sorry it didn’t work out for you,” said the A ride leader, after I told my story.

“On the contrary,” I replied. “It was fine. When I started biking, you and others did the same thing for me. I’m happy to help out others now.”


  1. johnt says

    I saw you were leading a B ride today but decided against it because I felt I would be to slow……And didn’t want slow down the group…

  2. says

    That’s a great story. I hope one day to be in a position like you found yourself in today, and I also hope I can act with as much class as you did!

  3. says

    Nice going mate. Very cool behaviour. But I think after reading that story I would have advised her about bike prep. Didn’t she check her tires before she set out?

    • says

      I think it’s easy after riding a while (or doing anything for a while, for that matter) to assume that everyone naturally does what you have learned to do – and to ask others about it is sort of like asking “did you remember to wear clothes today?” It’s hard to remember that these are learned behaviors!

  4. says

    Good job. I’ve been in essentially the same spot riding with a newer rider in over his / her head. We all have to start somewhere and it is a lot better when newer riders are not abandoned.

  5. says

    Rats! Had I known that was the situation I would have joined y’all. I got in a nice, but rather taxing 45 mile ride on Sunday (all of which was on the Veloway) and I’m itching to get out on the road – under the right circumstances. Currently I’m working in Kerrville and have several nice roads & climbs in sight. This week I plan on doing some recon and want to bring my bike with me next week if I feel comfortable doing some local rides.

  6. Barbara says

    Good on you Noob! We all have to start somewhere and paying it forward is the right thing to do for sure.

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