An interesting discussion flared up on our club’s email board this week. It all started innocently enough. The club president posted that riders new to the club shouldn’t worry about getting dropped on club rides.
“For some part of nearly all of my rides I could fairly be said to have been dropped,” he wrote. “The fast movers [they are NOT all guys] will head off into the distance while I am apparently not bright enough to wait for the slower riders.”
But he added that eventually the fastest of the slow riders will catch up to him, and they will pull each other to the next rally stop.
“At that point it is not at all unusual for some riders from both groups to talk about heading home while others continue to make tracks,” he continued. “Practically never do I ride home alone.”
Our main club ride is on Sunday morning. We meet at a local Starbucks at 8 a.m., and roll out at 8:15. Most of the riders usually fall into what I call the A group. They can maintain a pretty good clip. Last week, they averaged over 17 mph for a 50-mile ride. That’s a pace that would scare off newcomers.
He was called out by the club secretary, who lives some distance west of town and seldom does the Sunday rides, unless a group heads out to her neck of the woods to ride the Hill Country.
“This message is a bit misleading,” she posted. “I know if I rode with the group, I’d have to bust my rear to keep up, and then would eventually poop out and be dropped. Not fun.”
She added, “Unless a person is a hammerhead (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), he/she won’t particularly enjoy the regular club rides.”
The president’s wife, who started out as a B rider but worked her way up to A level (athletic woman, she) chimed in with a valid point: “The reason the Sunday ride has become what it is, is because it has been the one consistent ride of the group [departing every Sunday] and these are the riders who have consistently showed up.” ‘Tis true. That may be one reason that the club has a reputation around town of being a bunch of hammerheads.
The controversy (perhaps too strong a word) may be situated in differing objectives for different riders. The president revealed his point of view later in his post: “Don’t pass up the opportunity to test yourself a bit,” he wrote. That seems to indicate a point of view that cyclists ought to strive to get faster, maybe to ride longer. But it’s just that point of view that puts off a lot of would-be members.
“I do love to ride, and love the workout it gives me,” the club secretary posted. “I just prefer to get my workout a little more slowly. I’m in no rush. The social factor is a big one for me. If I’m riding so hard that I can barely breathe, then I can’t talk either.”
That viewpoint is shared by most of those who call themselves B riders — including yours truly. Some riders want to physically improve themselves. Others like cycling for its recreational value. I just posted a B ride for Sunday, so whatever a rider’s tastes, we can accommodate them.
Is this yin and yang between different ability levels unique to my club, or does it exist in yours, too? Comments are open.