Friday Group Ride #113

There are things I don’t like about cycling. There, I said it. Not everything about our sport/hobby/obsession is my absolute favorite. I would expect that much of what I dislike, other people like intensely. Opinions are like dead-nun jokes, some of them are funny, but they’re all basically wrong. I am willing to be wrong, especially if it’s funny.

I don’t like the testosterone-fueled banter in the parking lot before the group ride pulls out. I don’t like to ride up on my bike and immediately have some crass joke aimed at me while I try to get my arm warmers straight and my sunglasses untangled from my helmet straps. I realize that some of my friends are so intensely starved for male-bonding that they feel compelled to engage in whatever this profanity-laced jack-assery does for them, but I don’t care for it. It makes me tired.

I don’t like chamois cream. Don’t get me wrong. I need chamois cream, some times more than others. But I hate the feeling of cold squish against my man-zone and the subsequent period during which the cream redistributes itself according to the laws of physics and thermodynamics.

I hate inhaling synthetic food stuffs while trying to hold the wheel in front of me. And when I say “inhaling,” I mean literally breathing in some glob of goo or half-chewed block. You go straight from gasping for carbohydrate-loaded air to asphyxiating in the time it takes to say ‘bonk.’ I also am not fond of the coating synthetic foods leave on your teeth, so that, by mile 50, I feel as though each of my teeth is wearing a hand-knit sweater.

If I never saw a Michelob Ultra commercial again, it would be too soon.

I also dislike the parochialism cycling descends into too often. Roadies disdain mountain bikers. No one likes fixed gear hipsters. Fixed gear hipsters swear they will only ever ride fixed and everyone else is a wus. BMX isn’t cycling, except that it is, and god forbid you ride a hybrid, with your kids, down the bike path. The immasculation attendant to that act will get you excommunicated from the uber-exclusive man club, even if you didn’t know you were a member.

To me, cycling is cycling. All cyclists are my friends. In fact, cycling itself can be too tribal. Let me try this one out on you: Motorists are my friends, too. No, not that guy who tried to run me off the road, but I wouldn’t like him on a mountain bike either. What I mean is that cycling is not a facet of my identity I use to shunt people OUT of my life. It’s a facet I use to draw people in. Fellow cyclists, in all their shapes and predilections, are my brothers and sisters, and anyone is eligible for membership, even if they think it’s cool to imply they slept with my wife last week while I am busy creaming my chamois and loading my jersey pocket with citrus-flavored goos.

Yeah. You guessed it. This week’s Group Ride is about the things we don’t like about this thing that we love. Have at it. Vent your spleen.

59 comments

  1. Adam

    I don’t like listening to the Monday morning quarterback. Every group has him/her. He would’ve won the sprint or taken that pull or gotten out of the saddle or not-not pulled through or not attacked after a flat in the group… yada, yada, yada. Let your legs do the talking and if you don’t got them, no one is going to yell at you or ridicule you. Just keep it shut.

  2. Eric Jensen

    Bravo top to bottom. I ride 150 miles a week on the low end, and I have for decades avoided group rides because I didn’t like “dick jokes” when I was in junior high. I will say I did a ride with a master’s team a few weeks ago and the jabbing was at least mature, but it didn’t make me want to ride faster, or join their team.

  3. Champs

    I don’t much care for multi-use paths. Most of the time, they’re just an ugly means to the end of escaping to open rural roads. In fair weather, they’re littered with meandering dogs with tripwire leashes, wobbly children, and selectively deaf people who don’t understand that a bell isn’t rude, it’s just a reminder that the left side is for passing.

    In the springtime it’s worse. It takes way too long for people to remember that you pass on the left, WITHOUT charging head-on into oncoming traffic. It’s a constant game of chicken until Memorial Day.

  4. gmknobl

    I hated trying to convince Critical Mass yahoos that the local club had something to offer and they should at least consider joining since we had a voice and were working for the promotion of cycling all over our area, locally and with legislatures more regionally and statewide. Instead, all I got was looked down at because I didn’t demand things were mine and not anyone elses, cause and accident and ride my own single speed.

    Later when I loudly told off by a guy who took over my advocacy position at the local club for berating, in an email no less, a single speeder critical mass jerk because I was, he assumed, berating all the single speed crowd, I figured the hypocrisy was universal. I shouldn’t have used single speed and Critical Mass in the same sentence I guess. I did find it amusing, though I didn’t tell him, that he assumed I meant bad things about one when I was talking about the other, less educated, more provocative group.

    But what I hate most are the jokers, who in every instance, for me for some reason, are driving old pick up trucks (I kid you not), that get upset that I take up more than 1 foot of the road and dare to move into the middle of the country road to avoid gravel or a dead opossum. Nothing gets my adrenaline up, and makes me ride a good five to ten miles faster for a minute, than these uneducated idiots. And then I do something stupid and yell back at them that “I have a right to the road,” too! I use quotes on purpose.

    I’ve got to learn to control my temper ’cause one day the idiot will use his two ton weapon on my sorry ass and then drive off to vote for someone with more money than sense.

    What I currently hate is the lack of time I have to go riding out into the countryside since my kids can’t ride that far nor in that terrain yet. I also hate that I have no bike ’cause on my last climb my frame broke during a down stroke. Luckily, I was going slow in a 30-17 but still, on a sharp curve on a 10% pitch is not where you want your frame to break. But that’s better than fast on a 10% downhill! So, right now, I can’t ride at all, let alone in the beautiful but idiot laden countryside or with my kids around the block.

  5. Paul I.

    I ride with two groups. One is all male, the other one is mixed but primarily male (and some rides are all male). Neither one has the “testosterone-fueled banter” that you mention. Maybe I am just lucky. But both are friendly groups – people will go at their own pace on the climbs, but will wait at the top. If you lose the wheel on a fast flat section the group will be waiting at the next major intersection.

    The one thing that I can think of that I don’t like is when group members do stupid things, like take a blind corner on a fast descent in the middle of the road, or cut in front of a car at the last minute. I don’t want to be the one having to pick up the pieces.

  6. Jody

    I don’t like the elitism of some roadies. I tend to gravitate to the groups that are loose and ride to have fun. Go to any race and there is that group that won’t speak to others and look at you with disdain. I must admit at times our group does tend to joke with each other like a bunch of third graders but that’s what makes it fun for me.

  7. SteveP

    I don’t like drinking road juice – the brown spray to my face in a rainy paceline. It’s annoying and gross.
    Hey skunk stripe guy, if you join a group where most folks put at least a race blade, if not a full fender, on the rain bike…well then follow suit. Fenders are not for sissies.

  8. sterlingbbiking

    the one thing I dislike (this being the bike mechanic in me)is someone on a 4-5 thousand dollar rig and the chain sounds like a german panzer tank…and o yes I WILL tell them about it. and wind, I hate wind. they call wind here in florida “hills”. I still hate it. I hate facing my rig towards the east in the afternoons. it just sucks the life out of me. other than that, how about that Boonen eh’? what a baller!

  9. Boy_Howdy

    I hate super-aggro type-A roadies, though thankfully I don’t run into them too often. It’s beautiful out and the Marin Headlands are God’s gift to cycling – can you take it down a notch?

    I don’t like it when someone I don’t know comes up from nowhere and insists on wheel sucking me. If I don’t know you, then you are too close. I don’t want to get my frame scratched if I need to break if one of God’s woodland creatures crosses my path. Back off.

    I hate the guy who needs to pass me and then immediately drops his speed to slower that I was originally going.

    I don’t mind BMXer, but I do find most fixie riders to be insufferable stop-sign and red light blowing assholes who make the rest of us look bad. Actually, in general, I hate anyone who feels like they can’t stop or at least slow down significantly for a light/sign. You aren’t training for the TdF, how about you use it as an opportunity to work on your track stand and sprint?

    I don’t mind most triathletes, except the ones who clearly can’t handle their bike but still insist on riding too close to me. Or insist on dropping into the aero bars for a whopping 12mph pace. Or ride in the aero bars uphill even slower. I do enjoy passing them while I’m sitting up and talking with my riding buddies, though.

    It shouldn’t bother me but unless your name is Marco F-ing Pantani, you look silly climbing with your hands in the drops.

    Pick up your trash. Please.

  10. Jesse

    I hate how long it takes to get out the door. My wife is a runner and she’s just gotta lace ‘em up and she’s out the door. While I’m m still filling bottles, lubing my chain and airing up my tires she’s made it a mile down the road.

  11. armybikerider

    I hate the (IMHO) rampant elitism found most often in “roadies.” If you don’t ride the latest carbon frame, or have the latest and greatest wheels, or are riding last year’s (or older) components or don’t have kit from the correct Euro company then you’re labeled a Fred who is riding “crap.”

    I hate the guy that has to tell you all about how bad he feels, how sick he’s been or how he hasn’t been able to ride for X # of days, then proceeds to rip your legs off.

    I hate the way some “cyclists” think they are above the law and blow through stop signs or red lights….or ride too many abreast and then loudly proclaim that they have every right to ride any way they please. All the while pissing off the motorists behind them and making us all look like asses and more importantly losing any respect that might have been in the mind of said motorist.

    I hate the guy that rides in dirty shorts. Nothing worse than sitting behind someone in smelly kit.

  12. Nick

    I hate the hypocrisy often found in who we hate: mountain bikers who hate roadie elitism, and who then become elitist by not sharing their best trails; the inherent elitism in categorizing and looking down on others for being “rampantly elite”; ‘crossers that eschew anything on the road as being aggro and who then send off angry emails to lists and promoters when their 45th place result gets reported as 47th; riders who dislike other cyclists of being “too serious”; riders who dislike other cyclists of being “not serious enough”; riders who forget they too were once a Fred, etc.

    And I guess I hate that we forget that we hate in others is what we dislike about ourselves. I’ve probably been all those things that I just listed as hating.

  13. Mo'Nilla

    Well said. I like to remind my overly judgey friends that were it not for the “Freds”, our $5000 bikes would cost about $20,000, and all those fat doctors out there sporting Cervelos are why you could afford yours:^O

  14. Ian

    I don’t like when other riders ask me how much my bike weighs. It seems rude, somehow, plus I don’t know how much it weighs. Probably a lot, since it’s steel with fenders, a rack and lights.

  15. James

    I still just ride alone because I’m the only one who goes my speed! I sing/hum opera tunes and I don’t object. If I have a flat I don’t have to worry about trying to catch up to the group or worry about holding them back because I don’t complain to me. I can never remember any jokes so I don’t hear any. All in all I really like riding in my group!

  16. Jenny W.

    I’m with James. I tend to ride more by myself, it’s just easier sometimes. It’s nice though, I have races in my head, I sprint, I go into breakaways, sometimes I race against my sick brother and win. Oh wait…

    Honestly, I’m oblivious, I love riding so much, it has become my happy place. I feel blessed to be on a bike. I do have two things that tick me off:

    1.Bees-I enjoy the fruits of your labor but please stay out of my eye and mouthal region.

    2.Salmon-Why would someone think that’s the safer alternative then going with the flow of traffic? I give them stink eye, that’s the extent of my anger.

  17. Zach

    I hate that I can’t ride eight hours a day. I also hate demoing nice stuff because it reminds me of how crappy my bike is, even though my bike is worth more than my car.

  18. themikefish

    Peeves (hate is such a strong word):
    1.Roadies with hipster moustaches (not ironic)
    2.Riders with way too much aftershave
    3.Riders w/ poorly adjusted, poorly shifting drivetrains
    4.When 1,2, or 3 drop me like a scalding cup of McDonalds coffee
    (and they usually do)

  19. Rich

    I don’t think there is anything I “hate” about cycling. Maybe a couple things I don’t like. The guys that agree on a route and mid ride decide to shorten it since they have to get home.
    Cycling is too much fun for all these things to hate. Almost all seem like a minor annoyance in light of what is supposed to be the first day of sun in a week and 70′ tomorrow.

  20. Cptcrnch

    The skyrocketing cost of being in this sport. Manufacturers have gotten so focused on the top end of their line and the few who can actually afford those bikes that they seem to have forgotten about the the regular guy. Just a few years ago $4,000 would get you a full race ready machine – now it will barely buy some wheelsets. I only work 16 hours each so I can spend the other 20+ each week as a unpaid volunteer working with the deaf and hard of hearing in my area. Granted the trickle-down effect has occurred but to get anything semi-decent you need to spend a minimum of $3k-$4k. For someone like me or someone trying to provide for a family in this economy that can be too much to spend. I would love to support my local shop and do so when I can but with where prices are for some components I have no choice but to use the Internet.

  21. Hautacam

    I hate riders who run red lights downtown during rush hour in front of dozens of stopped cars that have been waiting for several light cycles to get through that same intersection.

    Great googly moogly, man! (it’s always a man.) Don’t you know that the rest of us will now have a bullseye on our back for at least the next mile and a half? Don’t you know that all of those drivers will only remember YOU and not the other fifty to one hundred of US who played by the rules and tried to respect those around us? Don’t you know the cagers will be hacked off the next time they see a cyclist, and maybe do something stupid like gknobl was describing?!

    Knock it the hell off, you dolt!

    I feel much better now.

    PS I love the word “cager.” And interrobangs. But I also hate pro riders who get caught doping and then lie about it. Man up, you wankers! Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. But that is another tangent altogether.

  22. tucker six

    “cycling is cycling” is my favorite line. thank you. at times there is much rudeness and dangerous riding amongst the rookies by the regulars. the regulars invited the rookies in the first place! and so I think all should just pay attention and help each other. if you don’t want to ride with rookies, don’t. if you don’t mind, then don’t complain. there are myriad groups for myriad riders. the more responsible we are about it, the more support, the more bike lanes, the more alternatives to cars, the less CO2 etc etc etc

  23. David Hendry

    If you worry about elitist cyclists harshing out on “others” try riding a recumbent. Because of medical conditions I can’t take any pressure on one shoulder so the position on a regular bike is out. On the recumbent I get lots of interest and questions at any stop from non riders but cyclists look at me like i just tried to seduce their sister and some absolutely won’t ride in the same lane as me.

  24. MCH

    I don’t like:
    – guys that wear a pair of shorts for one season too many. You know, the one’s that have big wear spots with nothing left but the spandex mesh. I really don’t like looking right at someone’s bung while riding in the pack – yuck.
    – people that ride with water bottle cages that eject bottles at the first bump. Big time pet peeve.
    – guys that attack the group at yellow, or even red lights. Most follow, creating a big-time safety issue and many pissed-at-cyclists-forever motorists.

  25. scaredskinnydog

    I keep thinking of that old SNL skit where the two characters(I think its Rob Schneider and Phil Hartman?) constantly ‘one up’ each other with tales of pain and suffering with the catch phrase at the end always being “I hate when that happens” i.e…
    “The other day I was riding along and rode through a pile of broken glass and glass shards shot up into my eyes causing me to crash face first into a puddle full of alcohol”
    “I hate when that happens”

  26. A Stray Velo

    I don’t like the competition aspect of non-profressional cycling.

    The constant silent comparing and judging that goes on between friends, co-workers and other cyclists on the road I could do without.

    I mean why can’t I just be a guy who rides my bike because I like to be healthy?

  27. punkture

    early start times for group rides on the weekend. That weekend lie-in in important for me. Luckily a few of us formed ‘Dropouts CC’ which leaves at midday. I would love to do group rides with all the other ‘proper’ roadies but 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning?!? I have a hangover to nurse thank you very much.

  28. producifer

    Riding non-race events & seeing hundreds of used gel packets on the course discarded by participants is always depressing. Mile after mile of disregard & arrogance…

  29. Bryan

    i started road biking in the early 70s and racing in CO in the late 70s–still do. I find it hugely gratifying that cycling has exploded in all its incarnations (the ranchers ride where I come from now). I love group rides (the Santa Cruz ride I used to do has been going on since the 70s).

    If you think you’re a fast guy, there’s probably a girl out there who can crush you– don’t take yourself too seriously. So have fun and encourage everyone else to love this wonderful sport. I friend of mine says cycling can save the world–he’s probably not too far off.

  30. Paul

    So much complaining about the group rides! Nobody’s making you ride with those tossers. I have learned to love riding alone. I never suck wheel, never regroup, never stop for coffee, and only talk to my voices.

  31. Eto

    Definitely some common strings here!

    Something I try to avoid are aggressive group rides where the ride is the race, i.e. When a group or “team” of riders try to work over the larger group as one might in a race situation. If you have either raced or are currently racing, the group ride can be what you do to have fun, be social and show off your perfect etiquette versus ride aggressively, attack every hill and not ride safely.

    That can be what I do not like about cycling.
    Eto

  32. andrew

    I stopped being macho (if I ever was) years ago. I realised that there will always be someone, stronger, taller, better looking, richer… No matter what I did, these facts will stay true. This realisation worked it’s magic even stronger as I realised the converse is also true.

    I started being content with my life and any competitive streak ebbed away.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t try to improve myself, I like working hard, but it’s not to be ‘better’ than anyone else, other than myself.

  33. Toad the 12 sprocket

    I like this article, but the picture reminds me . . .

    I don’t like when men of a certain age (and/or size) insist on wearing shorts that aren’t black.

  34. Shane

    I hate when folks show up to the group ride for the first time, with no knowledge of how to pace line, and proceed to gap folks, ride sketchy and ruin the flow of the ride. Then proceed to complain how “elitist” everyone is and how no one was friendly…

    I hate when people don’t realize that most of the people on a group ride have been riding together for quite a while. They know each others patterns, tendencies, and generally what to expect which equals trust. There is a lot of trust in a fast moving group… It is earned and takes time to do so… It is not freely given.

    I hate that I’m not ridding now…

    All that said, I love pie.

  35. Adam

    people discarding wrappers and gel packs in the bushes.
    noisy drive trains that take away from the serenity of the early morning.
    the rider who always does something to endanger the safety of the group – it somehow becomes infectious.

  36. Steve Bauer

    I hate arguing with my wife about whether I need a 3,000 frame. I hate knowing I’m wrong. I hate buying it anyway. Lord forgive me, I love that bike.

  37. Ethel

    Loose dogs and the dirtbag owners who don’t care enough about them to keep them safely off the roads and out from under cars and bikes.

  38. James D

    I hate riding in a paceline behind some one who does not know how to ride a consistent rate and proceeds to let a small gap open then accelerates to close said gap… for the entire ride. And even when you try to find a way to switch who you are following (at stop signs, gas station stops, natural breaks etc.) you still inexorable end up behind that person again

  39. Chromatic Dramatic

    I hate cycling blogs that don’t allow nested comments…

    ok hate is the wrong word, but it would be nice to respond / add more information to some replies!

    Otherwise, my “hate” is any form of disdain for other riders, especially of the type of people looking down on the “Freds”. As other said, everyone has got to start somewhere. They may never progress past a certain point, but at least they are out riding.

    What I do love is those that show disdain get smashed on a ride by some Fred.

  40. DM

    I hate the fact that all you folks don’t ride in the same group.

    That’d make for a very entertaining group ride! Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

  41. sterlingbbiking

    AND SQUIRRELS,NO,NOT NEWBIES BUT THE ACTUAL ANIMAL,IS HE GONNA CROSS THE ROAD OR NOT? IS HE GONNA TRY TO GET YOUR SPOKES?

  42. Cat4Fodder

    I do not hate…more perplexed….why is it that those cyclists who are into long-distance riding (Randonneuring and Brevet riders) always seem to be overweight? Seriously…how can someone ride that many miles and still be fat?

    I dislike (more annoyed, since many are nice people) cyclists of any stripe who refuse or do not understand basic repair and maintenance. I will also add I dislike cyclists who really do not learn or understand their equipment. Even something as simple as understanding the basics, such as BB design or geometry. Do these people just like the color and/or recognize the brand?

    I dislike the IKEAization of the bike world, with the “throw-away” versus fix it attitude. This includes the use of proprietary equipment, that they either made it extremely difficult to source or stop providing replacement parts altogether after only a few years (think proprietary spoke designs on factory-built wheels)

  43. Cat4Fodder

    @Punkture…

    I hear you on the start times….but keep in mind…while you are nursing a hangover, a parent has a small window to get a ride in before the rest of the day gets filled with family duties….or thunderstorms arrive (here on the Front Range….after Noon, it is basically always an iffy proposition whether you will be caught in what can become quite severe thunderstorms…

    Speaking of which – I hate lightening while riding. Only thing that truly scares me when riding.

  44. HR

    I don’t hate those funky hybrids as I ride mine to work each day.
    Don’t mind the BMX’s cuz that’s where I started cycling.
    Don’t mind the recombinants cuz that’s what a lot of my early cycling mentors currently ride.
    Love the cycle travelers for the stories and memories of my travels.
    Dig the mountain bikers cuz it’s a blast and compliments my road riding every bit as much as my road training compliments my mountain biking.
    Like the newbies cuz its great to see the sport grow and it’s nice to give back and provide instruction on proper group riding or refer to a more appropriate group/time to build skills.
    I’d hate to think that any of these demographics didn’t make up part of our sport.
    I like the Sunday morning rides that are open to conversation and company while getting fit.
    I love the aggressive group race pace rides for the unique training they provide. People have to practice.
    I love the groups that offer both on the same ride depending on what you choose.
    I’d hate to think I didn’t have a choice in any of this.
    I chose to love this sport and be a part of its growth. I do worry that with that, especially the drive/model/enthusiasm offered from stateside ideals will push it in a similar direction as the stadium sports. Revenue generation/marketing is too much a part of those. I love that this is a peoples sport still and don’t want that to change. More money and independent/privatized leagues, that have the objective of more profits, are not going to confront the allegations of doping/corruption any better than the UCI. The creation of those most will most certainly lead to more. And increase that gap/alienation between super privatized super leagues/teams and lowly cycling folk/fans like ourselves. Probably botched my post a while back but got carried away with the first one. Anyway, great site RKP, THANK YOU!

    ….. and I don’t hate motorists because I’m aware of the suffering experienced by the motorists who is responsible for the death of my cycling father.
    I don’t hate motorists because I’m often one as well and I know there is no place for hate in the cyclist/motorist relationship.

  45. Jonathan

    Y’all need to chill out and go for a ride. So much hate…

    Oh, and ride what you want, when you want, and with whomever you want. Stop worrying so much, people!

    1. Padraig

      Jonathan: Let’s not admonish the readers for sharing what they don’t like. We asked the question. Don’t beat them up for being honest.

  46. Mark

    I dislike those riders who are so much stronger!
    But then again, I love ‘em when they pull me home.
    Guess I secretly love them.
    (Don’t tell.)

  47. Joe Treleven

    “I don’t like the testosterone-fueled banter in the parking lot before the group ride pulls out. I don’t like to ride up on my bike and immediately have some crass joke aimed at me while I try to get my arm warmers straight and my sunglasses untangled from my helmet straps. I realize that some of my friends are so intensely starved for male-bonding that they feel compelled to engage in whatever this profanity-laced jack-assery does for them, but I don’t care for it. It makes me tired. ” EXACTLY!

  48. Eddie

    Oh I could not agree more. I have taken more crap for my mirror on my road bike. I am with you on the Ultra commercials also, some one please tell them to stop paying Lance the big bucks and sponser a team!

  49. Paul

    (more of a newbie than most here obviously) I hate fearing I won’t be able to unclip and will crash. I have fallen over twice at stoplights getting used to the clips, but the irrational fear afterwards is especially frustrating.

    I hate worrying that a bike will be stolen off my car while I’m at work, out of my garage if the door is up, or outside a cafe (even with it locked of course).

  50. S

    After 30+ years of riding you’d think I wouldn’t give a rat’s @$$ about elitist actions and crap that comes out of the mouths of the road weeeeniies during club rides…but it still does. That is why the majority of my training miles are done alone…less talk more riding. My wave to a passing cyclist during club rides results in the interruption of the techno weeny discussion about rolling resistance of 23mm vs 25mm of the rider to my left as he then wrenches his neck to look back to see the rider headed in the other direction. “Who was that?” he quips…I merely shrug my shoulders and he gives me an incredulous look like I had just given away the secret handshake to a secret fraternity. Get over yourselves already.

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