A jerk of shoulders, a pinch of brakes and a fresh sense of wind down your back—disaster averted yet again. Why do we ride so tight? But then, there’s no need to ask. From physics to camaraderie, we know the answer. If we rode spaced out like trees in an orchard, the speed wouldn’t whoosh, the magic would never happen, the friendships would never form.

There’s danger in the peloton. Done wrong you wind up on the ground, in a ditch—hell—the back of an ambulance. But without that risk, that equally shared burden, there’s no intimacy, no true knowledge. And we get to know each other, don’t we? The pedal stroke, the tilt of hips, the flick of the elbow in the shift, bob of head, we can tell friends by the faintest trace of motion.

And while no one rider can rule a peloton for long, we know when someone’s absent. The dynamic changes. That missing pull at the front, the laughs at the back, the gap closed without a word, there are those riders, those moments so expected, so typical of the day, that we sometimes we only understand the value through that cliché—in their absence.


For Zeke

, ,


  1. Tom in Albany

    Padraig, I really like this one. I have old cycling friends I haven’t ridden with in a while – about two kids ago…

    I don’t know who Zeke is but, I hope the loss is only temporary.

  2. khal spencer

    Its been a couple decades since I pinned on numbers and rode as you describe. This brought back some memories, both good and bad, of those days. There was definitely a close camaraderie among us, even among those on different teams. There was also that memorable day when my wife, giving her students a final exam at her community college, had about a third of her class come in late because the road into town was blocked by, as one of the latecomers put it “there is an ambulance out there picking up this bloody bicyclist from the road”. Then her phone rang….as one of my teammates called her!

  3. Dwan Shepard

    Absolutely right, Patrick. From my observations this past weekend, you’re an experienced peloton rider, and it was immediately obvious that you were a steady and trustworthy wheel, and a real pleasure riding with you.

    1. Author

      Thanks Dwan. Last weekend was a chance to rectify a big omission in my life. It’s a good place to build on. Thanks for the company.

  4. Rob Martin

    Great post, and I sure know what you mean. The most riding I ever did was when I became single, and while it’s been a few years since I’ve ridden with the same group, I’ll always remember the effortlessness of it all. No worries about someone standing one a climb and thrusting their wheel into yours, pulling off on the wrong side, accelerating after you’ve pulled off. It’s amazing how enjoyable the flow is when riding with those you know and trust.

    The core group was 4 of us, and there was a noticeable difference when riders who “fit” joined us and when those who didn’t came along. Most rides had others along, but when it was just Us, it was amazing to wonder what just happened to the last 20 miles because you were so in the zone.

    Wayne, Pat, Beth, I miss you guys!

  5. Sanchez

    Agreed a thousand times over. Our founding team members will all be graduating soon and going in different directions. We learned the ropes together and racing for three years together built an unbelievable amount of trust and understanding in our rides and there was never anything quite as comforting than to see a familiar jersey in a tough pack.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *