Friday Group Ride #398

Friday Group Ride #398

You know how it is. You roll up to meet the group. This guy said he’d be there, but isn’t. That woman who rides with the crew sometimes is there, and she’s ready to go, because she’s always ready to go. The one who always has to run back into the shop/cafe/woods to pee one last time is running. And then it happens. Someone arrives who you didn’t expect to see. A hammer.

“Welllllllllll, shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttt,” I think to myself. Everything just changed. Now we’re going full tilt. I’ll hang on. I’ll take short turns. I’ll go home shattered.

And ever was it so. This stuff is good for me. I try not to sandbag it, to talk down my fitness at the beginning, before I demonstrate how unfit I am on the road. Sometimes you need to suffer, and it’s probably better if you don’t know in advance, right? It makes you better, more resilient.

I am also ok, off the back. My ego doesn’t demand I turn myself into a pretzel to prove my worth on the bike. As much as I hate the surprise hammer, I recognize that I am my own cyclist. I can use the hammer, but I don’t have to be the nail.

This week’s Group Ride asks, what do you do when the ride turns into something you didn’t expect? Sometimes it’s faster. Sometimes it’s longer. Sometimes it’s just less organized than you like. What do you do? How do you manage it?

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    Tell myself to ride my own ride. Try to keep up. Get dropped. Console myself with the reassurance that I was riding my own ride…

  2. Steven Down

    Mostly shut up and put up. Things usually go off piste when you are as far from home as the ride is going, so better to grit those teeth and stick with it than take the wind all the way home.

  3. Scott D Gilbert

    I hang on no matter what when the pace goes up because A) You might surprise yourself and stay in the group B) You will get a great threshold and above workout.
    We have a Sunday Morning Worlds here in San Diego called Flojos’ Revival and there are days when it’s 12 riders and you will have to work your ass off to stay at the front and there are days when 80 show up and you can hide in the bunch and enjoy the draft.

  4. Aar

    I sweep & tow. When the hammer drives the front, it hurts the weakest most. So, when the hammer shows up, I organize the weakest riders on the back to mutual benefit – drafting, rotating, short pulls, soft pedaling to regroup after climbs, etc. Then when one of them drops, I give them a comfortably paced wheel to follow. Believe it or not, it’s a great workout because your nose is always in the wind, I makes no drop rides faster and more cohesive due to less waiting and the weakest people love you forever.

  5. Uncle Chainwhip

    The REAL hammers ride a smaller 2nd echelon, and allow slower riders/1st echelon to gain confidence & fitness. The hammers can critique and coach later from what they observe. The hammers can best each other and do intervals behind the 1st echelon. The hammers protect the wider, unpolished 1st echelon from overtaking traffic. The hammers are a threat as a witness to any traffic altercation with the 1st echelon. Although cycling is a boring sport, the hammers relish watching any group riding.
    A true hammer knows, in a real race the winner always comes from the 2nd echelon…….

    Kinda glad i don’t often ride in a place described above………appears they have some ‘ball pein’ hammers

  6. Winky

    After decades of riding in nothing else, I’ve bought my last Giro helmet, at least until the company is sold to a non-gun-making owner.

  7. fbhidy

    I’m often one of the weakest climbing guys on the ride, so when the road tilts up I plan to be on the front and work my way to the back as slowly as possible! Then I’m usually encouraging those who popped early who overtake me up the hill. Eventually the road turns down and I pull folks back from never never land like a freight train picking up small parcels.

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