We sat at the bench and listened to the church bells chime, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times. As the seventh struck and slowly faded, I turned to Mike and said, “OK, roll out?” I was joking really. You have to know the characters you ride with. You show up on time, because you show up on time, but they say, “Yeah, 7 o’clock,” and mean 7-ish.
We sat there for a minute more and Matty rolled up, whereupon we launched into a cloudy conversation about when Brad might be here, if he was even coming. “Last night he said he was 50/50,” says Mike. Matty adds, “This morning he said he was in, but then he said he couldn’t find his shoes.” So…
At 7:08 we roll out, and at first we go fast, because we always go fast when we first roll out. It’s excitement. It’s nerves. We need to pound those out, before we can settle into a pace. Brad is fast, and he catches up. It doesn’t matter how fast we’re going. We don’t have any fast that Brad can’t catch. We don’t worry about him. In a few minutes he’s with us, smiling, and not breathing particularly hard.
I am painfully punctual. My father did that to me, instilled a sense of time shame. Intellectually, I am a late person, but in actual practice some rat-in-a-maze conditioning has made me nearly incapable of keeping people waiting.
Despite that, I have children, young chaos makers, who have made me late for the ride a few times. I am not like Brad. I do not catch up easily. I bury myself to make time, and I have vivid memories of being able to see the guys, floating effortlessly ahead of me for more than a mile, in sight but out of touch. When I do catch on, I sit on a wheel until my heart leaves my throat. I make breathy jokes to cover my exhaustion. No one laughs.
This week’s Group Ride asks, how long do you wait? Or are you the one that gets waited for? And what do we think a reasonable buffer is? In other words, what is a good standard I’ll-wait-for-you-this-long before we leave time? Is it 5 minutes? 10?