Friday Group Ride #500

Friday Group Ride #500

I’m not going to dwell on the fact that this is the 500th edition of the FGR other than to say, “Huh…I didn’t see it playing out like this.” And now, on with the show.

I’m not sure whose joke I stole, but it’s a go-to when someone invites me to a big group ride. I say, “Well, the number of people I like on a group ride goes down by one every year, and last year it was three.” First there’s the trust issue, can you count on your companions to do the right things? Second there’s compatibility, do these people like to ride the way I do? Third, there’s the question of whether the group is going to make cycling and cyclists look bad. That’s a lot to dig into, but it’s not really pertinent to this week’s Group Ride.

I’ve been watching the new High Fidelity on Netflix, which isn’t as good as the original, which wasn’t, in turn, as good as the book, but that, too, is beside the point. One of the fun bits about Nick Hornby’s book about an obsessive music collector is his continuous compilation of Top 5 lists, Top 5 Bowie albums, for example. That gave me the idea for FGR 500, which is Top 5 people from history, not necessarily cyclists, you’d like to be on a group ride with.

Here is my list, with brief explanations for each participant:

  1. Albert Einstein – OK. He rewrote the rules of modern physics AND had a sense of humor AND he likes bikes. I can imagine asking him what time he needed to be back from the ride, only to be told, “Time is human illusion we maintain so that trains can run predictably.”
  2. Eric Heiden – It’s 1980. I have a photo of the Eric Heiden taped over my bed. It’s the iconic photo from Sports Illustrated, where he’s wearing all five of his speed skating gold medals. Quite why a kid in Mobile, Alabama has chosen a speed skater as a hero is anyone’s guess, but it probably presages a lot of other weird predilections over the next 40 years. This is a guy you can put on the front of the paceline and leave him there, too.
  3. Joe Strummer – We need a musician, and I like the idea of listening to Strummer chatting to Einstein. For those who only sorta know the story of Strummer and the Clash, I highly recommend the documentary The Future is Unwritten and/or the Spotify podcast The Story of the Clash narrated by Chuck D. If Strummer refused to be exhumed, I’d invite Debbie Harry.
  4. Abraham Lincoln – This one amuses me for a number of reasons. First, I doubt Lincoln ever rode a bike. Second, how ridiculous would he look pedaling along with that stovepipe hat? Third, what would he even make of an enterprise as nakedly absurd as a group ride, meeting up, setting out, covering some distance, and then returning to where you started.
  5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg – We could take a younger version of the Notorious RBG, although she’s probably keep up just fine, even now. The woman is a giant intellect and has a massive capacity for work. She’s 87!!! What would it be like to hear her converse with Lincoln?

There it is, this week’s Group Ride asks, who are your Top 5 group ride companions? Explanations would be nice, but aren’t necessary. You can pick all pro cyclists. You can pick all cartoon characters. I don’t care.

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  1. Parker

    Congrats on the 500th, another thought-provoking proposal.

    JIMMY CARTER. Widely known as honest, he was the first sitting president to testify under oath about allegations of improper activities. “The only US president to complete his term without war . . . or occupation [Carter] has called the United States ‘the most warlike nation in the history of the world.’ ”

    Compassionate — pardoned all Vietnam War draft evaders. Still active and respected in retirement — established the Carter Center to advance human rights.

    DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN. Brilliant and articulate historian and journalist of politics as well as baseball. She can overwhelm with details, as in _Team of Rivals_; but also regale with anecdotes as a widely engaged TV commentator.

    ZORA NEALE HURSTON. Brilliant and articulate ethnographer and novelist of Southern black life during the Harlem Renaissance. Hurston abandoned Ph.D. studies at Columbia, combined with an endowed chair to be established for her at Fisk, to pursue what she regarded as the more self-determining career of a free-lance writer and adventurer. Her _Their Eyes Were Watching God_ “has now become a classic not just of the Harlem Renaissance, but of African American literature and literature in any language. . . . like its author, it is powerful, potent, more meaningful over time.”

    GREG LEMOND. Arguably the greatest American cyclist. Anti-doping advocate. Depicted as kind and welcoming by many interviewers.

    PAT RILEY. My high school tennis and debate coach. Both witty and serious, kind even when dissatisfied, opinionated but evenhanded, clear-headed. A friend to all who knew him, and still a part of local history.

  2. James Fitzgerald

    Robot- people are quite sensitive about their names. It Eric HEIDEN, not Heyden.
    Sorry to be picky but I used in some of the sames he was right around those gold medal days. Racing out at Superweek he was a larger than life super hero to the people in Wisconsin, whete he and his less famous sister, Beth are from.
    And yes, there were no bicycles in Abe’s time.

  3. James Fitzgerald

    Robot, sorry for very poor phone typing.
    Supposed to have written “I used to be in some of the same races as he was at the time of those 5 gold medals. “

  4. Michael

    James Joyce – we’d ride around Dublin.
    Mohatma Gandhi – we’d have no road-raging in our group, and I’d love to hear his stories and what made him tick.
    Leonardo Da Vinci – I can’t imagine there being a topic he would not be interested in, and couldn’t lead discussion of
    My brother, because I’d love to share this with him
    Jeffrey, my favorite bike mechanic, to keep everything working, but he’d keep up on any topic we discussed too.
    It would be a slow ride, but no one would be too winded to talk.

  5. Stephen Barner

    Congratulations on flying over the line to take the prime. You really nailed it with the three reasons to avoid group rides.

    I’m going to respond to the prompt before reading those of others. I’m not surprised you picked Einstein, as he was the first to come to mind when I realized what the prompt was to be. Second would be Rebecca Twigg. I would find some opportunity ride to tell her that we still love her and maybe even give her a different kind of hug than the one I wanted to give her in 1984. Third would be Major Taylor. I would tell his ghost that he was an inspiration even for white kids, if I could catch enough breath to speak while hanging on his wheel. Fourth would be Ernest Hemingway, who I would tell, redundantly, that his six word novel is among the most compelling works ever written in the English language. Finally would be Ben Franklin. I have to include at least one person who never rode a bike and I doubt whether there ever was a better genius to liven a party than Old Ben. Besides, how else am I going to talk Albert and Ernest into showing up?

  6. Kimball

    I’m going to lower the bar a couple notches and ask to ride with Gary Larson of The Far Side fame. I can see spending a few hours with him being fascinating, enlightening, and amusing.

    1. DaveinME

      I was thinking of him too! Everyone would just listen to him going on and be enthralled with a mind like his!

  7. Scott Mckinney

    I briefly considered assembling a dream team of Star Wars characters (who wouldn’t feel good about kicking Jabba’s prodigious ass?). Instead, I’m submitting five (ok, six) essential rider skillsets that contribute to a well-oiled group ride:

    1) The Project Manager: They instigate the ride, send invitations, and arrange SAG. Without them, disorganized rides would rule.

    2) The Mechanic: Break a shifter cable? He’s got a spare in his seat bag (true story.). He may also carry a water filter. And he can change a flat in two minutes.

    3) The Route Guru: This rider is fluent in back roads, goat paths, historical country stores, spigots and springs, gates to hop, and 6 ways across county lines (5 of them legal).

    4) The “EMT” – Got training? You’re always welcome to join. True for ER docs, flight surgeons, nurses, and firemen too. For obvious reasons.

    5) The Photographer: Without them there’s no proof, just data.

    Bonus — The Talent: The Clydesdale with a big engine – perfect for the home stretch. The climber – keeps you honest. The roller – always pulls through. The new rider – helps you see it all with fresh eyes.

    1. Scott M.

      I had to finish what I started:
      Yoda: Intergalactic tricycle champion, 900 years running.
      Jar Jar Binks: His style may be reminiscent of Chris Froome — but, he’s really, really good.
      Luke: Legendary descending skills. Dude never touches the brakes.
      Leia: Yeah, she’s a Princess but she’s got serious natural talent.
      R2D2: Team videographer. Can weld a frame in a pinch. Tech support for Garmin and Wahoo issues.
      Chewbacca: Never shy about sharing his opinion. Shockingly, he’s a weight weenie who’s always looking to shed (fur mostly).
      Boba Fett: KOM hunter.

  8. DaveinME

    First off, congrats on #500 of FGR! What an accomplishment!
    My five:
    Me, the rouleur, photographer, and wrench so we’re all supported and have proof of the ride.
    My brother, because he is sociable and would have no problem towing us around for the ride.
    Miguel Indurain – cycling hero to me and my brother. We resemble him very much in both appearance and riding style and were called the Migs when we rode and raced together.
    Nelson Mandela – to hear his thoughts on how to stay sane, rational, and compassionate even when the world around you isn’t.
    Barack Obama – because like Indurain and Mandela, he is pure class. To hear his conversation with Mandela and everyone else would be some incredible inspiring stuff.

  9. Peter R

    Salma Hayek – Because she’s my ultimate crush! I’d watch paint dry with her.
    Robert Jordan – Because I have so many questions about his Wheel of Time series. It better be a long group ride.

  10. Geoffrey Knobl

    Wow, so many great ones taken.

    1) First, my Dad cause I miss him greatly and always will. Bought my first bike, got us our first “10 speeds” and even tried to follow me in the rolling hills around Floyd when I started to get serious. Always kind, always faithful, nary a harsh word from the man.
    2) Bob Roll, cause everyone needs a laugh and he’d be around for breakfast too before we rode.
    3) My brother-in-law, Brian, cause he’s always fun to ride with even though he’s more into running now.
    4) Jon Dubovsky (yes, I realize you guys don’t know these people for the most part) cause he is the mechanic, full of fun knowledge, always complimenting people and fun to chat with.
    5) Steven Still, assuming he can ride (David Crosby or James Taylor if not) because I want someone to sing with
    6) Anne Hathaway. If you have to ask, you lose.

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