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:
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.