Friday Group Ride #200


I would marvel at the fact that this is the 200th Group Ride. I mean that’s a lot of questions, but my kids probably ask that many before lunch most days, so perhaps we’ve only just scratched the surface here.

The original idea for the Group Ride was a weekly post that really solicited the input of you, our readers. In as much as Padraig and Pelkey and I have opinions, we have a pulpit here from which to preach, but key to keeping perspective, maintaining appropriate humility and remaining open to the ideas of others, is listening. We have somehow managed to cultivate an intelligent and thoughtful readership, and while the Group Ride can sometimes seem predictable or trite (hey, you try writing 200 hits), what we get from performing the exercise over and over again can be less predictable.

Whether we are discussing a piece of equipment, a piece of clothing, or the state of pro cycling, by sharing our experiences we add to the collective wisdom and create a community. How many times have I logged into the comments on a Group Ride and seen something from a regular reader that made me see the cycling world from a different perspective? How many times has a comment touched me and made me feel glad to be a part of this thing?

Answer: a lot. A lot of times.

In some ways, I’m not sure the question even matters. People’s answers tend to connote something about our larger cycling culture. There is a zeitgeist to what we do, and you can read it in the answers to a question about the Tour de France just as easily as you can understand it from a question about bib shorts. No one of us tells the whole story of cycling, but taken together a picture emerges.

We have tried, over the previous 199 iterations of this feature, not to repeat ourselves, and if we have done so, it was more for want of memory than failure of effort. For myself, I am just shocked that in 200 weeks, I have only failed to post a Group Ride a handful of times. This is a weekly ritual that demands, regardless of the other things happening in my life, that I write something. It is valuable to me for its fixity.

But enough overwrought rambling. This week’s Group Ride is reflexive and reflective. What sorts of FGRs have you most enjoyed? Questions about the pros or about gear? Predictions or personal, ride-related explorations? What ground have we failed to cover? What questions would you like to have answered? We write this thing every week, but really, it belongs to you. What do you want it to be?

Image: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Michael

    Might as well start it off. I really like questions about how we do something or solve some bike-related problem. Which clothes or tyres work in particular conditions, for instance. I am not very interested in people’s predictions of the future. For a suggestion for the future: it would be interesting to try having regional suggestions of great rides – ask folks in the western midwest (kansas, colorado, dakotas) what their favorite rides would be, and then the next month ask folks from alabama or mississippi for hints (maybe eventually go international). This could be a nice archive to have for when someone is traveling, with prose and mileage being far more useful for choosing what is a great ride than just looking at a bunch of strava files.

  2. kurti_sc

    Well, I like predictions that make us look introspectively. How do we figure to plan or adapt to occurrences? These are rewarding and something we can take along. I’m not much into gear discussions on the FGR – although I did like the healthy debate on road disc brakes (which we all agreed weren’t needed but coming anyway for marketing purposes. 🙂 )
    I hope we can stay off the dope topics as there is too much of that on other sites.
    Michael’s idea for local route knowledge is pretty cool. Even better would be to use it as a way to get some of us in a region together. Putting faces to names and sweat to opinions would really solidify some of the conversation we share on this site.
    And BTW thanks for asking about the topics. You guys are great.

  3. Ransom

    Like Michael, I enjoy FGRs about the “hows” of cycling, but I think the ones that have tickled me the most are those which touched off people’s musings on the “whys”. Perhaps that’s too limiting a term for all the discussions of what people experience directly or otherwise receive from cycling; what I get isn’t always what caused me to head out on the bike…

  4. Aar

    How about a discussion of goals, wanna dos, etc for the upcoming season?

    I have yet to fail to enjoy a FGR whether I contributed or not. So, keep the imagination flowing and with four years behind us, an occasional repeat would be worthwhile – especially on questions with answers that tend to mature over time.

  5. SusanJane

    I enjoy anything that gives me a view below the headlines whether it is tech, riding habits, training information, or anything else. Race results, gossip, and publicity are widely available. I love all these posts because they open another door for me.

  6. Patrick O'Brien

    The Friday Group Ride posts have been fine in my opinion. I would like to see more gear related questions with more reader comment and discussion.

  7. Andrew

    I like topics that bring out people’s stories. Gear is only so interesting. And I don’t need any, or at least none of it will make me better.

  8. Andy

    I’m like Andrew – Gear is cool, but gear for the working stiff who gets to ride after coming home, taking care of the grandkids, mowing the lawn and such. What will make me a better cyclist is weight loss (me, not the bike) and time on the road/trail. I like to know the people and read the stories. This is a remarkable community and I really enjoy keeping up with it.

  9. TominAlbany

    I agree with those that say it is the way you address the ‘why’ of cycling. However, the philosophical ‘how’ is also important.

    I’ve got two kids ages 7 and 5. I did 90% of my 2367 miles this year bike commuting. I cannot ‘overcome’ the guilt I feel when I ride on weekends and leave my wife alone with the kids. (Evening, group rides went the way of the do-do more than seven years ago as well.) I also hate missing stuff my kids to. So, when I did my first century in seven years this past spring, when I got home at 4PM on a Sunday, I’d felt like I dished another workday on my wife.

    So, how about some discussion about how people justify taking the time away from family and how they deal with the ‘guilt’ or, if they have none, why not?

    Robot. Thanks for your contributions. I probably check RKP 2-4 times on Friday because I can’t wait for the Group ride. It’s the only one I get in a week.

  10. Andrew

    TominAlbany- Man, that is SO true. In the warmer seasons I get in 2 hours before work, and I still get grief about prioritizing the bike over other things…

    I told my wife she had to remember the poll that showed that 80% of cyclists think about cycling during sex, but only 5% sex during cycling. She didn’t think that was funny.

  11. Jesus from Cancun

    What I enjoy the most is reading about the “other” cycling. Not the one of Wiggos, Albertos and Puritos, but the one where the hero is us.
    Heroes with families, with jobs, with barely enough time to ride, but who find the motivation to do it just for the love of being out there on two wheels.

    To be honest, I look for new product reviews, race results and comments elsewhere. This is where I look for… the soul of cycling.

  12. TominAlbany

    @Andrew: My wife rarely, if ever gives me grief. The guilt, in my case, is entirely self-imposed. My wife’s only comment after the century was she considered calling someone because it took so long and there were hellacious thunderstorms during the afternoon. YMMV.

  13. Josh

    As a fairly new cyclist, I appreciate your gear reviews mostly because of the comments afterward. There is a collective knowledge in the group that can sway folks toward the right thing to solve their ride issues. I think that is great.

  14. Dean Patterson

    I get a chance to read RKP about every two weeks, and always try to catch one of the FGR segments. Since getting back on my bike about ten years ago, quitting work, and finally starting to do what I want to do…I have come to greatly (as in GREATLY) enjoy the missives that ‘make me think’. Now, I have long been somewhat of a cycling asshat, having done a lot of it for a long time, but being able to laugh at myself and my obsession and my holier-than-thou attitudes is probably the best tonic ever, and FGR somehow gives me that moment, when I can not take my obsession with cycling so seriously; it’s an introspective thing, I suppose.

  15. Dropoutdave

    As a dedicated mountain biker in Scotland I enjoy FGR because it is about CYCLING. I find the writing insightful and courteous, about issues I can relate to. Mountain bike articles are generally less interesting to me. (I never want to read about another rider being ‘stoked’). So, it is the broad world of cycling which interests me, from the technical to the philosophical.

  16. Full Monte

    I like to explore the existential questions and aspects of cycling. The personal, revelatory nature of riding. The instant camaraderie. The connection to the environs through which we pedal, and to each other.

  17. John Kopp

    @TominAlbany Why not take the whole family on your rides? Family rides would be a good topic for discussion, such as bikes and equipment, where to go, groups to ride with, etc. I had a friend who took his five year old on RAGBRAI on a tandem in the 1980’s. They both enjoyed it.

  18. Seano

    Anything and everything. This, for me conjures the image of a easy pace, very social ride where the topics meander and the friendships solidify. Maybe the ride even includes a cup o joe? In this context, I definitely enjoy and relate more with the “why?” or the more existential questions.

  19. TominAlbany

    @John Kopp, It seems rare when my son wants to ride his bike. I’ll have to start planning some of those.

    I’m hoping this is the year we can kick the training wheels off my daughter’s bike too!

    We have a trail-a-bike so, one of them can hitch a ride and, that’s usually my daughter – who’s still a bit small for it.

    Thanks for the input.

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