Friday Group Ride #492

Friday Group Ride #492

We’ve all been in this paceline, mostly in the red, taking our pulls and tucking in behind to catch our breath. We’ve been pedaling so long, most of us, that we aren’t even really aware how fast we’ve been going. Until now, when we’re being asked to stop, to pull to the side of the road and take a break. For our own good.

It’s surreal, this break in proceedings. It leaves your head spinning, and many in the line wonder what we’re even doing? Shouldn’t we still be hammering? Some of them don’t even know how to stop.

I feel a strange mix of things. Of course, there’s the worry that if we’re not riding, we’ll never get home. How do we get the group up and riding with good discipline again? Will everyone be able to hang with the group?

At the same time, I feel a guilty elation. I have wanted a break. I always want a break. Sometimes, I sit dazed in the saddle, wishing for anything that we could just pull over and sit still in the grass for a moment. Is this a chance to reassess our destination or at least our average watts? I harbor a perhaps misguided hope that we can actually realign our goals now, that we can learn something from this. Otherwise, why have we even been pedaling?

This week’s Group Ride just asks what you think? Are we going to be ok? How long before we rouse ourselves from the verge, reposition the collective chamois, tip-tap back to our bikes, and get the train rolling again? Or is the metaphor just too tortured on a day like today?

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  1. Stephen Barner

    In Vermont, the Guv just announced that we’re pulling back in an intelligent fashion, reducing group sizes, increasing personal distance, separating out those with sniffles, and daily adjusting as the danger unfolds. The stated purpose behind all this is the desire to minimize the danger to our elderly population, which in our state is a sizable percentage of the total. Put another way, we’re going to sacrifice and pull together to try to keep this thing from killing Grandma. I don’t know how we could come out the other side of this without a new sense of shared experience, and purpose.

  2. Parker

    I sat in the grass earlier today, a mile shy of an athletic field turn-around for an out-and-back, because that mile had been recently milled but not yet repaved. Good job, that; the old pavement needed a workover. County line at that point means only one highway department’s paying good attention.

    Five miles before the turn-off back to my car, was passed by another solo guy going what turned out to be 4 mph faster. Feeling reasonably tired but not gassed, was inspired to stay roughly twenty yards behind until he slowed and then tucked in behind me to the turn-off. Friendly shouts there as he pedaled on. Was left feeling mildly satisfied.

    Not enough to go looking for age-group training rides. But a nice reminder about pulling against/with a group of roughly equal friends.

    What’s unusual about these days is that, despite the obvious attractions of group rides, solo’s generally better. It involves personal distance better, itself necessary for avoiding a spike in COVID-19 contagion that would overwhelm hospitals and providers. Old guys whose wives have underlying medical conditions need and appreciate the sense of shared purpose described by Stephen Barner above.

  3. Aar

    I give it about 90 days, probably much less. There is only so long that people will alter their lives before they return to social or anti-social behavior. The onus is on our leaders to determine whether our socialization is constructive or otherwise. Governments, the WHO, CDC, travel and hospitality industries need to quickly deliver ways for us to safely gather, be entertained and generally return to normal lives. If they don’t, negative behaviors will come to the fore as the world economy takes an enormous hit.

  4. Shawn

    Excellent metaphor Robot. If this doesn’t make you reevaluate just about everything that matters and why you’ve been doing what you do, nothing will.

    To spin one in response, we’ve left port with the Queen’s blessing and the wind at our back, and we’ll know in a few weeks whether we hit India or fall off the edge.

  5. Neil Winkelmann

    I have no idea how this is going to play out. But I’m working from home to protect my family, and I skipped the Saturday club ride for a solo ride yesterday (I’ve become even more repelled by snot rockets and spitting).

    Youngest son had his rugby trip to Argentina cancelled. He’s bummed about that, but you know, what are you going to do? Flying 24 young men with questionable personal hygiene into another country to periodically wrestle with groups of other young men with similarly questionable personal hygiene and then flying the whole troop home seems inadvisable.

    Eldest son arrived home from University last night.

    We’re in semi-lockdown with no voluntary contact with other people. We still need to buy food (but thanks for grocery delivery services).

    My summer plans for DK200 and The Rift seem unlikely to pan out. Our local gravel race has been postponed until October. These are trivial issues in the context. I’m coming up with some personal bike-related goals for the season to keep me sane. Cycling shows yet another advantage it has over the various codes of sportsball. It can still be awesome, even when done solo.

  6. TominAlbany

    Definitely solo rides. And small, family-only walks. Waving from across the street.

    My hope is that this halt is a rail crossing that halts the race for a bit so no one puts themselves in harm’s way. When the arms go up, we’re a little refreshed, rested, and hopeful.

    I’m using the phone to call my 80+ parents. Texting neighbors to check in. (I don’t even want to knock!)

    I’m also aghast at the hording. But, that’s another discussion for a different time. What’s the cycling analogy for that?

    1. Kurti_sc

      @TomInAlbany, hey I got this one. A cycling analogy for hoarding is wheel sucking!!!
      You don’t need to hang on; you pass on your chance to do your part; you mess up the rotation so others can’t work together; and all of this is done so you win the county line sprint. But really if the whole group worked together the oversell pace would have been faster. Oh and btw I don’t mean “you” of course.

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