Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Writing Down the Fat Kid's Interpretation of the Unwritten Rules of Riding When you're usually the weakest link, you develop a keen interpretation of the rules of riding with other people. You develop an especially critical view of how others violate one set of rules in particular: The rules of waiting for riding buddies, or the waiting rules for short. I have a keen understanding not only what the rules are, but of the intracacies and subtlies of each of them. I guess that means I spend most of my time off the back (OTB) thinking about such rules and how those I'm riding with are filthy vermon. The waiting rules generally relate to when, where, and how long to wait for the people you're riding with. The first rule of where to wait and for how long applies to those off the front of the group. I never have to worry about this on the climb, but on occasion it does come up on the descent. The first part of the rule is this - if you come to a fork in the road and you're not sure where you are going, wait for someone who knows. This should just be common sense. Once on an excursion with a mountain bike class, a couple of relatively new riders got in their head they knew the way. In Moab. In June. In the late afternoon. They didn't. We should have just left them for dead. We didn't. The second part of the first rule relates to the more often overlooked issue of consideration: if you do know where you're going, make sure that at least the person behind you makes the right turn. Thereafter, it's his responsibility to make sure the next person in line makes the turn as well, and so on. Without the second rule, people either blow through the corner and if you're the last guy, like I often am, you're left frustrated and wondering which way everyone went. If everybody stops, the rhythm of the ride may unnecessarily be disrupted, especially if there are a lot of turns to be made. The second rule applies to group rides. Group rides involve more than just you and another person you're riding with. If you know you're going to be the weak link and you honestly suspect that your shortcomings will hinder the others' ability to enjoy the ride, you have the responsibility to bow out. Use any excuse at your disposal. For example, recently Harse and Thinner decided to go out on a road ride during the middle of the week. Accounts of their previous ride involved terms such as hammering, nauseous, light headed, and the like to describe a climb up Traverse Mountain. Combine that with the fact that I was planning on riding the RAWROD with JonBoy and Thinner the coming weekend, and it looked grim. I flatly refused, noting there was no way I was going to go riding with that group. Thinner tried his best to convince me, so I was forced to use any number of lame bike excuses, which are made doubly lame by the fact that they both know I have multiple bikes. If you've done your best to apprise your potential riding partners of the grim possibilities of riding OTB, they then assume the responsibility to ride with you. This applies regardless of the shame they may experience by doing so. This has one exception - the end of the ride/top of the climb exception where they are free to go buckwild on a climb near the end, provided they wait for you at the top. Thinner did a good job of that during the RAWROD, even earning extra points for the ride from behind tactic. He let me lead for a good part of the ride. With that, there was no way that he would be guilty of leaving me, since I was ahead. Also, I was able to ride at my pace rather than blowing up to chase him. Definitely a nice gesture.