Therapy versus Work.
Cycling is social, and if you know me, you also know I have the tendency to talk quite a bit. Sometimes a a couple of bikes and a friend is the best therapy there is.
However, sometimes it isn’t about therapy. It is about work. I become engrossed in my task, my structure, and my purpose. Some days riding a bike is purely freeing, yet other days it is an hourly job. Clock In. Do work. Clock Out. It is about rhythm, purpose and structure. On these days, I might not be a joy to ride with, and I apologize in advance for this. You will get the head nod or wave, but my attention is on power, cadence, and time. I am at work. I am focused.
Grumpy? Nah. Only anxious about my next interval. Where is the fun in that? Tons of fun displayed in endorphins and those who like a little pain, structure and planning, will love it. It is fun to me.
If you decide to ride behind someone else at their “job”, you should adhere to the unspoken rules and etiquette for “hopping” on an interval or another group ride. It is all acceptable and fair, and is one of the trustworthy joys of cycling—company in numbers. Feel free to partake in the speed and structure, but do so with some communication and respect. Cycling is social, but sometimes you can only be social with your intent for that day. Is it therapy or work? It is probably both for me. I crave the intervals, and I crave the company.
Some days it is a date my headphones in and the world at my fingertips…others, it is about a couple of bikes and good friends.
Work or Therapy? You be the judge.
My Rules on “Latching On”:
- Communicate your presence. This avoids snot sprays and singing out loud to Classic Country/Lady Gaga/Cheesy Pop. It also announces you are not yet another creepily quiet Prius or stalking mountain lion or…who knows. Communication.
- Ask. “Is it ok if I follow you for a while?” Don’t wait to apologize later. Just ask. “No” may in fact be the answer (but very rarely), and usually you will get a shrug of the shoulders, or a acknowledgement of approval. The more the merrier. Just ask.
- State your intent. “I just want to hop on your wheel” “Can I steal a draft down the coast” “Do you mind if I follow you and check out that back paneling on your bibs for the next 10 miles? It appears you are sponsored by….would love to stare at that logo for the rest of my ride…” “I would love to follow you around, but promise to be quiet and stay out of the way.”
- Avoid compliments that may be misinterpreted or misconstrued. “You have a HUGE draft!” “You remind me of the Budweiser draft horses I saw at the fair last night.” “You ride like a dude, are you?” “You must have a lot of anger problems” “Are you always this friendly?” “How did you get quads like that!?” “You are a BEAST”
- Explain your excuse. “I am late for a massage/babysitting/dinner/work, can I get a ride behind you into this gnarly headwind?” “My wife is gonna kill me if I miss Desperate Housewives tonight…again” “I am really important somewhere and other really important people are waiting for me, but I am not strong enough to battle this wind, which negates my importance at all” “I have a very short leash and I am at my limit.”
- Stay out of the way. Do not pull through (unless “working together). Do not surge followed by the inevitable slow down/blowup directly en route. If you don’t play by your “rides” rules, then you should to play by yourself, even if that means a decrease in speed. Just stay safe and out of the way of the leader on a mission.
- Offer gratitude. After reaching your destination, or blowing up, or altering your ride plan because you are about to blow up but want to hold on to some sort of appearance, thank your “ride”. “Thanks for letting me join!” It’s quite simple. You may not get a response if the other rider is deep into an interval.
- Compliment. Insert a compliment to your draft. “Sweet draft” “You are flying!” “I wish I had those legs…” “That was incredible, thank you, enjoy the rest of your ride”
- Or don’t. Just make a graceful exit. No fanfare. No pomp and circumstance. Just exit.
- Avoid pick-up lines or future plans. “Do you race?” “Do you ride here often”. “Can I get you a coffee after this?” Only Bob Roll can get away with that….
You have know been advised. If you do not announce your presence, you are going to be susceptible to snot rockets, Lady Gaga singing, unannounced obstructions, and really hard intervals. Enjoy the ride regardless! It is all fun, and that is why we do it! Some days are about focus and some days are about laughter. I try to get both into my rides every day.
View from my office.