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An In Depth Look At Social Cycling…

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August 2012
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I haven’t written about it in some time, but I am all about the social aspect of exercise.  I’ve been a part of a small running club for almost a decade now and I just got into a cycling group several months ago, the Genesee Wanderers.  My first ever ride with a group of cyclists was just four months ago on April 4th to be exact.  I joined that group at the urging of the owner of the local bike shop that I consistently frequent, Matt.  It’s been four months filled with a lot of “ups” and a few “downs”, but all of that is really paying enjoyable dividends lately.  It’s taken all of that time to really get comfortable with the group and to start building some decent friendships with a lot of those folks.  This isn’t to say I hadn’t made a friend up until recently, that’s not the case, but I am just beginning to be known as a regular fixture of “the group” to many of the regulars.  Getting there did take some time, mainly because I’ve only been able to get out with the Wanderers every other Tuesday instead of every week.  In my humble opinion it’s taken a while, sure, but I’ve gotten out of it what I’ve been able to put into it.  My ability to ride with the group has been limited, and the results have reflected that.

That said, everything came to a bit of a “payoff” point yesterday.  On finishing my century, I took a moment with my wife and kids, then said hello to Matt, and had my wife take a picture to add to what will be a collection sometime in the near future, before settling down to a hot dog lunch with the family.  On the way to the table, Chuck came over to apologize for not waiting at the second rest stop because he’d been able to get on with the group that he was looking for.  The apology, of course, wasn’t necessary – riding in the group for me has always been about my keeping up, not relying on someone (or the group) to wait for me – but it was a surprisingly nice gesture, and I let him know that and then told him that it was absolutely ok, that I had a fantastic ride with Phil and a few of the other guys.  After the Misses and I sat down with the kids, Phil came in and I invited him to sup with us and we all talked about the ride and riding in general.  During the small meal, several of the others that I’d ridden with came up and patted me on the back and thanked me for taking such long, hard pulls…  One, Terry, sat down with us as well.

We laughed and told stories and tried to make plans to ride again, and just had a peach of an afternoon.

That ride, and the subsequent meal afterward, made for an incredible experience.

So, to navigate around what I’ve written, but haven’t said, social cycling is just as fun as social running, there is no doubt.  It’s an incredible community to be a part of, but like all else in life, you get out of it what you put into it.  It doesn’t matter how fast you are (though speed helps), it doesn’t matter how “pro” you are or look.  It doesn’t matter how nice your bike is, or how new it is.  What matters is you.  If I was a jerk going in, I’d bet there’s at least one guy I’d fit in with but I sure wouldn’t get much out of it…

This wonderful community didn’t just open up to me overnight either – it took some time and effort – and just like my beloved Trek 5200, now it’ll take the proper maintenance.


6 Comments

  1. lee says:

    Great post!

    I’ve been part of my group for just over a year now, and I have to say they are some of the coolest people I know. I’m not the fastest of the group, nor am I the slowest. But they have definitely improved my cycling in more ways than I can count. Like you said, incredible, but you get out what you put in.

  2. Riding in a group, or in peloton as we say in Spain, is crucial to becoming a better cyclist. I find it an invaluable asset to be a part of a club and learn to ride together. Strategy, speed, pacing, drafting, and other things, are all useful and help your performance. I enjoy cycling in peloton but at times, i need to be alone…. just me and my bike. 😀

    • bgddyjim says:

      I refrain from the use of the word peloton because though we do make an awesome pace line, two rows – 15 to 20 deep, it just doesn’t seem, well, right.

      Some of the guys are of the caliber that would legitimize the use of the term, but I view myself a touch or two beneath that. I feel as though I’d cheapen the word.

      That said, I couldn’t agree more… I love my solo rides.

      • I see your point. I think we use the term more loosely here in Spain as there are so many riders and it’s very common to be out on a solo ride and then be engulfed all of a sudden by a swarm of riders. At that point, you can choose to hang in with them or continue solo or wait for the next bunch. It’s all good fun and great training. At first, I was terrified but now I’m used to it.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Oh how fun that would be here in the US. The only way we see a group that big is to organize it, though we do draw a few locals on our Tuesday ride that join in as we go by.

        On my solo rides I’m lucky to see a few riders if I’m lucky. It is truly cool to be you.

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