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How I Deal with a Dangerous Cyclist Who is Incapable of Understanding Their Effect on the Group

July 2016
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We have a cyclist who regularly shows up for Tuesday night (the club ride) who is about as considerate as that beam you get stuck behind when you buy an “obstructed view” ticket to a concert or sporting event.  Worse, he has absolutely no clue that he’s even a problem – or, let us simply say that when he’s confronted about his behavior in the group, which is atrocious, he attempts to deflect, stating that others in the group are far worse than he (this is absolutely not true).

For instance, he cannot hold a line, does not pull through (take his turn at the front), regularly rides in the middle of a double pace line, and allows gaps to form… often.  Worse, he tends to blow snot rockets from the middle of those two pace lines, with others behind him, thus drenching other cyclists with his snot.  If that wasn’t enough, and it is, he rides a triathlon (time trial) bike poorly with the group (for those who don’t know, you have to be one of the strongest, best cyclists in a group to get away with riding a triathlon or time trial bike because triathlon bikes are exceptionally dangerous in a group… those who are good enough to ride them know they have two places in a group:  Pulling up front or at the very back to help stragglers back to the group).

My friends, I am not exaggerating.

So last night, before the ride, I quietly mentioned just before we pulled out (because he always shows up just in the nick of time), “Okay, you managed to snot on two people and almost crashed two just last week.  Let’s try to do a little better this week.”  Now, I’ll give you;  My tact needs work.  In fact, it sucks.  However, he carted out the old, “You need to lay off of me, there are others in this group who cause problems too”.

I explained calmly, because his point is not entirely invalid, that we’ve had discussions with those others and are currently working with them to help them be better cyclists.  “This is your turn”.  He loosed some other excuse that I didn’t bother paying attention to and we rolled out.

Eight miles into the 30 mile ride and immediately after the second time he left a gap because he didn’t pull through, I put the hammer down and dropped him. I also managed to bring all of our group with, except one.  He’s a new guy too so he probably has no idea what happened and I didn’t see him before I had to split for a Club meeting…  That part really sucks and I’ll have to pull him aside next week and let him know what was going on so he can be ready in the future.  I just hope I can mend any hurt feelings if there were any.

Now, to the real question:  How do you handle “Fun Killers”?  This guy is such a pain in the ass, he can literally suck the fun out of a ride.  If you aren’t aware; riding in a group requires all members operate in a fairly coordinated effort for everything to operate smoothly and efficiently – without, preferably, leaving any blood or skin on the road.  One guy doing the wrong thing at the wrong time can discombooberate a group to a point where the other participants simply can’t work together, let alone do so efficiently.

Here’s my problem:  I know I made some mistakes when I started riding with the group so I’m not averse to eating my fair share of humble pie.  On the other hand, I was actually willing to listen when people criticized me for making a mistake (and still do listen on the rare occasion).  Where I get crossed up is when we have a guy who is just obnoxiously bad but refuses to see just how bad he is to the group.

How do you handle this situation?!

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Yes, this is simply not possible riding with a heartless, fun-sucking member in the group.

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30 Comments

  1. Fun Sucking would be a good name for an Indie band

  2. So I’m considering getting my RRCA Run Coach Certification August 13-14 in Ann Arbor. I was thinking of coming your way to ride together. Are you upstate or on the way there by any chance?

    • bgddyjim says:

      I’ll make the time. I’m only 45 minutes from Ann Arbor. Depending on your class times, we’ll get it worked out. If you want to go crazy and go early, we can ride with my friends. If you want to wait till you’re done, we can ride just you and I.

      I’ve got your email address. I’ll send you my cell number and we can get the particulars worked out.

    • bgddyjim says:

      BTW… My 5200 will fit you if you don’t want to bring a bike. Just bring your shoes and pedals and you’ll have a rig for the day.

  3. I take group rides as an easy session in my training plan. Than it’s not that important what the others do.

  4. Gail says:

    Alrighty then….I’m positive that this is the type of cyclist that has clipped me and Seamus O’Malley when we run. They DO exist! As well, this is the type of cyclist that makes me loathe cyclists. Not fair, but they ruin it for everyone. I’ve got to say, however, that since I have begun regularly reading your blog, my cold and frozen heart has bloomed with some respect towards cyclists.

    I’ve got to say that you’ve been, in my opinion, super nice to this guy. Apparently several times. For me, the snot rocket would be a deal breaker. If I had been cycling behind this guy and had that little gift handed to me, there would have been an explosion. This is a problem in the running world as well during group runs and races. I guess I can suspend belief enough to understand his cluelessness when it comes to pull throughs, inappropriate gaps and middle riding. Arguably, those are technical things, not socially based. However, I have to ask if he was raised in a barn? Hurling mucus and phlegm though a nostril at someone is pretty much considered beyond the pale in most countries.

    How would I handle the situation? I’d tell him that unless he complied with the few simple rules you have, then he is no longer welcome to ride. I find direct is best. I had to tell a woman that constantly came to one of my classes I taught, completely doused in horrid perfume, that she could no longer attend unless she went perfume free. She just did NOT get it. Some people are born lunkheads, I’m afraid.

    • bgddyjim says:

      First, if I’ve truly warmed your frozen heart, then my job here is done (don’t worry, I’ll try to do it again). Second, I’m just not used to people who have an utter disregard for others around them. Lunkhead it is.

  5. fastk9dad says:

    Is that him right behind you not looking up?

    I’d drop him too if he didn’t want to listen.

    • bgddyjim says:

      That’s my wife, bro. Her first two-day 50+ miles each day ride. Our first day was slightly under a 19 mph average, the second was over. Quick, name two women fast and strong enough to do that who aren’t pro. I know one, other than my wife.

      Anyway, that was the second day with just 25 to go (of 65). She was a little wiped out and rightfully so.

      I cannot take photos with that guy around. Both hands on the bars at all times. He can’t be trusted at all.

  6. unironedman says:

    Agree with above – you have been more than patient. Write down all the rules of group riding, and hand them to him personally after the next ride. Explain quietly but firmly that these are to be followed to the letter or he can ship out and find a new group (to annoy). Without serious intervention, he will eventually but almost certainly cause further rifts in your group, and worse: probably a multiple pile up with subsequent broken bones and frames. It’s tough to do, but ultimately everyone will suffer if no action is taken.

  7. Kecia says:

    Fun suckers are hard to deal with when they are new to the sport. You want to encourage them and help them find their way, but when they are unreceptive to suggestions for improvement, it makes life difficult for many (you, them, and others). I wish you luck in finding a way to help him figure out he is a fun sucker without him leaving the sport of cycling!

  8. rennrad says:

    is it possible to agree with the others a minor change in the schedule? something like 15 min earlier (or later), so that this dude will miss the group? (other than that, only being straight: “in a group ride the goal is getting fit, not killed. come back only when you internalize it. besides, if you’re riding on a tt bike, you’re not supposed to take any profit from drafting.”)

    • bgddyjim says:

      That is an excellent idea though logistically it’d be a nightmare. We have three groups with about 40 cyclists on busy nights, with three counties represented. Getting the new time to the right people would be pretty tough. Besides, we won’t be putting that much effort into subterfuge against one poor cyclist. We’ll teach him fit in or give him enough rules that he’ll take his bike elsewhere.

  9. Archetype says:

    I think just keep harping on him but also maybe you and some of the group could hold a skills day on the weekend. A bike handling/bike etiquette course. Easy enough to do. A dozen or two of tennis balls cut in half… or cones. Work on the basic drills. Holding a line. Cornering, Eyes up and forward, etc. holding a wheel, anticipating the ebb and flow…minimal braking techniques. (scrub rather than stop)

    You know Jim, you have got it down. If he’s not willing to participate. Then lay it out to him in no uncertain terms. Harshly and if necessary, be intimating. Or make the group a membership only with dues and that way you can exclude anybody you wish.

  10. I wouldn’t go anywhere near somebody who turned up to a group ride on a time trial bike. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE mine (and it finally arrived via sea freight today!) but they have no place in a group. I don’t even think at the front unless you’re super skilled. If somebody turned up to a ride I was leading on a TT bike, I’d politely (?) ask them to leave.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Excellent point. My wife can lead out in her clip-on aero bars like a champ (quite incredible actually, how good she is). That said, we’re trying to get him to choose to leave. Probably a little passive-aggressive.

  11. Ian says:

    Not sure.. i dont tend to ride in a group (at all) but I’d say your tact is a lot more tactful than mine would have been. I had a guy snot.on me at the start line of a race once, my response was colourful to say the least..

  12. MJ Ray says:

    TT bikes are generally banned from tight formation rides around here, as well as mass startopen. events. I’m surprised your group’s insurance allows it.

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