The B guys outnumbered the A guys two or maybe even three to one last night. The A guys rolled out as we sat on our top tubes and waited. A few minutes went by and we rolled out.
We’ve got a few guys my age, a couple of young guys and a gaggle of old speedsters who simply don’t want to, or can’t, push the pedals hard enough to eek out a 24 mph average over 33 miles. I happen to be in the former, I just don’t want to work that hard.
From the moment we rolled, it was a picture of cycling harmony. Everyone took their turn and everyone pulled their weight. We played nice on the hills for the tandem and rocked out our miles with a smile on our faces.
I would say it was perfect but I can’t. The details are inconsequential though…
For the longest time I was a solo cyclist. I’d been invited to ride with the club but I was afraid that I wouldn’t measure up and that I wouldn’t be fast enough or fit in with the group. I put off riding with others until I was fairly certain I was ready. I practiced holding a line by riding the white line on the side of the road. I read up on how to ride in a group and took every precaution to make sure I was good to go. I was mistaken but I stuck with it because riding with others was a nice change of pace. After a year of Tuesday nights I’d made some friends and everything changed. I went from one ride with friends a week to three solo rides and three rides with friends (Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday)
Where this gets interesting is that I’m a recovering alcoholic. Stay with me, because this ties into getting the most out of cycling with a club precisely.
In “the program” we learn to lean on those who came before us so that we may be successful recovering people as they are (and we learn to pick and choose from the winners and losers as well). While not for everyone who puts a plug in the jug, for those of us who can embrace the way of life and run with it, we are given an opportunity to look at everything we do through a constant inventory. What works, what doesn’t, what brings us joy and happiness, what falls short. After a time, we learn to share that happiness and hope with others that they may enjoy success and happiness as well. Once we get a grasp on the alcoholism, we apply that magnifying glass to every aspect of our lives. We do this out of necessity and we, by the nature of how the program works, become productive members of society.
Now, apply that lifestyle, of learning, passing knowledge on, and being a productive member to a club ride.
When you are raised in an environment where the unity of the group is the only way to succeed, placing the principles of the group in front of the personalities in that group, you bring to the group a quality that helps bind and cement friendships that transcend the occasional squabble over things that don’t matter, like an individual’s personality. The club is more important, in other words, than my bullshit feeling (I use the singular “feeling” on purpose).
As I see it, the way of life of a recovering drunk is almost like cheating when it comes to group cycling. It’s like bringing a big reset button with the wrong word on it to a… wait, that’s not a good example. It’s simply being ahead of the curve in dealing with the personalities of other people. When principles come first, the rest works out in the wash. It’s as simple as that.