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Daily Archives: September 10, 2022

The Solution to the Age-Old Cycling Club Question: Why Won’t the Racers Slow Down to Take Care of the Noobs on Club Ride Night?

I get pounded every year at the annual cycling club membership meeting because certain slow riders think new prospects to a cycling club are turned off by fast riders and that those same fast cyclists should give up their ride at some random, unspoken, unknown interval (anything but “all the time”, of course) to make those new leisure bike riders feel comfortable and welcome.

Now, for the time being, let’s just ignore the obvious, laughable omission that a noob would be intimidated beyond words to ride along with a racer on a $12,000 rig who would be coasting most of the ride while the noob is pedaling away furiously, anyway. We can pretend that wouldn’t be so.

Let’s look at the real problem, because if you believe the reason your group is having membership trouble falls on someone else, well, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The real problem is, just as in politics, the extremes rule the day and frame the discussion so both sides refuse to talk about a real solution because angry is always easier.

If you think, as a fast person, you don’t have any responsibility for bringing up new, slower cyclists, you’re as ignorant as those who say a club’s ranks would improve if the faster folks rode with the slow leisure riders every once in a while.

The real solution is much simpler; each group in a club should take care of and help the group below them. For instance, our Elite bunch, when there’s a light turnout, will team with the As and Bs and take it easy until we split for the long and short routes. After that, they go their fast way and the rest of us do the short route at our pace for the last ten miles. While there are those who can’t keep up (the A-Elite, A, and B rides are all “drop” rides), the vast majority can – especially when the Elite and A groups will take the majority of the time up front, allowing the Bs to sit back in the draft (or pull through to a very short turn up front).

The Bs should look out for the Cs and help those who aspire to ride with the faster riders achieve their goals. The Cs take care of the Ds, and so forth.

The idea that an A-Elite rider is going to give up riding with their friends to shepherd a newer rider around the block for a one-hour ten-mile loop has to be discarded. It’s simply not going to happen with any regularity. At the same time, every group in a club should be willing to help swell their own ranks by working with those one or two tiers below them.

The important point here, is that what I’ve described above actually works.