Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday Ride Got Interesting

About 30 people showed up for tonight's ride.  Multiple skill levels.  There were definitely the typical A group riders, lots of B and it looked like the possibility of a B- group as well.  Sam gave the safety talk and then called for the A riders to roll out.  No one budged.  He called some by name.  Still no one budged.

We decided to roll out together with the hopes that the bigger climbs would separate the groups evenly.  We rolled out together.  I told Sam and Kevin that if we went to the front and rode a "B group warm up pace",  the A group would quickly lose patience and surge ahead.  This plan almost worked brilliantly.  2 miles into the ride, one A passed me, then 2, then as if a ripple of adrenalin passed through the group,  others followed.   Suddenly, I saw some of the B groupers passing me.  Some who had stated that there was no way they were going to ride with the A group today.  I sat up and announced that I was the B group, and that we should let the A group go.  Oddly enough, when the dust settled, we had 6 people who were willing to hold back and ride a B pace.

And this leads to some more group mentality psychology.  I have 2 major questions that are bugging me.  I have a hunch that the issues are present not only in cycling but anytime there is a group involved activity.

Question #1.   Why, why WHY?  Why do the A riders hang back to ride in the B group, then proceed to hammer at an A pace?  I have a theory of my own, but just to be sure I didn't miss anything, I took it to my Facebook wall and asked the question.  I got many different and interesting responses, some name calling, but one person had an answer and solution in one: . " But the short answer to your problem is you let the A rider(s) self-identify themselves as wanting to ride off the front; then you let them go. You regroup with others you feel comfortable with, and have a nice ride."( MR)  

" A riders self-identify themselves as wanting to ride off the front".  I think that is what it boils down to.  They simply want to feel the exhilaration of riding off the front and they cannot do that with their peers.  They ride with people who have less fitness and dominate.   

Question #2.  Why won't the B riders sit up and let the A group ride away?   Why did 20 B riders attempt to hang with the 5 B riders who were way above their skill level?  I think the answer is more simple but the solution is difficult to execute.  The B riders simply want to prove themselves by hanging with the A's. That makes sense, and I do the same thing at times.  It can build fitness and a stronger rider.  But, what I realized is that it does not help the overall goal of creating smooth rolling B group, with rotating pace line and  instruction for the B riders who need a little guidance.    

And that sums it up for me.  I ride in a group for the social aspect.  Due to my schedule, I get to ride with others about 1 time per week, and I don't want to go a pace where I am bleeding from my eyes.  Going the A pace will lead to reduced training benefits and burnout.  It happened last year and I don't want to go through that again.  I also enjoy teaching others and sharing the finer things of group riding.  It creates smoother more well rounded cyclists.   

So, I'm sitting up, and enjoying the ride with like minded folks. 

The rest of the ride turned interesting.  Sam White and I ended up separated from all groups and an unknown distance behind.  We made our goal to catch at least one person, which never happened, but we did make it home before dark.  We rode hard, exchanged pulls, put our heads into the wind and managed a 20.7mph avg.  Basically a team time trial with 2 people.   That was one of the most fun group rides I have been on.  It was unique and unplanned fun times.  

Want to start 15 minutes behind the group next week?

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