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How to be helpful?(18 posts)

How to be helpful?Steve98501
May 29, 2003 12:49 PM
Perhaps I shouldn't bother, but she reminded me of my young adult daughters. A young woman joined our club ride the other night, and I only noticed her because she caught my haggard butt on the longest, steepest climb of the ride. So I introduced myself and complimented her climbing strength.

She's a runner and wants to bike for cross training. Then I began to notice things. Too many things. Her bike is too large. She had no sunglasses, a floppy bike helmet, no bike shorts or jersey, and running shoes and clips and straps. The latter doesn't matter, but just to complete the picture. And the bike looks like it hasn't seen any maintenance in a decade, or ever. And no saddle bag, so no way to repair a flat. I heard what sounded like the front QR thrumming the wheel spokes.

So I mentioned that sunglasses would be useful protection from eye drying, bugs, and grime. She has those but forgot them. I was going to offer to check the wheel, but she left the route for home just before we finished. She indicated that she would ride with us again.

I don't mean to be an annoying father-type, or worse - a leacherous old fart, but if she shows up for tonight's ride, I feel compelled to comment about adjusting her helmet and checking her bike wheels for safety's sake. I'm willing to check her bike and tune it up as much as I could. Her husband is in the army and away on training, so I speculate that replacing the bike isn't an option for them.

She's got the strength and speed to ride with us, and a woman friend in the club is an expert at instructing pacelining skills. A friend thought she'd be amazing if she had a bike that fit and was in good condition.

I can't ignore the safety aspects. I try to be helpful when new riders show up, but I saw so many things I would suggest fixing, maintaining, changing. Should I just ignore the rest? What do you think?


It's an awkward thing...eschelon
May 29, 2003 1:01 PM
when I did my group ride yesterday, I heard this non-cycling casual type (no cycle shorts, cotton t-shirt, "non-cool bike") look over at this lady who definitely fit the typical hard-core rider type and commented to her in genuine advice that her rear wheel needed to be trued because it was which I can attest to. She just looked at him, smiled, and kept on doing her own thing. I guess that effort wasn't wanted.

It's kind of nicely trying to tell someone that they need to lose weight and to stop wearing spandex that only accentuates the prolific cottage-cheese dimples all over someone's's just not necessary, and if the person does have half a brain, they are already aware of it and don't want to reminded of it or don't want to acknowledge it.
Yeah, but do it none the less.eyebob
May 29, 2003 1:13 PM
What's the worst that could happen. I'd give her a little friendly advice. Some folks take it for what it's worth, others will not. I've seen lots of examples of both in my life. I would want to hear the suggestions if it were me so that's the way I live.

Worst that could happen.Steve98501
May 29, 2003 4:07 PM
Whatever is rubbing the spokes could cause a wheel to fail, she might go down in front of several other bikes, taking them down, and her helmet isn't adjusted well enough to offer much protection. I can't ignore the safety aspects. Thanks for your comments.
Somehow I seem to have the most advice for fit youngbill
May 29, 2003 1:10 PM
women, too. Hmm. I guess that they just are more deserving of our wisdom. Hmm.
I just make some small talk, or not, and let fly. The object of your largesse will let you know whether it's appreciated. No different from any other social encounter. Just take your eyes off her lycra once in a while.
She wasn't wearing lycra . . .Steve98501
May 29, 2003 4:28 PM
although I'm sure it would look good on her.

Perhaps it's not that much different from most social encounters, however, she's the first person I've seen at a club ride that so many suggestions came pouring into my head. Then I thought of my kids, who have no problem letting me know how annoying I am with all my answers (MAS = male answer syndrome) to problems and things they don't even care about. That has changed however, as the oldest has become quite fond of the bike I built up for her last year.

Thanks for the input.
Waitaminnit--The Walrus
May 29, 2003 2:03 PM
you make being a lecherous old fart sound like a bad thing!
i'm a newbie, and i'd want the inputgsgal
May 29, 2003 3:40 PM
from someone who knows. you're an old fart, you know how to be tactful, yet helpful.

keep in mind though that although i'm new, i do know what i need. i need clipless pedals, but i can't afford them after just buying my bike and some shorts and shoes... the list goes on and on, but its all pricey so keep that in mind. maybe the only thing stopping her is money. its not cheap to start cycling.

if she seriously wants to be good and be in good condition, she would probably want any information that would help her. its a touchy subject, because there's probably pride at state too. just be gentle. take a different angle, ask her if her bike is comfortable, and just engage in conversation to gage what she knows and what she's doing.
A story and some advice on how to handle this...russw19
May 29, 2003 5:27 PM
I would work my way into it by finding a little more about her background first. You must have talked to her a little bit to know she's a runner (unless she just looked it) and is married with a husband in the army. Maybe you could offer to tune up her bike. I ran into this with an older woman at a club ride when I was like 17 or so, and a senior in high school. I was working in a shop but I had a key and could come and go as I pleased. I talked to this woman who was on a bike that fit her, but was in obvious need of some maintainence. So during the ride I was back towards the back of the line taking it easy and was riding next to her. I just started chatting with her ar first. She told me she was recently divorced and the bike was her ex-husbands, but it still fit her. She said he used to ride once in a while, but left the bike in the garage when they got divorced. She knew what the bike was worth because she bought it for him as a gift, but when she went to a Pawn Shop to sell it, the offer they gave her was so low she just decided to keep the bike instead.

Anyways, I told her that the drivetrain was kind of dirty and she should take it to get the drivetrain cleaned. She said she knew she should take it to the shop but was worried that they would overcharge her because she was a girl and really didn't know much about cycling. So at that point I offered to take it in and clean it on my own time at the shop. I told her if it needed parts, she would have to pay for those, but that's it. Anyways, it turns out it needed a brake cable and new shift cables and housing. I cleaned her bike up on a friday after hours and met up with her saturday morning for the group ride. She was amazed at how much better it rode. The drivetrain was full of gunk because I guess her ex was lubing the chain with wd-40 and it had caked on grime. The brakes needed the pivots lubed and replacing the cables made it shift right again. She said it was like getting a new bike.

Anyways, it turned out this lady was a manager at a really nice resturant (I mean a REALLY nice resturant) and she repayed the favour by comping my girlfriend's and my Prom meals. Probably saved me $50 that night.

I went away for college that summer, but the next year I worked at that same shop for the summer before I moved to Florida. That lady came in with her new boyfriend and both of them bought really nice bikes from me that summer. She ended up getting an Ultegra STI (this was 92 so STI was still kind of new) Kestrel and the guy bought a Campy Athena equipped Merckx. I still remember it to this day, 11 years later. This lady told me she started to do triathlons and met her boyfriend at a race in Cleveland. His opening line was a comment about how nice and clean her bike looked.

So in the end, I guess that was the right thing to do. Be helpful, it may change someone's life for the better. Maybe offer to clean up her bike for her. Tell her she would be amazed at how much better it rides. Maybe casually mention that she should get it cleaned and tuned up first, then offer to do it for her if she would like. That way you give her the option... if she thinks you are being too forward or thinks you are a coming on as the "annoying father-type, or worse - a leacherous old fart" she can simply thank you for the advice and say she will take it in herself. If she takes you up on the offer, you probably just helped a young woman out and made a friend. You can always offer to clean it for her and tell her it's the least you can do for the wife of a serviceman. Tell her you respect what her husband does and that it must be a sacrifice for her too.. offer to clean it for her so she doesn't have to worry about it. You never know until you ask...she may have 3 kids at home and needs to ride for the stress relief... you may make her year with that offer.

Just throwing a story and some possible help out there...

A story and some advice on how to handle this...Spoiler
May 29, 2003 11:35 PM
"I ran into this with an older woman at a club ride when I was like 17 or so, and a senior in high school.....She told me she was recently divorced..."

"Dear Penthouse,

I never thought this would happen to me....."
I couldn't help think of that too...biknben
May 30, 2003 5:45 AM
I'm a perv...what can I say.

It was a good tale though Russ. Glad you helped her out.
May 30, 2003 7:29 AM
Was her name Mrs. Robinson?ms
May 30, 2003 8:16 AM
Ever since I read the post, I keep hearing Simon and Garfunkel in my head. I wonder how she compared with Anne Bancroft?
A story and some advice on how to handle this...russw19
May 30, 2003 10:56 AM
Here's how that one ended... "Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me... I met this woman, I helped her out, she later returned the favour on my Prom night by giving me a free meal at a really nice resturant... I went to Prom with my girlfriend and we had did some extra ciricular activities after that school function.

I saw that same woman a year later, she and her boyfriend bought really nice bikes from me, and I made a lot of money. The End."

Just in case you wanted to know....
Excellent storySteve98501
May 30, 2003 12:27 PM
If she joins our ride again, I'll follow through. It just seems like the right thing to do, as long as the situation is comfortable for her. I've met other young service couples, and they always seem to be strapped financially. And I remember being a young married college student, also strapped financially. It seems like she has a lot of potential as a cyclist, given the way she hung with our group. It would be cool to see how she does with a bike that's in good condition - and one that fits her. And I feel like we shouldn't pass up an opportunity to recruit young blood into the local ridership. She said her husband rides some when I inquired, but his work hours would keep him from joining the weeknight rides.
re: How to be helpful?Fender
May 30, 2003 9:32 AM
Just let her know that her bike needs some minor tuneups and you'd be willing to help her out after or before a ride. Then, once your working on her bike, ask her about her helmet.

From what you said, she seems to be pretty cool and won't mind getting helped.
Does this ride have a ride leader?DERICK
May 30, 2003 9:53 AM
If so that person may be the one to bring it up to her.
Technically, yes; functionally, no.Steve98501
May 30, 2003 12:15 PM
The guy who really had a knack for this moved away last year. My work schedule causes me to miss a lot of rides, or I would have volunteered to take over this year. As it happened, she didn't show last night, but if she returns, I'll act on, beginning with the safety issues.