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what's the big hurry?(34 posts)

what's the big hurry?tarwheel
May 30, 2003 4:43 AM
Help me understand the racing mentality among many cyclists where the ultimate goal seems to be how fast you can finish a ride. I just don't get it. Personally, I ride to keep in shape, enjoy the scenery and do something with my friends. I like to keep a nice steady pace, but my goal isn't to see how fast an average speed I can maintain. Maybe it's my age. I'm 49, I'm never gonna be much faster and have no plans whatsoever to start racing.

I've been riding with a nice bunch of cyclists, both male and female, about 2 years. We generally ride at an 18-19 mph pace and don't drop anyone as long as they can maintain close to that pace. If we do drop someone, we wait up for them at intersection or someone will drop back to ride with them. Over time, however, the group has grown in size and developed much more of a racer mentality. More and more, the focus seems to be on how fast we can finish. Long hills have become torture because everyone's trying to get to the top first or not get dropped, a few guys always sprint for the county lines, and we inevitably break up into at least a couple groups before the ride is over. It's become a lot less fun.

Last Saturday was a prime example. We rode a great 50-mile route with beautiful scenery and little traffic. At the 30-mile point we stopped for water, and then the sprint began. About 6 guys went off the front in a race for the finish, leaving the rest of us behind. We (the slower group) ended up finishing at a respectable 19.5 mph pace, about 5 minutes behind the faster guys. I felt great because we managed to ride that pace with a couple of slower riders who rarely ever ride 50 miles and usually have trouble keeping an 18 mph pace. I probably could have hung with the faster guys (for a while anyway) but I don't think I would have enjoyed the ride as much.

Sorry for rambling on. I've been cycling a long time, about 30 years. When I started riding, few cyclists raced and touring was the big thing. I guess that's my mentality. Cycling to me is an adventure, a nice way to travel, enjoy the countryside, keep in shape and do something with your friends. When it becomes a race, it's a lot less fun for me.
I feel your paingregario
May 30, 2003 4:58 AM
I belonged to my local club for several years and went on many rides but haven't ridden with them more than a few times the past two years for exactly the same reason. Like you, I'm in my 40's and have no plans on racing but can usually hang with the fast group on a good day. Unfortunately, it got to the point where every club ride turned into a race and there were a few that wanted to see how many people they could drop. I honestly believe that it could be blamed on just a few very competitive guys. I made that comment to a local shop owner and he agreed; we both named the same person that was the culprit(this guy does not race). I miss the days when club rides were more social than just competitions. It also got to the point that the group would ignore traffic laws, blow through stop signs, ignore cars trying to pass, just so the average speed would not be affected.
Age and the unfortunate decline in testosterone.dzrider
May 30, 2003 7:31 AM
It started in my mid thirties. Winning a tennis match seemed so much less important. Running and then cycling were so much more fun. Beating the next guy was a challenge at the moment, but hardly the most important part of being out there and often I just kept rolling along with little thought of competing.

Next thing I knew I was only chasing one woman at a time. A few years later I was married again and monogamy, once impossible to even consider, was not much of a challenge. None of these changes occurred because I sought them and I have no idea where this all leads, but life feels more balanced and comfortable without the drive to conquer.
Age and the unfortunate decline in testosterone.MXL02
May 30, 2003 7:40 AM
;-) well put.
Pack mentality & Choice.Len J
May 30, 2003 5:05 AM
Some of it is the pack mentality coupled with one or two "idiots". Once a few people go off the front, everyone instintivly tries to follow which breaks the group up.

Choice. I have gotten to the point where on group rides, I decide my pace, find a few like minded people & just ride my ride. If someone goes off the front, we just smile & keep riding our ride. Only I have the power to let someone else's actions affect my attitude.

I hear ya. nm.Steve_0
May 30, 2003 5:35 AM
Good questionmacalu
May 30, 2003 5:42 AM
Cyclists tend to be competative as the speed picks up. Most regular group rides I have gone on over the past 12 years have tended to escalate in pace, dropping slower riders and attacting faster ones over time until becoming a totally different ride and/or falling apart to be reconstituted and undergoing the process again. Nothing stays just the way it is or you want it to be. Sometimes its fun to compete and sometimes you just want to ride.
I'm having more fun this year and I'm going slower..Dave Hickey
May 30, 2003 5:44 AM
This year I decided to slow down a bit and not make every ride a hammerfest.. My mileage is WAY up over last year and I can't wait to get on my bike for my next ride. I'm going to finish May with over 800 miles of riding.

Life is good.....
social pace vs. fast pace vs. race/aggressive paceJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 5:46 AM
social pace = ride at the speed and manner of the slowest rider with whom you wish to socialize. pull if you're stronger, but let the slowest person dictate the pace. take it easy on hills.

fast pace = ride at the fastest pace the slowest rider in your group can maintain, keeping the level of effort high. important thing here is to keep the effort steady--not the speed. meaning, 24 mph on flats may equal 18 mph uphill, and everyone stays together. no jumps/attacks/sudden accelerations.

race/aggressive pace = fast pace as above, plus accelerations and "tactical" maneuvering/riding meant to thin the herd. excess testosterone required.

we do all three, provided folks in the willing group are within 1-3 mph of our overall average speed. of course, on that last one, it doesn't really matter.

last evening was a prime example of the second one (fast pace): i had a puncture on the front 10 miles out, told the rest of the guys to go on. Wonderdog et al. kept going, but J2 and a few of our core group turned back to pace me back up. J2, now fully recovered from his race effort a few weeks back, is hitting another peak in form, and easily sustained 22-28 mph on flats with me in the slipstream (i couldn't have come around). though he could have easily upped the intensity on hills, he kept it at a steady state, such that we (the 3 of us remaining out of 5 or 7) were able to all suffer equally while enjoying the draft. there were no jumps or spikes in effort, so no unnecessary energy was used to get back into the draft, making the ride fast and painful, but sustainable by several levels of fitness and ability.

Dale Brigham's group on the St. Louis 400k rode like this. it was the first time i'd ever seen it executed to perfection. it's a "let's see how fast we can finish without killing anybody" mentality, which is a win/win for all involved.

social, fast paced, and race paced riding all have an appropriate application. some folks have different objectives on a ride--you gotta either find ones with similar goals and abilities, or set your cruise control and let things fall where they may.

social pace vs. fast pace vs. race/aggressive paceJ2
May 30, 2003 6:39 AM
J is correct here. everyone has different goals and as long as all are our riding that's the bottom line. if someone choose's to try and up their training by riding fast, why do you get down on them? they are only trying to get better. i had this happen to me last year and got a bad rep from it. people thought like this and thought i only came out to see how many people i could drop, WRONG! all i was doing was pushing myself as hard as i could to improve, i wasn't trying to change the ride, cause problems or anything, i was only trying to improve my personal level. once they figured out that i meant no harm they changed and it's been great this year. now they ask me and a few others (J mainly) how fast we made it after the rides and are somewhat proud of us when reach a higher goal. now you ask do i race, yes i do, but even if i didn't, why can i not go out to try and ride to the best of my ability? if that's what i want to do just for personal goals. don't get me wrong, i love social paces, laughing and cuttin up with others, but i also looove to go fast.
You just THINK thatSpecialTater
May 30, 2003 6:45 AM
we at the back of the pack still make fun of you and J and Mike Prince. Loosers.


have a good couple of weeks. I'm headed over to Italy to teach those Giro boys a thing or two about social rides.

Hope to see you on the midnight ride?
midnight ride = up in the airJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 6:54 AM
are you dragging along the missus?
May 30, 2003 8:00 AM
I asked J2 about the ride protocol, and he told me we should just keep riding. As for why he told me that and then stopped himself, I'm not sure. Man, I love the feeling of hanging with geared riders on the ss.....especially on 40mph downhills.

As for an answer to the original question, I think mohair_chair hit it on the head below. Also, as was my case last night, I needed to be home by 7:30pm. Stopping and waiting for everybody (or riding as slow as the slowest rider) makes it so that I can't make my personal committment.

explanationJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 8:21 AM
our goals this week are to finish off a big mile month. you were correct to keep rolling, which is what i asked you guys to do anyhow. J2 knew there were a few others off the pace, and figured we'd form a second pack, which did happen. i don't think he'd have made it all the way through that ride without me talking 'bout his momma, anyways.

J2 and i have had a few days of severely bad luck on the road. he took the puncture last night (second in two days, same wheel) and the wreck that you guys probably missed (a lonstanding member wrecked on the long flat straight road into the wind out of arlington, much road rash & blood) as a sign that we should take it easy 'til the end of the month.

we're pretty sure either the cycling gods are angered, or bernard hinault is up to his old tricks again. it's been a real struggle to reach our goals for the month. wednesday i had a piece of metal through the *sidewall*, yesterday it was a star-shaped lapel pin through my tread, doubled over, through the tube, and back out through another hole in the tread. tuesday the chorus bb on my merckx went TU. wednesday he showed up with a loose lockring on his spinergy/campy rear. fixed it, but discovered yesterday (at the ride) that it was a broken pawl on the freehub body. i may have to find a neighborhood cat or dog to sacrifice to Eddy Merckx.
for bella's sake, make it a cat....wonderdog
May 30, 2003 8:34 AM
J2 was filling me on the the mechanicals for the past few days, and you guys better not rub any of that juju off on me! :-) The rains gotta stop sometime...

as an aside, you should come mtn biking with bella and i sometime. we were at shelby farms this morning, and she LOVES running with me while I ride.

J mtb = ER or PT, IMEJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 8:46 AM
every time i chisel the mud off my mtb chain and take it out of the shop, something happens. not good. i'm a pretty bumbling airheaded klutz anyhow, and going fast among tight timbers and jagged rocks is asking for trouble.

otoh, i am hoping to do some mtb racing this year (low IQ). as there's one coming up in july, guess i'd better find a good handlebar mojo and oil up the full body armor.
May 30, 2003 9:13 AM
e-dog, that was my bad last night. i thought you asking what 'if' J flats, not realizing you were actually telling me did in fact flat. i thought he had dropped off the pace for some reason, i didn't know. then when i finally figured out what happened, that's when i said i was going back, but we were pretty far ahead for all of us to either wait or go back. sorry man, it's really been a strange week of riding for J and me. last night just capped it off!
btw, the master only needs a spoon in a knife fightJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 8:43 AM
though i suspect you got a good workout, i'm not surprised you could keep up with geared riders on your fixie/ss. as a cat 2 on the road, you would have ridden all those occasional cat 3 / 4 / masters racers--and us lowly weekend warriors--off your wheel, with gears. handicapping yourself with one gear was probably a good way to keep it real. otherwise it would have been like the fish in the barrel thing.

on the other hand, "hanging with geared riders on the ss" on tuesday night would be something to tell your grandkids about. i'd dust off the ol' haiku notebook for that one.
thanks for the compliment.wonderdog
May 30, 2003 8:49 AM
that made my day.....:-)

see you soon.
'twas that! nmJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 8:50 AM
It's a maturity thing.MXL02
May 30, 2003 5:59 AM
Myself, yourself, and I believe most of the other responders, are in the 45+ age group. Our goals for riding have a much more panoramic perspective than those of our more testesterone laden younger colleagues. We realize that "winning" doesn't always mean finishing before someone else.

I rode the MS 150 from Houston to Austin this year with some younger guys who took off and left me after the first 40 miles. They stopped for lunch and I didn't. In fact, I didn't stop at all till I got to LaGrange, the overnight stop, and the 100 mile point. We ended up finishing at the same time, despite the fact that I averaged 3-4 mph slower than they did. (Tortoise and the hare imagery starting to be evoked). They more I ride the more I believe that mileage and hours in the saddle are much more important than speed, unless you are actually racing.
Wanting to go faster is not a maturity thing.eschelon
May 30, 2003 6:22 AM
It's simply a matter of making choices of determining what makes cycling fun. Enjoying the scenery and soaking it all in is nice...but it is not going to motivate me to put on the lycra and ride for a couple of hours. Your choice of words (maturity thing) implies that somehow due to your years of experience and wisdom from your senior years that you are somehow on a higher evolution plane than the rest of us less mature folk that prefer making our rides a painful miserable hell that we exclaim at the end of our rides: "that hurt like hell, but it was fun."

Personally, I like going means I am putting effort into what I am tells me that I am suffering in pain...the pain reminds me of what living means...and I feel that it is a path to self-enlightenment.

By no means am I implying your path less. Although the idea of wanting to feel pain may sound masochistic, I am not alone...Lance Armstrong also said it in Sports Illustrated.
Wanting to go faster is not a maturity thing.MXL02
May 30, 2003 7:07 AM
First: going fast because it's fun, and going fast in a competitive aggressive attitude are not necessarily the same. I enjoy some speed workouts, but my sense of cycling ego doesn't hinge on whether I'm first, or I don't get dropped or whatever.

As far as feeling pain, let me assure you I feel it everytime I ride. Achievement of something difficult is the reason we all ride, and is the reason for just about any athletic endeavor: to try and accomplish something physically demanding. Lance was just reiterating what any athlete, pro or recreational, already knows. My point, and I believe the point of some of the other responders, is that we have learned that one can get the same sense of accomplishment, tiredness, and "pain" without seeing how fast we can go. I ride longer and harder...spin faster, etc., but ground speed is irrelevant. My point about maturity is based on observing changes in my own attitudes as I get older. It was not meant to slight you, but since you took it that way, let me just say that I understand, I respect you opinion, and it illustrates very well my point in the first place.
Wanting to go faster is not a maturity thing.Sharkman
May 30, 2003 8:56 AM
I agree with the above post. I am 50 and have recently discovered the joys of racing. I also consider myself mature, I have 5 kids I am raising and am at the peak of my career. Mature in most senses of the word, but I still enjoy racing and going fast on group rides.

It's the challenge that I enjoy. Challenging not others necessarily, but myself
I like a mix... sounds like your club does too.Frith
May 30, 2003 6:20 AM
Occasionally I like to mix it up with sprints or push a fast pace for a while. I also like to take it easy and enjoy the scenery too. Sounds like your club has a good mix where one can choose the kind of ride they want to do depending on how they feel. People who want to push it have other people around who want to do the same. People who want to relax a bit aren't gonna get dropped. Sounds ideal. I suppose you liked it better when everyone was out there for the same reason as you. I'd just enjoy it for what it is...a good mix of people who all like to ride their bikes.
a mix is OKtarwheel
May 30, 2003 6:43 AM
I don't resent the faster guys, I just don't understand the mentality. I honestly could care less if my average speed at the end of a ride is 17.5 or 19.5. Occasionally I do like a fast paced ride, particularly if there aren't slower riders along who can't keep up. My ideal is more like JS Haiku's option #2 -- a pace where the goal is to go as fast as possible without breaking up the group. However, I enjoy slower rides even if we have to drop the pace for slower riders. If your goal is to drop everyone else, why go on a group ride? Why not just race?

Part of my attitude, I guess, is due to the fact that I am not particularly gifted athletically. I've got good endurance, but not much speed. Maybe I would feel differently if I were competitive. I sometimes wonder if the competitive guys (and women) are really enjoying themselves. But maybe that's not the point -- they're not trying to enjoy themselves, just beat everyone else. Not my interest, but if that's what motivates you. To each his own.
sometimes ya gotta push harder to get betterJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 6:53 AM
that is, **if** the point of your ride is to improve ability. if i'm out to ride and enjoy the day and scenery (which is often), i also couldn't care less if my average speed is 15.5 or 21--so long as i'm outside, and pedalng.

however, people use rides selectively as training tools. last year we didn't have the benefit of stronger riders on our "thursday night thrill ride". it was J2 & me. this year we have cat 2/3/4 and masters riders showing up. they did their "practice race" (group ride) on tuesday, and are mainly out on thursday for an easy spin with some jumps. their easy spin is usually my vomit-inducing ear-bleeding max effort, and maybe that's what i'm there for. we all get what we want, so long as we ride with the right peeps. the beauty of a mixed (objectives) ride is its dynamic: if you want to test your MHR with the fast & aggressive riders, or improve hill climbing, they're out there. if you want to be social and ride at 16 mph, they're out there. if you want to pull a group around at your max and sit on the front all night, they're out there. if you want to look at pretty girls, well...

sometimes too it's fun to see how fast you can complete a course--you're only competing with time, or yourself. to best your prior PB is a lofty goal; it's one many of us work hard toward and plan our weeks around.

now, throw some brevets and long distance training rides in the mix, and all bets are off. my legs are garbage and my head is screwed on backwards. whether i'm able to hammer out a 21+ mph average over this course, or suffer at the back of the "B" pack for 17, is anybody's guess. i suspect the boys were placin' bets last night. :)
why are you riding so slow?mohair_chair
May 30, 2003 6:51 AM
There's an old George Carlin joke about when you're driving on a highway, every one going slower than you is an idiot, and everyone going faster is an A--hole. It's so true. Everytime I do long drives, I remind myself of this joke.

If there's one trivial thing in life that bugs me, it has to be people who ask "what's the hurry?" Just because you're not in a hurry doesn't mean I'm not. Just because you don't want to sprint for the county line doesn't mean others don't.

The presumption that only you are having an adventure and only you are enjoying the countryside is what bothers me. There are many motivations for doing what we do, and yours is not the only one. It certainly isn't the only "right" one. What's the hurry? Who are you to judge?

It seems to me that you need to find another group to ride with. Maybe you should start a splinter group of "non-racers" and do the rides the way you want. Set the expectation up front that this group does what one friend of mine calls "toodle" rides, which are basically rides for riding's sake. That's probably the best solution to your problem.
you misunderstand metarwheel
May 30, 2003 7:16 AM
I am not criticizing the faster riders, I just don't understand the motivation. That's why I posed the question because I don't understand the motivation for turning every ride into a race. Like I said, I don't race and have no plans to do so. I don't have a competitive personality, but I am curious why it's so important to some people.

I am not saying that my goals for riding are the only worthwhile ones. I am sure that the faster guys enjoy themselves. Why else would they be doing it? I just don't understand it. Why is it so important to be the fastest person in a group ride that is not a race? (I am not talking about actual races. I understand what racing is about and enjoy watch the TDF or Giro as much as the next cyclist.) We have one guy in our group that generally sits near the back sucking wheel, but he sprints for every county line and hill climb. He rarely does any work to help out the group by taking a pull. I don't understand this mentality.
some of it too is availabilityJS Haiku Shop
May 30, 2003 7:23 AM
we have 2 or 3 races per year in memphis. some are working to change that, but it's not gaining momentum yet. when the actual races come around, most of us haven't raced enough to "cat up" from 5 to 4 or better, mostly due to lack of racing experience (the local USCF rep requires 10 cat 5 races to "cat up". this makes the cat 5 field inordinately fast as it's stacked with horsepower. what does this mean for those who are just starting out? they get blown off the back of RRs or crits in the first 10 minutes. how do you get better and get more experience in an environment like this? practice...and, the best practice simulates the actual application.

re: your rider sitting at the back and sprinting for hills or signs. he's either misdirected, or is using these training rides as "human motorpacing". instead of a european girlfriend on a motorscooter pacing him at 25 mph for the occasional 30 mph jump into the wind, he's using the pack. maybe he has a problem attracting european hotties. it's a common problem. :) another thought is that perhaps he's aggressive by nature, but doesn't have the legs/lungs. maybe getting out of the pack and up to the sprint line is all he has to give, then he blows and drifts to the back again. i bet he'd fare better riding in the first 10 places. riding at the back sucks. he's probably getting a better workout than those who are pulling all day.
some of it too is availability---->bingo!funknuggets
May 30, 2003 8:39 AM
JS and others have it right. You have options, if you dont want to ride fast, then stay away from the hammerfests. If you want to cruise around, then go with the bike shop rides or whatever. I think the problem here is that some people just ride to ride, others train to either ride further or faster. Selecting your group rides is like trying to decide whether you want to go hard or not. All groups will have the people that will be rearing to go fast, others might not really care and amble about.

Funny thing is that if you dont really care about going fast or hard, then dont complain about the people that do. It isnt your issue. Let the hammerheads go, and enjoy your ride. I can go for a group ride on my easy days or my hard days, but I dont let the tempo of the group necessarily impact my training goals for the ride. Plain and simple. It is a matter of preference and goal-setting. If others are on a hard day when Im on a slow day, Im not going to complain about them wanting to go hard. Or, if I buzz past you on an interval or on a tempo day, Im not trying to show off. If I slow down and dont pull on a recovery day, Im not trying to slow you down.

I know the guys you talk about that show up at a ride that is designed for newbies and then they take off right off the bat and inevitably bring a few newbies off and cause the newbies to blow up. Maybe that makes some people feel better. Dont get me wrong, I absolutely love to mash those guys. But I do make it a point while whacking them to point out and suggest other group rides that are more designed for their tempo. However, remember... for some, going fast is the the main reason to ride, not for the socialization... it just so happes that they pick YOUR ride.

Amen brother!js5280
May 30, 2003 9:06 AM
I hate people who meander in the left lane not actively passing someone. Somehow we've forgot that this used to be called the "passing lane." Some of us may be trying to get somewhere for reason and not on retirement or soccer mom time. You have to wonder how much traffic congestion is caused by people taking their damn sweet time, not paying attention to the flow of traffic in front of them, and gawk at every car (accident or otherwise) pulled off the side of the road. This not to say social group cyclists make up this population, just random maniacal ranting from too much Denver traffic.

As for cycling, I think people do group rides for different reasons. I ride solo almost all the time, so when I get in a group, it's fun to catch the draft and use others to help push yourself. There's times though when I like to take it easy and enjoy riding with the people I'm with and the scenery too. There no reason to insist everyone ride at the same pace. Most rides do have A, B, C groups so you choose one based on your own goals. It's just too bad we don't have variable lane speed limits like they do in Europe.
re: what's the big hurry?Cat 3 boy
May 30, 2003 7:33 AM
My club has an "A" run , and a "B" run.

"A" run goes hell for leather, waits for no one, while the "B" run rides a steady but brisk pace. They wait for mechanicals, punctures, but also hammer it up the hills & then circle to collect any stragglers. Everyone gets home together & a great time is had by all. ;)
re: what's the big hurry?mobil1
May 30, 2003 7:46 AM
It's really simple...."to each his own". Calling aggressive riders "idiots" is a little strong Len.