TCI Friday

Allow me to describe for you, a coin with two sides, as if there is any other kind.

On side one, you have a riding companion who is not having the best day, either by virtue of a lack of fitness, a lingering illness, or perhaps a dearth of adequate hydration. I suppose on some level the reason matters, but we can all see that there are myriad of reasons one rider might not be up to the pace of the others.

On this side of the coin that rider, let’s assume they’re a friend with who you are very familiar and have ridden with a lot, decides they can’t keep up any longer and don’t want to slow you and/or the group down in your pursuit of, I don’t know, glory? They tell you to go on without them. If this were some sort of injury scenario, I think we’d all stick by this friend, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. They’re just on a bad day.

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On the other side of the coin, the person struggling is you. I think we’ve all been there. If you haven’t, this might not be the site for you (JK).

So you didn’t feel that great at roll out, and things didn’t get better. You’ve not been able to ride yourself up to pace. Because you’re experienced, you went along gamely, hoping it would all come good, but you might be fighting a bug, or just not as fit as you’d thought. You decide to end your own misery and loose your companions to whatever ride they want to have that day. You tell them to leave you.

In my experience, no matter which way this coin lands, the conversation is complicated. What seems clear in one person’s mind is invariably uncomfortable in the other person’s. There is the issue of whether the person in “distress” has an actual problem and needs to be looked after, but there is also the social problem. Abandoning a companion seldom feels like the right thing to do, even if, in some cases, the companion would really, really appreciate being abandoned.

This week’s TCI Friday wonders how you parse a situation like this. If someone you’re riding with is struggling and tells you to just leave them behind, when is doing so ok? When is it not? What’s your take?

Join the conversation
  1. Wyatt says

    Generally speaking I say stick together. I suppose the exception is just not feeling it while close to home/car and deciding to turn around. Once out there though, why split? Live to hit it harder another day. We are stronger with our people even if we slow them down from time to time.

  2. jlaudolff says

    In a big boy. I can take care of myself. Carry on without me. Well ride together another day but not today.

  3. khal spencer says

    Tough one. If you know the person well enough, you can probably tell if the rider having that bad day would feel worse of he/she/they held up the group. If you are not sure, or a less experienced rider who might bonk along the way, one might just say “hey, this was supposed to be an easy day anyway”. After all, one can always put the hammer down tomorrow.

    Having one of those days myself, actually. Had Covid twice in the last three weeks (got nailed with the dreaded Paxlovid Rebound) and am just now getting back on the bike, now that my head is not splitting and my lungs don’t hurt.

  4. trabri says

    This happened to me. I wasn’t up to the pace of the group (all very experienced) and I wanted to peel off. One person decided that I shouldn’t be left alone and bailed with me. While I appreciate the concern, it actually turned into a time restraint/shuttling debacle which could have been avoided. As posted above, it’s a tough situation for all but the tightest of groups.

  5. mattdwyerva says

    If my wife says this, I roll my eyes. But a group ride with a bunch, judgement is required and decision could go either way. Is it cold and rainy? Is it a big climb? Is it familiar territory? Lots of variables….

  6. dr sweets says

    I just put my middle finger out and go. Beyond that, if it’s a local road ride (I don’t do many of those any longer) and said person is familiar with route/close to home/just wants to bail early and is not in any visible distress then it’s fine for me to continue and they to go on their way. Same with mountain bike rides in busy local parks. Otherwise I’m sticking around. That said, if I’m on a ride with anyone, I ride with them, period.

  7. bsowatsky says

    Leaving someone behind can sometimes be problematic. The rider may just be having a bad day, or could be coming down with an illness. But it could be much more serious.
    Two years ago, one of our group was way off the back and he just decided to head on home by himself. We turned around to go back for him, but didn’t find him.. We called him on his cell phone and he told us he felt bad about holding us up and decided to split off. He apparently was having some heart issues, passed out , crashed and was knocked unconscious. He was found lying beside the road by a passerby. He succunbed to his injuries a week later. I still feel guilty about letting him go home by himself, even though I have done the same myself on occasion.

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