TCI Friday

One of my stock bike jokes is this: Every year I like riding with one fewer companion than I did the year before, and last year I was at two. That makes me sound much grouchier than I am. What I really am, is lazy. Other people, in most cases, represent complications I’m not that interested in. I’m at an age where, when I want to ride, I want to ride. I’m not much for waiting around or bending my plans to make them more convenient for other people.

In rereading that paragraph just now, I see that I’m lazy, but I’m also selfish. OK. Good note.

This is how my riding life goes: I’m loosely committed to a Wednesday trail ride. It’s a group of friends who ride gravel bikes or mountain bikes, sometimes locally, sometimes with a little driving involved. It is never not fun. It’s a ride I always try to make when my body feels like it can cash a check that is not always of an amount I know in advance.

Other than that, I ride alone or maybe with one friend at a time, usually because one of us has invited the other. Big group rides are not my jam. Too many variables. Too many riders who need to agree on a pace and a style, on the go. This alchemy seldom seems to produce more than a pile of straw and a vague dissatisfaction for me.

The truth is, though, that I really need to ride with other people more. I need to ride with people fitter than I am, if only to drag me up that precipitous curve, and I need to ride with people who are just better at bikes than I am, so I can cheat off them and maybe turn myself into a better bike rider. I also just need to be more patient, less self-centered, a little more generous with my time and energy. These things don’t come naturally to introverts or to misanthropes.

I am probably both.

This week’s TCIF asks, do you think you need to ride with more people, or with fewer? What’s your current vibe vis a vis other people? Did Covid alter it radically? Or have you been on the same downward social trend I’ve been following?

This post and all the others on TCI are brought to you by our generous subscribers and by Shimano North America, makers of the stuff that makes our bikes roll without having to think too much about it, because who has time for that?

Thanks Shimano.

Join the conversation
  1. Jeff vdD says

    The vast majority of my riding is off-road, and the vast majority of that is mixed terrain on a drop bar bike.

    I’m probably the ride initiator two-thirds to three-quarters of the time. About half of the rides are “standards” that people expect, the others ad hoc. My ride calls out to a fairly large number of friends/acquaintances/teammates and tend to draw a total group of 3-6 riders. Ends up being just about perfect.

    I augment this local riding with a number of mass start events. This year, that means Rasputitsa (done and dusted), VT Monster, Plymouth-to-Provincetown (paved), Guilford Gravel Grinder, JAM Fund Grand Fundo, Rooted VT, D2R2, and VT Overland. For the most part, I’ll be riding those with friends with an understanding that we’ll regroup at some spots and possibly split into small groups.

    Then, the other kind of mass start riding starts in Sep: #cxiscomingseasoniscoming

    1. TominAlbany says

      @Jeff: Look like some good, NE events. I may need to have a look, if any of them are still taking masochists…. errr… riders.

  2. jlaudolff says

    I’ve been a loner for a long time for a lot of reasons but fell into a group of younger guys this year through work. They are all a bit fitter than me but remind me of myself 25 years ago when so much about riding was new. We’ve been doing some super intense climbing rides and they are a lot of fun. But most of them are quite reluctant to ride to places they haven’t been and they have no tolerance whatsoever for any amount of cars. I get it and don’t seek out heavy traffic but I have enough experience to know where and when I can ride certain places. So what I bring to the party is a wizard like ability to take them places they would never think to go and they are appreciative to ride in new and interesting places.

  3. TominAlbany says

    I’ve been a loner for years now. I used to ride the Tour de Cure with some colleagues but that ride doesn’t happen in Albany any more.
    My ‘social’ rides consist of mass start rides where I ride alone and chat with folks along the way, never trying to join a group at any point, and shedding those with bad group riding technique (half-wheelers, yo-yos, and accelarators).

    >16 years ago, I used to ride with a group onee/week. It made me faster, stronger and kept me a bit more social. I guess I need to find another group if I’m going to get any better at this game (life) and my sport (biking).

  4. trabri says

    Through the last few years I’ve succumbed to the “responsibilities” of life and ended up in the “no time to plan- now is my chance to ride” camp. I truly miss my weekly MTB adventures with my best friend. Someday I will get back there.

  5. Dan Murphy says

    99% of my rides are alone. That’s almost sad, but it’s “me” time and I value that time. Most of my rides are totally wing it, not knowing exactly where I’m going or for how long. Tough to do that with another rider. If I do ride with another, it’s only ONE other on the road. My rides are casual, no pacelines, just riding along.

    Off-road, I’ll go with a few others, understanding that it’s social ride. Just fun. Still, not often.

    Saying that, I enjoy the occasional event, all gravel events. I like meeting people along the way, the rest stops (peaches at D2R2!!), and just seeing other people.

  6. khal spencer says

    At 68, I ride my bike to ride my bike. I can push myself if I want to, because I know what it is like to push myself and there are plenty of bitchin’ hills and singletrack challenges in these parts. But at this point, I ride to enjoy riding. If that means not keeping up with the bunch, oh, well, do I need to prove that again? When you are looking 70 in the face, all you start thinking about is keeping the Grim Reaper in the bunch while you are in the break.

    1. Dan Murphy says

      This 68 yo totally agrees.

    2. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Khal – I am seldom in your neck of the woods, but if I get there again soon, I’d like to catch a ride with you. Just to chat.

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