Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, May 5, 2014

What I meant by don't drop me

A followup to last week's post. But first a bit of background... A few years ago, a group of friends started an email list (referred to in the text below as FAIB) for folks who have time off midweek to ride. While my Tuesday rides are based out of a local coffee/bike shop and are open to all, most of the regulars are members of that email list. What follows is from the note I sent to that list after last week's disappointing ride (with a couple of edits for clarity to those not on the list).


For the past couple of weeks, I have posted a link in reference to my Tuesday rides. The page contains the GPS links to the routes, but also includes a little of my philosophy about the rides.

Before I restarted the Tuesday rides a couple of weeks ago, I added this paragraph at the top of the page 

Tuesday rides resume. The fixie pixie is riding again. I'm slower and keeping the distances down for now. Shocker: I am driving to and from rides. Lunch stops are even more important than ever, as a chance for me to stretch and rest and I usually need another short break partway back from lunch. If you are willing to tolerate a mellower pace and help me in my recovery, please join me. Warning: If you drop the ride leader, you will be publicly shamed and not invited back.

Last Tuesday I got dropped multiple times, and I would be dishonest if I didn't say that it hurt my feelings, so I really want to be clear about what these rides mean to me.

When I first started riding with this group a few years ago, it was a small group of friends, who had free time on weekdays and liked to get out for a social ride. The idea was that if you wanted to go out for a ride, you'd come up with a route and pick a date and time you were planning to ride, and then invite others to join you. It was much smaller and less formal than a typical club ride. We'd often have 2-6 riders. So it was really just friends inviting friends for a ride, not an event, not a race, but a casual friendly day out. I was honored to be invited by a friend to join this group. I've had some wonderful days out and forged some great friendships. After a while I dipped my toe in and occasionally led a ride myself. At some point, I decided to make a commitment to do a weekly ride on Tuesdays and open up this kind of fun casual ride to folks I knew through Ride Studio Cafe. Thus began the RSC Tuesday rides. FAIB has consistently made for the majority of participants, but we've had a few folks join the ranks of FAIB thanks to finding the group through RSC.

Since starting these rides, I have really looked forward to Tuesdays. I've tried to find new and unique lunch spots and to occasionally add a new route to keep things interesting.

I've also tried to keep the rides fun and social, adjusting the pace to accommodate whoever shows up, trying my best to make sure we don't ever leave anyone or make anyone feel unwelcome. It isn't always easy herding cats, but for the most part folks have followed my lead if I've tried to slow things down to keep the group together. I may have gently discouraged a rider who is significantly slower than the group average, but I admit that I've also encouraged others who may have initially been at the slower end of the group to keep coming back, and have seen them become stronger and faster, as a result. I'm rather proud that one of those riders recently finished a 300km ride!

But here's the thing. To me, it's not so much about the bike. It's a day out with friends, who happen to be on bikes. It's a lunch outing that we get to on our bikes. It's a destination with a nice view, or an interesting landmark.
And sometimes, there's a big climb in the middle, and sometimes, we let it hang out on one or two climbs and regroup at the top. But 80-90% of the time, we ride along as a group, chatting and having fun.

I'm going to continue to do my rides on Tuesdays from RSC and I'd love company, but please come because you want to support and encourage me and ride WITH me as I return from breaking my back. Please come because you want to spend a day out with friends who happen to be on bikes. I think we all have interesting things to talk about and share while we ride, and it shouldn't be such an effort to adjust pace to hang with a friend.

So when I say don't drop me, I don't mean regroup at the top of every hill. I mean let's ride together. We can still go for friendly KOM's once or twice on a ride on the likes of a climb like Haystack or Brimstone, but let's try to keep it together the rest of the time.

Thanks for reading this far.

This Tuesday I'm riding to Ryer's for lunch. Please join me for a fun day out.


  1. I ride alone all the time. Too slow for roadies and now I'm writing off a year for recovery myself as I was in a bad auto accident. The doc says when I am able to get on a bike, I need to take it easy on the flats - maybe a half hour ride at a time.

    1. Sorry to hear of your accident. Good luck with your recovery. One of the things that really helped me was that I was able to walk, and I took full advantage of that, doing lots of long walks well before getting clearance to ride.

    2. After a terrible car accident years ago, I got riding again after about a year(recovery, winter) even though I was told I might never ride again(ha!).
      Walking, swimming and all the physio helped enormously so I was in good form. However, with cycling pain became a big factor, nor could I ride as much as I was used to without really hurting. Nerve damage meant unpredictably weak hands, trouble braking. I also became afraid of having more accidents so became more slow because I brake down hills, or spots I find scary. I got it into my head that I could not do long distance road riding anymore, rode upright bikes, silly old heavy bikes...I still have ridden almost daily all these years, long distances commuting for work, some short tours. I finally got a very fast road bike. Back and hand issues make drop bars problematic, so am using a flat bar-for now. I'm bent over as much as I would be with my hands on the flats, and going far and fast. I absolutely love it and makes me think of the riding I did before the accident. I still get dropped by my husband all the time which is hard especially if he wants to go on a big long ride and I cannot keep up.
      You may have to adjust your set up and riding style according to your injuries. I wonder what Pamela has had to adjust other than a slower pace?

  2. This is exactly what group rides should be about, but unfortunately all too many turn into races. I don't mind slowing up to help someone along (a rare but occasional occurrence), but hate when it's done for me. There is far too much of the "I gotta get my workout" attitude among cyclists. It has it's place but not on every ride.
    Good luck with your continued recovery!

  3. Thrilled to see you back riding and writing!

  4. I'm happy to report that the ride to Ryer's on Tuesday was quite the fun and social affair!

  5. Pamela,

    I just recently learned of your accident and want to send get all the way better, faster, sooner, hurry up, git er done, wishes.

    I've followed quietly folks like you, John, Susan and Lon, Mark Thomas, Dan Driscol, Pam Wright, etc. since I become a Randonneur in 2003. All of you have been inspirational to me, a very slow (and I mean really slow) rider. I've always appreciated the friends who hang back and ride with me, so I appreciate your "keep it together" attitude.

    Most important, again I hope you fully recover.