Mountain biking is inherently a social sport. Our friends ride…we meet new people through riding…we even hang out with our riding friends outside of riding. It’s an incredible way to level the allusion that we are not crazy by surrounding ourselves with people that think exactly like we do. It’s wonderful.
This group atmosphere makes it so that riding with others is just how things are done. We have our core group that pretty much all rides the same and people come and go out of that group. As things come up and riding preferences change, the group adapts but there is always a certain harmony that follows riders on a trail that have ridden with each other for awhile.
You have one group ride that goes wrong. The stage is set for a great day. The trail is tacky. You are stoked to get rolling. As with most group rides, other friends or friends of friends have joined in because they heard there was a ride going on. Everyone starts off at a great pace and is happy. About a mile into the ride, you realize something has changed. The pace is off. You either have one of the guys that don’t normally ride with you breathing down your rear tire or he is pulling the group up the hill at a faster pace than usual.
You take a deep breath. At this point, you either let the rider by or you slow your pace down ready to meet everyone at the top whenever you get there.
All is good…you figured out where you need to be. At the top, everyone regroups and is ready to take on the downhill. Then…just like before…something happens.
Mr. I Want To Climb Fast jumps ahead of everyone on the downhill and slows the entire group up holding the brakes all the way down. He was the first to the top so he figures he should lead out the pack pissing off everyone behind him. You try to say nicely “on your left” when you really want to say “get the f out of my way”…but he doesn’t hear you. He has to be faster than you as he has already proven on the last climb.
You get to the bottom ready to slash his tires and throw all of his goos in the river. But…this is a group ride and you keep your cool. The rest of the ride repeats this rubber band effect and your steam continues to rise until you finally rack up your bike on the car and smoke the tires on the way out.
Your only good result out of this event? Everyone else was just as pissed as you were and “that guy” is now left off the email string for the next ride and now has to wonder why he wasn’t on the ride you are now posting pictures of on Facebook.
Everyone Knows At Least One “That Guy”
Part of what no one really talks about on group rides is the necessity to be aware of your surroundings. Very rarely is there one rider who is the fastest on all sections of the trail and needs to be up front. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and being aware of that is crucial to keeping the rest of the group happy.
That harmony is crucial for a successful ride.
Even if you are riding with a group of riders that you have never ridden with before, it is your job to figure out where you fit in line and constantly adapt to changing trail conditions. If you feel another rider needing to get by…get the f over. Ego has no place on the trail and all you are doing is insuring your lack of an invitation on the next trip out.
No one likes “that guy” in anything. It is not a right of passage and you gain no points for winning the race you didn’t tell anyone they are competing in. The more you are aware of what is going on around you, the more rides you will be invited back on. Just a simple fact off the dirt bible that will make your rides better and people more adapt to inviting you into their dirt obsessed world.
Live the ride.