When you take Cycling “WAY TOO SERIOUSLY”…

When Thomas (not his real name) originally contacted me he informed me he was a member of a local bike club and that there was a situation which has occupied the club’s board for several months.  On Saturdays, member and non-member cyclists gather at a local pool to participate in group rides of varying speeds. On one of these group rides, a non-member cyclist swerved to avoid an object in the road. A member cyclist behind reacted and crashed. Strong opinions were on both sides of the issue. One of the board members has insisted that the board as a whole send a letter to this individual, asking him not to ride. Same member has even suggested taking legal action against this cyclist. The cyclist’s reply is that he’s riding on a public road, and should be free to ride when and where he wants. Thomas then asked for help on HIS OWN behalf wanting to know with whom could he address this issue? For those of you that know me, know, I’m no Ann Landers! However, I was intrigued  because here was a young man that was upset because the sport he so much loved was becoming more like a business, way too serious!

The sociology of biking can change causing you to lose motivation. Most people come into biking with one or more novice friends with the intent of just having fun. You ride, laugh, tell jokes, and horse around a lot. You make up sprints and games on the spot and PLAY at your bike racing. But your friends or their attitudes may change and become too serious or they may leave the sport and you find yourself riding with prudes. Suddenly the sport isn’t the fun it was. At this point you have several choices: You may need to find new friends, check your attitude to see if you have become too serious, take some time off the bike, or even find a new or younger club with the attitude you enjoyed when you started riding, or no club at all.

…with all that being said, here is my reply to the original post I received from Thomas. I am by no means an authority on the subject but do have some strong feelings about all kinds of cycling. Please feel free to disagree with me and voice your own opinions.

(my reply) Thomas, first off this is just my opinion so take it with a grain of salt. I’m 60 years old, I’ve raced all kind of bikes (BMX, Road, Dirt, Mountain,Trikes, and some that shouldn’t even be called bikes) way before it was cool. I’ve fallen down and gotten hurt because of my stupid actions and the actions of other. I was very competitive and even got upset when I didn’t win or felt like someone else caused me not to do my best. At the end of the day it was actually all on me. Its my fault for allowing my self not to be attentive enough to the road conditions, its my fault for following the lead of someone I know is less experienced, and it’s really my fault for not helping those in this sport that could learn from my experience or the experience of others. What you’re describing is ESS (Excessive Seriousness Syndrome). I know very few people in this sport (I’m referring to all kinds of cycling) that do this for a living. Its a sport, hobby, exercise program, or means of transportation. When cycling, or anything for that matter, causes someone to be so obsessed to the point of suing or banning a person then maybe its time for them to find another hobby or sport! I learned early on in life that what I do should be fun, always a learning experience, have a positive influence on others and make me a better person. You never really explained what kind of cycling club this is but if you allow non members to participate than you need to allow them to make mistakes and help them to be better so one day you may have a new member that is experienced and can help other new potential members! I’d argue that we’ve collectively broken the yellow-line rule of life. There’s already enough to take seriously: our health, our families, our jobs and our friends. Cycling should be a relief from this. We should all be able to enjoy it, even if we never win or make mistakes.

We are born naked, wet and hungry. Then things get worse
Don’t take life too seriously; you won’t get out of it alive [Elbert Hubbard]

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Anything and everything about Florida and Biking. Please don't take us or yourself too serious!
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4 Responses to When you take Cycling “WAY TOO SERIOUSLY”…

  1. Margaret says:

    I totally agree with your reply to Thomas. I participate routinely in group rides and encourage group communication regarding road conditions and riding surprises and, yes, I have been hurt because of “someone else’s” actions. However, I, too, know it is all on me for all the reasons you state. Yes, in the moment, I may be quick to find fault with “their” actions and even snap at someone. But if I’m riding behind or beside another rider, it IS definitely my job to discern if that’s a good place for me to ride and I have to take responsibility for that decision myself. There definitely are riders I won’t ride near, and, yes, I need to be attentive to where I place myself. Yup, heads up folks! It’s your own well-being at stake; you put yourself there, take responsibility.

  2. Ross-Barry Finlayson says:

    Excellent answer Steve.I couldn’t agree more. Over the past 30-years,since I first got involved in the outdoors, 95-to-98% of my activities, I have done on my own. This way I am responsible for my actions. But,in saying that,I do enjoy a “group activity”, regardless of how many are participating. With 7-billion inhabitants on this planet, there are not two exactly alike.And this is more evident when out on the track. We,regardless if we are slower or faster,have a responsibility to the others in the group. I know,when out with friends,I can be faster.But,in that situation,I remind myself of this and wait and not show impatience.On the other hand,if I am slower, I remind myself not to play catch-up.Stick to my own pace.
    As you probably realize, I love the outdoors,regardless of my mode,and,with life being so short,I intend to make the most of it. I have learnt from a lesson from many years ago,when I nearly killed myself, by being obsessive.
    Thank-you Steve for your thought-provoking post and the opportunity for me to opine.Keep-up your great work.
    Oh,by-the-way,any plans of visiting this neck-of-the-woods?

  3. Patrick Ruta says:

    I am a member of the Club in question. I have worked with the Club for over 20 years and have been a volunteer, a member of the Board of Directors, Vice President and President.

    Young “Thomas” left out a few details. The non-member mentioned had been involved in two previous accidents, one in which he hit (during another Club’s ride) a member who was standing over his bike at the side of the road, resulting in treatable injuries and bike damage. The second occurred when the rider pulled left into the path of a passing rider who went over her bars to avoid hitting him. This rider did not blame him for the accident, but he admitted to making the maneuver. He also called the woman who crashed when she returned home from the emergency room and blamed her for the accident. The crash “Thomas” mentioned occurred when, in a pace line, the non-member overlapped the wheel of the rider in front, hit his brakes and swerved left. This took down the rider behind him and the one behind her. Both were riding at the proper distance for a pace line and neither had time to successfully react. Further, the Club had sent the non-member a letter after he had harassed four women during Club rides and the man he hit at the side of the road. He also threatened to “take out” a rider who had criticized him during a recent ride.

    The Club has tried to work with him. A prominent member has talked with him and the Club had arranged for him to work with a local bike shop owner to improve his group riding. The Board also invited him to ride with them in an “advanced group riding” ride during a Saturday ride. His response has either been “Fuck You” or ignoring the invitation to the advanced group ride. He feels that he is right and all who have criticized him are wrong.

    One of the jobs of any club is to provide a safe riding experience for its members. Even if it turns out to be useless, any club must try to do this.

    • Florida Biking says:

      Thank you Patrick for your response. When we replied to Thomas, we relied on the information that was put before us and our reply to him was based on just that. For that reason we always leave our post open for discussion and comments. There are always more than one side to a story and many times multiple sides. Your comments certainly give an entirely different view of the events that were reported to us and we thank you for coming forward with, as Paul Harvey would say, “The rest of the Story”! It certainly sounds like your Club has some issues to deal with and I wish you all a very positive outcome. It certainly appears your Club is going above and beyond what is expected and as I understand it, this person is not even a member. Very impressive and your Club should be commended for trying to engage everyone into the sport. Regardless of your position, there are some basic rules that everyone has to follow in any club, organization or group … clubs should not have to put up with arrogance and people that don’t want to play well with others. There comes a time when you just have to cut the cord and move on!

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