Guest Article: The Ride Starts On Time. No Exceptions.

Madonna! What time is it? photo:Reuters

In light of the first North American Cogal (a Cogal is a gathering of Velominati just like a Cabal was a gathering of Illuminati); this Guest Article by community lurker @gmoosh seems apropos. Except that obviously every ride starts at V past the hour. In this spirit, we have added Rule 87.

Message from the Keepers to @gmoosh, it is precisely V past Awesome; time to stop lurking and start sharing more of your undeniable insight into la Vie Velominatus with the community. 

Yours in Cycling,

Frank

— 

Things that happen on time: Saturn V rocket launches. D-Day invasions. BBC time codes. Japanese Shinkansen. UCI time trials. Things that do not. Greyhound buses. Airline flights. Weddings. Work meetings.

There is an obvious, significant and qualitative difference between them. One class are demonstrable showcases of Rule 5. The other involve the mundane, forgettable and lamentable periods of time between such brilliance.

That is why the best rides, and, I would argue, every ride, should leave at exactly the stated time. If the ride is called for 7:30, it should leave at 7:30. Not 7:31. Not 7:29. Anyone arriving after the stated time of departure should see, far up the road, the Lycra-clad asses of Ones-Who-Take Riding-Seriously.

The upside of always leaving on time is considerable. Others will be late exactly once. You signal that the sanctity of this ride, like all rides, is not something with which you should muck. You demonstrate, not with words but with actions, your commitment. As a bonus, you make more time for post-ride espresso.

Conversely, if you’re not ready to roll at the announced time, you’re prove that in your feebly misplaced life, other things-sleeping, driving, talking to you spouse or even pumping your tires-are more important than The Ride. You are wrong. That’s why you are sprinting up the street like a domestique after a puncture, while everyone else is chatting with insouciance on the rollout far ahead of you.

Don’t believe that starting on time is important? Ask Pedro Delgado. In the 1989 Tour, he showed up 2:40 late to the opening prologue, accepted his fate and rocked as hard as he could. And lost the Tour, finishing third behind an aero-helmeted Greg Lemond, and a collapsed and crying Laurent Fignon.

It is worth mentioning that there is exactly one acceptable way to be late: Overtaking the leader of the group on the first significant hill in a casually deliberate display of the Five and Dime. If you can’t consistently do that, show up ready to roll, and roll when expected.

Discipline. Commitment. Punctuality. Three great tastes that taste great together.

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66 Replies to “Guest Article: The Ride Starts On Time. No Exceptions.”

  1. This is a great article for me to read, gmoosh!

    I sadly have to admit that I normally have to pull off the “sprinting up the street like a domestique after a puncture,” in order to make it on time. Ugh, the hardest riding I sometimes do is the riding to the ride.

    When you put it in the perspective of timing showing commitment to the Ride, it makes it that much more crucial to arrive on time.

    Point taken!

  2. Hmmm, in spirit and personal disposition I am with you. People who turn up late to rides are the type of people who set their alarm 15 mins early and then hit snooze for 20 minutes. I am married to one.

    However I have found punctuality to be very much a group thing. My London club Dulwich Paragon would regard leaving exactly on time as the equivalent of attacking through a feed point – technically not illegal but certainly frowned upon and lacking in class.

    On the other hand in Abu Dhabi we leave precisely on time, in a way that would have warmed the heart of Mussolini’s Direttore di Choo-Choos.

    In some ways I like it like that. The unspoken, unwritten rules are partly what makes it fun to be part of a group, when you know them.

  3. @harminator

    @gmoosh
    Nipple lube.

    +1.
    I’m usually the first person at the meeting place. And it might be noted that the starting time is the time when you start turning over the pedals, not the time you arrive in your car, still in your street clothes.

  4. @gmoosh

    +1. Nice entry, sir!

    I’m all for starting on time whether it be a race, group ride, social or business event. To do otherwise and expect to be waited for is discourteous to those who’ve made the effort.

    I spend too much of my time in meetings waiting for someone to turn up or listening to or providing a recap of what’s already been said. As a pet hate, it’s up there with people who jam their arm or leg in a closing left door and hold everyone else up – there’ll be another one along in a moment. Rant over.

  5. It’s a tough call – you want to ride with someone, but when your comrades are continually late, your wont may have you riding alone more often than not.
    Out of 10 or so ‘regulars’ of our thursday morning roll, one guy was always late. Actually, he was always late for every ride. Everyone else was heavily subscribed to him, so…I ended up riding alone – harder, to stay away from them. It was like being in a break, with a 5 minute gap.
    Now I’m stronger.

  6. I typically ride alone””and I always leave on time.

    Another chapter or angle on this great article, though, is the geography of departure. A couple of rides with colleagues over the past few months began at my local coffee shop. Which added incentive to being there early. Bike ready; espresso enjoyed; reading on front porch (in the most casually deliberate kind of way) awaiting riding mates; and then leaving on time. This kind of starting point enhances the spirit of the ride and encourages timely departure in ways kicking around an empty parking lot waiting for a punctual start doesn’t.

  7. I’m a stickler for punctuality. On time for me is 5 minutes early. I’m sure this is partly due to nurture, but also my years as a time triallist. No room for tardiness there. Most races started at 7 or 8am. You had your assigned start time. It was up to the rider to get up, eat, travel (by bike or car) to the start, sign on, warm up, get ready and get to that start line within one minute of your appointed time. If you were late within your minute, you could go. If you missed your slot, maybe the starter would fit you in at the next open one; maybe not. In short, if you missed your time, you’d wasted your time. You could go ahead and ride for your own gratification, but as far as the results or prizes went, you’d started on time and that was the official time. The watch started at the allotted time, not when your ill-organized tardy ass showed up. Out of literally hundreds of TTs, I missed one start by less than a minute on an unfamiliar course when my warm up took me too far away from the start. My personal sense of embarrassment was profound and I rode poorly because I was mentally rattled; for TTs, being “tranquillo” is the best state of mind.

    I guess what I liked about this was the sense of responsibility it instilled. No excuses accepted, just take yourself and your sport seriously. Good lessons for life handed down via the bike.

  8. I like to arrive on time and leave on time. Group riding should contain an element of Shibui, spontaneous and healthy competition balanced by quietly self effacing contributions to the beauty of the overall aesthetic. Effortless effectiveness. Late arrival encourages disharmony that can only be mitigated by a prolonged, silent sacrafice on the front. Preferably uphill,or into a headwind.

  9. Couldn’t agree more. I like to take Trotsky as a prime example to this, he would lock the doors to important political meeting when they were scheduled to start.

  10. Also note the paradox of punctuality: The late bloke is generally single and free livin’. All the punctual riders are heavily obligated; spouse, kids, full-time employed while doing a PhD, renovating the bathroom and coaching the local footy team.
    If you want something done, ask a busy person…

  11. great point gmoosh

    Time is an interesting thing with perhaps a little relativity to it, but punctuality is virtuous and unforgiving when not carried out. In that, my ride time starts at dawn +1 minute every day. What time, I am not sure as now I am losing 2 minutes to the ole man winter, but now punctuality is still required…to be ready and chomping at the bit like an incindiary dog ready to report for duty.

    Now, as the sun is up, time becomes a necessity especially when groups are considered and races and events.

    Take for instance the lack of punctuality in my last ride, by the organizers. I enrolled online, did the deed, showed up and they had no clue who I was, what was up, and by the time they dragged it out, redid everything, jacked off for 1/2 hour, I was late for the eschalon lead out and the 170k ride of the day. That my friends is how ‘not to’ organize and I recommend a beating and flogging for the organizer who is unable to rise to the occasion. I promise they will punctually deduct the ride fee from my account however.

    I like the point that is well taken…discipline, commitment, punctuality…all good tastes indeed

  12. A stint in the Marine Corps has impressed upon me the need for punctuality and the ex-wife demonstrated that habitual tardiness was an expression of one’s self-importance. I am NEVER late for a ride and it mystifies me why if we said we were leaving at XX:XV o’clock we are not leaving at XX:XV o’clock.

    Nice article.

  13. Jaysus, what a virtuous bunch you lot are…..

    I’m going to court soon following an attempt to get to a ride on time, following a double school run – next time he can play hockey without his hockeystick (driving offence, not assaulting a minor)

  14. I try and be early (or exactly on time) for everything. Now, this doesn’t come from something honorable, like Cyclops’ stint in the Marines. Rather, I think it comes from not owning a car while I was in college, so I had to take the bus everywhere (school and work, where I was a retail manager and therefore couldn’t be late).

    And as every poor bastard that has ever relied the bus for primary transportation knows, to be on time you need to be EARLY, since you have no earthly idea if the bus will be late, run slow, break down, or whatever. If you live in Japan you can count on public transit to be on time. Here in the States, you may as well give it a +/- of 15 minutes.

    Regardless, it now drives me up the freakin’ wall to be late for things that have a defined start time, even those of little consequence.

    Though ironically, I think I may have been late for my first ride with @Scaler911 a few months back by a few minutes, as I under-estimated the time it would take to ride over to our meeting place… oops!

  15. Chapeau.

    I pride myself on punctuality, and interpret tardiness in others as disrespect. I wish my club rides were more punctual, but c’est la guerre. That said, we all fuck up, and when I’m late for a ride, I expect to chase on or ride alone. Or if I know I’m going to be late, I’ll ride to a later point so I can intercept the group. And here’s a Rule 88 submission: If the ride starts and/or finishes less than 20km from home, no driving to and from. Ride to the start and ride home afterward; you’ll arrive warmed up and ready to dish out the V, and have a nice spin home after coffee. Racing excepted.

  16. @sgt

    Chapeau.
    I pride myself on punctuality, and interpret tardiness in others as disrespect. I wish my club rides were more punctual, but c’est la guerre. That said, we all fuck up, and when I’m late for a ride, I expect to chase on or ride alone. Or if I know I’m going to be late, I’ll ride to a later point so I can intercept the group. And here’s a Rule #88 submission: If the ride starts and/or finishes less than 20km from home, no driving to and from. Ride to the start and ride home afterward; you’ll arrive warmed up and ready to dish out The V, and have a nice spin home after coffee. Racing excepted.

    +1 to that nomination!

  17. +1 to that

    I laugh when someone pulls the bike off the rack and they live 5k away…whats with that…ok. off topic, but agreed

    back to slammin

  18. thanks, all, for the kind words. i’m kind of a nut about punctuality as well. odd, though, that although i’m on time for most things, i’m usually early and chillin’ for bicycle stuff. there’s probably something deep-seated in there about motivation and desire, but i digress.

    i agree with all of you as well, especially:

    steampunk: i love the idea of the coffee shop meet-up. it would be great to hang out and enjoy the pre-ride espresso during one of the few times you can legitimately sport a cycling cap.

    wiscot and joe: thanks to your words, i now appreciate even more the additional tranquillo that punctuality generates. hadn’t thought of it in those terms before, but you’re absolutely right.

    chapeau: “I pride myself on punctuality, and interpret tardiness in others as disrespect.” beautifully said.

    and as for the shout-out from frank on more contributions–point taken! this is a great community here, and that’s down to a pantload of cool people with a shared belief in laying down the V.

    thanks!

  19. @gmoosh: Well put indeed. I have a little saying I learned from my uncle Jim who was never late for anything, I mean never. You tell me we are going fishing at 6:30 damn it I expect to have my line wet at 6:30 not launching the damn boat! As the post states… I was late once after that first time I didn’t get to go fishing.

    fasthair

  20. @Cyclops

    it mystifies me why if we said we were leaving at XX:XV o’clock we are not leaving at XX:XV o’clock.

    Agreed. My VMH seems to think that the appointment time is the time you ought to walk out the door, not arrive. One of those things you pick your battles with: If it is her activity, let it ride ….

  21. You know, I’ve been thinking about this post all day. While a ride can do marvels to calm frayed nerves and unpleasant attitude, it isn’t good to start in a state of agitation, if that’s not a redundancy. The bike keeps me mentally sane, but I (like I suspect many of us do) have a pre-ride routine in terms of how I get ready. The order I get dressed in, making sure I’m properly dressed for the weather, preparing my bottles, going into the garage, pumping up the tires, checking that I have my watch, ID, and gels, getting the right lenses in the glasses, selecting what shoes I’ll wear, what shoe covers I need (if necessary) helmet on, and leaving. I don’t like to be rushed as I set out – all I want to initially focus on is my ride and route. The rest tends to sort itself out.

  22. @gmoosh Great article, and I couldn’t agree more.

    I hate waiting around, and I hate people who think that showing up to where the ride starts at the time it starts is on time.

    As my football coach used to say: Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.

    @ChrisO

    Hmmm, in spirit and personal disposition I am with you. People who turn up late to rides are the type of people who set their alarm 15 mins early and then hit snooze for 20 minutes. I am married to one.

    I want to jam the alarm clock down the girlfriends throat when she does this. She then has the audacity later to say she is tired and wish she got more sleep. Don’t set the alarm for two hours early and wake the fuck up the first time it goes off. Tada! Two more hours of sleep. I’m just going to kick her out of bed if she hits snooze when we start living together. I don’t care that her bed is lofted.

  23. @sgt

    I’ll second that as a rule as well. I do tend to end up driving the 16km to my group ride but I need the motivation to just say “no, I don’t get to do this often enough” and walk out the house and leave them to organise themselves to get to mini rugby on time.

    An opportunity to focus on the bike and let the other shit free before stating the ride proper.

  24. I have had to buy my boss a watch for his birthday, because fuck me if a 9am meeting is not supposed to start until 10 past! I must have missed the memo about the change in time zones around my bosses desk!
    Punctuality is just courtesy, whether it is a ride, meeting or a date – it is not really that hard to do.

  25. A-Merckx, gmoosh. I learned the “early is on time, on time is late, late is unacceptable” from George Cavender at the University of Michigan (a nice wikipedia article, btw…) As any Velominatus will tell you, riding and all it’s activities are To Be Taken Seriously. Those who do not respect The Rules are to be shunned. Arrival late, especially the showing up at the appointed time not ready, deserve frame pumping and derision, not tolerance. If I am late, I accept the consequences, like Delgado did.

    I thank my lucky stars that my VMH is of a like mind. She is never late for an appointed occassion. If it takes 20 minutes to get there, she knows to be ready to walk out the door 25 minutes before that. This, of course, is why she is my VMH. I had a girlfriend one time than would never do this. If we had to leave at noon, I’d tell her we had to leave at 11:30. We’d be on time. After a few times, she caught on, and I couldn’t take her bullshit. Dropped her like she was cavendouche on the Aubisque.

  26. When I tell friends to come over at a certain time for dinner, the question is always asked if that is seemunkee time or Mrs. Munkee time. One means on time the other means….
    My daughter is getting married on Sat. I’ll let you know if it starts on time.

  27. I should send this article to some of my ride buddies.

    As a group we’re always running late; and when I mean late, I mean 30mins late! It’s got to the point where I now tell everyone that the ride time is -30mins, just so that we start close to the allotted time.

    If I just rode off at the start time, I’d be riding by myself!

  28. @scaler911

    And it might be noted that the starting time is the time when you start turning over the pedals, not the time you arrive in your car, still in your street clothes.

    Amen brother.

  29. @wiscot

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this post all day. While a ride can do marvels to calm frayed nerves and unpleasant attitude, it isn’t good to start in a state of agitation, if that’s not a redundancy. The bike keeps me mentally sane, but I (like I suspect many of us do) have a pre-ride routine in terms of how I get ready. The order I get dressed in, making sure I’m properly dressed for the weather, preparing my bottles, going into the garage, pumping up the tires, checking that I have my watch, ID, and gels, getting the right lenses in the glasses, selecting what shoes I’ll wear, what shoe covers I need (if necessary) helmet on, and leaving. I don’t like to be rushed as I set out – all I want to initially focus on is my ride and route. The rest tends to sort itself out.

    This. And I always feel guilty in the amount of time it takes me to Get Ready. Even though I try to make it efficient, I’d rather be on the bike. And thus always the great quandry – I want to maximize my on bike suffering, but have a limited number or route/rides available from my urban home. If I load the bike on the car, I can be on uber-sweet country roads easily within 45 minutes. But that’s 1.5 hours I could have been on the bike.

    But rather like making a fine meal, it is the prep that is just as much fun. And of course, there is the analog to dating. As the French say “make ze love to ze bike…don’t be in zee hurry to fuck ett…”

  30. Rule 88 is awesome!

    I quit going on a weekly group ride because my riding partner wanted to drive there…so he could save his legs for the sprint…on a training ride. For fucks sake. Oh, I also stopped going because all he wanted to talk about afterwards was his max heart rate.

    But yeah, driving to rides is bizarre to me. Since I don’t own a car, not really an option. And I must say one reason I am reluctant to race much cx is that driving to ride for 45 minutes isn’t that attractive to me. Oh well, I’ll do some races. Gotta take my shot at Joey-ing it before 2011 is out!

  31. I drive to a group ride currently, but when the ride ends close to sunset, it just makes more sense. Plus if I have a mechanical or kick my own ass (the more likely outcome), I don’t have to worry about getting home. However if the ride was midday on a Saturday and starts a few blocks away, by all means ride…

  32. Excellent first post Sir.
    Tardiness, especially in relation to the group ride, is unacceptable.
    Having spent a lot of time in Nippon, I am always amazed at how Tokyo’s railway system, with their myriad of lines, both public and private, work in perfect synchronicity and on time. Train due at 7:23? Arrives at 7:21; passengers disembark and embark; train departs at 7:23; every day the same (unless there has been a “jinshin jiko” or “human accident delay).
    If a city of 20 million can get it right, a bunch of lycra clad fat arses surely can.

  33. Being on time is a virtue and respectful to whomever you’ve agreed to meet at a certain time with. I haven’t cared too much about being late because I’ve figure people understand, but it’s become obvious how annoying it is because I’ve found myself waiting for others. As such, I’m trying hard to be more punctual, but I’m habitually late because I habitually bite off more than I can chew in terms of projects and have too many going at once. It’s the yin to my yang of always pushing myself as hard as I can in everything I do. But, if I agree on a time, I try hard to be there these days. If I don’t know when I’ll be somewhere, I’ll try to let people know what the buffer is so they can plan accordingly.

    In light of my tardiness, though, I just hope that in the event of my death, my friends and family will have the sense of humor to have my coffin arrive late to the funeral.

    The Cogal ride left at precisely V past VV, as it should be.

  34. I think a built in V minute margin of error is totally acceptable, if only to allow that not everyone are complete control freaks. FFS, lighten up. There can be myriad reasons why being a couple of minutes late is beyond anyone’s control, and if the tacit V minute buffer is there is leaving V minutes late really being late?? I’ve ridden on many bunch rides where the V minutes delay banter is as fun as the ride itself.

  35. I have such a reputation for being on time that when I was 3 minutes late to class last week I was given a proper telling of by my friends. I have been on time every day since. I pride myself on being reliable and punctuality is part and parcel with that.

  36. @frank

    You should have seen me panicking in my car while I was crawling through traffic on the 520 on Friday.

    “OMG I drove 175 miles and a traffic jam in the last 5 is going to make me fucking late to dinner!”.

    Made it on time, barely, dispite the lack of suitable parking on Capitol Hill. Your city sure is a cluster fuck on Friday evening.

  37. Punctuality is next to godliness.

    (nitpicking) I’m pretty sure the Illuminati were part of a “cabal” not a “cobal”.

  38. @Oli
    I suppose a regular group develops its own ethic but I think you’re missing the point. Late is late. It’s the thin end of the wedge. Tolerating it only encourages it. Ten riders waiting for one guy for V minutes is not totally acceptable. Nor does it make them control freaks.

    A margin for error only changes the time of departure.
    Its not that hard: take your V minute margin for error and put it in your schedule, not your group’s schedule.

  39. Screw that I’ve never been early for anything in my life. I am on time for rides but the V period of grace is something everyone has used at some point. The V period is for events that are outside your control, longer than that you’re unorganised adn keeping everyone waiting.

    @Joe

    . Group riding should contain an element of Shibui, spontaneous and healthy competition balanced by quietly self effacing contributions to the beauty of the overall aesthetic. Effortless effectiveness. blockquote>

    But on the other hand this is fucking gold. What I like about bike rides, and races is that they have a shambolic start that refines itself to a point: this doesn’t entirely agree with the quote, but the quote describes what you’re trying to achieve. The expression takes place on the ride, after the legs are warm and you’re an hour in. Then you’re in the money.

    Sure, be early if you want. Its the other end of the ride I’m interested in.

  40. This is a slippery one. I have people I ride with that if they say they are going to show and are late, there is a damn good reason – I wait. I have others that the dog regularly eats their V-work, are always late, and have only excuses the next day – I leave, but I have absolutely no problem riding solo. It’s the only way I’ll ever “win a stage”.

    Some pre-rides I find myself hoping no one shows because I’m in that “isolation might have a better chance of bringing la volupté”.

    Of course, my volupté isn’t the transcendent, extended grace of the Giants of the Road, it’s more like the awkward few seconds of Joey right before he was “OK”.

    That said, I’m definitely showing up an hour early to the Texas Cogal.

  41. @Steampunk

    @Mikael LiddyBeen biting my tongue on this for several months…

    I think the “Cogal” works fine, but when he actually calls it a Cobal in the intro to the article then something must be said…

  42. Great first contribution! It resonates with me as my friend would always be late when we arranged to meet. Then I read somewhere that his tardiness was due to his feeling more important, for whatever reason. The article suggested giving him 15 minutes and then leaving, and he was often much later that that. It was before mobile/cell phones and he’d call me later and ask where I was. I told him I waited 15 minutes and thought he’d forgotten so went home. It only happened two or three times, then he was always punctual.

    Of course it was this particular friend I have to thank for getting me into road cycling, and in our growing group ride, you get a few mins leeway.

    One way I help myself be on time for the rides is organising my stuff after every ride. Except for stuff that might need to go in the washing machine, helmet, gloves, emergency supplies (in Lezyne case) etc. all go in the usual place. Chain gets a clean and lube. To speed up the warm up I have a quick shower pre-ride, get dressed, pump up tyres and I’m ready to rock, 20 mins tops. Also, I find being a couple of minutes early allows time for a few stretches.

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