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

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

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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,



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.

// General // The Rules

  1. @gmoosh

    Nipple lube.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. @harminator

    Nipple lube.

    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.

  5. @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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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…

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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)

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

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