Oversharing on the Group Ride

My dog greets every dog on the street as though it were her long lost best friend. As soon as the customary butt-sniffing has been sorted out, the two dogs will wrestle each other endlessly, stopping only after an owner-forced separation. Any human that falls within her gaze is a viable candidate for a new home and they are accordingly inspected with a pit-wiggle (pitbull owners will know what I’m talking about), jumping, bark-speaking, and – if she can get close enough – licking and mouth hugs.

Imagine, for a moment, if adult humans greeted one another in this way.

By and large, adult humans tend to be a fairly antisocial lot. We weren’t born this way, it is a learned behavior. Boys at the playground tend to select their friends based on whether they are approximately the same size, like the same sorts of toys, and whether they appear to be interested in kicking sand on the same group of girls. Girls use a similar but less sand-kicky method of selection. There doesn’t appear to be an enormous amount of personality analysis that goes on; as we grow up, we learn to be guarded towards strangers and to perform a deeper assessment of someone’s personality before we decide whether or not to become friends.

The bicycle is the great neutralizer of this defense, providing an immediate foundational building block of friendship between strangers. Rolling along in a group of near total strangers, the conversation flows easily. But this also presents a risk of oversharing, delving casually into territory that should really be saved for closer friendships. The following are a loose set of guidelines to help keep things classy on the group ride.

  • Rule #43 holds court over all else. We roadies already have a reputation for being snobby and exclusionary; help break the reputation by being fun and welcoming.
  • Keep the conversation light and friendly. No politics, no religion except Rule Holism, and, if you are single and have more than two, try not to reveal how many cats you have.
  • Ask more questions than you answer. No one really cares that you’re getting a liver transplant or that your roommate’s boyfriend is an asshole. Those things should really only come up if the either the liver or the asshole boyfriend did something mean or stupid to someone’s bike.
  • When in doubt, ask your companion how they find their bike. Ask about any other bikes they might have. Ask about their wheels, their bars, or that embarrassing stack of spacers under their stem. But don’t ask about their saddle bag until you know each other quite a bit better because thems be fightin’ words, believe it or not.
  • If at any point you find yourself discussing your saddle sore, don’t.

Rinse and repeat the above for every rider in the bunch you find yourself alongside.

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57 Replies to “Oversharing on the Group Ride”

  1. @Ron

    Here is some oversharing, wiscot! During my freshman year of college I grew/had a rat tail cut into my long-ish hair, on a dare from a senior. I liked the guy and wanted to show him I wasn’t too concerned with what others thought of me. It was a small, $ yankee liberal arts college, so I was quite the sight on the academic quad with that hair and my hi viz sweatshirt, stained with diesel, from my summer working on the highway department road crew.

    I got all sorts of heckling from opposing teams and fans for that ‘do. It was pretty amusing. As if some fatass frat dude in the stands was going to hurt my feelings saying my hair looked like shite.

    There’s a photo of me taken at the end of a 10 mile TT on the Georgetown Road (just outside Paisley) in 1983 or 84. I’m wearing a Renault cap backwards (It was a TT after all). It fails to cover my hair at the back. It wasn’t a true mullet, but sure looks like it.

    And no, I won’t post that picture!

  2. All of you bastards are starting to get under my skin and invade my psyche.  I didn’t know where else to put this post, so might as well be in the Oversharing on the (Imagined) Group Ride.

    Last night dreamed I met a bunch of you at the start of my first Cogal.  I didn’t recognize most, except Frank – he had is hair standing straight up in a loose pony tail like some sort of aborigine, and  I couldn’t understand a thing he said because of his accent.  Someone else brought jalapeño peppers to share as fuel for the V ride.

    Ahhhhhhhh!  Losing my shit!  Must go for a real ride.

  3. @David Booth Beers

    Is this Anatomy of a Photo? The comments seem to have devolved into belly button lint picking by those who were on the ride in the lead photo. But the Article is Oversharing on the Group Ride, eh? And some loosely-compiled Rules about keeping the Ride mellow. Like:

    Don’t Be A Fred, a jackrabbit or a squirrel

    If you are new to the group, absolutely talk about everyone else’s steed. If you must name-drop to gain acceptance, those names should of course include Eddy, and for The Hour, Evie.

    If somebody new joins your established group, don’t everyone give ’em the Resting Bitch Face or greet ’em with “Whassup?” or (worse) “‘sup?” unless you are an angry 14-year old. And don’t give a bunch of exaggerated hand signals to make sure the new guy doesn’t immediately cause a bunch crash.

    Establish your street cred by sitting in, NOT by pushing the pace or going off the front

    Maintain the pace as you pull through to your turn at the front. Pull your share, no more (showoff), no less (wheel sucker).

    Always carry spares.

    This is spot on mate.

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