A bunch of new friends rolls along, getting to know one another.

A bunch of new friends rolls along, getting to know one another.

Oversharing on the Group Ride

by / / 57 posts

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.

// Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus

  1. @Oli

    Brett half-wheeling Frank and a very messy paceline behind. Perhaps we should be talking about that in the bunch?

    Putting on my new coach’s cap on, I’d have to agree. My bunch were much tighter than that at the weekend despite the crosswind.

    In my defence, at the time the group was disintegrating in the lead photo, I was off the back trying to zone out, find some rhythm and embrace the pain.

  2. @chris

    @Oli

    Brett half-wheeling Frank and a very messy paceline behind. Perhaps we should be talking about that in the bunch?

    Putting on my new coach’s cap on, I’d have to agree. My bunch were much tighter than that at the weekend despite the crosswind.

    In my defence, at the time the group was disintegrating in the lead photo, I was off the back trying to zone out, find some rhythm and embrace the pain.

    Sorry, you were in the group. That photo was from right after we did the second secteur, everyone was trying to reassemble but struggling because Brett and I were oblivious to how much stronger we were than the broken souls behind.

    @Ray

    and: KTFU

    You lost me there…

  3. @frank

    You may well be right but given that those are are the only two pictures in existence of me looking half decent on a bike, I’ll take any opportunity to post them.

    It doesn’t change the fact that my students can ride in a tighter bunch. “I didn’t realise how strong I was” doesn’t cut it, the front of the bunch has as much responsibility for keeping it tight as the middle and the back. British pursuiting is a good example of that.

  4. @Oli

    Brett half-wheeling Frank and a very messy paceline behind. Perhaps we should be talking about that in the bunch?

    This !

  5. @Oli

    Brett half-wheeling Frank and a very messy paceline behind. Perhaps we should be talking about that in the bunch?

    That’s just the angle of the camera! I’m more concerned with the wind puffing up my gilet and rendering me neckless…

  6. But yeah, it’s a dog’s breakfast behind!

  7. @frank

    I know it’s your Merckx given right as a Dutchman to think you’re right without resorting to inconveniences such as facts but the file information on the photo of me has the photo being taken at 12:08 on the 31 March 2012 whilst the photo of the bunch was taken at 12:10.

    That would suggest that Jesse took the photo of me, spent a shade under two minutes marveling at the Belgianness of my phantom aerobars before pootling up the road to document the shambles of the bunch ahead.

    We were on the D953 between Sars-et-Rosières and the bridge over the A23 just before Beuvry la Foret.

  8. @chris

    @frank

    I know it’s your Merckx given right as a Dutchman to think you’re right without resorting to inconveniences such as facts

    I cannot begin to explain how much this statement hurts my brain! Merckx given right? To a Dutchman? Really??!!!??

    The only part that even rings true is that facts are just inconveniences to @frank.

  9. There is a guy I ride with who may be sharing too much, but he’s German and I can’t understand a damn thing he says when he’s on the bike with the noise of the wind and all.

  10. @Ccos

    He’s probably just telling the legs to shut up. Is his name Jens by chance?

  11. 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.

  12. I’ve found folks can get a bit indignant when they’re pressed on a Rule #34 violation as well. Have no idea why they’re so concerned with walking when they are on a bike, but they get right pissed about it when asked.

  13. My dog (a toller) has a much more human approach.

    • Be wary of anything that isn’t a gundog like him, especially scary fuckers like shepherds and stupid fuckers like chows.
    • Fat gundogs are to be pitied and shown how to run properly as opposed to lumbering like a furry chocolate log.
    • Sight hounds are OK because they’re a bit like him.
    • Small, yappy things are to be ignored except the ones with attitude who are to be looked at with a puzzled WTF is your problem head-tilt.
    • If you have a ball then nothing and nobody else matters, because they all want it and it’s YOURS.

    Frankly this is the correct approach to group riding as well.

    Avoid stupid or scary people – they’re immediately obvious. Pity fat people but feel no compunction about dropping their pitiable asses. The ones with a chip on their shoulder are probably triathletes.

    If they look like you and play like you they’re probably alright, and your bike is better than anyone else’s.

    Fuck being friendly until you know they aren’t going to piss on you, bite you or try to fuck you.

  14. @chris

    In my defence, at the time the group was disintegrating in the lead photo, I was off the back trying to zone out, find some rhythm and embrace the pain.

    Those photos really are majestic, amazing how pro photographers can make us look good when we feel anything but…

  15. @ChrisO

    Fuck being friendly until you know they aren’t going to piss on you, bite you or try to fuck you.

    Bloody hell, must be a colourful bunch you roll with in the Emirates if they’re the things you have to worry about!!!

  16. @Haldy

    @chris

    @frank

    I know it’s your Merckx given right as a Dutchman to think you’re right without resorting to inconveniences such as facts

    I cannot begin to explain how much this statement hurts my brain! Merckx given right? To a Dutchman? Really??!!!??

    The only part that even rings true is that facts are just inconveniences to @frank.

    It didn’t take long, for the benefit of anyone lacking the ability to spot sarcasm on the internet, I should have said “I know you think it’s your Merckx given right as a Dutchman…”

  17. I quite enjoy that moment when you’re close to the end of the effort or the ride, and the chaingang/paceline suddenly starts to fragment and become a free for all, and you find out who’s got the legs, who’s struggling, and whether or not you’re following the right wheel.

    Probably shouldn’t happen with 50kms to go, however.

  18. @chris

    ‘the front of the bunch has as much responsibility for keeping it tight as the middle and the back. British pursuiting is a good example of that’

    Up until this week at the World Track Champs I would have agreed with you!

  19. @JohnB

    I was alluding to the their recent inability of the front to retain its tail.

    Judging by some of the comments coming out of the British camp this week, both before and after the racing, it would seem that all is not well between coaches and riders.

    I’m hoping for a strong showing from Cav and the women’s pursuit team. @roadslave525 and I will be cheering them on at the velodrome.

  20. @chris

    @JohnB

    I was alluding to the their recent inability of the front to retain its tail.

    Seems to be a growing trend too unfortunately

  21. @RobSandy

    I quite enjoy that moment when you’re close to the end of the effort or the ride, and the chaingang/paceline suddenly starts to fragment and become a free for all, and you find out who’s got the legs, who’s struggling, and whether or not you’re following the right wheel.

    Probably shouldn’t happen with 50kms to go, however.

    I’ve been missing this. All of my miles since November have been either solo rides or commutes. I can only drop my shadow so many times before it doesn’t even come ride with me anymore. I miss the excitement of rolling into the final K, trying to get your placement right, holding the wheel in front at speeds a man simply can’t sustain on his own. Love the winter, but i am looking forward to longer days and warmer evening temperatures that bring everyone together.

  22. @hudson

    @RobSandy

    I quite enjoy that moment when you’re close to the end of the effort or the ride, and the chaingang/paceline suddenly starts to fragment and become a free for all, and you find out who’s got the legs, who’s struggling, and whether or not you’re following the right wheel.

    Probably shouldn’t happen with 50kms to go, however.

    I’ve been missing this. All of my miles since November have been either solo rides or commutes. I can only drop my shadow so many times before it doesn’t even come ride with me anymore. I miss the excitement of rolling into the final K, trying to get your placement right, holding the wheel in front at speeds a man simply can’t sustain on his own. Love the winter, but i am looking forward to longer days and warmer evening temperatures that bring everyone together.

    You had a shadow in winter? Mine headed off somewhere last autumn and has not been seen since. Having said that he might be back this PM if I can get away from my desk.

  23. @Teocalli

    @hudson

    @RobSandy

    I quite enjoy that moment when you’re close to the end of the effort or the ride, and the chaingang/paceline suddenly starts to fragment and become a free for all, and you find out who’s got the legs, who’s struggling, and whether or not you’re following the right wheel.

    Probably shouldn’t happen with 50kms to go, however.

    I’ve been missing this. All of my miles since November have been either solo rides or commutes. I can only drop my shadow so many times before it doesn’t even come ride with me anymore. I miss the excitement of rolling into the final K, trying to get your placement right, holding the wheel in front at speeds a man simply can’t sustain on his own. Love the winter, but i am looking forward to longer days and warmer evening temperatures that bring everyone together.

    You had a shadow in winter? Mine headed off somewhere last autumn and has not been seen since. Having said that he might be back this PM if I can get away from my desk.

    It shows its self occasionally on my commute home. It has little regard for Rule #9, probably why i don’t see it anymore as most of my rides now fall in line with 9.

  24. @Mikael Liddy

    @ChrisO

    Fuck being friendly until you know they aren’t going to piss on you, bite you or try to fuck you.

    Bloody hell, must be a colourful bunch you roll with in the Emirates if they’re the things you have to worry about!!!

    Well, I know that we always extra-secured the wire on Thursday nights when I was in Afghan.

  25. Phew, just two cats! I’m safe!!

    ChrisO – yup, our pointer is not that interested in other dogs, which I love. The other dog…who was billed as a pointer is interested in dogs. We think she must be terrier/whippet/mini greyhound. She’s 29 pounds and a handful. Lovable, but very busy and needs lots of attention. The pointer is extremely well behave, left in the woods and pulled from the “to be killed” line at the shelter, so I guess she feels lucky.

    Here is a photo from last week, after a long walk in the woods. Not the unoccupied bed, which is smaller and thus, for the smaller dog…

  26. @Ron

    It’s dark in them there woods………

  27. Ha, I know. I tried to put up a photo twice. Then I stopped trying. Clearly something is up, maybe the computer I’m on. But, I don’t want to put up three posts in a row.

    The little one cannot stand being alone. Constant snuggler.

  28. @Ray

    and: KTFU

    Kit TFU? Keep TFU!

  29. Here’s a piece ov’oversharing. Ferocious saddle sores have moved in to make themselves at home. I am going to kick these bastards onto the street by changing back to a flat saddle { 2015 sell italia Flite }. They were not entirely invited by the semi-round saddle { 2015 sell sam marco Regal e } but by changing my seat post 20mm setback to zero setback. Zero setback decided it would aggravate the semi-round contour against my ass. Zero stays, flat returns, and ferocious *problems* be gone!

  30. A while back my wife was along our Sunday group ride. She was not a stranger to this group but she was the only female. This ride is not a hardass ride, no pacelines, there are too many hills and sharp corners. It’s more of a “catch up on life” ride, but the conversation is almost always about wheels and bikes. At least my conversations are.

    So imagine my surprise when I hear my wife say a word perhaps never, ever said in a group ride, “throw rug”! She is behind me talking to someone else and evidently starting a conversation about throw rugs. So I’m already smiling from ear to ear as we shoot through corners and climb out of gulches. Then I hear “Downton Abbey”. She is officially killing me now and I have to drop back and see who she trying to talk to. It was rich my friends. These moments don’t happen very often in life so you have to enjoy them.

  31. Better, a few moments later

    .

  32. @frank

    Better, a few moments later

    .

    Man, this is just an amazing photo. Any reason you did not use this one for the lead photo? Just curious.

  33. @Gianni

    Throw rugs? Good god man. Our group rides have many discussions but the word ‘pishtola’ seems to be featured quite often.

  34. Much better.

  35. @brett

    But yeah, it’s a dog’s breakfast behind!

    Totally, right? Dogs breakfast, I’m remembering that. That is some seriously rad turn of phrase. I will have invented it in my own head, before very long I’m sure.

  36. @Buck Rogers

    @frank

    Better, a few moments later

    .

    Man, this is just an amazing photo. Any reason you did not use this one for the lead photo? Just curious.

    I don’t know. I’d have to have given a slightly bigger fuck over the composition of the group? And despite the loose group, I like the dynamic of the lead photo – we look like we’re all having a good time. Not that we don’t in this photo.

    In other words, no. No real reason.

    Feck.

  37. @Gianni

    A while back my wife was along our Sunday group ride. She was not a stranger to this group but she was the only female. This ride is not a hardass ride, no pacelines, there are too many hills and sharp corners. It’s more of a “catch up on life” ride, but the conversation is almost always about wheels and bikes. At least my conversations are.

    So imagine my surprise when I hear my wife say a word perhaps never, ever said in a group ride, “throw rug”! She is behind me talking to someone else and evidently starting a conversation about throw rugs. So I’m already smiling from ear to ear as we shoot through corners and climb out of gulches. Then I hear “Downton Abbey”. She is officially killing me now and I have to drop back and see who she trying to talk to. It was rich my friends. These moments don’t happen very often in life so you have to enjoy them.

    There is not a carat that can quantify the quality of gold that this post is.

    You would have the +1 Badge for life if you weren’t already a Keeper. FFS.

  38. @Gianni

    The little woman gets a pass of course because any subject is fair play for her but god man you have to spill the beans and tell who of the regulars went that Deep with her… throw rug?

    I am very guilty of over sharing especially when excited. Since this is my natural state on a bicycle and pretty much everywhere else (cars, hotel rooms etc.), I have had to learn restraint. It is questionable that there has been much progress even at this late date in life. A new word came into my vocabulary recently which, when it pops into my little grey cells mid description of current infatuation, I cut it short and ask a question of the listener.

    Talkaholic

  39. So I’m not the only one who gets to hear too detailed life stories on group rides? What a disappointment! I thought people trusted me…

  40. Would it be considered impolite to ask Frank on a group ride why he sports a mullet? Or are hairstyles in the same category as Downton Abbey and throw hugs in the “not-to-be-discussed” file?

  41. 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.

  42. @wiscot

    Throw rugs, not throw hugs.

  43. @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!

  44. @wiscot

    @wiscot

    Throw rugs, not throw hugs.

    Yeah, but I think I like throw hugs better, made me laugh.

    And you should post that mullet pic!

  45. @MangoDave

    @wiscot

    @wiscot

    Throw rugs, not throw hugs.

    Yeah, but I think I like throw hugs better, made me laugh.

    And you should post that mullet pic!

    Seconded on both accounts!!!

  46. Thirded!

  47. 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.

  48. @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.

  49. @Oli

    Thirded!

    Five’ded

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