Thursday, October 2, 2008

Unbridled Ponies: Some musings on the group ride. The Wednesday ride report

Yesterday was a glorious day to ride, one of those brief interludes of perfect weather in Texas, after a hot summer. Jeff, Kevin, Nicky, Clyde, Michael, Noah, Jeff from Team MBA, Greg, and one of Chase Ingraham's friends, Josh (?) Caryn, myself and a recent Law grad and friend of Finney, Chris.

There was a time, before my accumulation of bikes (5), bike parts (built 5 bikes!),and apparel, (a peloton full of choices) that I could barely keep one bike on the road and a flat became a financial crisis if the tube was beyond repair or worse, the tire was finished.

My LeMond era ADR team replica jersey soon showed the ravages of the sun (and the heat of the dryer) I had a pair of blingy white and grey Lotto cycling shoes, but dismal socks. Usually one pair of cycling shorts that soon (due to the 1 oz weight Lycra from low quality mail order shorts) had that tell tale sign of poor quality, the gluteal cleft (ass crack) peering out to the wheel suckers.

A cyclist shouldn't be judged by their bike or their apparel, but by enthusiasm, willingness to suffer, and acknowledging what they need to do to improve, plus an esprit de corps with fellow cyclists. Even then a few comments are not unwelcome, like the time my early build y-foil was referred to as, "Like a Ferrari with bald tires" (which, by the way is finally finished after 8 years, it has a new Chris King headset)

That said, yesterday was very disappointing. We had a really large group that was frisky and some anticipated putting the hurt on, while other looked at surviving. The group dynamic has developed where we have a ride that can provide an enjoyable experience for most of us. We were forced to unbridle the frisky ponies so that the rest could mentor a new initiate to the club. While we did not completely succumb to the Matrix/Mirage model (leave exactly on time, wait for no one, especially people you do not know, drop anyone who falls just a bit off, sneer at last years equipment, drop the rest of the strangers, determine that if you are not on a team-you suck, complain about someone's missed shift etc.) we were not prepared (as a group) to welcome a new rider with the grace we have asked these people to join us with.

Michael Vangeli sent me a very eloquent response regarding yesterday's ride. We have had a dialogue about the goals and expectations we have regarding our group. Lee, Clyde, Greg and Rob have also communicated their opinions regarding the group ride.

A few points to consider.

We feel very strongly that since we are riding for fun (no jerseys to be awarded) that stop signs are acknowledged, stop lights to be obeyed, and general courtesy given to cars since we expect the same from them. We are not riding on a closed course and given Dallas' reputation as hazardous to bikes, we want to be as safe as possible. SMU would expect us to be safe citizens, so always wear a helmet and obey traffic rules.

That we determine that someone stays with slower riders and mentors them. Doesn't have to be the whole group, we just won't abandon anyone. Some people will never be expected to do it since they will have their own defined training agenda.

We will try to coordinate with the other SMU group, so that we have a sense of what is best for the new rider. We will try to get the two different rides to have at least some sense of common purpose and determine which ride is most suitable for new riders.

And lastly, the rides are meant to be fun, challenging, provide a sense of community at SMU and to assist in developing a competitive collegiate cycling club that competes at USAC events.

So Sam, Travis, Jeff, Nicky et al, you can continue to kick our gluteal clefts out on the roads!

For now...


Christy Vutam said...

I've lost my bike over the weekend. Stupidly, it wasn't chained up, and it was probably knocked over by the wind and someone was bound to notice it on the ground and take it. Anyway, I read the sign you placed on a bike that's chained up on the other side of the same railing I used - the ramp leading up to the east side of Umphrey Lee, and I'm really hoping you guys might have seen it or turned it in or whatever. Any news of it would be welcome. To describe it: it's blue and gray. Really wished I had more description than that. Thanks! Please e-mail me with any response at

Nathan Scot said...

We had a staff member at U Lee take a lot of pictures of bikes that were around campus. I can look at these and see if any of those pictured were yours.

e-mail me at and I can help you make a police report with SMU Police, and we can all try to see if your bike is still on campus.