There are things in cycling that aggravate me. I think I just heard some people laugh, because if you have read this blog any length of time, it is obvious that I am outspoken when it comes to these things. There are plenty of things in cycling that outweigh the bad, so most of the time I just shake my head and pedal on. Although I considered for a few days whether I would write about his topic. Does it have a point? Will it actually reach anyone who practices this ridiculous ritual? Am I just being nit picky?
This past weekend, some of the boys and I rode a charity century call the Tri States, leaving from Alabama, cutting through Georgia to Florida and back. It raises money for Children’s Hospital and is an absolute joy to ride and is part of the Alabama Backroads Series. Overcast and humid, we set off in groups divided up by how fast you predicted you would ride the event and our group was first out. The group was suppose to consist of those who thought they would average 21+mph for the whole century. This is where I must drop in admission of guilt. At the line I notice that there are plenty of well-equipped and sleek riders who appear as though they can do this whole front group a lot of good. As for our group, we sort of discussed setting the bar at a 4 hour finish time. So here is the “but.” There are others who roll up to the front group and do not appear in the least that they could contribute (key word) to the effort. I know that looks can be deceiving, and I have learned that with much chagrin at times, but most of the time I am correct. Today I was.
Allow me to stop here and add that I am all for a rider who wants to leave with the front group and ride as long and hard as he can then fade back into the second or third group. As I have preached, time and time again, it is a GREAT way to get faster. So from the immediate start of the countdown, I am not too concerned. As a matter of fact, I am very pleased with some of my friends who are doing just that and said so. And we roll out.
Through the first forty miles, about fifteen riders of this huge group are doing the work load. Around mile forty, at the first pre-planned “splash and dash,” this bunch is averaging 24+mph which is a bit off of our goal. The humidity is awful, but the temperature is staying relatively low. Moving through the 60+ mile mark, the group has dwindled significantly . . . and here is the problem. If it were only the riders who wanted to hang as long as they could and fade, it would not be that big of a deal; after all, that is a good plan and takes a lot of courage for some riders. Now, the group is down to about 25 riders, of which only 7 to maybe 9 are doing any work. I am getting frustrated but having to focus. By mile 85 or so, it has heated up significantly. Now, there are maybe six who are rotating the pull . . . and so on, mile after mile. You get the point. In the end, my average was 22.1 mph for the 103 miles, not anywhere near the four hour mark.
So what is the point? If a rider shows up to a century event only to wheel suck the whole entire ride and do no work, what has he really accomplished? I am not the domestique to Joe Smo who wants to ride tenth wheel back and post his ride to Strava saying that he “crushed” the century. It is like the kid at the carnival who spends $30 throwing rings to win his little brother a teddy bear. Yeah, the little brother now owns the bear but did nothing to earn the bear . . . yes, you can tell I am frustrated when my similes are not all that great. I know that many of you will wonder why I am aggravated in a charity ride, but I think it is the principle of the matter. Ignorance on their part? Maybe, but I cannot be the one to tell them. At least, I do not think so. What say you?