Phone home

It had been an epic, bitter, full-gas NPR replete with unhappy blabberwankers, squealing baby seals looking for their freshly stripped pelts, fraudsters who cut the course and flipped it before the turnaround in order to catch the break, and the usual collection of complainers and whiners who missed the split, blaming their weakness on the “stoplight breakaway” and the usual complaint of non-racers who object to September beatdowns — “It’s the OFF SEASON!”

We swirled up to the Center of the Known Universe. Most ordered coffee. I leaned against the plate glass seated on the bricks, waiting for the throbbing in my legs to subside. Within minutes people were seated alongside with their phones out.

There wasn’t much conversation at first because everyone had to check email, then look at missed calls and figure out which excuse to use when they finally phoned in around ten. “I was in a meeting.” “There wasn’t any cell coverage.” “I was on the phone with a client.”

And of course Facebag had to be checked, texts had to be sent, and Strava had to be carefully reviewed. Some people kept their phones on their lap the entire time we congregated. One or two put them away. Almost everyone sporadically checked, interrupting conversations to gaze down at kudos and incoming dickpics.

Not me. I didn’t have my phone. It was sitting on the chest of drawers next to my bed. That’s where it stays nowadays when I ride.

I remember back when there were no cell phones. After a ride, or during a break, the Violet Crown guys would talk. Or smoke a big, fat joint. Usually both. Whatever the protocol, it always involved lots of gab. Sitting down after a ride meant rehashing the ride, inventing new rumors, or talking shit about a good friend who happened to be absent.

Compared to those conversations, the ones nowadays aren’t as much fun, and I think it’s because the flow of talk gets constantly broken up by constant cell phone monitoring. The fact is that no one has anything important to do on a cell phone in the morning. If they did, they wouldn’t be on a bike. And there’s something about conversation that, like a bike ride, requires a certain amount of warm-up. Then, once you’re warmed up, you sort of get going. It doesn’t work very well — like riding — when every few seconds or minutes the other person is checking his screen.

“But what do you do when you can’t get in touch with someone who you’re trying to meet for a ride?” is a common question. Back in the day we all knew where to meet, and if someone didn’t show up, you didn’t ride with him that day. It was pretty simple.

“But what do you do if you have an accident or your bike breaks or you have an emergency?” Back in the day we generally waited until someone called an ambulance, or we bled out, or we flagged down another rider for a tool or a tube. That was pretty simple, too.

“But what do you do if something happens at work or your wife needs you?” Back in the day we ignored that shit when we rode. It was one of the main reasons we cycled.

Since shedding my power meter, my Garmin, and now my iPhone, my riding is a lot more peaceful. More importantly, I’m about half a pound lighter on the bike. Now that matters.



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22 thoughts on “Phone home”

  1. Well said Sir! We all need to “get way from it all” from time to time – cyclists more than most, I guess. I helps clear the head.
    And chat over coffee? A must have .

  2. I always, always, always carry a phone while riding. However, it is there for EMERGENCIES. I haven’t needed one since January 20, 2012 (I was on Westridge and took a header which required a helicopter ride and a visit the the UCLA ER) but it’s there if I need it. I don’t check it or answer it during the ride.
    That said, it is RUDE to check your cell phone in the middle of a conversation or a meal. Rude. Not just after a bike ride, but at any time. What the heck is going on with people????

  3. Arkansas Traveler

    My FIL always says there’s no reason to ever talk on the phone for longer than three minutes- everything that needs to be can be said in that time. After that the lying starts…

  4. Post ride, all phones go in a pile, first person to pick theirs up to use it pays for everyone’s coffee.

  5. My wife worries to much about my safety. She insists I carry a phone when riding. I tried to explain to her I don’t carry a phone on the fireline so what’s the difference. But you never argue with the wife. Besides she’s a good woman and makes good sandwiches.

    1. Explain to her that if you don’t have your phone and get hit, you might die. That should bring her around.

  6. jprumm has it right….I have to sneak ANY ride in, because I have beefed it twice seriously since this latest marriage started, and she is truly afraid i am going to end my days in a ditch with a bus receding in the distance.

    WM- this quote is flat out gorgeous…”Since shedding my power meter, my Garmin, and now my iPhone, my riding is a lot more peaceful.”

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