If you’re yelling, you’re losing

Team Lizard Collectors got into a big dust ’em up on the Facebag yesterday over bicycle yelling, or shoutypantsing, as I like to call it.

It seems that Dear Leader ruffled a few rectums with his repeated hollerings. Some felt that being a shoutypants was bad form. Some thought that being a shoutypants was necessary for the survival of the group. Some thought that being called a shoutypants was retribution enough and we should move on to whether or not it was more patriotic to stand for the National Slavery Anthem, kneel for the National Slavery Anthem, or tsk-tsk as Puerto Rico sank beneath the flood without so much as a ripple.

As background, the Team Lizard Collectors Sunday Bicycle Ride And Educational Clinic And Primal Scream Therapy Group Thingy leaves every Sunday from CotKU at 7:00-ish, pedals over to PCH, and then runs an orderly boot camp all the way out to Cross Creek.

The riders who sit on the front are called “Horsemen.” No, I didn’t make that up. If I had made it up I would have called them “chevaliers” or perhaps “chevaliers-errant.”

Anyway, there is much discipline and order in the ranks and different people have job descriptions which must be earned through fealty and acts of derring-do such as the aforementioned chevaliers-errant, as well as “gatekeepers,” “sweepers,” and of course Dear Leader. The Team Lizard Collectors SBRAECAPSTGT also has a set of rules that are set forth in the Book of Peloton 101, and it goes like this:

  1. On the first day Team Lizard Collectors, henceforth known as TLC, created wanker and it was good.
  2. On the second day wanker discovered PCH and rode in the gutter and it was bad.
  3. On the third day Dear Leader got Wanky’s lane control religion and began taking the lane, and it was fuggin’ awesome.
  4. On the fourth day TLC grew from 10 members to about 600 and it was unmanageable, to put it mildly.
  5. On the fifth day it was fuggin’ mayhem on PCH, and it was scary AF.
  6. On the sixth day Dear Leader decreed that everyone shall ride 2×2 at prescribed pace using prescribed cadence with prescribed wattage for prescribed duration according to such ranks and titles as Dear Leader may bequeath, and that each baby wanker shall learn the Holy Ways of the Mystic Peloton, and it was humbling.
  7. On the seventh day Dear Leader realized that his charges were all a bunch of fuggin’ dumbasses and began yelling at them continuously, and it was a harsh reality slap in the face for them.
  8. On the eighth day they all got butt hurt, and it was Charmin.
  9. On the ninth day Dear Leader DGAF, ‘cuz that was the way it was gonna be.
  10. On the tenth day everyone was issued a copy of Dear Leader’s Holy Weekly Training Plan with wattage, and it was a boon for cycling Internet coaches everywhere.
  11. On the eleventh day everyone started getting nervous for the upcoming fourteenth day, and it was loose bowels.
  12. On the twelfth day everyone studied the manual like crazy, and it was anxious.
  13. On the thirteenth day no one slept worth a shit.
  14. On the fourteenth day it all started over again, and that’s how it hath always been.

Anyway,  after several years some people became unhappy about the yelling, to which Dear Leader diplomatically said:

  1. I’m shoutypantsing so you can hear me.
  2. I’m shoutypantsing because you don’t do anything right, you stumblebum knuckleheads.
  3. I’d rather shoutypants and have you butthurt than not shoutypants and have you crash me out.
  4. If you don’t like it go the fuck somewhere else.

This response revealed a huge chasm in the wankoton. First, it showed that many riders wanted to have their wheel and suck it, too. They wanted to get pulled along PCH at 24 mph by the chevaliers, do no work, and then be fresh to ride up in the canyons. However, although they wanted a free ride, they didn’t want to be subject to Dear Leader’s shoutypantsing.

Second, it showed that even after years of careful instruction, many of the lizard collectors still needed to be shoutypantsed. Thoughtful thinkers might conclude that the pedagogy was flawed, the instructors were ill-trained, the students were hopeless, or some combination of the above.

Third, repeated choruses of love expressed on the ‘Bag for Dear Leader’s methods showed that a frightening percentage of the adult lizard collecting population thought that being yelled at was a normal part of a fun recreational activity. [Note to self: Begin developing Shoutypants Podcast #1, suggested retail price $2.98/mo.]

I didn’t know what to make of the whole thing. It had been obvious for years that if you wanted to do the TLC SBRAECAPSTGT, you were gonna have to follow the SBRAECAPSTGT rules. It was also obvious that if you didn’t like the rules, well, PCH seemed like a pretty big street and it seemed more or less public, so why not do your own ride?

However, the thing that seemed weird to me was that shoutypantsing would be a normal part of a regular ride. In my adult life, to the extent that I have one, no one shouts at me. When I was a kid, though, people shouted at me all the time. “Goddammit, Seth!” was a favorite around the homestead, followed by “Shut up!” and “What did you say?” and “You’re in for it now!” and a whole bunch of phrases that even now get my blood pressure up just writing them.

Combine that with the fact that pretty much everyone on the SBRAECAPSTGT is an adult as well as a person who’s somewhat accomplished in life, and it struck me as odd that on one of the two days off each week that you have to ride, you’d choose to do it in an environment where repeated yelling, for whatever the reason, was a guaranteed item on the menu. It probably explained why a whole bunch of the lizard collectors who have been around awhile and who might have something to offer didn’t ever bother to show up.

But as I learned a long time ago, cycling is everyone’s vector to somewhere else. If I can get to my happy place with a minimum of yelling, though, that’s the path I think I’ll take.

END

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PS: Don’t forget the Wanky’s. As if you could. And I may have forgotten to mention that there is free food and beer for the first 300 guests, so get there early.

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26 thoughts on “If you’re yelling, you’re losing”

    1. Hmmmm … in some cases, you’re right. But if you’re doing a ride and there is shouting going on all the time, it’s either the world’s deadliest ride or people are waaaay overreacting.

  1. What no podcast?

    I’ve always wondered why there seems to be a larger amount of ShoutyMcShoutFaces on group rides than seemingly anywhere else in life. I know we have all seen people do stupid stuff on rides and I’m not saying I’m innocent of group riding infractions. I’m wondering if it is a response to being grouped with people you hardly know and a huge character flaw.

    1. That, plus people love being The Boss. I’ve never heard Charon Smith or Daniel Holloway shout … at least not more than once, and certainly never on a group ride.

  2. I know what you do for a living? You say no one yells at you? Are you SURE you are doing it right? Also the 14 days of the Wanker is one of your best pieces yet and I’m not sure THAT would work in a podcast. Finally, I wonder what this ride is like if you take away all your Dickensian wordiness.

    1. No one yells at me in my job. And I never see the hitters yell, either. Seems they don’t have to. Same on the bike. The real pros don’t need to raise their voice at all. In fact, they rarely say anything …

      Best way to experience the ride is to do it!

  3. I had the honor of riding next to Dear Leader as far as the Pepperdine hill on Sunday on my first experience as a “horseman” (I’d prefer “locomotive” to match the “caboose” that is at the rear–or change the “caboose” to “horse’s ass” for consistency). I may be going deaf in my left ear, but I perceived Dear Leader’s “shoutypantsing” as gentle and patient instruction to keep things smooth and safe for the group as we would gently ramp up to a cruising speed of about 26 mph after each slowdown and stop light. Much was learned, although I think my current skill set makes me better suited to being the horse’s ass.

    In all my decades of cycling with groups, I’ve never experienced a peloton with this organization that allows those wanting to work harder to stay at the front and those wanting an easier ride or unable to produce higher wattage to ride along behind at the same speed. It permits cyclists of a considerable wattage range to ride together as a coherent group. I know of no other endurance sport that allows this type of inclusivity. And the adoption of Wanky’s (and CyclingSavvy’s) lane control religion makes the left-right variable (lane choice and position) of the ride easy peasy so we can all concentrate on the front-back variable to avoid running into each other.

    Having horsemen, gatekeepers, buffers, cabooses and all those in between is certainly an organizational challenge. I, for one, am grateful to Dear Leader, and his occasional alternate with the same name, for making this all possible.

    1. Which is my point.

      No one forces you do to any ride, ever. If you like it, do it. If you dislike it, move on.

      Different people hear different levels of instruction with different levels of intensity. It’s a fact that most of the TLC riders who do the ride enjoy it, learn from it, and enjoy it a lot. It’s also a fact that a whole slew of other riders don’t, and they speak with their absence.

      If you like it and it fits your recreational needs, then do it!

      There is plenty of room on the road for everyone, and plenty of thick skin to go around.

  4. Wait, so, is this blog pro or anti shoutypantsing. And is it true that the world’s best crit racers like to risk their lives on PCH? Secret-not-secret training? I need to knooooooooooooooow!

    1. This blog is pro “Do the ride you want to do” and anti “Do the ride you don’t want to do.”

      I do not personally enjoy shoutypantsing but many do. This is their right under Article IV of the Consution.

      The first rule Secret Training Club is …

  5. the way you’ve framed this, makes me feel terrible…
    I don’t agree with the overall feeling, but, you and everyone else will feel however they feel, and i can’t control that, as much as i’d like to.
    This ride is amazing. I’m frustrated that shouting so that, 60+ riders can hear you is associated with being yelled at.
    When i started riding in big SouthBay groups, there was PLENTY of being yelled at…ESPECIALLY at new riders…which sometimes ran off the person…”one less wanker” thought the yeller.
    However, there were three guys who had a different way…they were the fastest, and the most respected. Sean Watkins, Phil Buhl, and John Walsh. If you did something stupid, one of these guys would just ride up to you, put a hand on your shoulder and in a voice only meant for you…they’d say, “Hey man, maybe next time don’t fix your shoe mid pack, you’re swerving all over. If you want, I’ll show you how to do this after the ride.”
    I’m all for that method. That said…these rides were all a clustering of every team…and more race like…not a single team ride.

    Our “team ride”…promoted by TLC, and with a majority of TLC riders is a different animal. There can ble plenty of one on one instruction, BUT, there has to be someone to be the “safety asshole”, (as they have called the position on the Wednesday night’s Bro Ride)

    The guy you call Dear Leader doesn’t deserve this dis. He crafted this ride out of chaos, and he’s got my full support.

    If you’d like to come out on a SUPER smooth ride, with 60+ riders, I think this is the best, most organized, safest and fun rides i’ve ever been on.
    We will do 100 miles on Sunday, and you can do as much or as little work as you like. Get up front and be a horseman, or sit in the group and get a “free ride”.

    1. It’s not a “dis.” I’m super glad that people like the ride and that they enjoy it. G3 has poured his heart and soul into creating something that people love, and he’s led the charge to make TLC an open door organization. We all benefit!

      But if a ride is so big that it needs anyone in any capacity as an “asshole,” that ride isn’t for me. If a ride is so dangerous that it requires extensive organization, constant correction, repeated instruction, and relentless education–that ride isn’t for me. Different people do things differently, nothing wrong with that.

      As G3 said very pointedly, “If you don’t like our ride and won’t follow our rules, you are not welcome.” No argument here! It is his ride. They are his rules. I’m the last person on earth who’d ever tell him to do anything differently, especially since the ride adopts the very lane control principles that I and seven others introduced on PCH a few years ago. Recall that TLC thought we were suicidal, cray-cray, wanted no part of it, and insisted that we ride apart from them. I blogged about it, if I recall. Now lane control on PCH is engraved in the tablets of stone, as it should be. My post wasn’t intended to mess with your success. The ride is the poster child for how to roll with a big group on a busy highway. And as we all know, outside is mostly free. Go where you want, and I do.

      Numerous people love the ride and accept being corrected as part of their recreation. What’s wrong with that? Nothing. Numerous other people don’t love the ride and don’t accept being yelled at as part of their recreation. What’s wrong with that? Nothing–I just happen to be one of them. As one commenter said, I’m “Pro Choice.” In bicycling, aren’t we all?

      The ride is smooth and safe and uses lane control on a busy highway and accommodates lots of different abilities. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

      For blogging purposes though it is pretty funny that there’s a ride that is so complex and dangerous that it requires this much organization to pull it off, especially since this is ostensibly recreation. I don’t know why everyone isn’t laughing … it’s hobby bicycling, right? It can’t be that serious, can it? People can’t be that butt hurt, can they? Can they?

      To put it in perspective: My favorite rides are regularly berated for a variety of reasons, most of which are valid, and they are among the least popular rides in the South Bay. I take the criticism in stride and keep pedaling. Why do anything else?

  6. This is perhaps the finest thing you have ever written. I just spewed my scrambled eggs and Sriracha all over the screen!

    “I’m shoutypantsing because you don’t do anything right, you stumblebum knuckleheads”

    Note to Seth…pros and good amateurs do shout, and all the time in races…maybe not here in the U.S.,.But in europe, the loudest shouters were the Dutch, but they talk all garbledly anyway and their conversational tone is loud already. You didn’t know if they were pissed off until you were on your ass on the side of the road.

  7. Seth, I only take umbrage with two points. First, this blog title. I’m shouting, but I’m winning, not losing. I’m winning the battle against reckless behavior that sends multiple riders to the hospital on other rides every few months.

    Second, your characterization of “Yelling” as something akin to being bitched out. Nope. I’m just sending instructions to riders using a loud voice. The noisy environment requires this. I find most objections have nothing to do with the “yelling.” Rather, most people are upset because think they already know everything about bike riding and who am I to tell them they are doing something unsafe.

    Everyone in the passenger’s seat is free to criticize the driver. That’s what passengers do. But here’s what the driver still has to do: deliver 50-100 riders up and down one of the most, if not the most, dangerous stretches of road in SoCal at a quality, consistent endurance tempo spread across many skill and ability levels. And that’s what I’ll do again this Sunday.

    People will continue to criticize me. Don’t worry, I can handle it. I understand that is part and parcel to stepping off the sidelines and taking responsibility for something, like the lives of your fellow riders. You make yourself a target. But I expect those who show up to likewise take responsibility for those lives and accept that there may be criticism of their technique. We use methods unique to these conditions to achieve consistency, safety and reliability in a group of this size. Many riders have never ridden under these conditions, even very experienced racers. That poses a challenge for those who believe they already know everything there is to know, or are already experts at all things cycling.

    Why listen to me? I’m just a wanker. I’m not a cool guy like Holloway or Charon. Yup, but I have spent seven years field testing and refining this ride. I’ve incorporated feedback from countless riders, including the Wankmeister himself. If you show up you know this ride is going to deliver exactly what’s advertised: consistency, safety and reliability. Hey, it’s an endurance ride, not a free form beat down. There are ten other beat down rides available if that’s what you’re seeking.

    NB: Since safety is the primary issue, how about a look at the record? In seven years of shuffling 50-100 riders 60-110 miles down PCH we’ve had one crash (due to a reckless motorcyclist) that produced one injured rider, who still managed to ride home. We’ve had one rider fall over going uphill at 8mph. That’s it. In seven years. I will stack that record up against any other ride out there.

    1. The only point I’d disagree with is about reckless rides sending people to the hospital every few months.

      Make that every single week.

      Thanks for the awesome riposte.

  8. Weren’t the high volume, hand on the shoulders, super organized, disciplined, riding practices the reason that taking the lane on Sunday mornings became normal. A sheriff ride along with the old kettle ride and we would have the kettle ride still. Fun, but don’t want to come home on Monday or Tuesday of the following week and find empty hooks in my garage.

  9. I don’t do group races/rides – this sounds like soooo much like Marine Boot Camp. Had enough yelling style instruction.

    I suppose I’ll just have to continue to make my own way up the PCH without a self-annointed drill sergeant. Maybe you guys can find a better teacher? Or a better group of teachers? Why are you all in a bike gang ride anyhow?

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