Individuation

I’ve noticed that there are lots of mini-rides now, calving off from the formerly massive weekend group rides.

Some of the rides, like the Old Donut Ride, are aged riders who are still fast and fit but who can’t keep up with the youngsters and don’t like the sketchy, argy-bargy circumstances of so much naturally occurring testosterone.

Other of the rides, like the Origin Rides, are secret social gatherings, invitation only, where like-minded souls follow their own recipes without having to bother about meeting or being nice to people they don’t know or don’t like.

Yet other of the rides are simply twosies, people who would rather pedal and chat than gallop along in a group while focused intently on not falling down.

The ultimate instance comprises those riders who, formerly attendant on every gathering, formerly leaders in their cycling community, simply go off on their own and abjure the company of others. It’s preferable for them to be completely alone than to spend so much as a minute with another cycling human being.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this, because it’s not a zero-sum game. Part of the reason there are so many groupings is because there are so many more riders than there once were. You’re no longer constrained to “the” group ride. Options are bountiful and wheel-chopping gets old.

No unity?

Not that cyclists were ever an especially unified bunch, tending as they are to be misfits, but I sometimes wonder if all of this fracturing is also a reflection of societal individuation, where people are able to zone out in their own Internet space and make hard-and-fast delineations about the kind of people they are going to hang out with, and similarly inflexible decisions about the kinds of opinions they are going to tolerate, much less discuss.

When everyone on the ride thinks basically the same thing about the ride, it doesn’t make for diversity of anything except perhaps a few watts here and there. As no one has to contend with anything that’s different, it lowers everyone’s tolerance for things that are different.

Although I’m skipping it today, that’s at least one good reason for the NPR, where diverse people get together and slug it out in a not-always-very-safe manner. At least they are together and coping, which our world needs a lot more of, not a lot less.

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14 thoughts on “Individuation”

  1. Great, articulate observation of a phenomenon which has vexed me for some years now.
    In the past I might have felt somewhat offended if everyone didn’t do “the ride”…but now I get it, and your column described it beautifully!
    thanks, Seth

  2. Isn’t skipping the NPR the ultimate expression of individualism? Unless, of course, you’re at a group resting event…

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