It is easy to lecture people about being welcoming on group rides, but a bit harder to pull off in real life.
At the start of the Donut today there was a kid standing off to the side. He couldn’t have been more than fifteen, wearing tennis shoes, riding an ancient bike with toe clips, and sporting a wool jersey from the 70’s that said North Hollywood Cycle Club.
I saw him. Everyone did. But no one said anything as we leaned on our expensive bikes and chatted–and it was an intimidating crowd.
Jeff Mahin started the fun going out of Malaga Cove, and the hitters continually ground the field down. Dan Beam, Greg Leibert, Nick Bishop, Ivan Fernandez, and a couple of others continued the fun the first time up the Switchbacks to the radar domes. Wily Greek added some fun as I tried to hold onto his wheel, unsuccessfully.
The ride was so much fun that a lot of riders went home early; they had a fun quota for the holidays and exceeded it early.
When we hit Better Homes the fun started all over again, with Jeff throwing out fun bombs and many cratering under the hail of fun shrapnel. I had all the fun I could stand as we dumped out onto PV Drive, and the leaders rode away.
When we regrouped at the water fountain, the kid was still there, standing off to the side, completely ignored even though there were only ten of us. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Noah,” he said.
“You are riding great. This your first time out?”
“No, my second.”
“How old are you?”
Suddenly everyone was listening. A rider came over and started talking to him. Another chimed in. We realized in unison that the only job in life that matters, being decent to young people who are trying hard, we had failed en masse. Some 17-year-old kid quietly, politely pedaling a 300-lb. bike with a pretty tough crowd … and no one had said a single fucking word to him. It hit us all at once.
But the tide had turned, and we had already begun making up for it.
The final climb up Via Zumaya Noah came rocketing past. “How much farther?” he asked.
“Ten minutes,” I said as he disappeared from view.
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