False advertising

There’s nothing worse than going on a ride that is advertised as Type A only to find out that it is Type B.

I guess.

Actually, I don’t care how rides are advertised. If it’s too slow I can always go faster, and if it’s too fast I can always go slower.

The problem occurs for most riders when the ride is too fast, the rider wants to go fast, but physics and physiology and fitness result in what’s known in the business as “getting dropped.”

Yesterday Ken Vinson put on one of his amazing MVMNT Rides. If you’ve never done one of these, you should! If your area doesn’t have one, you should start one! MVMNT Rides are slow rides where people talk for 20 miles or so, reach an interesting destination, then chat and enjoy fellowship on the way back.

Ken took us to the bike museum at Velo Pasadena. Hrach Gevrikyan has the best bike museum I’ve ever seen, and he recently added a bike with original wheels and tires that was owned and raced by Major Taylor. More than a hundred of us pedaled leisurely out to Pasadena to enjoy the coffee and snacks offered up by Hrach and his lovely wife Nevrik.

When it came time to leave I raised my hand and said, “I’m taking a different route back. It will be fast paced.”

A lady asked “What’s your average speed going to be?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, “I don’t have a speed thingy.”

Another guy asked, “About? Can you give me an about?”

“I’m going to go about as hard as I can,” I said.

I’ve been riding at a steady commuter pace all week. I like to go slow most of the time. Let me rephrase that: I have to go slow most of the time.

But once or twice a week I like to put in a hard effort, and the 40 miles home along the river bikeway, no traffic, howling headwind, level as a Flat Earther’s dream, well, it doesn’t get more perfect than that. Plus, I had to get home to make pasta.

Out of the assembled crowd, five people joined me.

One of them turned around after about two minutes as we were sailing downhill with a tailwind. A second guy came up to me with a panicked look on his face while we were still in Pasadena. Earlier in the ride he’d told me that he owned forty bikes.

“Are we going back to the parking lot?”

“What parking lot?”

“Where the ride started?”

“No.”

“Where are we going?”

“Far from there.”

Forty Bikes whipped the world’s fasted u-turn I have ever seen. That left Ventoux, Maxissimo, and B Ride.

I’ve ridden with Ventoux several times. He is from France. Rides a shitty bike. Has one tattered kit. Straps an i-Phone as big as a large-screen TV onto his handlebars. Wears a visor on his helmet. Has deep-pile shag on his legs. Is in his 40’s. Rides hundreds of miles a week. Is one tough motherfucker.

I’ve ridden with Maxissimo a bunch. He’s a regular on the Flog Ride. Earlier this year he got a wild hair and rode from SF to LA on a lark. He loves, absolutely loves, to ride his bike. He is from Italy, has a modern steel Cinelli, and wouldn’t think of anything except Campagnolo. He expects to go hard when it’s time to go hard, and let the chips fall where they may.

I’ve ridden with B Ride only a couple of times. Always easy and conversational and slow. He had been up at the front all the way to Pasadena and was champing at the bit to get in a workout.

We turned off onto the bike trail and I said to them, “Okay, motherfuckers. 40-second to 1-minute pulls.” Then I took the first one.

By the second rotation, Maxissimo and B Ride were in trouble. A couple of rotations later Ventoux and I were by ourselves, which kind of sucked because we still had 30 miles to go. Did I mention the headwind was howling?

We passed a bunch of people, some of whom tried to hop on. One dude was back there forever until I drifted next to him. “You gotta take a pull.”

“I’m pretty tired.”

“No free rides. You’re strong enough to sit, you’re strong enough to pull.”

“I’ll give it my best.”

He then refused to pull through, so I let a gap open and he came around me to get on Ventoux’s wheel. Ventoux took a hard pull then slowed so much that Sitter had to come through. Thirty seconds in he was weaving, and after a minute he was draped on the bars like a melted piece of cheese.

Then he was gone. “I just didn’t want him hanging around for free,” I said.

“You were doing 27.7 into the wind,” Ventoux said. “I’m not sure that was free.”

We got back to PV and had the best-tasting mocha frap ever. Ventoux, because he only had 130 miles so far, with 45 to go, accompanied me on the vicious finishing climbs up Basswood-Shorewood. “You do this every ride?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“It must be character building. Or breaking.”

We parted company. I got home, cleaned up, ate, and sent texts to Maxissimo and B Ride. “Hope you guys didn’t die. Great riding with you.”

Maxissimo immediately replied. “Great riding with you!”

This made me happy. Shelled early and left to fend for himself in the wilderness, Maxissimo knew the rules and sounded happy to have been on his bike.

I never heard back from B Ride. But a friend did forward me a reproachful screenshot from the Stravver in which I was described as “Seth Every Ride a Race Davidson.”

That’s not true at all. I told everyone I was going to go as hard as I could. I never promised anyone a bottle, a blankie, or a diaper change. But I kind of like the sound of it anyway.

END


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21 thoughts on “False advertising”

  1. Nice! Wow! That was the Best 5 minute Novel I’ve Ever Read! You Had Me in Suspense the Whole Time😄

  2. That was a fun ride. It was even fun after the whole group got lost, and I followed one person who seemed to make sense (that’s York, and that becomes Figueroa) until I found a dozen riders from the original hundred plus and hung on for dear life until we made it back to the start. My second MVMNT ride and hopefully more to come.

  3. Dude, check your phone (and my info) because I never got the text! And I’m glad you like the sound of the nickname — it was meant as a compliment, not as a reproach. As you say, you laid down the expectations very clearly, and I had no illusions. It was fun while it (I?) lasted. Maxissimo and I rode home together, which was good because he’d bonked and I was able to share fig bars. All in all, a Good Day

  4. So, why do people not want others hanging around for free? I always thought this was weird, as you still get your workout in… who cares what the others are doing? Unless of course it is an actual race… just curious

    1. In my experience, people who sit on contributing nothing to the effort tend to be riders who wait until you are tired and then drop you, or try to. It’s quite the slap down to have someone freeload for miles and then dust you off without so much as a “thank you.” Of course if they ask to sit on, that’s different, but it happens so rarely as to be the extraordinary exception. And if someone asks, I always say okay.

      But there’s more. When you’re in a small rotation the object is often to whittle down the group until there is no one left. Why? Because it is fun. In the process of whittling, it becomes a game of calculation, fakery, stragety, strategy, and tragedy. Hop-in-wankers who see a fast-moving pace line and want to get in on the fun without doing the work are by their nature cagy, sneaky, and deserving of zero pity, which is exactly how they will treat you when you begin to flag.

      On a moral level, what is wrong with having strangers invite themselves into your home and sleep there? You have the extra room. It’s not costing you anything you don’t already have to pay for. You still have title to the house. But it was you who had to pay the mortgage and work all those years. In other words, the house exists because you built it. You can share it with people off the street if you want (don’t know many who do), but you at least want the self-invited tenant to clean the toilet, pick up after herself, and show some minimal level of appreciation.

      And what if the person sitting on is someone who seems like a bad fit? Wobbly, moves erratically, seems to be going at the absolute limit? Sure, he’s in the back, but he can still fall down, can slam into your wheel or cross it as you drift back … any number of things can happen. Do you want to be part of some big mess when you don’t know the person and he is contributing NOTHING at all to your ride except increasing the level of risk? If you do, then let him stay.

      There are general rules of etiquette and common sense in hard rotations. Different people observe different practices. But I have never, ever, ever seen a small rotation welcome a Freddy Freeloader who doesn’t even try to do her share. It is an affront, pure and simple.

      Finally, and it depends on your rotation, many rides are emphatically drop rides. MMX used to be infamous for literally riding the entire Sunday Kettle Ride off his wheel on the way home on PCH. It wasn’t personal, it was PERSONAL. He wasn’t satisfied until there was no one left. If you are a Freddy Freeloader and want someone to give you a free tow, you’d better ask first, and then carefully evaluate the group you’re with. If the riders seem focused, grabbing every millimeter of draft, not especially thrilled to see you, and they happen to be going really fast, it might not be the right group to hop in with.

      Or it might.

      You never know until you try!

      1. damn you guys are in trouble, Seth has a lot of extra free time in the foreseeable future to field ‘just curious’ questions……..

      2. Whoa!! Thanks! Great response. Makes sense too… for some reason, probably lack of enough sleep, I didn’t think of the danger of having an inexperienced rider behind me!

      3. Are the feminine pronouns supposed to be ironic? Because a woman trying to get into a paceline and tow is often subjected to the Dick Line. So do we get a double-dose of disdain for not taking a pull but also not being allowed to?

        1. Not ironic. I just like to scatter my pronouns. People, men and women, are all welcome in my pace lines if they take a pull and/or observe basic etiquette.

  5. I usually freeload from one group to the next and I never ask for permission. I love it. I get to trash talk and stay fresh.

    1. Going from one group to the next is rarely–ever–a problem. Hopping into small, fast rotations might get you a different result.

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