There’s nothing worse than going on a ride that is advertised as Type A only to find out that it is Type B.
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?”
“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.
“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.
Read this far? Go ahead and hit this “subscribe” link. Thank you!