Friday, 31 October 2014

The Club Run

Although this blog is for my personal use, this little post...rantette is open to and indeed welcome to comment.
The club run? I've been riding Sunday club runs through the seventies, eighties, nineties, naughties and now the what ever it is we call this period in time. For those first four decades the club run was just that, a club run. So blindingly simple no rules were ever needed. In fact there wasn't if I recall correctly any thought process in the action of riding a club run.
Everyone turned up, all ages and all abilities and off we went, The weather wasn't discussed, and there was no mention of distance or that of hills. Weather distance and hills were a forgone conclusion, a matter of fact.
Then there were the riders. Back then when a rider joined your club for the first time he rode with you as if you'd been on the bike together since leaving the womb. It seemed such a natural act there was never really a need to communicate, though we did of course. You rode a wheel because you knew you were safe behind the man in front. You rode wheel to wheel and two abreast everywhere. Verbal instructions to your club mates just didn't exist...they just didn't need to.
The kit. clean bikes always, a dirty bike was just poor form. Everything worked, though granted it was far simpler then. Cables crimped at regulation length, no rattles. black shoes and white socks. And certainly no computers, most churches had a clock and you'd be back in time for dinner. A hundred was a hundred and not 62 miles.
It was so simple, so well oiled, a thing of aesthetic beauty.

So to the present.
How in the name of all things sacred have we managed to make such a pigs ear out of something that was once perfect?
Why do so many modern club cyclists refuse to ride as a club? That's actually a genuine question. How did the rider of the past just know what to do seemingly from birth? Trust was instant. He would know if you were tiring and ease off or tow you for a while, and you'd all work together without having to be asked. Pulling away from the group would be seen as showing off, and pulling away from the group after spending all day on a wheel to do so would mean a trip to Coventry.
Riders do it all the time now, there seems to be no shame in sitting in all day long just to show everyone what you can do on the next climb.
And assisting your club mates seems to be a long lost art. What seems to constitute an assist by many is actually an attack. With so much science at the hands of the modern rider he still seems incapable of understanding that by following a wheel he is saving up to thirty percent of the energy the rider in front is using. Many a time now a rider will just surge forward past me  as I slow from towing him along, why can't he see that surging past won't help the man in front or anyone in the group, when what he should be doing is hooking up with his slowing brother.....offering a hand if you like.
We call the rules etiquette these days, but there isn't a need for the rules of etiquette as the rider should be a well mannered sportsman.

Calling out. Rather controversially the warning call makes me cringe.
When we could ride wheel to wheel and two abreast without the rest of the group half wheeling into a six abreast beast there was no need for a call ever. Two maybe three hand signals existed, the point down to a hole, the hand on the back to warn of an obstacle and the arm up for just about anything from a horse in the road to needing a wee. Now it's verbal diarrhea. Car ahead! really there should be no need to shout that there's a car coming the other way. You shouldn't be in their lane and YOU should be looking where you're going. car behind, if you're all neat and we go.....riding wheel to wheel, two abreast not half wheeling, not surging and breaking up the group the car behind can get past easier as they'll see a neat and tidy and predictable group.
Holes. Shouting hole is useless. Two reasons, a) you need to know where exactly hence the point and b) if they are everywhere then you'll know about it because your looking where you going aren't you.

The club run hijacker. The club run is 'the' club run and not a vehicle for personal gain, that's training or Strava'ing. It's oil and water. That's not to say there isn't room for competitive fun like taking the village sign or the sprint to the top of the hill, but the way to do it is to do it in a way that entertains the group and must see you exhausted at the end. Surging out of the group isn't the same, that's underhand competition. And constant surging before returning to rest in the group is a cardinal sin.

I've had a read over what I've written and I stand by it. It's too complicated, too many rules where rules aren't needed, too many choices. A little lacking in manners and an unwillingness to take advice?
Myself? I'll continue to strive to keep it simple in form and practice

1 comment:

Molli & Chloe said...

Agree Carl, I've been a Team MK member for about 5 years and have been on 3 club runs for reasons you mention, I just want to ride my bike without any politics etc

If I ride with a group it will generally be with a group of Triathletes which is fairly ironic as they Tri people tend to get a bad rep for their road riding but I've found it the complete opposite.