Stolen from RBR
A Tradition with Benefits
Sunday was Father’s Day in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. And it marked the 8th Annual Father’s Day Ride for my local group of riding buddies, the Domestiques.
The group formed on Father’s Day 2004. Some long-time neighborhood cyclists and others getting more involved in the sport hit upon the idea to gather for a group ride on Father’s Day. We’ve been a tight-knit, yet expanding, “club” ever since.
We ride together several times a week in all combinations of group sub-sets. We do organized group rides and time trials together. We race together. We socialize together. We burn up bandwidth sharing details of rides and routes, profiles and exploits, new components and new bikes. When we ride, we easily shoot the breeze about all aspects of our lives.
We’re a group of cyclists who are good friends. And we’re a group of good friends who are cyclists.
We’re usually too busy enjoying the riding to notice that our group provides us all with a number of benefits that help us become better cyclists. Here are just a few:
Support System. We’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders and motivators. There’s really no motivating force quite as strong as a group ride among friends. Even if you might not feel like riding that day, if the weather’s not great or the time isn’t quite right for you, you’re much more likely to “go with the group” and ride anyway. (Being friends also allows you to razz the guys who don’t come out!) And we all genuinely notice and provide feedback on each others’ improvement – whether it’s bike handling, hill climbing, sprinting, endurance, whatever. Positive feedback is its own unique motivational tool.
Group Riding Skills. Riding together on a regular basis helps us all improve our group riding skills. On every ride, we get to practice trading pulls and riding someone’s wheel, riding in the various positions of a paceline, eating and drinking in the group, courteously handling our other needs like wiping and blowing, and increasing our comfort level riding in close lateral proximity to each other, among other group skills. This practice is especially helpful to some of our tri friends who have joined the group. And the dividends are reaped by all of us in races and local hammerfests when the entire set of group skills are needed.
Broadened Horizons. With an array of skill sets and time spent in the sport represented across our group, we introduce each other to new aspects of cycling. The annual time trial that once was the domain of only a couple of members is now a group event. The occasional trips to the mountains for training have become regular occurrences, as have certain annual centuries and charity rides. We ride together on nearly all big holidays. Some have joined others’ club teams, tried a cross race or two, and we’ve all done rides and events we had never done before.
Shared Knowledge. The group dynamic lends itself to helping each other become better riders by readily sharing tips and knowledge. Because our skills and experience run the gamut, there’s always someone who can teach a less-experienced rider the finer points of some aspect of riding, or share info about components, repairs, etc. And there’s always something to be learned, by all of us, no matter how long we’ve been in the saddle. (Why would you even want to ride with someone who isn’t willing to help you improve?)
Pushing and Pulling. Our rides invariably turn spirited – if only for an interval or two – even if we promise each other we’re going to take it easy that day. In short, we tend to push each other to the extent that our training and fitness allows – and pull each other when the situation dictates. Like a team, we’re not all equally gifted or on equal form at any given time. But we do always work to bring out the best in each other. And I think we would unanimously agree that we’re all much better, much more well-rounded cyclists than before forming our group.
If you don’t have a group like the Domestiques, or a team or club to ride with, start one. If you do, enjoy the camaraderie – and the myriad benefits you’re likely to overlook in all the fun you’re having.
Enjoy your ride!
Editor & Publisher