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  1. #1
    Senior Member jp173's Avatar
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    The New Guy On The Club Ride

    So Saturday my club had its New Member Ride. A nice opportunity to get large numbers of club members together with newer members. As usual, I swept the D ride (11-12mph). We meet at a local train station parking lot (this is important later on) and park there because parking is free on weekends.

    One guy shows up with a newish low-end Trek (probably 3 yrs old, but it looks unused). He's wearing a snow bike helmet. Think full head-coverage football helmet (or maybe even motorcycle helmet), but with even more padding, a full layer of insulation, and no ventilation (but technically legal since it does have all the appropriate SNELL certifications). He's also wearing a long-sleeve black technical tee and a black fleece vest. On a day forecasted to be 82-85 degrees with no clouds and a strong sun. When I suggest that he might not be very comfortable he assures me that he'll be just fine and that he's "... in very good shape ...". Hokay.

    Club president gives the usual safety speech and says a couple of words to the new members -- especially the words about how to ride in a group and if you're not really familiar with the bike/experienced with the bike, this is not a good ride for you. I ask this guy if he's okay with all that and he says that he's "... in very good shape ...". Hokay.

    About a mile from the start we hit open road (a nicely maintained bike lane running next to a busy road) and start picking up the pace, but he's falling further and further behind. I close the distance to him and see that he's in the lowest possible gear and pedaling furiously (had to have been 120 or 130 rpm). So I suggest that he might want to shift to a higher gear. He nods and immediately hits the brakes -- almost a panic stop -- without any warning. My choices are (1) hit him, (2) swerve out into the traffic that's doing 40mph, or (3) go up on the curb. I go up on the curb, get unclipped just in time but fall and gash my right ankle.

    "Why the !#^@*!! did you stop", I ask. "Oh, so I could change gears", he answers. In other words, he hasn't the foggiest notion how to change gears. I'm not at ALL interested in teaching him, but two other long-standing club members circle back, hear the problem, and give him a Cliff-Notes version of how to change gears while I stop my ankle from bleeding.

    Yes, I probably shouldn't have been that close to him, but I WAS trying to talk to him at the time.

    Anyway, we eventually proceed, with him and three others falling further and further behind to the point where I'm now leading a very slow group instead of sweeping the normally slow group. At the next light, one of the women in this very slow group is complaining about how hard it is to pedal, even on the flats and downhills. I look at her bike and see two things: (1) the front wheel is on reversed (the quick release lever is on the right instead of the left and is tightened WAAAY too tight, and (b) the front brake cable is so taut that the front brake is fully engage while she's riding. It's amazing that she didn't go over the handlebars but because the brake was fully engaged she couldn't get up enough speed to go over the handlebars. Turns out it's a new bike that she picked up that morning from her LBS. I do NOT want to mess with the brake cable (what if I make them too loose and her brake stops working?), so I tell her to walk back to the start.

    Meanwhile, the Mr. Helmet is also struggling up hills. His wheels are turning freely, but now I notice that he's in one of the higher gearings possible. "Well, I thought I was in good shape", is the only reply he gives when I suggest that he might want to downshift for hills. His face is literally beet red and I've never seen someone sweating that badly. When I suggest that he might want to take off the fleece vest, he tells me that he's "... in very good shape ...". Hokay.

    I do drop back about 500 yards every time I see him reach for a shift lever.

    We inch our way forward to the turnaround point. At one point, I notice Mr. Helmet take something out of his backpack and start holding it against his handlebar while he's riding. I move in and see that it's a !@#%!^^* Blackberry, and he's busy texting. I tell him to put it away before I take it away from him. I'm not sure that I can take it away from him, but fate intervenes in the form of a pothole that he doesn't see until too late, and his Blackberry is now a nice jigsaw puzzle spread out across the road. The tires of an oncoming car administer the coup de grace to the thing.

    On the way back, we have to take this steep hill (it WAS fun going down the hill). I'm in the lead, followed by a woman (who knows what she's doing but is out of shape), followed by another guy (who also knows what he is doing but is out of shape), and then Mr. Helmet. The woman and I make it to the top, but no sign of the other two. I mean, we can't see them from the top of the hill (there are some hidden spots due to trees, dips in the hill, and parked cars). We wait and wait and wait, but nothing. Finally, another rider comes up the hill. "Did you see two riders down there?" I ask. "Nope, nobody", he says. Nothing to do but head down the hill, where we promptly come upon my two riders about half-way down. They're both off their bikes.

    The other guy is busy working on Mr. Helmet's bike. It seems that Mr. Helmet's entire rear wheel simply came off the bike. Best guess is that the quick release wasn't clamped down. In coming off, it's done some serious damage to the derailleur (sp?). It takes about 20 minutes of work, including some borrowed tools from a nearby homeowner, but the other guy has things put back together enough that we can continue as long as we don't have to take that big hill. By the way, during all of this, Mr. Helmet is sitting under a tree looking like he's going to die and repeating over and over again "I thought I was in good shape".

    We have to go about a mile out of our way to avoid the big hill, but eventually we're about 1-1/2 miles from the parking lot where the cars are parked when disaster really strikes. Mr. Helmet's derailleur separates from the frame -- the metal has snapped -- wraps the chain around his frame, and takes out about the half the spokes on his rear wheel. It's probably a result of the damage done in the first incident, and he ain't going anywhere. So I ride back to the parking lot with the others, get my car, drive back to this guy (who is sprawled out in the shade looking like death warmed over), put his bike on my rack, and drive back to the parking lot.

    Only his car isn't in the parking lot where we were supposed to park. "Oh, it's over there" he says, pointing to the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant across the street from the train station parking lot. Except it's not. Because the Chinese restaurant, being awfully sensitive to commuters who park in their lot, has a towing policy (and lots of big signs warning about it). And they've had his car towed.

    Once again, I'm not feeling terriby charitable towards this guy, so I leave his bike, the phone number of a local cab company, and let him deal with getting his car from the towing company.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Well, I had thought about starting a new member ride in our club but after hearing this story I'm having second thoughts
    =============================================================
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    So how'd your Saturday ride go?

  4. #4
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    How's your bike after jumping the curb?
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  5. #5
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    So when is your next turn as sweep rider?

    Sounds like the least that should be done is an "inspection ride" in the parking lot, where the new riders could just do a couple of laps to test their shifters and brakes. That way you might spot riders who don't know what they're doing as well as bikes that aren't working right.

  6. #6
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    That was hilarious, I'm just about ready to go for a ride and I think I'll probably be laughing most of the way, thinking about your story. That was great, thanks for sharing your day in hell.
    George

  7. #7
    Healthy and active twobikes's Avatar
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    Maybe some qualifiers should be required, even for a new member ride. The Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) requires riders to have a hefty number of miles under their belt in the months preceding the ride. Perhaps it would not be out of line to ask new riders to have at least one hundred miles on the bike they intend to ride done within the last month or so. That should shake out some of the real problems.
    Who am I?
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    Why am I here?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member jp173's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BSLeVan
    How's your bike after jumping the curb?
    Actually okay, thanks for asking. I took it to my LBS (not the one that the woman with the bad brakes was using) and they checked the wheel and everything. It was a curved curb, and not the usual right angle.

  9. #9
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    Great story, doesn't your group have beginner rides? The group I ride with will regulate you to beginners if you don't look qualified or say it is your first group ride. This is a reason I like to ride with the A group, if your dropped your on your own, everyone knows how to change a flat and are quick about it, no silly calling out of every little thing on the road and no stopping. It makes the whole thing more enjoyable as long as you can handle the 23mph pace for 40mi.
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

    2013 Noah RS

  10. #10
    Senior Member jp173's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougG
    So when is your next turn as sweep rider?

    Sounds like the least that should be done is an "inspection ride" in the parking lot, where the new riders could just do a couple of laps to test their shifters and brakes. That way you might spot riders who don't know what they're doing as well as bikes that aren't working right.
    I like both the "inspection" ride requirement and the idea of the minimum 100 miles requirement. I'm going to propose that at the next club meeting. Thanks for the ideas.

  11. #11
    Life in the Slow Lane Baroque's Avatar
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    I just want to know if Mr. Helmet ever comes back for another ride. Now that would be worthy of a TV series.
    Remember, wherever you go, there you are.
    - Buckaroo Banzai

  12. #12
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Perhaps some of the regular riders could meet the newbies some time before the ride and bring them up to speed gradually. Some of these folks need classroom time before mounting a bike.

    The moral is: "If your inviting newbies expect NEWbies"

    How to shift, when to shift, what to wear, riding conventions, how to deal with traffic, lights, signs, other riders. What to eat, drink. How to pump up tires, what to bring and seemingly even where to park. Real newbies require diaper changing and that might be a useful start for a New Members Ride.

    Not many break out of the shell clipped in and spinning.

  13. #13
    tsl
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    Plays in traffic tsl's Avatar
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    I had much better luck leading my sweeps ride this past Sunday.

    Of course, our club's "Slow and Easy" ride series sounds closer to your club's Sweeps rides. Our sweeps bridge the gap between S&E and the regular club rides. The suggested pace is 12-13.

    Also in our Ride Leader's Handbook is the suggestion that "Sometimes the best help you can give a new rider is the phone number of a good bike shop."
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  14. #14
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp173
    I like both the "inspection" ride requirement and the idea of the minimum 100 miles requirement. I'm going to propose that at the next club meeting. Thanks for the ideas.
    So, you really don't want newbies at the new guy ride? You want experienced riders at the new "experienced..bies" ride.

  15. #15
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baroque
    I just want to know if Mr. Helmet ever comes back for another ride. Now that would be worthy of a TV series.
    And if he doesn't come back bicycling is the worse for it!

  16. #16
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baroque
    I just want to know if Mr. Helmet ever comes back for another ride. Now that would be worthy of a TV series.
    If he's anything like the "all speed-no skill" rider who joined us for a few rides earlier this year, you'll never see them again.
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    -- Antonio Smith

  17. #17
    Senior Member jp173's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx
    So, you really don't want newbies at the new guy ride? You want experienced riders at the new "experienced..bies" ride.
    Well, it is a New Member ride, not a New Rider ride.

    It's probably a good idea for the club to add a new rider ride, or maybe a new rider workshop or something like that, but this specifically said people who have some experience with the bicycle.

  18. #18
    Bike Curious.... bobby c's Avatar
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    Thanks for the story - a great read! I especially liked the Blackberry outcome - priceless!

  19. #19
    Happy Rider
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    Thanks for further validation of the joys of riding alone.

  20. #20
    King of the molehills bcoppola's Avatar
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    Well, you know, I really thought I was in good shape...
    '04 Giant OCR2|'87 Schwinn World Sport F/G conversion (6,129)|'92 Trek 820 MTB|'85 Schwinn Super LeTour
    "People who spend most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles." - Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman

  21. #21
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Those blackberries are expensive and make horrid pie.

    I'm still terrified of any sort of club ride. When Stonecrd talks about maintaining a 23 mph pace for 40 miles, my fears are not allayed.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  22. #22
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    So outside of Mr. Helmet losing a Blackberry, a bike, and a car, he had a pretty good day?

    At last, I have found someone that I might be able to beat on a club ride.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by card
    Thanks for further validation of the joys of riding alone.
    Well said.

  24. #24
    Bike Curious.... bobby c's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman
    Those blackberries are expensive and make horrid pie.

    I'm still terrified of any sort of club ride. When Stonecrd talks about maintaining a 23 mph pace for 40 miles, my fears are not allayed.
    That's the way I felt - but this year I decided to try it. Now my 'club' ride is on Tuesday nights - a 25 miler through some rolling hills. It is not actually a club but organized by a local bike shop and 40-60 people usually ride it. I wear a heart monitor when I ride and the first time I rode it my heart was beating over 150 bpm when we just started. I was a bit over-excited to say the least.

    The ride turns out to be a lot of fun - I find myself pushing myself a lot more than I normally would. It also serves as a yardstick about my progress or lack thereof. My average speed started at 17mph and peaked at 19 in late May. Because of 2 long vacations, I've only ridden it once since May and my speed had dropped to 17.5. Tonight is the next ride, because I'll be riding w/ a slower friend and the heat, I'll be happy with anything.

    So if you have a chance to do a club ride, I'd suggest it, I found it to be a lot more fun than I anticipated. And if the group is a good one, you don't have to push yourself to hang with the big dawgs, even if I tried I don't think I could ever hang with the lead group on this ride.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    So outside of Mr. Helmet losing a Blackberry, a bike, and a car, he had a pretty good day?

    At last, I have found someone that I might be able to beat on a club ride.
    Maybe when he finally got home, he found his wife had packed up and left.

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