A commuting friend spotted my wife and I riding on Platte River Trail, a wonderful and very crowded MUP, a few Saturday’s ago. When we got together for the next commute, he remarked at the three bike length separation I was maintaining on my wife and how frustrating that must be for her. I told him it wasn’t my fault, other than the fact I had done something to tick her off, and this was her way of paying me back. As we talked through it, we discovered that there seemed to be patterns and categories that went beyond our specific circumstances. In that spirit, I thought I would write them up and share. Sorry for the length of the post (with no pictures), but please feel free to add any rules or observations of your own, and of course judge me harshly for this.
Cat. 1: Look at the Happy Couple Riding Together.
This is the mother lode, the one we’re all hoping to hit every time. The one that justifies spending twice as much on riding gear as you would if you were single, just to have and maintain that couples thing.
HCRT rides are characterized by her following you in a tight draft, side by side pedaling and chatting and smiling, or you following behind her, letting her think she is pulling her weight and you need the draft, even though all you are doing is appreciating the view.
Cat. 2: Look at that Poor Woman Riding With the Jerk.
The PWRWJ ride, otherwise known as the ride of shame, finds you placed three to five bike lengths ahead of her. No matter how much you slow down, the gap stays the same or grows. Slow down too much, and you risk ending up in Cat. 3 hell. The cause of PWRWJ status can vary from pre ride to in ride comments/behavior, but the intent is clear: she wants the world to know that you have too much of an ego, and are too much of a jerk, to satisfy her desire for a simple HCRT afternoon. She’s trying, but you’re impossible.
Cat. 3: Couple, What Couple.
By far the worst position to be in, the CWC rides are those in which she falls so far off the back that no one suspects you started out and are actually doing this together. That’s because you aren’t. Not anymore.
No, you are the loser who can’t find anyone to ride with, even on a sunny Saturday afternoon. And you are slow. Painfully slow, in your fancy kit and riding your CF superbike. Six year old with pony tail on a pink Hello Kitty bike passing you slow.
But you are nevertheless responsible for the stranger a quarter mile back, because, if she were to get a flat, and you were not there for her, this would be your last ride together (of any kind). Count on it.
Additional Thoughts and Caveats
*Regardless of what kind of ride it was or became, one rule is inviolate. Never, ever, ride back into the neighborhood anywhere but right by her side, or this will be your last ….. (see above).
*It is not possible to have a HCRT ride on asymmetrical technology (your mountain bike or fixie to her road), because the message it sends, that your workout is more important than your relationship and her self esteem, makes it an automatic Cat.2, regardless of the spacing.
* Tandems may be a cosmetic solution to the Cat. 2 issue, but a Cat. 3 bust up on a tandem would be a disaster of epic proportions.