Monday, October 22, 2007

A Tale of Two Pacelines

Howard has an internet friend -- someone he's never met before and may never meet. We'll see, you never know. His name is John and he posts comments here fairly frequently. Howard posts comments over at John's blog too at Time & Distance. I'd guess it's because we write in similar styles and with similar senses of humor.

Anyway, John recently posted a discussion about two different cycling groups that he rides with from time to time in his State of Michigan. One group, the Wolverines, sounds like a fairly tight-knit, well-led, and strong group of riders. The other group is quite friendly but could hardly be called a group as they break up into half-a-dozen sub-groups of varying ability on every ride. Not cohesive, not particularly supportive, no natural leaders that I could discern from his descriptions, but still they are much friendlier and John can always find a few riders near his ability level to ride with... or at least push him.

Still, it sounds like he prefers the first faster group, even though he gets dropped by them regularly, and then has to be eased back into the fold by drafting behind someone who drops back to help him.

Very interesting discussion of two groups, I thought. And I told him so.

Here is what I posted to John in comments:

I have to say, John, that the Wolverine group sounds by every descriptive adjective, except for two, to be the better group of the two for you (and for me). The two exceptions? 1. Not enough social interaction going on so far. 2. They're too fast for you right now. How to fix those? Gee, come on! I don't have to explain everything for you, do I? :-D

Here's where I am: I have two riding buddies -- my best girl and Deadhead. My best girl is fast and strong and has terrific endurance... for a girl. (Careful here, Howard!) Compared to 100 other 40-something women who bike, my best girl would be among the top 10. But alongside me? Well, our rides average about 16-17 mph, which is fast by the standards of many, but not fast enough that I get a great workout, if you know what I mean. But we love each other... and love each other's company.

To get those great workouts, I have another buddy who pushes me -- Deadhead. Actually, we push each other. He's three years older than I am, very thin, with an extra year of cycling experience on me... and he's a fairly small man. That matters in Colorado because this is climbing country, where the small, thin, experienced cyclists catch all the breaks. Plus, I don't get the best draft behind him, while he coasts all day long behind me. But other than the physical advantages he has (I can't believe I just wrote that about someone nine inches shorter than me!), we are cycling equals. He goes uphill just a tad faster than I do. I go downhill just a tad faster than he does. On the flats, we're exactly equal. Exactly!

I'm lucky. I found my cycling equal on my first try, someone who does everything I can do yet can push me when I'm feeling lazy. He's the first member of BikeJournal I met in person. And he lives less than 10 miles away! I'm lucky, I tell you.

I don't do large, fast-paced group rides. Deadhead does some every now and again. And I might too someday at his urging. I like riding alone and I have the discipline to push myself very hard. I like riding with my best girl. I like riding with Deadhead. And I like riding with the northern chapter of Club Hypoxia, representing a total mishmash of abilities where our rides always slow to the LCD (lowest common denominator), which isn't that low, actually. But none of us mind that because we enjoy each other's company so very much as you can tell by the posts to BikeJournal. Yeah, I'm lucky there too.

And that's a perfect cycling arrangement for me.

Yours is out there somewhere, John. But I suspect the Wolverines is a good place to begin, if you can get just a bit stronger and faster, and become a bit more outgoing socially.

AWE GEEZ, I just gave it away!
I may have missed some important considerations, I may have focused on myself too much, or I may have been just plain wrong. Drop on over to John's post, read his discussion for yourself, and offer up some words of wisdom, advice, consolation, support... or even ridicule. He can take it! I KNOW the guy! After all, he's Howard's internet friend.


Blogger John said...

Geez Howard. You could at least give me a little warning before you start sending people over... Lemme clean the place up a bit. ;o)

11:32 AM, October 23, 2007  

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