It's not a hill - It's an adventure.
We’ve all done it. Instead of riding sensibly at a pace beneficial to our collective health, we go out and crank it up to look good in front of friends and strangers. I mean, slow is bad, and fast is good, right? Well, it is all relative, and the sooner cycling figures that out the better for all involved. Allow this mere mortal scribe to expound.
I have ridden with enough people to know the difference between Vanity and Intelligence. In fact, vanity riding about killed me on a few occasions, before I got a perspective on what I was doing, and why I was riding in the first place. I was (and still am) in it for the fitness and enjoyment. I was not out to prove anything, and if I did need to be leader of the pack, ride above my abilities, and ignore traffic laws just to impress, then I was on the bike for the wrong, vain reasons.
When I use to associate with a certain collection of riders, the urge to impress was always upon the group. The urge to be fast, or at least look fast, was always the focus of the moment. In fact, it seemed to be the primary focus of their lives. Ride hard, ride fast, show no weakness, and to all those around them, definitely show no mercy, let alone assistance to the struggling newbie’s. No pace lining, no hand signals, no call-outs, and stop signs, well, those were for the weak. Vrrooommm!!!!
These were some of the situations I allowed myself to be lulled into which almost killed me on more than one occasion. The initial reaction to the former may be rationalized by, “Why not just ride with people in your own ability range.” True, that is if these riders share your passion for Intelligent riding. Otherwise, if one is not careful, the next group will do exactly the same thing. The Vanity continues. The faces are just different.
The Intelligent aspect of our sport focuses on the enjoyment, health benefits, safety, community and camaraderie of the sport (some people have even been known to make a friend or two). Decorum and Rationality rules, kindness and assistance are the method, and enjoyment is the attainable Holy Grail of cycling. And, everyone is welcome, even if you still ride with flat pedals or have a “Dork Disk.”
When I was roadracing motorcycles back in the day, we used to describe those showing-off by going too-fast-too-soon as, “Riding Over Their Heads.” Today, the term utilized is “Squid” (which I suppose is similar to those described as “Fred’s” in the cycling realm). To be labeled a Squid, all one had to do was be vain, crash their brains out, or be all over the racetrack with no sense of lines, method, or a sense of safety for themselves, let alone others. Well, cycling is no different.
So, to close this novella, I implore all to just look at why they got on a bike in the first place.
The answer does indeed reside within ourselves.