Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rituals and a Friend in Need

Cyclists tend to be ritualistic by nature. We do this ride this day; we do that ride that day. We need this coffee, energy drink, or ionized water before we feel good to go. We count pedal revolutions, miles, kilometers, hours, heart rates, and power outputs. Then we sit around and compare the numbers from this day with the numbers from that day. When the numbers don't add up, we get agitated. Now my buddy Juancho may chime in here and say, "I don't count no stinkin' numbers!". And to some degree, he'll be telling the truth. But even the most free spirited of our kind have some degree of the ritual in them. It could be as simple as remembering how many "smoke breaks" were taken during the ride, or how many days it's been since your last ride. For Fat Lad, it's the mumbling of "...helmet, shoes, buff, camelbak,...", as he wanders the house in hopes of forgetting nothing important before he embarks on the day's adventure.

Sometimes I get aggravated with myself for getting caught up in the numbers. Am I getting caught in a rut? Do I need to be so regimented? Where's my free spirit? Relax, man! This is supposed to be for fun!!

But some of these rituals are part of the fun. Some are down right comforting. All winter I look forward to summertime and the return of daylight savings time. The time of year when it stays light out until 8:00pm and later. This time of year brings back a thursday night ritual that I've been a part of for the past 10 years! Unfortunately, this year the ritual looks like she's on the ropes and may be breathing her last.

I didn't start the the thursday Joe's ride. It had nothing to do with Joe's back then. Ricky Silk, Ace Lashley, Double D, and I think Bob Bacardi, were the architects of the loop through Killearn. They came up with the route to add some road training into their growing expert and semi-pro mountain bike training, back in the early to mid 90's. The loop travels through a large, established neighborhood with very wide roadways. There are plenty of hills and turns to keep your from becoming bored with the straightline monotony that can perpetuate too many road routes. Back then, the rides were not too big. Maybe the original four with a few visitors.

I'd only done the loop a few times, but at some point when I was working at Joe's Bike Shop, we started running this ride out of the shop every thursday during daylight savings. The rock stars in town all lived for the wednesday night Food Lion ride, but those of us who were more second tier, we waited for thursday. This was our ritual. Food Lion is your typical, take no prisoners, road race simulation, hammer fest. I've tried to hang on that ride more times than I'll ever remember, and I'll try again, but thursday, the efforts are shorter. Their defined in such a manner as to prevent the "all out", start to finish, mentality of Food Lion. After the efforts, the ride chills, to let those dropped, come back. And if you can't get back on, the loop is short enough that you can just back track, and join in the 2nd or 3rd go around. This encourages those of us not quite fast enough, to participate. At Food Lion, it's all I can do to sit in, and I still don't make it. At the Joe's Ride, guys and girls who are hangers on at the fast rides can actually go to the front and play a role, with less fear of getting left, permanently dropped, out in the boondocks.

It's safe to say I've developed a heavy duty attachment to this summertime, thursday ritual. She's like an old friend that moves back every summer. Over the years the ride had swollen to include as many as 20-30 riders on any given thursday. The energy was a blast! Every year there were a ton of new faces, as well as old friends. I've been out of the shop for almost 5 years, but guys like Carl, at Great Bicycle Shop, the boys over at Higher Ground, and sometimes even Larry from Sunshine, kept the shop presence alive every thursday. My crew would roll from the office and do a warm up lap, then we'd meet the shop crews at the beginning of the loop. Shop versus shop. Mountain guys versus road guys. Juniors versus everybody. The entertainment would begin again every summer.

But this year, something has changed. I was amped for the first ride of the year. I had about 8 guys roll from the office, but when we met the others, there were only about 8 or 9 people. Oh well I thought, first Joe's Ride of the year, and they did move daylight savings up to March this year. Maybe word hasn't gotten around, yet. Halfway into the first sprint, one of my crew gets a flat. We wait and never rejoined the ride. With daylight savings so early this year, it looked like it would be dark rather early, so no 2nd lap, and no regroup. I was pretty bummed, but there's always next week. The next week, I kept the stoke under control, not wanting to be let down again. But this week I get wind that Gillis and the Atomic Team are planning to ride the Food Lion loop again on thursday. So there went a half dozen of the guys who showed for the first ride. When my crew met the ride this time there were only about 6 people, plus our 5. I'm not liking this trend. As the 3rd ride of the year comes around, I don't know what to expect. Atomic is doing Food Lion, again. I only had 5 guys out of the office, but 1 is going home early. Our 4 met the main group that included a whopping 2 people!!

Now I'm definitely more attached than most, but the Joe's Ride is in trouble. I'm not sure what happened this year. Carl moved to Orlando, and I've seen no one from Great Bicycle Shop. I've seen maybe 1 guy from Higher Ground. What happened to all of the shop guys? Do they no longer do group road rides? Where are all of the FSU team kids? Did that club die again? I guess without the shop spokesmen , the word doesn't get out as well. I'm thinking that maybe I'll go around to the shops this week and see what's up. Maybe I can stir some interest. Anyway, if any of you enjoyed the thurday night Joe's Ride, come on out this thursday. If we don't get participation up so the word spreads, she'll die before long. Who knows, she may die this week. Either way, I'll be out there thursday night. I figure I've been there this long, I may as well see it the end. Hopefully the end isn't as near as it seems. I don't really feel like looking for a new thursday night ritual.


juancho said...

"I don't count no stinkin' numbers!".

the old bag said...

I counted numbers until one day I lost my cycle computer...and left it lost for the rest of the season. Zen cycling. Took awhile to get used to it!

RE: the ride...sounds like some neat history. It's early season. It might be that people just aren't thinking cycling least around here DST took all us by surprise.

BIG JIM S. said...

I'm here for you big guy. So Thursday, 5:45, the office. Lets see, bring bike, helmet, shoes and a wreckless attitude. Got it.

Anonymous said...

If I had ever been on a thursday night ride I would certainly be out there now. I just can't ride a road bike!

Looking forward to my next number and a little dirt.


Skmeetz said...

Bigworm, Don't lose hope man! I've led a Thursday night MTB ride up here in VA for about 6 years. I thought about canning it on many occasions b/c only my wife would show up, and that was out of simpathy. Now the ride get's about 30 riders in the summer, and a steady 10 through the coldest parts of the winter. If you like the route, keep doing it. If you build it they will come - back. Cheers.

Yax said...

Worm, it may be helpful to manufacture a little drama. For example, one could start a rumor like, 'Wrecking Ball said he couldn't help but drop Bikechain in the Duck-sign sprint'. To preserve their honor, they will have to show up for the challenge. Such trash-talking week after week will spread around town and others will show up just to watch the drama unfold.

RickySilk said...

When it first started it was just a way for us to dink around the day after food lion. We through the brick sprint and the hill sprint in for fun but back then we didn't start so far away. Probably started at about the last little rise before the straight to the bricks and right at the base of the hill.

Maybe this is an opportunity to recalibrate the ride back to its roots and attract a new crowd.

Anonymous said...

Its cause "road riding sucks".
Of course, there's no thursday Forest Ride right now either. sigh.