Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Sunday Ride
Sunday rides are the cornerstone of most cycling communities. While many of us go out of our way to squeeze in as many rides per week as possible, the majority of cyclists rely on the weekends. Saturday rides abound, but Sunday is for the Granddaddy of group get togethers. Sunday generally seems to be the day that crew members the world over manage to coordinate their free time, and congregate in a societal manner where we misfits function at our best.Saturday may see you at Bed, Bath & Beyond, mowing the grass, or painting dining room, but Sunday, Sunday is for riding and recovery from said ride.
In the Revolutions Cyclery days, Saturday nights were spent in preparation of the Sunday Ride. That may entail prepping the bike, eating a hearty dinner, cajoling your buddies who may be lacking the proper degree of enthusiasm. Or in some cases, Saturday was just a giant party, and the Sunday ride was something to be simply survived. I remember more than one occasion, where 8am rolled around, and more than one crew member still reeked of alcohol, and one or two may actually still be a little drunk! Somehow, when you're 23, and it's 3am, 3 hours seems like plenty of sleep prior to the Sunday group ritual.
You didn't miss it, though. If you dare be late, or a few guys simply decided that you were iffy, the shop phones were armed, and your answering machine got its speakers blown out by high decibel swearing and belittling, heard by most any neighbor who may be awake, and maybe even by the sleepy drivers cruising the neighborhood streets en route to their morning coffee. Spanish Mackerel was the most common recipient of this treatment, and as those of you new to the crew can still see, it never worked. His appearance on rides is still more a marvel than a regularity. I'm not certain of this, but he was likely also the first to get voicemail, versus the machine. That little bit of technology basically nullified our wake up calls.
By 7:45, the lot would be full of guys lubing chains, trying to decide what clothing was necessary for the day ahead, and bugging me to fix something that they could just never find time to deal with before that very moment. These rides typically had 6 or 8 guys, but sometimes topped 15. It really was cool to have so many folks riding together.
Our rides started at 8, and we had to be back by noon to open the shop. Outside of those constraints, the ride route and pace were free reign. We always rolled from the shop, and linked as many kid built cut throughs, city parks, and bum trails as possible. Sometimes the ride headed through downtown, and over to the campuses. We'd spend hours bombing urban downhill runs through the empty college thoroughfares, down loading ramps and stairs. Competition abounded to see who could hop onto the highest benches and walls, without destroying chainrings in the process. Newcomers to these rides would swear we took them out to intentionally kill their equipment, thus securing the shop's future.
On other rides, the urban trails were simply a means to an end; connectors to the trails of the day. We rode all points of the compass from the shop, only to return later, exhausted and stoked, to be lucky enough to do what we did every Sunday.
Lately, I've been missing the big group rides of old. Then along comes an email from Elio. Superbowl Sunday, Urban Gorilla Ride, rolling from downtown at 8, hitting most every trail within the city limits. Elio has been hosting these urban gorilla rides for awhile, and he once told me that the idea came from the old Revolutions rides. So Superbowl Sunday rolls around, and I find my freezing ass rolling through the early morning deserted streets of Tallahassee, to meet a ride that was born from the imagination of a guy who was inspired by our old rides. The empty city streets instantly brought the memories flooding back. The group of mountain bikers milling around City Hall, waiting anxiously to see who all would arrive, brought back even more. A few of us from our BC crew had discussed meeting this group, but then splitting off to do our own thing, but when I saw 15-20 guys ready to ride, I realized that I was not gonna miss this one.
My partners had not shown when the ride departed the meeting spot, but as we came over a big hill, headed for the trails, my guys were climbing the other side. The spectacle of 20 guys cresting the hill, lit by the early morning sun hit home, and they had no intention of missing out on an opportunity like this, either. We picked up a few more on our way to the trails, and by the time we hit singletrack, there was a train of 25 or more bikes snaking along. Silk went to the front and set a steady pace. Nothing scorching, just steady. We never stopped until we'd passed through the Fern, Tom Brown, Cadillac, and across the dike to the Alford Greenway. A quick nature break, and we were back underway, without another stop until we'd skirted the lake, and crossed to the Miccosukee Greenway. At this point, there were still 12-15 guys hanging together. Unfortunately, this is also the point that my legs decided it was time to let me know that it was time to head for home.
When I split off from the group, it was saddening to watch such a big bunch still riding together, knowing that my day was done, and not knowing when the next big group ride would come around. I didn't realize it at the time, but my wait was shorter than expected. One week in fact, was all it took. I guess it was just a perfect storm of word of mouth, but today's ride had 10 people show up, when I was only expecting about three.
Afterward, I told Big Jim Slade that we have to find a way to make this more regular. Earlier this week, Storming Norman asked what had happened to the big rides. I rattled through the list of folks who'd taken up breeding, opening new businesses, school and injuries. The crew is alive and well, but those still riding are few and far between. I offered up my contact info to a few folks who asked when and where we ride. Perhaps an infusion of new blood will be good. I look forward to the return of Wrecking Ball, and with him, hopefully Little Wrecking Ball. Juniors like Mingo Jr, Lil' WB and Rupe are the future of the crew. Hopefully they will stick with this as they get older.
Regardless of where the numbers come from, the Sunday ride will remain a staple of cycling crews everywhere. The new faces may be new to cycling, or they may simply be new to us, but either way, the flow of people meeting up to get their weekend warrior on, will not die off anytime soon.