Ask Big Worm

A reader wrote in last week with this compelling question-

What’s the etiquette on dropping/being droppedwhen one of the group is riding unfamiliar terrain? Is the group vindicated by the laggard being too damned slow, or does the dropee have a legitimate gripe? Merely hypothetically speaking.

Big Worm says…

Ooooooo, touchy subject!

I’m pretty sure that just such a situation is what started the crusades. Never mind that whole Holy Lands reason, I think Pope Urban II was pissed when he got dropped on a group ride with the Turks. This argument has played out as long as one friend was faster/slower than the other.

I know back in the Revolutions Cyclery days, we started a big sunday ride, that was designed to allow various abilities to ride together. Another certain ride, that has long been an institution in Tallahassee, seemed to want to make a point of dropping new guys in a locale where the newbie was unfamiliar. This mentality pissed off our crew, the newbies, so we started our own gig. It actually was funny for awhile, as our ride began to attract as many as 20 riders for off road rides every sunday. Our numbers surpassed the institution. That was fine until some of the core group rediscovered bike racing. Then it became a problem of some guys wanting to train at a higher level, but others not being able to answer the faster pace. Now the logical answer, from the outside, is tell the hammerheads to get lost, and do their own thing. Problem there is that this crew has now been riding together every sunday for years. We all know that cycling is a social activity, as well as a physical activity, and it’s tough to have to split up from people that you may only see on that sunday ride.

So now what? Cycling has long had a tradition of flagellating the weak. We’ve all been on the ride where you wait for the slow guy at some key point, and as soon as he or she shows up, drool hanging off their chin and a glassy faraway look in their eyes, you haul ass to the next waiting spot. This Darwinian tradition will have one of two results. Either the weak one gets stronger, as they never get to rest, and then happily passes on the tradition the next poor schlub who joins the group. Power is intoxicating, isn’t it!

Or, this rider moves to Columbine, buys a trench coat, and adds all of your names to their people to kill list, scrawled on the wall in lipstick.

Personally, I’ve been on both sides of the problem, So I certainly can’t claim any moral high ground on this one. If you’re on familiar ground, and the laggee does not appear to be making a real effort to hang on, or is just too hungover from the previous nights indulgences, a little tough love may be in order. More than once we dragged one of the owners of Revolutions around, still drunk from 3-4 hours earlier. Unfamiliar territory kind of changes the rules.

My crew will usually take turns chilling with the laggee on the way to each regroup, allowing everyone to get a chance to beat their heads against the oak thighs of Flash.

I suppose my conscience still makes it tough to leave someone where they are completely lost. Either that, or I hate the way my name looks in lipstick!

Why? ‘Cause BIGWORM says!

5 Responses to Ask Big Worm

  1. Leave no man (or lady) behind! Wow this topic just keeps coming back doesn’t it? The club I ride with ( have three club rides a week, the main club ride on a thursday at a reasonable pace, the tuesday pootle (my baby) for a more social/newbie pace and the tuesday Ginsters crew ride for a pacier run. But even with this catering for all riders getting dropped is not an easy thing to manage!

    Personally I don’t ever think there is ever an excuse for it, the rider in front should always be responsible for the next rider behind. On the Pootle crew rides, I always ride somewhere near the back of the pack to make sure we don’t lose someone (thursdays are different matter; I’m at the back then because I’m rubbish)

    My two pence

    Fat Lad

  2. If you are the slow one, after the third wait-up
    you should roll up saying, “ok, boys point me home,
    & yall go on”. Because if you’re not keeping up with your group, and you’re not completely wiped out trying to catch them the first two times they were waiting on your slow a**. THEN You suck.
    If you are really wiped out, go home knowing you just got a bunch stronger, and the boys won’t be roll’in their eyes next time you pull up to ride.

    OK Big Worm……….
    What about the opposite of a dropee?
    The fast kiddies who tag along on a “slow group” ride? hmmmmmm… what’s the etiquette here?


  3. Agreed. Unless everyone knows where they are and what the deal is, you are responsible for maintaining contact with the person behind you, in my opinion.

  4. Now, fast kiddies on a slow ride is much easier to manage. A couple of the pootle crew regulars are lightning quick but they know the score, social pace, you want to go faster go elswhere. They come for the craic not training.

    But saying that we have had some fast riders who didn’t know the score and all they ended up doing was a lot of waiting around at the top of the hills!

    Juancho you muppet, you got my url wrong in the post below this one! How are people supposed to go “marauding through their comments pages, spewing 10th Avenisms along the way” if they can’t get there 😉

    Heatwave here in blighty, tonight is going to be fun on the pale skin/British temperature tolerance in the heat 🙂

  5. Well, I don’t think a “muppet” is something I want to be, so I will go and fix it. Click the Fat Lad’s name if you want to visit England everyone. Or is it France? All those Europeans look alike to me.

    Now, I am departing town, so back to the discussion…