First, let me say thank you to David Enter, a Public Safety police officer at Furman University. I appreciated his response to my concerns about the incident I had on the campus last Saturday morning. Cyclists in the area should be appreciative of the welcome we so often receive on the campus.
Now to the subject at hand. I received some grief for my post from the weekend. I was taken to task for turning a “cookie ride” into a “crank fest.” “It’s a ride… not a race,” I was told. “You’re a racer now. You don’t have to prove anything now.”
The thing is that I agree that a charity ride is not a race. I’ll even mention that as I was getting sucked into the breakaway, I felt a tinge of remorse and even embarrassment. However, I paid the entry fee and donated my pledged amount — I was going to have as much fun on the ride as possible. For me, that means looking for a challenge.
A cookie ride is a ride with many people of varying abilities. The point is to hang out and enjoy a social time together as much as it is to reach the end of the ride. Most cookie rides are not “timed events.” This means that there is nothing to gain by going fast.
What I was getting chastised for was not being a social creature and riding along within the group. In addition the indication is that it is beneath someone who is considered fast by some to participate in a phantom race for nothing. Be cool and let the ones who have something to prove go up the road.
On the other hand, take a group of cyclist, tell them that there is a route and a finishing line, and one of them is going to want to be the first one across that line. Also, there are those who are constantly monitoring themselves and while they may not be racing the other riders around them, they are trying to better a previous time for an event. I have never been on a cookie ride where you didn’t have some people that fell in these categories.
So, why did I do it?
First, I didn’t intend to do it. I started off near the rear and really planned to stay there. However, as I mentioned in my last post, it got a little sketchy in some of the climbs. I kept saying to myself, “Okay, I’ll just move up through this one group so I can have some clear road.” Of course, I would then see another group just up the road. “Well, I might as well go catch up with them so I have someone to ride with.”
Second, the above actions ultimately left me at the front of the field. I was not attacking. I was just sitting there pedaling along waiting for the group to crest the last hill and come to me. It was at that point that David Bright came flying past me. Then John Frame caught up to us. This is the point where I argued with myself what to do.
Finally, the siren call of the front was just too strong. I could drop off and fall back into the field and take it easy for the next four hours, or I could connect with these guys and work together as a challenge to finish the ride as quickly as possible. This was not for the purpose of “being done with it.” It was for the goal of enjoying the ride.
The bottom line is that I was riding the event for Meals On Wheels. I was riding it to enjoy a day on my bike. At that moment, the way I could best do that was to accept the challenge. True, I have nothing to prove. At the same time, I am not so proud that I felt I needed to act according to a certain social construct.
Some people get great pleasure out of the cookie element of the ride. That is great! The racer who looks down his nose at these riders ignores the backbone of the cycling community. At the same time, not every rider who rides off the front to finish as fast as he can is trying to prove something. For both groups of riders, it is the same goal — enjoy the ride. They just happen to enjoy it in different ways.
Is one way right and the other wrong? I don’t think there is a moral question here. There is no need for judgment on either set of riders. The end result is the same, Meals On Wheels raised a lot of money to help feed citizens of Greenville County, and hundreds of riders had a great time.
In the end, it doesn’t matter who got to the line first — or how they got there. What mattered was that they all had fun in their own ways helping a great cause. You can enjoy both the cookie and the crank.