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!