When you join a bike club as a new rider, you will be offered a great deal of advice and given a lot of new information. Some of it is even true. The trick is to learn to tell the difference.
On one of the routes we ride, there is very steep hill that leads up to the parking lot of a church. There are also stairs that lead up to the church. Standing at the bottom of that hill and looking up is a daunting experience, so you don’t do that. However, if a ride goes past the church, several people will opt to depart from the afternoon’s scheduled activities long enough to ride up that hill. When we finally get to the top, everybody circles around the church parking lot for a little while until they can breathe again. Did I mention that it was a very steep hill? Then, after you’ve recovered, you get the pleasure of riding down the hill.
Well, perhaps pleasure isn’t exactly the right word, as this hill debouches onto a very busy road with pretty much no line of sight, so you can’t blast down it. Well, you can, but, as you run a serious risk of encountering a car or truck moving at sixty miles an hour, it isn’t an especially good idea. Instead, you have to ride your brakes - hard - all the way down.
On a now not so recent ride, a fairly new rider talked about liking that hill, as many of us do. (Yes, many of us are crazy. Most cyclists are crazy. Haven't you learned that yet?) He was immediately told that, while the hill was fun, the real fun was in riding up and down the stairs instead. Now, there are perhaps fifty steps in the stairway, and it looks a bit more like a ladder than a staircase, so the very idea of riding either up or down it is pretty much ludicrous in the extreme unless it is your great desire to break something. Or possibly several somethings, since a fall down those stairs into the busy road would be quite spectacular from start to finish and might actually involve an involuntary lesson in flight with no accompanying instructions on landing.
The person in question asked, “Really?”
“That would be pretty hard!”
“Nah, you just have to get a rhythm going. Bump Bump Bump. It’s not that bad.”
Now, for those of you who are keeping track, that was false information, as was eventually explained to the listener in question for fear that he might actually try it one day and end up on MTV waving at the camera from the ambulance.
In fact, the peloton (the official name for a roving pack of cyclists) is full of chatter, much of it involving pulling someone’s leg.
“Dump out your water bottles here, because there’s a great spring around that curve where you can fill them up again with fresh water.”
Sure. (This is part of Frank's story, which will be posted in its entirety in a couple of days. I can tell you are breathless with anticipation.)
“No, there are no hills on this route at all.”
Of course not. There never are. Of course, this statement is almost certain to be followed by, "Oh, except that one. I forgot about that one." Then, later, by, "Well, you can't count this one. This isn't really a hill." And so on.
“If you move your water bottles from your bike to your jersey pockets, it’ll make your bike lighter and you’ll be able to climb faster.”
Oh, yes. You should try it. This is one of my favorites, actually. It's amazing how many people will believe this one.
Then there was the time I was buying a new bike. I had ordered a Litespeed Classic only ti find out after a few weeks that the model had been discontinued. Okay, so I went with a Tuscany. Then I waited. A week or so later on a ride, I heard Chuck behind me in the paceline talking to someone else. It seems his son had ordered a Tuscany and they were on backorder. It was going to be six months before his bike arrived. I was aghast, as you can imagine. (In this context, aghast is a euphemism for really ticked off.) Of course, it turned out that Chuck's son had not ordered a Tuscany and this conversation was specifically for my benefit. Even I thought it was a good joke.
You actually do get good information sometimes, though. I swear you do. Come on out and find out for yourself.
See you on the road.