Jan, 2013

How to ride your bicycle the right way.

Even before all the testimonials of sin, cycling has lost its way, its focus, and its morality. In the last 30 years many great advancements have been made and cycling is more widely known in the United States. However, cycling’s zeal for greatness left behind some important fundamentals for it’s continued growth and success. At the EPTC we are trying to revive these fundamentals through the following:

1. Cycling should be fun.
For 99.9% of us, cycling is a hobby, a way to get out and exercise with friends. Chances are we won’t make millions of dollars and we won’t stand on the podium of the Champs Elysees or even at the Athens Twilight. So why work so hard and blindly focused to the point that you are no longer enjoying what you’re doing? We’re not saying don’t train hard, we’re just saying slow down on occasion, look around and smell the flowers – remember why you started riding in the first place. At the EPTC, we will have leisurely rides, intense rides and social rides throughout the year on all types of bikes and we encourage you and your friends to join us for as many as you can.

2. Cycling is pure and simple.
Since inception, bicycles have had a place to sit, a way to steer and self-powered mechanical means to make it go. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your two-wheeled steed, but we will all get to the same place without the use of illegal performance enhancements. We have zero tolerance for it.

3. Don’t forget to mentor.
Offer encouragement and support to fellow riders. If you are experienced share your knowledge and mentor others. 30 years ago masters racing was very limited. After 40 you stopped racing to coach, officiate and give guidance to younger riders. It’s great that we now have a thriving masters population of riders and events to fill their needs, just don’t forget that your knowledge and time is still needed to promote and grow the sport. Many younger or less experienced riders need your help, your advice and many times, a lift to an event.

4. Hey kid, listen and stop being a prima donna.
Stop proving the old guys right with your millennial stubborn ways. Listen, learn and pay attention. If they yell at you during a ride, it’s because you were doing something stupid. It doesn’t mean they hate you. It doesn’t mean you can sue and it sure as heck doesn’t mean they don’t want you with them. Most of the old guys have been riding well before you were born. We may be slower than you now, but that doesn’t mean we’re not a wealth of knowledge… and willing to drive you to where you need to go – just ask. And remember back in our day, if we did something stupid we typically found out by thinking it over sitting in a ditch along the route.

5. Hey new guy, don’t be a “Fred”.
Many years ago, a “Fred” was summed up us as someone who didn’t shave their legs and road with the fast guys without regard to their fitness, ability or technique. A “Fred” didn’t listen to other riders on how to be a better, safer, rider. Back then a “Fred” was few and far between and easily distinguishable and was usually forced to leave the ride.

In the late 90’s cycling changed and a selfish demeanor took over. (Thank you Lance!) A mind-numbing attitude that still plagues the sport we love. Many cyclists today through no fault of their own, or a lack of mentoring, or outright disregard, are riding in groups or trails without acquiring the necessary skills to do so. They refuse to listen and throw temper tantrums when scolded for riding like an idiot – or worse they just outright ignore the advice. Even if you are the best time trialist or that you can bunny hop a tree, or skid to a fashionable stop on your fixie—it does not mean you have the ability or the right to jump in the middle of a 100 person group ride or plummet down an expert trail. Try the back of the group the first couple of times and then move up once you start to see how things work.

All EPTC riders will be working to do their part, by being knowledgeable riders who are aware of their own limits and abilities. We will not be afraid to ask for help and we will gladly offer guidance when we can. No one started – not even the great Eddy Merckz – knowing how to do a pace-line, or why you leave a little more of a gap to the person in front of you on a hill, but he was told and practiced until he did. We will hold rides that will practice riding skills and techniques and we encourage you and your friends to join us.

6. Cycling should be safe.
There are already plenty of cycling advocacy groups that are working to promote better cycling environments. We encourage and applaud their efforts and will do our part by obeying local and state traffic laws and encouraging others around us to do the same. For example, running red lights, hogging the road or passing other riders in the opposite lane of traffic will not be tolerated. We will do our part to strengthen our relationship with our four wheeled counterparts by being good ambassadors. Remember you are a reflection of other members and our sponsors every time you are wearing your jersey.

7. We are 100% human, not Cyborg.
Philippe Gilbert, after a struggling season said “A cyclist is not a Formula 1 driver who gives all numbers of the machine to engineers after testing and then there is a solution.” Bicycle riding is different for everyone and what works for one will not work for another. Reading it in a book and then assuming it will work for you as specified is more than likely a recipe for disappointment. Whether you are just trying to be more efficient in your commute or training to meet a specific goal, remember that cycling is one big ebb and flow. Roll with the punches, work with friends and try a variety of ways until you find what works best for you. Most importantly, talk to fellow club members, seek advice from your peers and remember that cycling should be fun!