Road Rules: New Uniform and a Lost Art

road rules

They discussing chaffing?

The discussion continues about WSJ’s take on the new road uniform, what we’re wearing, and how we view ourselves. I was in threads on Facebook, G+, and Twitter about the topic most of the day. Those conversions included our channels and the other cyclists quoted in the article. Interesting too, cause Kevin is a traditional reporter who doesn’t inflect his own beliefs into the story. He reported a trend and threaded together interviews with “experts.” Scanning the comments I saw a pervasive “don’t give an F or care what other people wear.” That collective response and whatever attitude may contribute to another topic being discussed: The Lost Art of the Road Ride.

The magic ends by mile 10. The group will surge, gap, and separate, only to regroup at every stop sign. I’ll hear fifteen repeated screams of “HOLE!” for every minor road imperfection. And then no mention of the actual hole. Some guy in front will set a PR for his 30 second pull. Wheels overlap, brakes are tapped, and some guy in the back will go across the yellow line and speed past the peloton for no apparent reason. A breakaway?!

Absolutely correct that everyone is an expert and they’ve self-quantified themselves on Strava to prove it. The same thing is happening in racing where, at times, it feels like the racers spend more time watching pirated Eurovision streams than racing themselves. Like hey those aren’t tactics, but ignorance to the well-established dynamics of a race.

On G+, John Friedrich, summed it up

My cycling experience is primarily mtn, followed by city/urban, with group recreational road riding something fairly new for me. When I started road riding in earnest a few years ago, bike handling and awareness of my surroundings are things that I saw a great deal of value in that I found most groups lacked. I haven’t been steeped in road culture (I still don’t shave my legs) but I do respect that pack customs and traditions exist for a reason- to keep the group efficient, fast, and safe. I find it frustrating that so many cyclists new to road riding feel like they have something to prove- enough to place themselves and the rest of the group in danger.

This is a sport steeped in tradition, over a century old, and you want to ride big miles like a Pro in baggy shorts with hairy legs? Sure, you independent, can-do, American individualist! But note that there’s some old guys in the sport that can drop some knowledge on you they learned from even older guys who actually raced in Europe, back in the day. On those roads you’ve only seen on TV.

Before the internet, before custom bikes, and before Lance, it was done better. Learning to ride was an apprenticeship. The goal was to become a member of the peloton, not merely a guy who is sort of fast on a bike. Membership was the point, not to be the local Cat. 5 champ. You were invited to go on group ride if you showed a interest and a willingness to learn. You were uninvited if you did not. You learned the skills from directly from the leader, who took an interest in riding next to you on your first rides (and not next to his friends, like better riders do today).

A generation proved themselves on rides and moved up through the ranks. This one has Stuart Smalley smartphones apps that tell them how good their ride was. Maybe they should unlock the tradition badge instead

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