Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sticking Together

We have talked about it before, the Wednesday Night Butter Lap. It can be a pretty strenuous ride if you are not ready for it, and a lot of people show up for it thinking it is strictly a social ride. It is social, but the comradery is based quite a bit in the challenge of the hills. Not everyone loves the freedom of a long, steep, fast fly down the side of a mountain in questionable light (my favorite part!). That said, if you do come out for the ride, and you can appreciate the challenges, Butter Lap is a blast.

This is Leah.


Leah just moved here from Austin, TX and this was her first Butter Lap. One of the first things she said to me was "Austin is flat". I know how she feels. The first few times I did this ride I had to work super hard to finish.

I Will Get There

Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement and someone who knows the way to stick with you. Most of the time, that is all you need. I wasn't in a hurry so I decided to stick with Leah so she wouldn't get lost and she would know how much farther there was on each hill (it helps so much just knowing how far you have to go and I almost quit after being left behind in the past). We had a great talk and I was super happy to see her get to the end of the line. I hope we see her on the ride again!

Then there was Amanda. I didn't get a good shot of her face.

Amanda's Purple Jacket

Her bicycle was in terrible shape, and wasn't shifting at all. James (yay, Hubby the Bikeman!) took a look at it and was able to get her a few gears. Despite the fact that she wasn't used to the hills, her bike was stubborn and she kept dropping her chain, James stayed with her. Amanda declared him to be her new "Bicycle BFF", which he is to everyone and is why I love him. James likes to jam up the hills and is very competitive with me about who gets down them faster (me, BTW), but he stayed with her the whole ride to make sure she didn't get left behind and she made it all the way to the end. It took some work, too, but she didn't give up and I was really proud of her for sticking in!

Group rides can be a whole lot of fun, but if one of the riders struggles or is slower, group riding can be frustrating. Never being able to catch up, not knowing the route and not knowing how to pace yourself can wear a rider out way faster than any hill or headwind. Just having someone stick with you, or ride back to check on you from time to time can be the difference between being happy to be challenged or quitting and never coming back. It is so easy to get caught up in the ride, but if we all remember the riders, the ride gets so much better!

Do you like group rides? Have you been too intimidated to try one?


  1. I love group rides and I love solitary rides - just like the rest of my life. I'm an extrovert and love to socialize. At the same time, I treasure alone time. The few years that I lived alone, no partner or roommate, were some of the BEST. I love solitude.

  2. I like group rides as long as they're not speed demons :) In my experience, the guys who get to going 20-30 mph & above are also less likely to stop at lights, etc. because "they're going too fast to stop".

    I DO love slow, easy evening rides, though, full of talking & joking and ending with a picnic!

  3. I don't like group rides. I get to ride my bike only on my way to work and back. I want to enjoy this moments just by myself.

  4. I love a group ride!! Most of my riding is solitary, commuting to work, so having someone to talk to for me just multiplies the fun and it's a novelty. I did find them intimidating at first though. I was nervous about joining one because I didn't want to be the person holding everyone up...!

    BTW, Leah looks wicked adorable! Love the pink!

  5. I do now, although I expect if I'd been on one when I wasn't cycling so much I'd have been put off. Most of the group rides round here are for the lycra warriors (as are most of the cyclists round here) and I do get some funny looks in my normal clothes (and NO HELMET! gasp!) but they're usually pretty friendly. I think it helps to have a bike you're proud of and to be aware of the pace beforehand and know you can keep up. I'm glad you're keeping tabs on the back markers - nothing worse than turning up for a group ride and being dropped...

  6. butterlap was my biggest challenge 2-3 years ago. i was always last and sometimes I had someone loop back and keep me company, and chat with me - i had no air to chat but that was fairly nice.
    what kept me coming back to butterlap was that i met tons of people, was a great midweek detox and showed the passion between love/hate with thos up/down hills – all worth it.
    this year has been SUPER great, and now that all my friends are into it, has been AWESOME! im almost no longer last, but as you well described here and i was running late+trying to catch up, when i turned at seacliff, it put the *biggest* smile on my face to see james + amanda at the end :DDDDD

    butter up, buttercups.

  7. excelent blog, me gusta mucho

    saludos form argentina

  8. M&G- I am like you. I can be very extroverted but I love my solitude. It is great unless I end up with a group when I really want to be alone.

    Amanda- End of ride picnic is the BEST! I am hoping for a couple of those soon!

    Emilian- When I stopped working last year I found that the thing I missed the most was my morning commute. I loved starting the day with a good ride and some reading time on the train.

    townmouse- I love doing rides that traditionally attract sporty, lycra riders while wearing a dress or using my dutch bike. The reactions are always amusing : )

    Meli- Back of the bus!!!!!

    Ganesha- Saludos back at you! i want to ride in Argentina, one day!

  9. We've been doing Cargo Bike Picnic Rides for five years now in Seattle (link to schedule and many picture links: ). Since many of us are riding big, heavy bikes loaded down with all manner of food, drink, and equipment, we never go fast, and we always wait for stragglers. We do try to avoid the serious hills, but some of these rides tend to happen in pouring rain, gusting wind, and fairly low temperatures. None of that stops the fun, though! Val

  10. Although I prefer to ride alone most of the time, I would be happy to see some group riding here.
    Unfortunately bikes are an everyday means of transportation here, so nearly nobody sees them as something special or as something to create meetings or events around.


  11. I don't get a chance to do much group riding, but we're doing a kidical mass here in cambridge in mid-July, so I'm excited about that. I would love slow-paced rides that allow me to ride with the kids and chat with others. I would especially love a ride that was full of people that weren't super gear-heads as I'm not at all.

    @Anonymous -- I love the idea of a cargo bike ride + picnic! I ride both an xtracycle and a mtn bike with a kid seat on the back, so my rides are usually slow!

    Great blog!

  12. Awesome story. It's nice to see folks watching out for each other.