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Group riding--from an other angle

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by FormerUser1, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. We all love those rides with mates…a good bunch going for a spin, lotsa fun, some ribbing, some trivial chatter over coffee and rolls…the odd little chase through the twisties, the yarns, the bullshit… even the occasional bike-swap for a stretch.

    I know… I LOVE it; the reason for organizing and mostly leading rides over the last 8 years or so…and many 10s of 1000s of klicks.
    The build-up, the emails, the road-fever…. even way before the ride…. sometimes years before a ride.
    The meet-ups of the crew/ bbqs and riding ‘the thing’ with a half-dozen maps piled on top of each other, the google-screen burned-in, accom-guides and pamphlets strewn all over tables and floor…3 mugs of stale, cold coffee in amongst the chaos, dead flies decorating the sad brew.

    And in amongst all the excitement, the glowing faces, pointing fingers, twirling pens….comes the thought of: Please,…PLEASE!!!…. let us all come back in one piece !!!
    Flitting faces of many others that I knew/know rush past the mental canvas, snapshots of when they came off (most often I wasn’t there when it happened), where and how they came off….the resulting pain in their faces, the efforts of recovery of body and bike and gear, the anguish of partners, family, friends after the initial phone calls…
    Their sometimes erratic and irrational reactions caused by the sad news.
    The ensuing chaos, flurry of calls, more pain and trouble caused to third and forth parties.

    The last few days before the ride, things are really frantic; gear, tickets, meeting points and time…
    In the background every so often a short call or email from a family member/ friend/partner/ wife: Pete…have fun, see you when you get back, take some snaps of my boy/ girl…and pleeeease….look after him/ her for me, will ya? Bring him/her home in one piece….
    The concern and fear are plain and clear, the pitch in the voice gives me a lump in the throat with the reply: I’ll try…knowing full-well that it’s NOT up to me, really.
    The voice on the phone knows it, too….

    Well, perhaps a little…I’ll honestly try to NOT lead anyone into the shit, make sure that nobody rides when too tired/ dehydrated etc etc, pick appropriate roads, change routes if things look wrong/ weather turns really snotty, make sure all get a good sleep, keep an eye on drinks at night and adjust start-time/ routing for the next day, keep an eye an personality clashes, try to separate the competitive-ones on the road by heaping some responsibility onto their shoulders so they’re busy with something else, rather than racing each other off the road…but in the end we’re all adults and everyone’s responsible for themselves, I know…and still ….

    “Bring ‘em back in one piece” with the pitch of that voice is permanently burned into the memory-banks…it’s sometimes hard to override that nagging thought when the fun is on, the twisties hot, the going good.
    It’s a terrible conflict at the next stop when the helmets come off in a hurry, gloves on the ground/ in the dirt without noticing, the glowing faces chattering at a 100-mile-an-hour from the last 30km-burn.
    A silent THANK-YOU goes into the wind, the relief that everyone is at the lookout.
    In one piece!

    The stop at a turn-off 30km up the road and a small group of the faster ones congregating, waiting for the rest. They trundle in, bit by bit. 3 are missing. We’ve been riding together for years… they should be here by now. The tailie is an ‘oldie’.
    They really should be here by now.
    That heavy lump in the chest builds within seconds and starts sliding into the guts. The half-searching/ half-hoping look into the other sets of eyes around…the same look is returned…we all know something’s wrong. The talk peters out, boots shuffling the gravel…nobody wants to say it out loud…. and nobody wants to go back to check.

    We all know that whoever does, might well be faced with a horrible mess.
    Images keep swirling of the 2 blind lefthanders with the gravel-seam on the inside, the narrow valley with steep banks and no room for error, the flying Landcruiser cutting corners…
    The relief of hearing a set of Remuses/whatever echoing through the valley is immense and intense…followed by the thought that it’s only one of the 3 who’s looking for us…looking for help, eyes full of desperation. When all 3 show up, a lump creeps into the back of the throat before the tension drains like a waterfall.
    To drive things to a pitch, Goodie was one of the 3. (The only time ever nobody checked for her was when she’d come off…as a tail-ender…pinned under the bike…while we were slapping each other on the back after an exhilarating twisties run. Nothing serious, but… what if??)

    Letting the ‘quick bunch’ go ahead on unknown roads…then following them with the bad feeling in the gut of possibly running over a small group of them around one of those blind rights… someone having come off…some others helping… people and bikes everywhere….and I come zipping around, bowling for a twelve.

    So many years, so many rides…so many situations. Been there, done that.
    Have I? Really? We’ve been incredibly lucky…if it wouldn’t have been for one of us unexplainably riding off the road (the cause is still a complete mystery) there would’ve been only scratches/ gouges/ contusions and a few broken ribs.

    Being a commercial airline-pilot for the last 30 years, an old school friend described his personal fears of a major disaster as:
    “It’s a percentage-game…the longer you’re at it without a stack, the higher the probability. The older you get, the longer you’re at it, the thinner your odds. It’s numbers…and they gnaw at you. No panic…just plain, naked fear.”
    He’s going to take early retirement by the end of next year, despite having loved every second of it. Food for thought…

    As we rolled into the loading area of the ferry in Devonport on the recent Tassie-Gems-Ride and after another great day on Tassie-roads, I had a lump in my throat.
    Laughter and banter all around me, I needed a few seconds to myself…15 went, 15 came back without a scratch…the relief was…just about… painful.
    A deep sigh prompted Dean/Pnut into something like: “You’re glad it’s over, eh?”
    Yes mate, I was… elated.
    Freed of: Please bring him/her back in once piece…
    Great ride, do it again in a flash….but…at that moment, I was glad it was over!

    I know that many others don’t feel/think anywhere along those lines, so that’s just me then.
    Make of it what you want…
  2. It's a good thing that responsibility rests on some broad and trustworthy shoulders on your rides, big fella.

    ...You do look after us, no question there - the vibe's different on a Glitch ride. A thick, wise head at the front makes a big difference.
  3. That's quite a post, glitch - thank you.
  4. Indeed.....

  5. Its good to see someone who takes it seriously...

    there have been a few times in the past when I have gone for a run down a road after a ride when the leader notices that someone has gone missing and he just shrugged and said "Musta gone home"...

    Good on ya dude... Keep up the good work while you find it rewarding...
  6. We're doing our best to work with you on that one Pete.
  7. So basically what happened, I am assuming that she forgot to put the sidestand down?
  8. Good post Pete,
    Must say in the 12 months I've been riding, whenever I've been out in a group situation, I've had total confidence in those in the lead. Always well-paced, considerate & very safety-concious. But then, I do choose carefully who I ride with - same reasoning that I wouldn't get into a car if I didn't know/trust the driver!
    Ultimately - my safety is my responsibility - but I'm always thankful knowing someone else is watching out for me too :)
  9. I fully understand where you are coming from Pete :)
  10. I know (and the post's got nothing to do with Tassie Gems or any other ride in particular)
    Hugely appreciated, too.
    Just putting down a few things, somewhat triggered by the Boky and Maddy incidents. I somewhat saw myself in Ben's post.
    Sent a real-bad shiver down the spine and hasn't let go since.
    Samilar thing to when it comes to those rides.

    And while at it, a Huge SORRY to MARTY.
    On that last 4-day ride after Xmas, he went ahead, Sash and I stopped at the Dead Horse Gap carpark for a few minutes.(well, I stopped, then Sash pulled up). He'd stopped a bit down the road, waited and must've felt exactly like that when at least I didn't turn up within a minute or so.

    He chased back, the white-as-a-sheet face said it all when the helmet came off.
    I felt real shitty, sorry mate !!
    (just didn't THINK)
  11. The "We're" in my post I'm sure goes for pretty much everyone who is tagging along on a group ride. Wasn't just a Tassie reference but a follower to leader statement but yer I know where you are coming from.
  12. Just read the Maddy thread and yer it does take it out of you....going from a high of beavering away planning my own group ride to a slap of reality and its shockwaves.
  13. Ben's post had me in snot and water.
    It cut deep.
  14. Glitch, you have encapsulated many of the thoughts that have gone through my head over the years. There is so much to think of when you are involved on an organisational level. The pleasure hitherto outweighing the pain, I am glad to say.
  15. As a completely new rider and reading these forums i didnt think i would go on group rides, too scary, too fast, too unsafe - too many super stars going flat out and telling the noobs off for going too slow - now i will re consider. Thanks for that post.
  16. If you do your own pace you will have no worries...the corner markers and tail ender will do the hard stuff just enjoy the ride and the atmosphere of being around people who love their bikes and riding as much as you do

  17. Yep, same here.
    Still, sometimes...while on the road...there are moments when things just seem to fall to pieces inside that head.
    The most excruciating part is the waiting when you know...just KNOW...that someone's "overdue". 1000 easy explanations for it...sure...but what if it's that one time again when somebody went down ?
    The world shrinks down to the size of a football...
  18. Thanks for the post Glitch and for your attitude.
    I just read about Maddy and I'm still welling up, it would take a very hard man to not be moved by Ben's post. Absolutely tragic.

  19. Well said Giltch, Very well said.

    There should be more ride leaders like you, or . . .

    you should lead more rides!

    :applause: :applause: :applause:
  20. The burden of leadership IS a burden if the leader takes it seriously.

    Pete's post should be printed out and pasted to the wall of the office of everyone who leads rides, or aspires to. And for the red-liners who go on rides, just think about the stress you are placing on others, especially the lead rider.

    100% great value Pete, thanks....