Remember Where You Started?by Scott Anderson
“Everyone took off and I ended up doing the entire ride by myself! I never went back!” Alarmingly, this is a synthesis of the answers I generally get when I ask people why they have ridden with our club only once or twice and then quit. I have heard it often enough to feel we, as an organization “dedicated to promoting the sport of bicycling and advocating for the rights of all cyclists,” (check our website, it says this) have failed to complete our mission.
I joined two years ago. A fifteen-mile ride was a big challenge to me and I felt a great sense of accomplishment in finishing that distance. I didn’t know any of the common routes we use, or the names of any of the roads. Everyone always said to follow Dan Henry. I didn’t know who Dan was. All this was great incentive for me to keep at least one person in sight on every ride no matter how worn out I was. And yes, it can be argued that this very quickly improved my cycling. But I suspect many would have, and indeed have, just given up and gone their separate way.
By no means am I saying that no one ever assisted me. I was very fortunate to have many people come to my assistance as my rides progressed in length. During my first winter, Adrian Freund spent many days getting me home. For my first 70-mile ride, I selected the ride from New Albany, to Leavenworth, Indiana. In retrospect, this was a bad choice. It was a hot, sultry day, the ride was probably well beyond my abilities at that point, and I have never suffered leg cramps such as I had that day. But of that day I will always remember that it was Debbie Browning who spent the last fifteen miles limping me home. Many more have come to my assistance since and I thank you all. And as such I feel certain it is not the overt intent of our members to drop new riders and/or dissuade them from attempting longer distances.
I would ask each and everyone of us to try to remember how it felt when we started cycling. Sure it takes a little courage and effort to talk to a new person. But isn’t that what we would have wanted to happen when we were that new person? And not every ride has to be an all-out time trial (I swear lightning did not strike as I wrote that!). If, like for myself, it is difficult to resist that competitive call on every ride, try being a ride captain. I have gotten to know many wonderful people that way and hope that in some small way I have encouraged them in their cycling.
Copyright ©1999 Louisville Wheelmen. All rights reserved.
Web posted: 21 April 1999
last updated: 22 April 1999
by Duc M. Do