I've been riding for several years now and I'm a Pretty good rider. I wasn't born that way. It wasn't even easy. I had to go through a building process. A process of riding and working. A process of improving. My goals involve becoming an even stronger rider, of riding those miles even faster. That's good. That's how we all get to be strong riders. Setting our goals a little higher each time. Pushing that extra effort when it hurts. These are the things I think and talk about. These are the things that are meaningful to me.
What is meaningful to a rider out there for the first time? It is the same thing that was meaningful to me the first time out. Simply covering the distance. Long distance or short, they have to start somewhere. They are not worried about the time or the speed, only that they cover the distance. Sometimes I forget that!
This Sunday I forgot that. There was a couple riding slower than we were. I could have waited and ridden with them, but I forgot I can give a lot of good reasons for not riding with them. Of course, they'll never know any of those reasons. They only know that no one rode with them. They might keep riding in spite of me, I hope so, but better it had been because of me. But, after all, I had my own goals. Perhaps I had to be somewhere at a certain time. Perhaps I wanted to ride hard and fast. Perhaps I didn't want to look bad in front of the guys. Perhaps I wanted to keep up with someone else. There are lots of good reasons but these new riders will never know any of the reasons, because I won't see them again. Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I forget when a ride leader puts out the extra effort to ride the short ride to help a new rider. I kid him about it. The new rider hears, "You're not worth riding with if that's all you can ride." That's not what I meant but that's what they hear. I ask the new, slow rider if he had trouble on the route. I'm concerned about him but he hears, "You must have had trouble to have been that slow." I could have gotten the same information by asking. "Did you have a good ride?"
Well at least I'm talking to them. Fred rides up and starts telling the guys about his new 515 and how well it works when he's "really hammering". A "Hi, my name is Fred, I hope you have a nice ride" would do a lot to help the newcomers feel welcome Sometimes even Fred forgets.
Sometimes we all forget that we all once went on our first club ride. I sometimes forget that if I had ridden that first ride alone there would have been no reason to come back I could ride alone anytime. I'm very glad that someone slowed down and rode with me I'm sad that I didn't do that for someone else. I'm going to try to do better next time. I'm going to ride at lease twice during the year with the last rider because there are some things that I want to remember and sometimes... I forget..
Original story by Chuck Fearnow, Central Indiana