How Not to Get Invited on the Next Group Ride

09.26.2005 | 8:48 pm

Want to be "accidentally" left off the email list the next time a ride is organized? Of course you do! Here’s how you can ensure that—no matter your riding skill—other cyclists avoid you like the plague:

  • Pull "The Elden Move."

OK, let’s get this one out of the way first, since it’s apparently been named after me (in some circles). For some reason—which I cannot fathom—some riders don’t like to have the first guy to the top of the climb turn around, come down to where they’re climbing, and climb up with them. Well, humph. To those people, I defend myself by saying that I’m not doing this to show that I’m a superior climber, I’m doing it because I just don’t like hanging around forever and ever at the top of the climb, and figure I’d rather come back down part way and keep riding, even if it is at your snail-like pace. Oh, wait. Now I think I see your point.

  • Surge and Fade in a Paceline
  • . Some people don’t have the knack of riding at the speed of the group. They drop back a little—maybe fifteen feet—and then surge forward to catch up. If you are the person who is lucky enough to be behind the surge-and-fade rider, you know that it completely kills any drafting effect you get from riding in a paceline. The best thing you can hope for is an opportunity to switch the riding order up. I have ridden behind a surge-and-fader for more than an hour once. It was the most draining hour of my life.

  • Be the Tipster
  • : If you’ve been riding for a while—or perhaps you’ve read a bunch of cycling magazines and books—you no doubt have valuable advice to offer those you’re riding with. And no doubt they’ll want to hear it. All of it. To the exclusion of any other possible conversation. I remember vividly when I was new to mountain biking, there was a particular person who gave me tip after tip after tip on riding, every time we rode together. Finally, I shouted, "No more tips!" Here’s a tip for those who love to give tips: No more than three tips per ride no matter what, and a maximum average of two per ride.

  • Be the Gearmeister:
  • Almost all serious cyclists—road or mountain—have a certain amount of gear geek in them. But some people want to debate the virtues of Shimano v. Campy, or Ti v. carbon, or tube v. clincher endlessly. This is not just annoying, it’s dangerous: This kind of talk can hypnotize other riders, causing terrible accidents. Here’s a good rule of thumb, then, to help you recognize whether your chatter about gear is boring: If you’re chattering about gear, it’s boring.

  • Be Consistently Late:
  • This one probably applies mostly to riding groups of middle-aged people with jobs, kids, and lots of responsibilities: If you’re late to every group ride, it’s not funny or endearing. It’s indicative that you need some time management training, or that you’re living in Quad 4 or something like that.

  • Harp at Others for Being a Little Late:
  • Same thing applies in reverse: if you’re riding with a group of people who have jobs, kids and responsibilities, you’ve got to accept that everyone has 3-minute emergencies from time to time, and you’re just ruining the ride for yourself and others if you get in a twist about it.

  • Be Stupidly Cheerful:
  • If I’m bonked, or I think the weather’s bad, or I don’t like the ride, I expect everyone else to have the same reasonable outlook I have: that everything in the world sucks. If I’m not having fun, there’s no fun to be had. If we can agree on that, we can all get along.

  • Be a Crybaby
  • : If I’m having a great time—feeling strong, enjoying the weather, liking the course—then clearly everyone else must be having a good time. Please don’t pretend like you’re tired or hot or hungry or bonked.

  • Stick to Your Training Regimen, No Matter What:
  • I know people who only rarely ride with the group, because Chris Carmichael has given them explicit instructions on how and when they ought to ride, and those instructions don’t make provisions for actually enjoying yourself. After a while, you stop inviting those guys, because what’s the point? By the way, I have noticed, in race situations, that I pass guys in CTS jerseys much more frequently than I am passed by those guys. I’m just saying.

  • Make Excuses, Before, During and After the Ride:
  • If you’re not feeling well or you’ve had an injury, it’s OK to mention this before the ride. Once. You do not get to repeat it for the benefit of those who didn’t hear the first time, and you do not get to elaborate for those who did not really understand just how bad your case of consumption really is. Everyone has a bad riding day sometimes. We understand that. Let’s move on.

  • Wear Your Badge of Honor Too Proudly:
  • If you’ve chosen to ride a singlespeed mountain bike or fixed-gear road bike, that’s super. However, you do not get to point it out, and you do not get to use it as an excuse for doing badly on any part of the road. If someone points it out, you may acknowledge it and—if so prompted—even elaborate. But you do not get to call out your absence of derailleurs any more than someone gets to call out that they do have derailleurs. You’ve made your choice; don’t treat it like it was forced upon you.

  • Be Relentlessly Apologetic:
  • I’m guilty of this one, big time. If I’m slower than the people around me, I apologize over and over for slowing them down. I have been told to shut up. To those to whom I have apologized too often for not being able to keep up, I apologize.

  • Gloat About Trivial Wins in the Distant Past:
  • Remember that time you rode up that impossibly steep pitch in the "Toilet Bowl" move at Gooseberry Mesa, and nobody else was able to clean it? Well, the rest of us don’t, and yet we press on.


    1. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2005 | 9:06 pm

      mirror, mirror, on the wall…How come every time I read your blog (which is two, three times a day), I more and more see my own reflection peering back at me????

    2. Comment by Unknown | 09.26.2005 | 9:10 pm

      What is the "toiletbowl" move at Gooseberry? Nice entry, by the way. But more interestingly, I have been to Gooseberry ten times and have never seen a toiletbowl move…but then your definition of a digger and mine differ sharply, too.

    3. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 09.26.2005 | 9:31 pm

      jb, i hate to tell you this, but in six months you will invent a time machine. you will go back in time approximately 2.5 years, kill a man named elden nelson, and take his place. you will feel guilty about this murder and will start to eat too much, gaining considerable weight. in may 2005 you will start a blog, called "fat cyclist," to help you lose some of that weight. (cue "Twilight Zone" music)dug, could you please describe the toiletbowl move for rocky?

    4. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 09.26.2005 | 9:38 pm

      Well that’s ruined it then. All that is left for me to talk about now is the relative benefits of different coloured handlebar tape on my road bike. I’ll be in my corner…cheersBIG Mike (skinny on the inside)

    5. Comment by Ariane | 09.26.2005 | 11:37 pm

      I dislike it when I go on a "friendly" ride (uhh…okay, really, the only sort of ride I do that doesn’t consist of me looking at a map saying, ‘Ooh, I’ll go over here today, that’ll be fun’… mine is a sad, lonely life) and certain people feel it necessary to shout things up the hill to me like, "Seriously, Toad, don’t over do it… I don’t want you to yourself [you wimp]." Of course we know that this is merely a clever ploy to prevent me from speeding away again on the next hill, and not because of the horrid, gasping, about-to-die figure I just cut by racing up to the top of this one. Cretins.

    6. Comment by Big Guy on a Bicycle | 09.27.2005 | 12:16 am

      I can add a couple, though your list is quite comprehensive already.- Ride way too close beside someone. There’s nothing like toughing handlebars to say "yeah, I’m showing off my bike-handling skills."- Ride way too close behind someone. I used to ride with a guy who was always bumping my rear wheel. During one ride he did it to another guy once too often and hit the deck when the other guy jammed his brakes…hard. "Sorry. Chipmunk ran in front of me" [snickering all around]. Problem was, not even this induced road rash would stop him from doing it. We had to change our regular ride night to keep him from showing up.

    7. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 3:25 am

      i would describe the toilet bowl move, but then i’d have to break on of your rules.

    8. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 09.27.2005 | 6:33 am

      come on Dug… these rules apply to out on a ride, not back at the ranch around the campfire.

    9. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 12:55 pm

      Wow!I pulled ‘The Elden Move’ and I didn’t even know it had a name! This year I was trying to get two people into cycling. I started taking them on light road loops. After a couple of weeks we tried some hills. I would impessively climb to the top in a flash and then descend to do it over again ”Just to get a nice workout.” Wow, I had no idea that I was such a retard. They couldn’t find the time to ride with me after that and stopped riding all together I think. ‘The Elden Move’ is extremely effective.

    10. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 3:02 pm

      gooseberry mesa, as many of you probably know, is the best ride in the whole world, about 30 minutes north east of st. george, ut. i will not debate this. i rode 3,000 vert and 2 hours 15 minutes on the american fork canyon trail network with kenny yesterday at the peak of the fall colors, couple days after thunderstorms. truly sublime. but gooseberry is better, for a variety of reasons, none of which i will explore here.almost at the end of the hidden canyon section of gooseberry mesa, maybe a few hundred yards before you intersect the dirt road again, you encounter what is really a series of toilet bowls. in slickrock (not the trail, the geological feature) terms, a toilet bowl is like a sink hole, shaped, coincidentally, like a toilet bowl. they can be a mile across, or, more generally, not.the toilet bowl at gooseberry is a series of connected bowls and moves, all of which must be cleared and cleaned for the move to have been made. you begin by dropping into the steepest of the toilet bowls by a very steep rock ramp, onto a sandy bottom, where you make a 90 degree turn to the right onto another rock ramp, make another 90 degree turn, and climb back out of the first bowl. both ramps have severe exposure to the inside of the toilet bowl.after leaving the first bowl, you must climb a nearly vertical 5 foot rock saddle between two larger (maybe 15 feet high) humps, go around the left hump, over a large table toppish rock, while ducking under a tree, return to the main bowl, turn sharply to the right and climb about a 10 foot, off camber, not quite vertical wall, cross a razorback ridge, and drop back down into the main honor of the fat cyclist, i will not describe whether i have or have not made this move (many many times). but, and i know this breaks another of the fat cyclist’s rules, i will say i’ve never cleaned it on a single speed.

    11. Comment by Zed | 09.27.2005 | 4:46 pm

      Two reasons why I’m a supporter of the Elden Move: #1, waiting for someone to join you at the top is not much of a workout, and if you’re not there to get healthier, then why in the heck did you climb it in the first place? #2, most riders, in particular new ones, aren’t really keen on climbing alone anymore than I am on sitting alone at the top of a windy mountain. It’s one thing to come back and climb with someone, it’s something completely different to come back and give someone a hard time about the fact that there are joggers; mountain goats; and small, oriental men with yaks passing them on the way up.

    12. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 5:09 pm

      Dug and Fatty–Thank you for the detailed description of the "bowl de toilet". The details, however, don’t help too much. Is the move on- or off-the main trail? Is it something that most do not see? I love Hidden Canyon and its many faces–perhaps this is a face I have not yet seen?

    13. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 6:08 pm

      I guess it falls under the Excuses category, but also… yapping about how good the 10 mile run you did this morning felt… while doing an after-work ride up a mtn that is turning grown men around you into wimpering piles of goo…I occasionally ride with a girl on our team that actually whistles and/or hums while climbing especially tough sections. She’s a little thing – maybe 110lbs @ 5′5" – but her strength and skills are amazing and she puts most of the men to shame. But the whistling just trashes any misconception that you are anything resembling a mtn bike stud…

    14. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 6:13 pm

      the toilet bowl is just off the main trail. you finish the really excellent part of hidden canyon, go up a steep rock slope, drop a ledge, go through a very narrow slot, up a rock, hard right, either through a place so narrow you can’t pedal, or left and over the adjoining rock. after this, the excellent part of hidden canyon is over, and it’s a few hundred yards to the dirt road. the toilet bowl is to the left of and over the rock hump to the left of this very narrow no pedal zone (a tricky re-try move in itself).re the elden. if you’re riding with someone who can’t keep up with you, then you are sheparding. so you have three options: shepard them all the way to the top by riding at their pace, or ride fast to the top and wait for them, or don’t ride with people slower than you. to ride to the top and then ride back down and up with them is intrinsically bad form.

    15. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 09.27.2005 | 6:42 pm

      i just want to make it clear that these rules are specific to while the ride is in progress. some of them may apply generally, but many do not. ie, – it’s ok to talk about bike gear when off the bike – it’s ok to boast about trivial bike wins when off the bike – it’s ok to talk about fight club when not at fight club

    16. Comment by Unknown | 09.27.2005 | 7:35 pm

      I know the bowl well, now. I have been flushed before. I love the bowl…in fact I think I need to go to Gooseberry again soon. Hey Fatty, juwanna put together one of your group ride things, ala Zoo ride for Gooseberry around Veteran’s Day? You fly into Vegas and I will do the rest…Dug? Anyone else? Bad form, indeed, not following Dug’s set of rules…

    17. Comment by agreenmouther | 09.27.2005 | 8:26 pm

      Here’s my take on the "Elden" having experienced it from both sides and in multiple sports. 1. I hate receiving an Elden. I wanted to hit my Dad when he started running in circles around me in a half-marathon. But that would have required too much energy expenditure.2. I love performing the Elden. Apparently I am a hypocrite. 3. I think the Elden works ONLY if you don’t talk, chat, etc. while performing it. Just suffer alongside the slowpoke so that he knows he is not alone unless he requests distractionary tactics.4. If your said slowpoke resents you, ride further down and just ride back up again. This way you check for mechanicals and other posssible areas of need without ruining anyone’s ride.

    18. Comment by Paul | 10.8.2005 | 12:47 pm

      Ah, what appears to be missing from the list is the "jackrabbit". Every time when it’s your turn to pull you boost the speed a little. Not too much, just enough to make everyone work harder and the guy who just rotatated off gets cracked off the whip. The jackrabbit will of course act sheepish when called on this or comment "wow, I didn’t know how strong I was today" or some other b.s.

    19. Comment by Fat Cyclist | 10.8.2005 | 11:08 pm

      bricinTheDog – i can’t believe i missed that one. thanks for adding that to the list.

    20. Comment by nwar | 01.4.2007 | 8:47 pm

      please i wanna be one of the windows live mail family.
      thank you

    21. Comment by nwar | 01.4.2007 | 8:47 pm

      please i wanna be one of the windows live mail family.
      thank you

    22. Comment by Unknown | 03.17.2007 | 12:45 pm

      Hy,I like your space :)" Have a nice day na ja! Miss U "ByeA.

    23. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Fatty Goes to France, Part III: Mont-du-Chat | 09.20.2011 | 9:01 am

      [...] someone else was suggesting we pull “The Elden Move” . . . to [...]


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