Welcome to our community!

January 25, 2014 § 30 Comments

Fred woke up excited. He’d been invited to join the Friday coffee cruise by his friend Elaine, who was one of the South Bay cycling crowd and a real sweetheart. Fred and Elaine were neighbors, and he’d gotten into cycling two years ago after developing knee problems from running. Fred had been fit all his life and he quickly took to cycling. Occasionally he’d ask Elaine advice about riding and she would always invited him to join one of the group rides.

“You’ll love it,” she said.

“I don’t think I’m ready yet,” Fred would always say, declining the invitations but secretly wishing he had the nerve to say “yes.”

One day he stopped Elaine as she was coasting up her driveway after finishing the big Saturday ride. “Hey,” he said. “I was wondering if there are any really easy rides I could do with you and your friends?”

“Of course! We have a coffee cruise every Friday. It’s usually six or seven riders and it’s always easy. We pedal for an hour or so, hit a coffee shop in Santa Monica or in PV, then sit around and chit-chat for a while before pedaling back.”

Fred looked anxious. “You think I’ll be okay?”

“Oh my gosh, you’ll be more than okay. You’ll be saying to yourself, ‘I was worried about this?’ It’s a super friendly pedal, not even a workout, really, just friends chatting and pedaling together. It’ll be a perfect introduction to the gang!”

Fred had hardly slept the night before. He was going to do his first group ride with a bunch of real roadies, and even though Elaine had promised that it would be slow and easy, it was going to be fun. He’d seen the big packs swirling along the bike path, charging along the Parkway, rolling out on the weekends, and he’d always wanted to be a part of it. Now it was going to happen.

Fred and Elaine rolled up to the Pier ten minutes before eight. One by one the other riders showed up. Elaine introduced him to the others, and they were all friendly except for one guy, Liam, who made a point of saying hello to everyone except Fred. Liam was kitted out in the nicest Assos clothing and was riding one of the fanciest bikes Fred had ever seen. Just before they left, Fred caught Liam’s eye and smiled. “Hi,” he said. “I’m Fred.” Liam rolled his eyes, clipped in and pedaled off with the group.

It was a gorgeous winter day in the mid-60’s and Fred wasn’t about to let a little rudeness spoil his morning. He was soon chatting with one of the other riders, a friendly and easygoing woman who looked like she was in her forties. She inquired about Fred’s cycling background in a friendly and interested way, making him feel like part of the group.

Pretty soon Liam had swung to the back and was right behind Fred. “Hey!” he yelled. “Watch your fucking line!”

Fred didn’t know what Liam was talking about, and lightly touched his brakes. “What are you doing you fucking idiot!” roared Liam.

Fred looked over his shoulder, causing his line to wobble again. “What?” he asked, somewhat frightened.

“Goddamn you!” shouted Liam. “Don’t you know how to ride a fucking bike?” Liam sprinted back to the front, looking over his shoulder once to glare at Fred.

“What was that all about?” he asked the woman next to him.

She laughed. “Don’t worry about him. He’s an asshole to everyone who’s new or who’s not wearing the right stuff, or riding the right bike, or who’s inexperienced.”

“He is?”

“Yes, he’s infamous for it, actually.”

“Really? Why does he do it?”

The woman laughed again. “It’s the snobbery of road cycling. Some people are so serious — usually the riders who aren’t very good and who no one really likes — and they treat new riders like shit just to make themselves feel better.”

“Wow,” said Fred. “He sure has fancy stuff, though.”

“Sure does. It’s to make up for the fact that his legs and lungs are completely ordinary.”

After a while they got to the coffee shop and everyone filed in. Fred turned to his newfound friends. “Coffee’s on me,” he said with a smile. “Thanks for letting me be part of the group.”

Liam glowered at him and pushed by. “I can pay for my own fucking coffee.”

Fred didn’t know what to say. “Okay.”

They sat around and enjoyed their coffee in the sunshine. Liam had cornered one of the riders and begun a detailed lecture on gear ratios and proper descending skills. He talked loudly, making sure that Fred could appreciate the depth of his knowledge and experience.

Finally, they remounted and returned to the pier. Everyone said their good-byes and thanked Fred for the coffee. Liam ignored him and rode away.

Fred and Elaine pedaled back together. “What did I tell you?” she said. “Piece of cake, right?”

“Yes,” he said. “Thanks for letting me tag along.”

“Want to join us on the ride tomorrow? It’s a bigger group and a bit faster paced.”

Fred looked at her. “No, thanks,” he said.

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§ 30 Responses to Welcome to our community!

  • Hammernut says:

    Does anyone like this Liam fool?

  • Sandy Hackney says:

    Well, my wife and I, (me 70, she less) rode our first ride with the local club here in Upstate New York this past Spring. While I had raced back yonder, she had never ridden with any group at all, and, although fit, was quite anxious. We rode further than she had ever – 32 miles plus lots of hills with coffee in between. She did just fine and all were very happy to talk with her and encourage her on. And at the return, the club president came up to her and said,”Congratulations!”

    We have made many good friends in the club and are very happy to have found them.

    We experienced the best in “Welcome to our community.”

    • fsethd says:

      That is awesome! There are so many clubs that are welcoming, helpful, and always looking for a way to help other people out. Great story; thanks for sharing.

  • JunkYard says:

    Hmmm? I think I know someone similar to LiamO.

  • BAR says:

    Here’s to my hope that many Liams of the world will stumble across your short story and will see themselves for the bad they do. Thanks, too, because I’ll be more vigilant for The Liam Effect bubbling inside. BAR

  • JJ says:

    Great write up! I was lucky enough to be introduce into a great group who is very welcoming. After hearing the stories of many Liams, which is not cool and not what biking is all about in my mind.

  • Brian in VA says:

    There’s a Liam in every club. I’ve managed to avoid ours, for the most part. But meeting him did get me to read Hold Your Line, so there’s that.

  • New Girl says:

    Hummmmmmmmmm ~ Elaine sounds like a peach, Fred sounds like a nice guy, just trying to be one of the “cool kids”, and Liam sounds like a douche – love him and all.

    We are al part of one big cycling (ok perhaps slightly dysfunctional) FAMILY ~ we were all “NEW” (some of us still (and forever will be)) once so ~ BE NICE TO EVERYBODY. Thank you for writing. I love this. I love you. ;-)

  • Usta Befit says:

    Liam isn’t in a club anymore….right?

    Wonder why!

  • ezpc1 says:

    I’m not in a bike club but have been thinking about getting into one for some time now…..having done some long distance rides in groups however I really do recognise that Liam character….he’s mostly riding on his own ‘cos no-one wants to talk to him…….

  • Arkansas Traveler says:

    Funny that were it not for all the Freds of the world, LIam’s $10K bike would cost about $30K.

  • Sausage says:

    Seniority doesn’t always equate to superiority.

  • forzalacapra says:

    This made me think of when 4 riders from a club here in Long Beach passed me on PCH doing a good clip. I joined their through and off and one of them yelled at me – saying this was for them only.

    Later on he told me he thought I was maybe not experienced enough (despite the 10k bike, and the fact I was taking my turns at 30mph, and sprinted over to them as they came by etc) and that I might be dangerous to ride around.

    He is membership director of one of the LBC’s biggest clubs. Nice welcome!

    • fsethd says:

      Good for you for hopping in, although they might have been putting finishing touches on their final ProTour race of the season, so that could have been the source of their concern, you know, you’d mess up their finely tuned fitness regimen.

  • Darwin says:

    Did “Fred” consider telling “Liam” to go fuck himself?

    • fsethd says:

      He may have, but you know he’s probably one of those rarest of creatures found on a road bike, i.e. an adult.

      • The Mayor says:

        Seth: Unless “Liam” was only here for the weekend, and has henceforth returned to a Land Where Few Care, please point him out to me on our next sojourn together. We Freds of a feather need to stick together and I would like to ensure that “Liam” offends not again.

      • fsethd says:

        Liam’s here year-round. Except that he’s a fictional character. Pretty much. Sort of.

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