Being nice don’t cost you nothin’

February 9, 2016 § 36 Comments

Road riding has a deserved reputation for unfriendliness. I’ve been to so many places where the group rides are filled with jerks. There was a group of people in Sugarland, west of Houston, I used to ride with who made a point of being assholes. They didn’t like you from the day you showed up until the day you left.

SoCal has many places that are just like that. I’ve heard awful stories about group rides in LA, Orange County, and San Diego–and participated in many–where the ethos is best described as “Sure, you belong … but not here.”

The first time I showed up in LA on my steel bike and in my fuzzy wool outfit, the local bully yelled at me for daring to mix it up in the sprint on the Old Pier Ride.

We know that as interest in competitive road racing dwindles, something has to change. The biggest thing, in my opinion, is ameliorating the tendency to be a jerk just because someone is new.

The last club I rode for was pretty elitist. It was set up on an invitation only basis. If you didn’t know the right people and couldn’t do the right handshake and couldn’t put up the right numbers, it didn’t matter how nice a person you were.

My current club is Team Lizard Collectors. It is a motley crew. But the thing that makes it a great club is that everyone is welcomed, and welcomed heartily. The only rule is “Don’t be a dick.” In its many years of existence only two people have been booted for dickishness.

Team Lizard Collectors has set the bar high in terms of not simply accepting people, but actively asking them to join. One of the reasons I was thrilled to join TLC is because I could ask people to join. This good vibration has spread to other clubs in the area.

Thanks in part to the relentless efforts of Team Lizard Collectors and their bossmen Greg Seyranian and Greg Leibert, the good vibration has spread to other clubs. Under the leadership of “El President” Robert Efthimos, the west side icon of Velo Club L’Argent has also become one of the most open door, welcoming clubs anywhere. And as clubs have gotten friendlier, the area’s vibe has gotten friendlier. Suddenly, instead of being a competition to treat people like that brown thing that’s been in the back of the freezer since ’09, there has developed a spirit of “Who can be the friendliest?”

Okay, so it’s a competition. These are cyclists we’re talking about.

I was pleased to see a dude on the NPR last week who was wearing a nondescript kit that said “Abbeville” on it. He went pretty good. I chatted him up, gave him my card, and asked him to join Team Lizard Collectors. He’d been in town for a few months and was getting to know the local rides.

“Sure,” he said. “Thank you.”

So the dude joined TLC. Turns out he is a two-time French national champion and has 47 road wins under his belt. He showed up on the Flog Ride on Thursday and put everyone to the sword without breaking a sweat. Best of all, his wife owns an awesome coffee shop with authentic French pastries that melt in your mouth, or in the back of your jersey if you stick a couple there to take home.

Next time you see someone riding down the road, take a minute to say hi. You never know who you’ll run across. And it doesn’t cost you one red cent.

END

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§ 36 Responses to Being nice don’t cost you nothin’

  • Dirty Mike says:

    I use to ride with those clowns in Sugarland and sadly miss it, especially “Ol Cracks” as I think you call him.

  • Jeff Cozad says:

    And the opposite is also true, “Not being nice can cost you”. Looks like a lovely coffee shop.

  • Sandy says:

    Bravo Wank. This is what cycling is all about at its best.

  • Winemaker says:

    I am still wondering,”Why are there so many clubs?”
    Seems like there should b a lot less…just asking…anybody know?

    • fsethd says:

      Because there are more riders than ever before and people are clubby by nature.

    • Mario Obejas says:

      My opinion is its mostly inertia, but geography and objectives make a difference. Most clubs form based on geography. Clubs in the same geography tend to have different goals, eg, Big Orange is into racing, Beach Cities Cycling (BCCC) is non-competition.

      FWIW, BCCC does do joint rides with other clubs. We have done a joint reciprocal ride with Bike Club of Irvine (BCI) for six years running, and I’m putting together a joint FDR with JoAnn on April 2. If there are specific folks at Big Orange that schedule their rides, we would love to do a joint ride some time. Contact me: unix_fan AT yahoo DOT com

  • Jeff says:

    Kudos Seth on this piece. Interesting what you said about Invitation only clubs; Gee, you mean I can ride my bike with you fellas?!” Ahh, swell, just swell…

  • bejoneses says:

    Nicely put. Be an ambassador for cycling, not an ass about it…

  • Hello fsethd-san and All,

    Obviously easy for you to say …… in a club with the moniker ‘TLC’ ie. Tender Lovin’ Care ….

    What if you in a club named Fernwood Underground??

    Cheers,

    Neal

    +1 mph Faster

  • dangerstu says:

    What’s the old line “I don’t want to the member of a club that wants me as a member”, I hate that elitist BS.

  • sibex9591 says:

    Interesting. Your answer is the same one I have for the question “How can the Republican party expand its base across color and socioeconomic lines?”. Simple, Stop being dicks!

  • joninsocal says:

    “because when we put on our colorful underwear and pedal plastic bicycles we are bundles of awesomeness”, that! That made me laugh out loud. genius

  • Observer in the back says:

    Seth, Beach Cities Cycling went through the same thing last year. We booted two guys, one the primary culprit, the other blind loyalty to the latter caused him to lose control (physical altercation) in a club meeting. 1st time in ten years we’ve ever booted anyone. As I’m sure happened in your case, we had made many, repeated attempts to curb the cringeworthy behavior (bullying other riders, disdain for club rules eg, crash reports, catcalls, anger outburts on rides, degrading comments at pedestrians, club within a club exclusivity, etc). None of the efforts worked, there was a double down on the problem behaviour. There was a point we were losing people because of him, eg. people were writing us saying they would no longer volunteer for ride leader slots with this guy in the equation.

    After the “Club Divorce”, unfortunately, some other riders followed that guy, the natural strains you would expect. We moved on but its a shame it had to come to that. The booted bully spreads a narrative that he didn’t do anything wrong, and is suddenly the nicest guy to people he used to disdain. But as a counter weight, lots of people have returned to active volunteer slots and the immaturity that marked previous club meetings has been replaced with adult civility.

    Sometimes it really hurts to take the medicine but you are much better off getting rid of a cancer.

    • fsethd says:

      Yup. And the other side to it is that for whatever reason, some people are terrible fits–even though they may be nice as all get out in other surroundings or with other clubs.

      I will also say that BCCC sets the standard for inclusiveness and openness. I’ve never seen a group more eager to welcome others. Hats off to you.

      • Mario Obejas says:

        That’s a very nice thing to say about BCCC. A good chunk of that has to be credited to its founder, Jim Hannon. “Fun, Fitness, and Friendship” is the motto

      • fsethd says:

        I hate being nice unless warranted by the facts.

  • Alex Barnes says:

    You would think that after being welcomed so warmly by Big Orange he’d be more willing to let other lizard collectors sit on his wheel up to the golf course car park.

  • Woody Foster says:

    I’ll never forget how friendly you were to me on the day we met on Latigo. I was on a 2-bit bike with a triple chain ring and wearing at MTB helmet and you still talked to me and rode with me.
    But it didn’t end there. You even talked to me in front of other profamateur cyclists the day I first turned up to the NPR and then invited me to get my butt kicked on the FLOG ride and talked to me there.
    I must say that I’ve found all cyclists in the South bay from the guys at Helens to the guys in the BCCC more than friendly and welcoming, and I’ve made some friends on the road that have carried over into my life.
    You’ll always come across the odd elitist asswipe but it’s it’s easy to overlook that when the next guy is someone like Daniel Holloway.

  • Naftali says:

    Of course, your intro would have to be a former champion.

    There is also the dick that comes out to a club ride full of piss and vinegar. These guys are all losers and I’ll drop them after 2K. I recall one such guy jumping back and forth in our disciplined peloton, weaving in and out, muttering that he was surprised we were so slow.

    Come the sprint at our first water stop and he was dropped by all the over 60 riders. Next stop. Dropped so hard, has never been seen again.

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