Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

Arrange a ride with a group of mates and usually, more accurately, you have simply arranged a meeting point and started an argument.

After everyone has casually rolled up to the agreed spot and got busy winding each other up about their choice of kit, or the cleanliness of their beloved bike, there is a moment where a sudden silence descends and everyone thinks, in unison, ‘right, err, where we going then?’

A free-for-all ensues.

Various members of the group suggest routes; the guy who’s feeling in good fettle thinks up a route taking in every climb within a 30 mile radius; another suggests a particular loop that, conveniently, heads homeward right past the front door of his house; while others look on in amusement, as the bickering and the one-upmanship begins.

Then the route-master, that member of your group who seems to have a GPS system wired into his brain, pipes up. The group goes quiet as he makes his decision.

“How about we go out through the Trough of Bowland, turn left through Dunsop Bridge, over to Slaidburn, turn off at the war memorial and do the climb over the Cross o’ Greet, and then we’ve got two or three options to get home from there?”

Everyone nods and climbs on their bikes.

It may seem like he has simply plucked a well-used local route from his memory banks at random, but there’s more to it than that. Whilst everyone else was busy bickering, he was processing the relevant information – air temperature, wind direction, time of year, likely traffic conditions, size and average ability of the group – before feeding it through his mental database of great rides and coming up with the best possible route.

Occasionally, a newcomer to the group might not see what’s going on, and so jumps in belatedly with his own suggestion.

There will be raised eyebrows from the group, and perhaps the odd chuckle, before the route-master generously muses: “well, I suppose we could go that way.” The inference being that ‘just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea’.

The sound of cleats clipping into pedals gives the new boy his answer, and the group rolls off on another perfect ride.