Author Topic: Elephant in the room  (Read 5488 times)

Elephant in the room
« on: 14 April, 2024, 06:58:25 am »
As the subject headers says, it had to be raised in the slower section of our cycling club
which I lead every Saturday. For the past nine months three middle-age ladies have been
riding with us. I've known them from a keep-fit class They are all extremely good half-marathon
runners, achieving times of between 1 hr 30 mins - 1 hr 45 mins.


Last year (in one of the classes) they heard me talk about cycling and said that because
they also cycle, they would be interested in joining our club, but were afraid of slowing down
the other riders. I then suggested they come out with me to one of our flatter Saturday cafe
runs and I'd ride at the pace the group normally cycles at, and if they can keep up with me
they would be ok.


The ride ride was about 35 miles. At no time did they attempt to keep up with me, which
meant that I was having to slow down to stay with them and keep the ride amicable.


At the end of the ride, having some banter and in a jovial way, I said that I'd grade them
a C+, but if stretching it, a B-. We all laughed about it, but in reality they were neither.
They way they rode it was like they were three schoolgirls at the back of a classroom
having a natter.

Since they started with our slowest group we have been having to stop time and time again
for them to catch up. I have suggested that they ride towards the front of the group
in order for them not to fall behind. This advice is ignored, so the start-stop-start nature
of the rides have contined, as I did not want to discourage them.


It transpired that other riders in the grpup were unhappy about the way the rides were
progressing, but weren't prepared to be vocal about it. I asked them individually what they
would do in my position. All the replies they gave me were; "It's a difficult decision".


I mentioned our problem to our road captain and club chairman. They both told me they'd
be behind any decision I make. So, before yesterday's ride started I told the women where
we were heading (they knew where the cafe was) and the after nine months of riding they
should be capable of staying with the group, but in order to keep the group together, if they
continually dropped behind, we'd meet them at the cafe. The road captain was with me
when I made my suggestion.


This did not go down well at all. Our group was large enough to split into two. When we arrived
at the cafe the three ladies arrived after us and sat on a table by themselves. I went over
to chat to them but there was a very tense atmosphere.

They told me they were upset that I said we would no longer wait for them if they dropped
behind and that they expected us to stay with them if they turn up for a ride. One suggested
(as they have in some running club) a 'sweeper' to stay behind the slowest rider. They went
on to say that they were only ever 5 seconds behind the group. I assure you, that is not the
case.

Two of them said they wanted a leisurely ride and are not prepared to ride faster and will no
longer turn up. The third lady said she didn't like being told she couldn't ride with us. We
never said that. From the start, we have told them the should expect to be out of their
comfort zone for a few rides in order to improve. They all did that with their running, but
not for cycling.


The end result of this is that they no longer want to speak to me. It has hurt me a bit because
on each ride that I have led with them I have given support and encouragement to them,
but all the good-natured behaviour towards them has back-fired.

I have mentioned it to some of the group members who expressed their frustration about the
start-stop-start nature of our recent rides and they all said the elephant in the room had to
tackled sooner rather than later.

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #1 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:09:07 am »
Sounds like the problem is solved. Well done for telling them. Don't feel bad about it.

Blodwyn Pig

  • what a nice chap
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #2 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:25:20 am »
Doubtless, if your club started a VERY slow group, then they would still be at the back. I’ve been back marker many times before, and some people just don’t ‘get it’. It can be so frustrating when you can see the main pack up ahead, and a big gap between them and the person at the back ( who you are staying with) , and a long down hill approaches, and what do they do……….? they coast down the hill rather than speed up to catch up the rest. No amount of ‘telling’ will get the message through, and I’m not talking about beginners either.  Anyway, don’t feel bad about it, maybe a CTC group is more their thing. It could be due to the fact there is more than 1, and they like to natter as they ride, maybe individually they’d be ok. Job done move on. Well done, ‘ you can’t please some of the people all of the time’

rogerzilla

  • When n+1 gets out of hand
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #3 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:25:28 am »
The only solution to this is to have three rides, which is what Beacon RCC did (and may still do).  A normal club run, a fast run mainly for the licensed racers, and a slow run where no-one is left behind. 
Hard work sometimes pays off in the end, but laziness ALWAYS pays off NOW.

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #4 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:43:08 am »
As someone who is a slow rider, I used to get upset when ride leaders just thought I could pedal a bit harder to keep up. No, I couldn’t, I would be drenched in sweat and completely pooped when they were using almost zero energy. It’s what it is and I stopped doing group riding until I got a motor. And they would stop and wait for me and when I caught up they would go straight off again so I had no time to recover and get my breath back whereas they had.

Maybe the ride was too fast for them. Sounds like you needed a slower option too, or say it is not suitable for them.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #5 on: 14 April, 2024, 08:05:53 am »
Over my 50 years of cycling, I have been a member of several clubs and what I’ve found is that each club has its own ‘pace’ (or several paces if there’s more than 1 group), and sometimes, I was too slow for even the slowest group in that club. I took this to mean that the club wasn’t for me and looked for another club. I didn’t see this as the fault of the club concerned and neither did I expect them to slow down just for me. I also didn’t (and still don’t) mind riding on my own if dropped. These ladies need to learn Rule No 5.
I am often asked, what does YOAV stand for? It stands for Yoav On A Velo

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #6 on: 14 April, 2024, 08:17:58 am »


   Anyway, don’t feel bad about it, maybe a CTC group is more their thing. It could be due to the fact there is more than 1, and they like to natter as they ride, maybe individually they’d be ok.
This seems to be the crux of the matter.
They see their running as a fitness thing, they see the cycling as a social thing.
They got the wrong end of the stick when they joined your rides (and rather oddly haven't realised) thinking they were joining social rides rather than for fitness.

Clearly your group is not for them but I am not sure - from your description - if they *as a sub-group* would integrate into any other club. Perhaps as individuals, but not together.

You've done your best, but these people, while they stick with each other don't seem to want to be part of your riding sessions except on their terms.
Too many angry people - breathe & relax.

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #7 on: 14 April, 2024, 08:23:28 am »
You've dealt with it. You explained the etiquette when you told them it their responsibility to try and keep up and when you invited them to ride further forward in the group. You are not responsible for their feelings.

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #8 on: 14 April, 2024, 09:33:51 am »
They are all extremely good half-marathon
runners, achieving times of between 1 hr 30 mins - 1 hr 45 mins.

They most certainly are.

Sounds like running is where they hone their competitive edge and the cycling was a bit of a chill out zone. Which is fine of course.

What's a bit odd though, is they would know from their running experience how difficult it can be for a group of 'exercisers' to all be going at the same pace, all of the time, and how frustrating it can be to ride at a consciously slower pace and how hard it can be to ride faster for any period of time.
They would have known all that before they started, surely? Of course they did because they told you so:

they would be interested in joining our club, but were afraid of slowing down
the other riders.

No harm done, they can still go out and enjoy each others company, at their own pace in their own time.
Garry Broad

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #9 on: 14 April, 2024, 11:27:42 am »
It's possible that they have a problem being people, rather than just cyclists.

Paul

  • L'enfer, c'est les autos.
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #10 on: 14 April, 2024, 11:33:05 am »
You did the right thing at the wrong time. You should probably have been more honest after the first ride. They had said that they were afraid of slowing down the other riders before the first ride and - when it turned out that that was what had happened - they might have taken it better (if not well) at that point. By waiting 9 months to have the conversation you may have given them the impression that there was nothing wrong with the way they rode.

I don't mean this harshly - I would have done exactly the same. It's hard telling someone that they don't fit.

I once went on a ride and was dropped at every turn. I didn't need to be told not to come back.
What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Kim

  • Timelord
    • Fediverse
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #11 on: 14 April, 2024, 11:48:43 am »
As someone who is a slow rider, I used to get upset when ride leaders just thought I could pedal a bit harder to keep up. No, I couldn’t, I would be drenched in sweat and completely pooped when they were using almost zero energy. It’s what it is and I stopped doing group riding until I got a motor. And they would stop and wait for me and when I caught up they would go straight off again so I had no time to recover and get my breath back whereas they had.

Maybe the ride was too fast for them. Sounds like you needed a slower option too, or say it is not suitable for them.

This.

The problem with cyclists is that most of them think that they're slow, which makes it very hard to communicate realistic expectations of pace.  This is compounded by genuinely slow riders tending not to be interested in performance stats, so even if you do put a number on it, this might not mean much to them.

Ultimately, you said "if you can keep up" and then spent nine months doing "nobody left behind", so it's understandable that communication has failed to happen the way you hoped.

Sounds like they'd be better off somewhere else, but it hasn't made your club look good.

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #12 on: 14 April, 2024, 12:01:23 pm »
Yes, there's some sense in that.  One thing I find puzzling is that, if they are such good runners (I don't know their ages but their times are above average whatever) why are they such poor cyclists?  If they really are much better than they appear but really want a slow social ride then maybe they just have an unrealistic expectation of how much a group is prepared to alter their modus operandi to suit them?  Perhaps they want to ride with a group in order to feel safer?  I understand that possibility.  It might be nice to actually have a sit-down talk with them about their feelings but that looks out of the question, now.  But it shouldn't be the end of anybody's world.  That said, I know how easily upset I can get and would be mortified to feel I had driven someone away.  That wouldn't necessarily make me culpable but I'd definitely be upset.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #13 on: 14 April, 2024, 12:13:53 pm »
I spent much of the many years I was an active cyclist cycling alone, as I just could not keep up with the group, despite my best efforts.
It’s rather sad these women could not ‘read the room’ and understand that their pace didn’t suit the rest of the group.

I’m afraid the need a different club and sorry this has caused upset.

Basil

  • Um....err......oh bugger!
  • Help me!
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #14 on: 14 April, 2024, 12:18:02 pm »
Happened to me once.  I turned up for a ride with a group I knew nothing about.  Didn't know any of them.  Consequently, I spent three hours of a Sunday morning turning myself inside out, yo-yoing off the back.
I was a fairly fit cyclist in his early 50s, but not mentally at ease with the macho competitiveness of the ride. 
Enjoyment factor zero.
I didn't complain. I just didn't ever join them again.  Simples.
Admission.  I'm actually not that fussed about cake.

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #15 on: 14 April, 2024, 01:49:56 pm »
i don't see the problem

they are slow and CBA keeping up

if a very leisurely ride existed they might get on better with that

If i wanted to ride with a racing club on one of their outings I would expect to have to put in a lot of effort just to stay in contact even on the "slower section" ride

If you don't want to ride hard don't ride with a racing club

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #16 on: 14 April, 2024, 01:56:23 pm »
I think it a case of misaligned expectations between what they expected and what you expected of your rides.  Likely a case of being clear on expectations, including whether it is no drop or not. Then reinforcing your expectations during the ride whilst being friendly enough.

vorsprung

  • Opposites Attract
    • Audaxing
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #17 on: 14 April, 2024, 02:15:35 pm »
Actually...there is another answer

The ladies should get electric bikes.  Then they could keep up and not have to put in much effort.  Problem solved

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #18 on: 14 April, 2024, 03:05:35 pm »
Being slow, despite trying as hard as you can is HORRIBLE!
You’re breathless, exhausted, overheated, patronised, mocked and scorned.
Some of us really did try. Being seen as ‘not trying hard enough’ just added to the misery.

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #19 on: 14 April, 2024, 05:11:24 pm »
That is definitely poor, Helly. 

I recognised immediately a complaint in san earlier post about stronger riders who wait for less strong ones and then set off as soon as they have joined up, so that only the better riders have an easier ride.  That's a bit thick, really, but pretty common in my experience.  Of course it also happens that joining riders say "OK" as they approach the main group - which can also be a bit thick!

Auntie Helen

  • 6 Wheels in Germany
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #20 on: 14 April, 2024, 06:09:49 pm »
Actually...there is another answer

The ladies should get electric bikes.  Then they could keep up and not have to put in much effort.  Problem solved
Not for me in the Velomobile world as we are all cruising well over 25 km/h. I could hold 30 km/h for 100km or so but the others can ride at 45-50. Motors switch off at 25 km/h.
My blog on cycling in Germany and eating German cake – http://www.auntiehelen.co.uk


Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #21 on: 14 April, 2024, 06:52:27 pm »
Thank you all for your honest responses. The three women in question are mid to late fifties
(actually, one might be mid sixties, but I daren't ask). In trying to be friendly to them it has
all back-fired. One of the riders who used to follow me on Strava no longer does so (no big
deal really). The fact that other riders in our group (the slowest in the club) have said that
they were also frustrated with the stop-start nature of the riders makes me fee less bad about
the whole situation.


What's more, the two statements they made; (1) we didn't invite them to the club quiz night
(after they requested to join in on a Whatsapp group, even though the details of the event
were published on our club's Facebook page, where you indicate that you're interested in
taking part (they have access to that too) ) and (2) they weren't consulted on the name-change
of the group from Social to 14 mph (which is was a long time ago), clearly demonstrated to me
that they wanted the club to jump to their tune.

Despite the fact that we've been friends for the past 3 - 4 years, they decided to take offence
at the conversation we had (which had to happen) which highlighted a glaring home-truth.
They no longer want to talk to me and if they don't up for our rides again I will not lose any
sleep over it.


For the record, our club has a booming membership, with approaching 400 members. In the
group I lead, I even  had two new members for the last ride. Our groups are designated as follows:
20 mph/19/18/17/16/14. The slowest group which I lead can have between 8 and 22 riders,
depending on the time of year and weather. We have no more that 10 in a group, so if we
have, say, 22, I will split the group into 3 and politely strong-arm two stronger/experienced
riders to control of a group and ride about 50 yards behind the members I take charge of.
It is not unheard of for our club to have 70+ riders out on a Saturday morning.


Thank you for your comments and opinions.

citoyen

  • Occasionally rides a bike
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #22 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:07:22 pm »
Happened to me once.  I turned up for a ride with a group I knew nothing about.  Didn't know any of them.  Consequently, I spent three hours of a Sunday morning turning myself inside out, yo-yoing off the back.
I was a fairly fit cyclist in his early 50s, but not mentally at ease with the macho competitiveness of the ride. 
Enjoyment factor zero.
I didn't complain. I just didn't ever join them again.  Simples.

I’ve been that person too.

I recognised it was my problem, not the club’s problem, so I found another club instead where I fitted in much better.
"The future's all yours, you lousy bicycles."

Basil

  • Um....err......oh bugger!
  • Help me!
Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #23 on: 14 April, 2024, 07:45:08 pm »
Happened to me once.  I turned up for a ride with a group I knew nothing about.  Didn't know any of them.  Consequently, I spent three hours of a Sunday morning turning myself inside out, yo-yoing off the back.
I was a fairly fit cyclist in his early 50s, but not mentally at ease with the macho competitiveness of the ride. 
Enjoyment factor zero.
I didn't complain. I just didn't ever join them again.  Simples.

I’ve been that person too.

I recognised it was my problem, not the club’s problem, so I found another club instead where I fitted in much better.

Exactly.  It was my mistake. Not their problem.
Admission.  I'm actually not that fussed about cake.

Re: Elephant in the room
« Reply #24 on: 14 April, 2024, 08:02:09 pm »
@ de Sisti

You have done nothing "wrong".

If I could make a couple of observations (which may or may not be wrong) based on your recent information:-

14mph may be your club's slowest group, though I'm not sure if you mean average over the ride or general cycling speed.  That is certainly not slow for the age group you describe for these ladies.  When cycling clubs talk about their slow group the often mean their slowest group which is not the same thing at all.

Secondly, who told you about the prowess of these runners?  Any female who can run a half marathon in 1 30 at the age of mid-fifties is likely to be an international*.  Or did they mean they used to be that fast when they were younger?

* possibly even a world record holder - I haven't checked!