We all know the feeling of riding with someone who’s a little bit quicker than you. At first you feel alright, but then your heart rate won’t normalize, your breath gets choppy, and finally you start muttering choice words at your friend for pushing the pace.
Sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail.
If you’re the hammer, a little piece of you likes upping the intensity ever so slightly; or is that just me? Did I just out myself as a psychopath? Lately I am living at the confluence of new dad fitness and fast friends, maybe it’s karma for years of being a friendly mountain bike bully.
So here are 5 tips for riding with your slow friends without being an ass.
1) Set good expectations for the ride
Want to crush all day and not take breaks? Make it clear from the beginning. A conversation with your friends about the ride dynamics can keep everyone happy.
2) Session the trail
If you find an interesting bit of trail, take the time to session it. This could be a hard technical climb or a fun drop. Playing on the trail will improve your skill set and give the group a chance to catch their breath. I’d throw track-standing and working on trials in with “sessioning”. Pausing is a great way to tune your balance and bike control.
3) Handicap yourself
Do whatever you can to make your bike slower. Maybe ride that vintage Klein in the garage, or put downhill tires on. But don’t under any circumstances ride your singlespeed. Singlespeeds are secret speed machines that force you to climb fast and your geared friends will resent you.
We live in a society that is obsessed with performance and we rank ourselves against our peers in every area of life, cough, STRAVA, cough. I find giving permission to myself to ride slower makes me happier and more able to connect with my friends. Reminding myself that my friendships are deeper than mountain biking helps me to have empathy for others.
5) Give back
Take the time to teach techniques or skills you’ve learned to your friends -or- pick up some trash while you ride. You want to leave a legacy of helping people and making the world a little bit better, why not start now?
What tips would you add? Share this article with that friend you want to slow down as a not so subtle reminder to quit being a jerk.
Whether pushing his limits on technical trails, seeing what’s around the next corner, or tinkering in his shop; Peter enjoys life to the full. In addition to bikes, he enjoys frame building, graphic design, and math. He lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and son.
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