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  1. #1
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    Passion for riding...at a CASUAL level.

    I live in an area where there are tons of bicyclists of all kinds. And there is a local club (of sorts)...but this "club" is made up almost exclusively of riders who are obsessed with competition and riding fast and hard. I've wanted (and tried on occasion) to get involved...but I have a family and a demanding job (which seems to be at odds with most members of this club) and don't have time to be a superstud.

    I've been around (and been riding) for a while...and I've seen this phenomenon many, many times. It seems to be a natural progression (in any given area) that clubs are started by the hardcore enthusiasts...who then inexorably trend the club's activities toward other hardcore enthusiasts like themselves. This makes it really difficult for less-hardcore riders to get involved. (And I've observed this is even more true of MTB clubs simply because even being an intermediate MTBer takes a lot more persistence than being an intermediate road rider.)

    I should add that in most of the hardcore clubs, everyone makes a show of being friendly and open. They'll say rides are "open to everyone" and invite people to join them. But more often than not, they sure as hell aren't gonna slow down (and they sometimes will warn newcomers of this).

    There was one exception to this situation in the club I was a member of before relocating. This was mainly a road riding club...but it was made up of a broad spectrum of riding abilities. And not everyone aspired to be a superstud. There was a nice core group of club members who were just average riders...and were perfectly content to remain average riders. I was one of them, and we'd do laid-back rides where we enjoyed the company and talking more than pain and grinding out the miles.

    I'm just curious to know who else is in this situation? Are most of your local club members hardcore riders who'd rather ride with other hardcore riders than with the average, slower, less technical riders?

    Don't get me wrong---I'm not saying hardcore riders MUST slow down and ride with the intermediates and beginners (though it's nice when they do). I'm just saying that a club made up of mostly hardcore riders is not (in my opinion) a healthy club. It's more of a tight-knit group of hardcore buddies who like riding together...and that group is likely never to grow without making a conscious effort to loop in the beginners and intermediates.

    Scott
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  2. #2
    mm9
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    Scott - I don't ride with a club at present, but several of my friends do. There seems to be certain rides that are more laid back and beginner/intermediate friendly around here (North metro Atlanta).

    It's interesting that you asked the question. I find that the older I get, I not only look for less serious versions of sports in which I participate, but also, that I think that's more of a longer term and healthier pursuit.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mm9 View Post
    Scott - I don't ride with a club at present, but several of my friends do. There seems to be certain rides that are more laid back and beginner/intermediate friendly around here (North metro Atlanta).

    It's interesting that you asked the question. I find that the older I get, I not only look for less serious versions of sports in which I participate, but also, that I think that's more of a longer term and healthier pursuit.
    Ideally if a club has a broad range of members' riding abilities, that's how it works---lots of rides at different skill levels. Alas, it's not that way around here.

    I totally agree re: the less hardcore approach being a longer/healthier way to pursue the sport. I know LOTS of people (in several different outdoor sports) who hurled themselves at it fast and hard...and then flamed out, often quitting the sport altogether.

    I still do almost every sport I started doing decades ago---mainly through the "tortoise" principle of just chugging away at my own pace, year after year. And of course I'd love to say to all the 20- and 30-something riders "Let's see if you're still doing that at age 50." Chances are they won't be. Sure there are some 50+ folks still tearing it up...but they are definitely the exception and not the norm.

    I sometimes think that the sport of MTB is perceived as a "fast" sport (e.g. you've got to tear it up to enjoy it)...but I think that's total BS. for me, MTB is more like "hiking on a bike" than it is a thrillride. I also think my technique is---in some ways---better than the younger faster riders because I can't always count on sheer momentum to get through tougher stretches---I have to be a lot more careful with my lines and carefully pick my way through rock gardens.

    And if I have to walk, I'm totally happy with walking---I don't even remotely consider it a failure.

    Scott
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post

    Don't get me wrong---I'm not saying hardcore riders MUST slow down and ride with the intermediates and beginners (though it's nice when they do). I'm just saying that a club made up of mostly hardcore riders is not (in my opinion) a healthy club. It's more of a tight-knit group of hardcore buddies who like riding together...and that group is likely never to grow without making a conscious effort to loop in the beginners and intermediates.

    Scott

    An awful lot of people like to push themselves and ride fast, and it can be more fun when there are others to push their pace. I see nothing unhealthy about that, and a group has no responsibility to "grow" to include everyone.

    In most areas I have lived there have been multiple cycling groups/clubs that covered riders of all abilities from complete slowpokes to Lance wannabes, but if not you can always rely on yourself or a few buddies.

  5. #5
    mm9
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    An awful lot of people like to push themselves and ride fast, and it can be more fun when there are others to push their pace. I see nothing unhealthy about that, and a group has no responsibility to "grow" to include everyone.

    .
    JB Weld: After thinking about my statement - I agree. Nothing wrong is people want to push themselves and ride fast. I' m just noticing something the older I get (Have a lot of buddies in my sports who are 50's and some 60's and 70's). One common thread among the older guys is they seem to have a greater appreciation and aim to have fun vs. being obsessive about the competitive aspects. They are all competitive, but in a tempered, and seeking fun kind of way.
    Last edited by mm9; 12-04-2012 at 07:00 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    for me, MTB is more like "hiking on a bike" than it is a thrillride.
    This quote sums up my passion for riding better than I could sum it myself.

  7. #7
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    Plodding along, just to keep the slow guy up with the pack, isn't much fun either. I've been at both ends of this spectrum. Waiting at an appropriate junction, is about all you can ask for. Some people's chatty, casual ride is a hard, I can't breathe, ride for me... and vice versa.

    Try starting a new group.

  8. #8
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    My local MTB club (the only one nearby) is race focused. They have a weekly ride that is not for the casual rider and every year they put on 4 or 5 races. That's all they do.

    Except advocacy.

    There are hundreds of members in the club but I'd guess that only about 20% go on the weekly rides or compete in the races. I'm a member because I'm a trail builder and trail access advocate. When I go to do my thing with landowners and government, I have a club of 2 or 3 hundred members to back me.

    There actually is another bike club locally. An informal club at the local middle school. This is the basis of most of the casual trail riding done both by adults and kids. At any given time there are maybe 60 to 90 kids in the club. There are probably 200 or so adults connected to the club. Parents and grandparents (and their friends) will organize adult rides and they are very non-competitive. Riding with the kids, some as young as 5 years old, teaches you patience when you get out on the adult rides with either new riders or elderly riders. Yes, I also ride with people in their 70`s and 80`s who kick ass on the trails.
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    no reason to join a "club" if their goals are not the same as yours. Just find one or a few other friendly riders with similar mindsets and schedules (easier said than done, I know), and you guys'll have fun out there. Especially, if youre mostly out there to enjoy the outdoors, like you said, "hiking on a bike", at least for me personally I enjoy the outdoors more if Im not out tehre with a huge group. Your best riding buddy is yourself anyway, no arguing about pace, where to ride, when to ride, etc.
    Last edited by dwyooaj; 12-04-2012 at 07:50 AM.
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    I just joined a race team. Our group rides and pace (on the road) really depends on who shows up. When it is a lot of beginners, the pace seems to be slower or at least it gets broken up so no one rides alone. When the cat 1s and etc show up, it's a pretty bad experience for me, personally. The only thing that has bothered me so far is that they keep nitpicking my road skills apart, and though I appreciate their help, I'm a MTBer for racing, and use road for training. I don't exactly need to perfect echelons to succeed on singletrack, haha.

    I think a lot of it comes down to finding the perfect group. Which is definitely easier sad than done. I can see both sides, it sucks being dropped but it also sucks riding with someone way slower. I still prefer riding my MTB alone. I agree, myself is my best riding buddy!

  11. #11
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    Hello OP, this is exactly why clubs exist. To group like minds together. A group of fast competitive guys have started a club to be fast and competitive. I dont see any problems here.

    So you have taken to riding with a certain club and you feel they are too competitive. Why dont you stop riding with them and join a more relaxed paced club? Or start one for other like minds?

    Am I missing the point of the post or what?
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  12. #12
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    SWriverstone, I don't know how large the your community is, but I live in a town of ~28K (although the outlying population roughly doubles that). Not a big city, in other words, but like you describe, we do have a pretty active cycling community. Off the top of my head, I can think of several clubs, several race teams, and three shops that have regularly scheduled rides. All of these have their own flavor, pace and dynamic. Some are like you describe, others are more laid-back. If the cycling that popular in your community I'd guess you should be able to find another group.

    Out of all those options, I only go to one shop's group ride roughly weekly for the novelty of riding with new people. Otherwise I ride with friends or solo.
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    I've been in a few different situations.

    In the past, I knew a lot of folks who were totally game for mixed company group rides, and they dialed themselves back appropriately when necessary. Sometimes the group would be big enough that they'd have a fast group they could take off with and do their competitive thing. I started out the slow guy at the end of the pack, but made my way up to being somewhere in the middle. Riding with those guys was tough, but also fun.

    I've also been on club rides labeled as "beginner" but were far from it, and the group refused to dial back at all, and it made me hate the club. The rides were social, but the pace was far too high for me and the group never really bothered to try to involve me. My tech skills are definitely not beginner, but I was out of riding condition at the time and figured a beginner ride would give me the social aspect, too. Wrong.

    I've also been in groups recently where I was one of the faster guys who had to dial back for the beginners. I'm perfectly okay with that. I ride that way with my wife because I want her to feel involved, too. When I want to go hard, I either ride by myself or I find a group of similar pace.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    I live in an area where there are tons of bicyclists of all kinds.


    Quote Originally Posted by d365 View Post
    Try starting a new group.



    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    Am I missing the point of the post or what?
    Also, no idea what the "healthy club" comment meant. What is a "healthy club", in your opinion of course?
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    We formed Team Social Pace. We are a mix of everything, from beginners to podium standing Cat2 racers. Some of race, some of us don't - but we are all in agreement with the pace when TSP rides together - chilled out and NOBODY gets dropped.

    Then we have another local club - Quadzilla - where the focus is on racing. There are even Pro level racers in that club. Many of the TSP folks ride for Quadzilla. These folks are fast, they ride hard, and it's pretty serious stuff. That's cool, too.

    So, I agree with Sheepo5669 - this is what clubs are for. I formed Team Social Pace so that people can have a "club" experience without fearing they are going to be dropped - and for the fast guys, a cool place to hang out, ride, laugh, and chill.

    So, like others have said, find like-minded folks and form your own group. Get everybody on the same page with pacing and it's golden.

  16. #16
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    Great responses all---thanks. A few of you called me out on my "healthy club" comment, which is fair. What I should've said is a club that's only hardcore competitive types isn't likely to grow its membership significantly. If that's not a goal for the club, then you're right---no problem there.

    But many clubs like this often say things like "I wish we had more people to help at races" or "If we just had more people to help with trail building..." or "If we were a bigger club we'd have more clout with the city/community..." and stuff like that. My point is that the hardcore competitive types are always going to be a minority in any given area. There are far more people who are at beginner/intermediate levels (and many who never go beyond intermediate). If a club wants to grow to 200-300 members (like the club Trail Ninja described)...it ain't gonna happen in most areas unless the hardcore types truly open their arms and welcome the beginners and intermediates.

    I actually haven't been riding with the local (hardcore) club at all...but I keep loose tabs on what they're doing on their forum and ride board. 99% of my riding is alone---and as someone said, I don't have to worry about pace, but riding alone all the time gets old.

    Not to pat myself on the back or anything...but I'm an expert whitewater paddler (C-1)...and I really enjoy taking beginners and intermediates out on the river. No, I wouldn't want to do it all the time...but in the summer I'm happy to get out once a week for a "non-workout" paddle---just hanging with the newbies, talking, showing them some technique, etc. So I don't get the mentality of advanced riders who say "To hell with that." (No, not all do, but many do.)

    One thing I've noticed---neither good nor bad, just the way it is---hardcore competitive types tend to dominate the conversation (and activity) in smaller clubs...because they're hardcore. They're often type A people who tend to dominate any situation on or off the bike. More laid-back riders are just that---more laid-back...so they often tend to get drowned out by the hardcore types.

    Finally (if you guys will cut me some slack and allow me one last complaint)...I've been doing a lot of different outdoor sports for more than 2 decades...and I've also noticed the same trend in every sport: the media (print/web/video/etc.) focuses almost exclusively on the hardcore types in every sport. The reason is obvious---they think their content sells (or is viewed more) when it's nothing but hardcore types shredding class 5 creeks or doing gnarly downhill runs at breakneck speeds. It's VERY rare that you see a big photo-feature article in a leading magazine that focuses on...laid-back intermediate riders.

    The inevitable results of this are:
    a) continued glorification of hardcore types (in a perpetual feedback loop)
    b) the perception among beginners that if they don't become hardcore/competitive, they "aren't really doing it." (Or they aren't "going for it.")
    c) public perception that the sport is nothing but hardcore types risking their lives and standing atop the podium.

    And before anyone else says it...no, I guess there's nothing wrong with it...except that it promotes a very incomplete view of any sport---it completely ignores the legions of people who participate in the sport who aren't hardcore and competitive. And for those of us in that category, it sucks! :-)

    Scott
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  17. #17
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    Have you talked to anyone at a local bike shop? They might be able to direct you to the perfect ride group, it seems as if you just haven't found the right one yet.

    Years ago I lived in a small town that had 2 cycling clubs- one pure racing, and the other a mixed bag of mostly social riders but some who enjoyed competitive riding as well. The second group was sponsored by a shop I worked at and so I ended up going on many of their rides. Even with a smallish group, maybe 20 riders, it would end up dividing itself naturally. A few, including myself, who enjoyed pushing themselves were up front. Another faction who really liked their small rings and would never up the pace faster than would allow them to talk comfortably were at the back. Other riders were somewhere in between, and we would all meet up at pre-determined locales- everyone was happy, and no one bemoaned anyone for riding too fast or too slow.

    I am happy to help out new or slower paced riders in any way I can, but in general you have to realize that for fast twitched folks like me it can be every bit as frustrating and unenjoyable to ride at crawling speed as it is for someone just looking for a social ride to fry their lungs trying to keep pace with shaved legged race weenies.

  18. #18
    AZ
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    Loosely organized "no drop" group rides offer a slower pace and much less competitive atmosphere ime.

  19. #19
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    The group I used to ride with Wednesdays does it right. Its a competitive group of older guys. some racers, some SSers, some of the guys kids, and myself(21 y.o.).

    The competitive group goes off the front and we basically ride fast and enjoy ourselves. Occasionally attacks are thrown in good nature to make the guys behind you hurt a little bit, but rarely does anyone just throw down and ditch the group off the front.

    Why does this group do it right? Well, we bring a grill, food, beer, and stories to the trailhead and we cook and drink after. Its really fun, you have people of all ages and skill levels hanging around enjoying each others company.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Great responses all---thanks. A few of you called me out on my "healthy club" comment, which is fair. What I should've said is a club that's only hardcore competitive types isn't likely to grow its membership significantly. If that's not a goal for the club, then you're right---no problem there.

    But many clubs like this often say things like "I wish we had more people to help at races" or "If we just had more people to help with trail building..." or "If we were a bigger club we'd have more clout with the city/community..." and stuff like that. My point is that the hardcore competitive types are always going to be a minority in any given area. There are far more people who are at beginner/intermediate levels (and many who never go beyond intermediate). If a club wants to grow to 200-300 members (like the club Trail Ninja described)...it ain't gonna happen in most areas unless the hardcore types truly open their arms and welcome the beginners and intermediates.

    I actually haven't been riding with the local (hardcore) club at all...but I keep loose tabs on what they're doing on their forum and ride board. 99% of my riding is alone---and as someone said, I don't have to worry about pace, but riding alone all the time gets old.

    Not to pat myself on the back or anything...but I'm an expert whitewater paddler (C-1)...and I really enjoy taking beginners and intermediates out on the river. No, I wouldn't want to do it all the time...but in the summer I'm happy to get out once a week for a "non-workout" paddle---just hanging with the newbies, talking, showing them some technique, etc. So I don't get the mentality of advanced riders who say "To hell with that." (No, not all do, but many do.)

    One thing I've noticed---neither good nor bad, just the way it is---hardcore competitive types tend to dominate the conversation (and activity) in smaller clubs...because they're hardcore. They're often type A people who tend to dominate any situation on or off the bike. More laid-back riders are just that---more laid-back...so they often tend to get drowned out by the hardcore types.

    Finally (if you guys will cut me some slack and allow me one last complaint)...I've been doing a lot of different outdoor sports for more than 2 decades...and I've also noticed the same trend in every sport: the media (print/web/video/etc.) focuses almost exclusively on the hardcore types in every sport. The reason is obvious---they think their content sells (or is viewed more) when it's nothing but hardcore types shredding class 5 creeks or doing gnarly downhill runs at breakneck speeds. It's VERY rare that you see a big photo-feature article in a leading magazine that focuses on...laid-back intermediate riders.

    The inevitable results of this are:
    a) continued glorification of hardcore types (in a perpetual feedback loop)
    b) the perception among beginners that if they don't become hardcore/competitive, they "aren't really doing it." (Or they aren't "going for it.")
    c) public perception that the sport is nothing but hardcore types risking their lives and standing atop the podium.

    And before anyone else says it...no, I guess there's nothing wrong with it...except that it promotes a very incomplete view of any sport---it completely ignores the legions of people who participate in the sport who aren't hardcore and competitive. And for those of us in that category, it sucks! :-)

    Scott
    Scotty with all due respect i think you might be over doing the 'hardcore' bit just a tad.

    You seem to be very concerned about public image and perception and what everybody
    else is doing, i dont really understand why.

    In life and sport for many its about pushing themselves and getting better at what they do, i wouldnt call it hardcore, id call it taking on a challenge and natural progression..
    Usually people like that are very passionate and are at that level for a reason.

    Ive been a saltwater lure guide for most of my life, the friends and groups i tend to hang out with in the world of fishing here are guys that live and breath it like other guides and guys that devote their whole lives to it, we all have something to offer each other, and thats passion and our own level of learning and pushing the limits of what we do, same goes for my spearfishing.

    Im just a hacker on the bike, i do it for pure joy, im not in a club nor am i at that level but i dont begrudge those guys that live and breath it, they are out there pushin their limits and good on them..

    You just have to accept the level your at and dont compare yourself to others, its not healthy mate.

    I dont agree with your take on public opinion nor do i think it even matters what the public or new riders think, its about being happy about the level your at, if your not you push yourself harder and go to the next and next level.

    cheers mate
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tone's View Post
    Scotty with all due respect i think you might be over doing the 'hardcore' bit just a tad.

    You seem to be very concerned about public image and perception and what everybody
    else is doing, i dont really understand why.
    Nah, not at all. I could care less what others think. That's why I've ridden alone for years---and enjoyed it for the most part. I started this thread for no other reason than to reflect on the situation I see in my area---which is a lack of riders at my level. That's not imagined, it's real.

    In life and sport for many its about pushing themselves and getting better at what they do, i wouldnt call it hardcore, id call it taking on a challenge and natural progression..
    Usually people like that are very passionate and are at that level for a reason.
    Sure---challenge is vital to life, and I challenge myself all the time. But it's also true that there are *many* different levels of challenge. For people who ride 5-7 days a week and go pretty hard, that's one level. For people who ride once a week, going hard is a challenge...but "going hard" for us is going to be considerably slower than the fast folks.

    Ive been a saltwater lure guide for most of my life, the friends and groups i tend to hang out with in the world of fishing here are guys that live and breath it like other guides and guys that devote their whole lives to it, we all have something to offer each other, and thats passion and our own level of learning and pushing the limits of what we do, same goes for my spearfishing.
    Exactly! And my point is, why can't people who don't live and breath it have a similar camaraderie...and push each other, but simply not to the extent that others do?

    And when I say "hardcore," you seem to perceive that as a negative---it's not at all. It's just descriptive. When you talk about people who live and breath a sport and devote their whole lives to it...I'd say that's pretty much the textbook definition of "hardcore."

    Im just a hacker on the bike, i do it for pure joy, im not in a club nor am i at that level but i dont begrudge those guys that live and breath it, they are out there pushin their limits and good on them...
    I don't begrudge them either. This thread is about finding a similar camaraderie at a lower level---that's it.
    You just have to accept the level your at and dont compare yourself to others, its not healthy mate.
    I totally accept it---which is why I'm still riding. If I didn't accept it, I would have quit the sport a long time ago.
    I dont agree with your take on public opinion nor do i think it even matters what the public or new riders think, its about being happy about the level your at, if your not you push yourself harder and go to the next and next level.
    I respect your disagreement. I base my opinion on what I see every time I pick up a MTB, whitewater paddling, or snowboarding magazine. More often than not, they glorify the extreme end of the sports because extreme sells. (I'm also a marketing/communications professional---so I'm speaking from experience there too.)

    cheers mate
    You too!
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Nah, not at all. I could care less what others think. That's why I've ridden alone for years---and enjoyed it for the most part. I started this thread for no other reason than to reflect on the situation I see in my area---which is a lack of riders at my level. That's not imagined, it's real.



    Sure---challenge is vital to life, and I challenge myself all the time. But it's also true that there are *many* different levels of challenge. For people who ride 5-7 days a week and go pretty hard, that's one level. For people who ride once a week, going hard is a challenge...but "going hard" for us is going to be considerably slower than the fast folks.



    Exactly! And my point is, why can't people who don't live and breath it have a similar camaraderie...and push each other, but simply not to the extent that others do?

    And when I say "hardcore," you seem to perceive that as a negative---it's not at all. It's just descriptive. When you talk about people who live and breath a sport and devote their whole lives to it...I'd say that's pretty much the textbook definition of "hardcore."


    I don't begrudge them either. This thread is about finding a similar camaraderie at a lower level---that's it.

    I totally accept it---which is why I'm still riding. If I didn't accept it, I would have quit the sport a long time ago.

    I respect your disagreement. I base my opinion on what I see every time I pick up a MTB, whitewater paddling, or snowboarding magazine. More often than not, they glorify the extreme end of the sports because extreme sells. (I'm also a marketing/communications professional---so I'm speaking from experience there too.)

    You too!
    Fair enough brother, totally understand and relate to most of your points..
    The good thing is there must be others like you and myself on bikes that do it on a casual basis and would like to find others in a similar boat.
    If theres no group for them maybe you the man thats destined to start one, who knows it might grow, you could add a weekly BBQ and drinks into it, you never know.
    Good luck with it mate, i do know that the law of attraction often draws people and things like yourself together so i hope you find fellow riders that fit the bill mate
    cheers Scotty
    Dont ever let the truth get in the way of a funny story....

  23. #23
    mtbr member
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    I have been with a "hardcore club" when I was younger.. and after a long break, i find myself 100lbs heavier, and so much slower than the bunch...

    Fortunately, I came across some senior riders, well in the 60s and 70s, that frequent a local bike spot. But even so, I find myself too slow for them.. they would wait for me and encourage me, but I needed to get into a group at my level.

    Then I met some new riders.. who I go biking with everyday for a month now. And just last night, a local bikeshop is organizing night rides, mixed bikes (fixies, foldingbikes, roadies and mtbs)..

  24. #24
    'Tis but a scratch
    Reputation: huffster's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
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    1,894
    OP - Its too bad we don't live near each other. After reading your posts, I think we'd be very compatible riders. I've never even looked into the club thing. I've always kind of percieved it as the more serious, race crowd. Probably an unfair stereotype. Anyway, I like some riding companionship occasionally. I ride with my brother now and then (he rides much less frequently). I have also done some "pick-up" rides with someone(s) I met at a trailhead. A club like you envision might be nice, but I think it might still be too structured for me. I like to just go when I can go and ride as long as I can ride. I'm not even remotely an intravert, but I actually enjoy riding alone. Its my therapy!

  25. #25
    Bicyclochondriac.
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    13,128
    Quote Originally Posted by Sundragon View Post
    This quote sums up my passion for riding better than I could sum it myself.
    +2

    I like several aspects of the sport. The adrenaline aspect and the fitness/endurance aspect get most of the attention. I do like these aspects, but just being out there in the woods, on a ridge-line, exploring, whatever, is just as much a part of this for me. Unfortunately, it seems to get the least amount of attention, probably because there are no prizes to be won, sponsors to be gained, or products to be sold.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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