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September 9, 2011
It wasn’t long ago when the Hell Ride was considered to be the worst behaved bunch ride on Melbourne roads. There’s no doubt that this used to be true, but for the most part people have cleaned up their act, stopped running red lights, and only take up one lane of the road. It’s not ideal for our public image, but it’s much better than it used to be. If the ride weren’t called “The Hell Ride”, I’m sure it would go completely unnoticed.
Recently the number of people joining the weekday morning bunch rides have increased tenfold. I remember a couple years ago when the Wednesday morning long loop included only half a dozen of us. Now there are 60 to 80 riders joining this ride and it’s an absolute mess coming back along Nepean Highway amongst rush hour traffic. The stronger riders at the front are trying to tear the group apart, the weaker ones are echeloned onto a second lane of traffic trying to hold onto the wheel infront. Perhaps it’s time to start splitting this group into two.
On the Tuesday or Thursday 6am North Road Ride there now is a scooter turning up to motorpace the bunch. The pace gets up to 60km/hr and most of the riders strung out fighting tooth and nail for a wheel barely hanging on. I don’t know who this who drives the scooter or who organises it, but maybe it’s taking things a step too far?
Friday mornings used to be an easy ride. No big chainring allowed. Now there are 80 riders who make a dodgy turn at the church against 70km/hr oncoming traffic so they can do their hard ride. Meanwhile only a small handful of riders continue 200m down the road to Mordialloc for their easy ride. It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s group mentality at work and no one has suggested that it be changed.
The problem with the Melbourne cycling scene is that there are no more “patrons of the peloton” to lead the way. There is no respect for the senior riders anymore, and the senior riders have given up trying to make any changes. Maybe Sydney and Adelaide could give us some input on how they’ve been able to keep their rides so organised.
I’m thrilled to see cycling growing so rapidly, however it’s becoming a victim of it’s own success. The sheer number of riders turning up each morning and the changing nature of these bunch rides is an accident waiting to happen. It will soon it will become a problem that spans beyond our own community.
Many people have emailed me asking that I wave my magic wand and make the problem disappear. It’s not that simple. This won’t be solved in the comments section of this post, nor do I have the power to change what people do. A group of well respected riders need to get together, put their brains together, and use their influence to make some sustainable changes. Everyone is talking about (including me), but nothing is being done about it.
Have a great weekend and ride safe.