The unwritten rules for ‘calling a ride’

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It’s Friday afternoon and my smartphone is going nuts with SMS and WhatsApp messages from my riding group asking “where are we riding tomorrow? What time? Who’s in?”

After years of this Friday tradition I’ve learned a few rules of the game. These should accelerate your acceptance in your bunch, and more importantly, seize control of the ride.

1. The person who calls the ride first gets to pick the route, time and meeting place. The exact route is negotiable, but not the time and meeting place after the ride is called. He/she who calls it first, wins.

2. The universal five-minute rule applies to the meeting time. If a ride is called at 7am, then it’s accepted that the final person has until 7:05am to show. After that, they’re chasing.

(Incidentally, the person who lives closest to the meeting point is the one who’s always late.)

3. Start slow and easy; finish fast. There’s no rush.

4. If one of your mates has an unreasonably short leave-pass and tries to hijack the ride, that’s their problem. Don’t let them ambush your ride and dictate their own rules, speed and route. They should have called the ride if they had a 1 hour deadline.

5. Obey the rule: “Start a ride together; finish a ride together.” If a mutiny takes place and the others go off on their own direction, then you’ve messed up the ride and chosen a crappy route. It’s probably the last ride you’ll ever call…

(Exception to rule #5: There’s always someone who invites their new mate to come along who is ill-equipped and too inexperienced for your bunch. Whoever invites the straggler has the responsibility for sitting up and waiting for them, not everyone else. After the third time waiting around, you and your slow mate are on your own.)

6. The city limits sign is the universal final sprint. Know exactly where 200m-to-go is, know what the wind is doing, and know your competition. This is the biggest bragging rights opportunity until next weekend.

7. The post-ride coffee stop may be chosen by someone other than the one who called the ride. This goes to the best cafe aficionado of the bunch, and needs to be in a central location for all. There’s nothing worse than going for bad coffee with another 45-minute ride to get home. You only get one shot at this and if you muck it up, you’re never choosing the cafe again.

In the case of rain, some amendments to the rules apply:

  • The route can be negotiated after the ride is called if there is rain on the radar and a drier route is available.
  • It’s unacceptable to cancel the ride if there’s only drizzle when starting or only a threat of rain.
  • It’s acceptable to cancel the ride if it’s bucketing down when leaving your front door.
  • Stick with these rules and you’ll have a lifetime of trouble-free riding with your mates. Mess any of them up, and you’ll be hopping from bunch to bunch always being “the new guy.”

    Enjoy your weekend riding!

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