So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Things Which Make Insurers Go Hm...

Every once in a while you feel fortunate to be not in the position of an event director. While driving from Pensacola to Gulf Breeze after the aquathon portion of the Three-Mile Bridge Swim I had the pleasure (or misfortune) to be behind a pack of cyclists who were participating in a veteran's "freedom ride" from Pensacola to Pensacola Beach & back.
Riding 18-to-20 miles is not a difficult task if you're on a road racing or triathlon bike, wearing proper equipment & taking the necessary preparation. It's a tad more challenging on a mountain (fat-tire) bike because of the weight, increased tread contact patch, & stuff like that. Of course, clmbing isn't so bad because of the granny gear; that's the 19-to-25-tooth small, small ring on the front of the real serious mountain bikes which allow the rider to climb most any hill. BUT: If you are on a P.O.S. single-speed Wal-Mart special, without water bottles...riding in baggy cotton bermuda shorts, a t-shirt, & a baseball cap...two words come to mind: Long Day.
As an event director-guy, I nearly shrieked in horror at the sight of nearly a dozen riders in what the Italian cycling commentators would call the grupetto, and what the French would call the autobus...helmetless, plodding away at a cadence guaranteed to blow their knees off at the start of the Three-Mile Bridge's hump. One of the grupetto dismounted from the bike at the beginning of the hump in order to walk it to the top. 'What's that person going to do when they get to the Bob Sikes?'

Exactly the rationale for signing waivers.
I've always wondered why event waivers were not printed in clear, simple language. Why would an event director allow a person who obviously had not prepared for a 20-mile bike ride, much less a 10-miler, to participate in such an event? When does the event director take the participant aside & say, 'while I appreciate your service & I want you to participate & enjoy yourself, I don't believe you've prepared sufficiently for this?' Certainly, I know this was a military appreciation month, veteran-focused event, but you have to set a floor-level standard.

Of course, what would have been even more cool would have been to see the spandex-clad, hard-butt bike monsters at the front of the peloton, who were traveling at 15-20 miles per hour without any effort whatsoever, slow up and ride along with these poor souls. Perhaps teach them a little rudimentary bicycle operation (something my old boss would have called Gear Shifting For Bears of Little Brain); encourage them on the climbs which were soon to come. Perhaps, even, remember the realm from which they escaped.
I've read a few comments about the enmity between bikies and tri-geeks. Bikies think triathletes have no bike-handling skills, & tri-geeks think bikers are a bunch of elitist snobs who prefer to wheel-suck. I'm perhaps painting with too broad of a brush.

But way too often the people who have developed a certain degree of knowledge, skill & ability in their particular sport are less than willing to share what they know with the newcomer. Often the newbie looks at the proficient athlete & believes they are unwilling to share knowledge...perhaps there needs to be more rides like the one the other weekend to get the gung-ho bikers & the I'm only riding my bike to the grocery store bikers together. Hey, it's all the same type of equipment. Perhaps then the average automobile driver wouldn't consider every cyclist as a person who lost their license or can't afford to drive a car (in many cases the economic facts might be true but it's not completely across the board).

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