The Half Wheel – If you’ve never heard the term, then here’s a quick explanation.
When you are riding with the boys (this is a guy thing, women are way too smart for these antics), you make sure your front wheel is half a wheel ahead of theirs. Once they notice you’ve snuck out front, they push a bit harder and soon are half a wheel ahead of you. This becomes a vicious cycle of two or three guys pretending not to race until someone explodes and just can’t hold the pace. Then everyone slows down, catches their breath and it all starts over again.
Why do we do this? I have been on countless “casual” rides that start out as social, easy rides on fun trails, only to be half wheeled into a high speed sprint up a hill or down a beautiful piece of double track. All of a sudden a nice ride goes full blast, race-pace in just a few minutes – there goes another casual day of riding. Is it ego? Is it simply being guys, we can’t let any challenge pass us by? Maybe it’s just an opportunity to push the pace a bit where we never would on a solo ride? Who knows really, I think its one of those things in nature that doesn’t need an explanation, it just is. Boys will be boys.
So, last Monday we headed out for the faster paced group ride into Woods Creek. I had planned on taking it a little easier and keeping the group together for the entire ride. Then someone’s wheel was slightly ahead of mine with a second one coming even quicker. As a good leader I would slow down and reel in the speed, but I’m a silly boy and I picked up the pace just a bit. Then another wheel snuck past me, so I sped up. The funniest part of the ride was me feeling guilty and looking back to see where the rest of the group went, only to find six riders almost running me over as they tried to half wheel the leaders. So we went faster.
As we approached the most technical section of single track, we took a breather, but before I knew it someone in the back of the group was pushing us to go, so we went…as fast as we could (The fact that we saw a couple of buddies up ahead probably had nothing to do with it).
It was not the ride I had planned for that night, but it was an awesome ride. We squeezed in more mileage than normal, lots of the group had their fastest trail times, and I’m sure everyone had a great sleep that night.
I’m not sure why other riders do it, but for me I enjoy getting pushed to my limits, my ego likes to know that at 48 I can still keep up some of the time, and if you challenge me I have a lot of trouble not trying my hardest. As for why I initiate the half wheel once in a while, even as an old slow guy I still like to race a little…or maybe I’m just a $#i+ disturber.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin…