My local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, published a cover story today about a popular training ride that takes place on Saturday mornings in the foothills east of Sacramento. The so-called “Coffee Republic” ride is a decades-old training ride for amateur racers that can attract as many as 80 or more participants. According to the article, the Coffee Republic ride is fast and loose, with unlawful riding a common occurrence within the group.
I’ve never ridden with the Coffee Republic group so I can’t comment on this ride in particular, but I did participate in what sound like similar rides back in the 80s and 90s. The article suggests that a pack mentality can encourage unsafe and discourteous riding, an idea that certainly mirrors my experience with some of the competitive club rides in which I participated.
“While pack mentality can be problematic in many social settings, cycling adds another layer of complexity: Drafting, or tucking behind other cyclists in a paceline to reduce wind resistance, enables inferior athletes to keep up with much faster ones, if only for a short time.
Just to be clear, a large majority of competitive cyclists are responsible road users and excellent ambassadors for bicycling, just as a majority of transportational bicyclists obey the rules of the road and treat their fellow road users with respect. The problem is the small number of bicyclists who flout traffic laws and behave as if they own the road, in the process creating unnecessary ill will and giving law abiding bicyclists a bad name.