Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Pastry Ride

Competitive cyclists abuse the hell out of themselves all week and especially on weekends. We spend a good portion of our waking hours with sore legs. We put in inhuman efforts at Tuesday night training races (which mind as well be PRO races), intense weeknight track racing, viciously fast and dangerous downtown criteriums, grinding multi-day stage races, grueling all-out one day road races and epic 100+ mile rides with friends when there are no races.

But Mondays are traditionally reserved for recovery. In fact, the Monday rest day is so ingrained in my cycling psyche, that I forgo completing long rides with friends on Monday holidays. Some competitive cyclists also forgo "opener" efforts on Fridays and use this as a recovery day before the weekend's races.

Road cyclists recover from high intensity bicycle racing and training by riding a bicycle at extremely low intensity. Pedaling at low intensity warms the muscles and helps them loosen up. The blood flow helps remove built up toxins. Stretching is recommended before, during and after the ride.

Many of us choose to complete these workouts in a group. This is known as a Pastry Ride. Generally, everyone meets at a central location after work on Monday evening and pedals very slowly to a coffee shop that is less than an hour away. It is understood that you are to appear on time in full team kit on a clean racing bicycle.

Road cyclists have a subtle, but inviolable style code and violations are punished by severe ostracism. For instance, Spaits and myself almost shunned each other on a 3 person pastry ride yesterday. Both of us were properly attired, except that both of us were wearing unacceptable socks, Spaits had shorty cotton tube type socks, while I had "hidden" triathlete-style socks. We both took note of each other's transgressions and agreed to defend each other when the other attendee made fun of us.

Pastry rides are a chance for teammates to deconstruct the weekend's racing, complain about sketchy riders, poor tactics, brag and boast, make excuses, and just shoot the shit. It also allows friends from other teams and different racing categories to catch up. Team switches are discussed; new teams are formed and old dissolved on these rides.

For folks who make their living in the cycling industry, these rides are major networking events, trumping sales meetings and Blackberries. With all of this racing expertise in one place, people are bound to discuss equipment choices...who better to ask than the local ------ rep about why your ------ front derailleur shifts poorly in moments of need?

The rules of the ride are quite simple. Ride slow. Real slow. You are not to attack hills, sprint for town lines or even shift into the big ring. Conversation is king, so you ride 2 abreast, even 3 up if road width permits. Less experienced riders sometimes "attack" the pastry ride. There is nothing less embarrassing that trying to race against a bunch of people who are not racing.

It is quite a sight: groups of PRO-looking kitted out cyclists on gleaming high zoot steeds, riding at exaggeratedly slow speeds.

Non-competitive cyclists often take the opportunity to drop the group of road dicks when they happen upon a pastry group. I am sure that they go home and brag to their significant other about it. Meanwhile the road dorks make fun of the aggressor's ill-fitting clothing, riding position, poor bike fit, equipment choices, creaky drivetrain, squeaking derailleur pulleys and general lack of PROness.

Most importantly though, you stop for coffee and pastry in the middle of the ride. Normally anorexic road cyclists indulge in buttery, sugary pastries; they'll have a blended coffee drinks with whipped cream and if they are feeling particularly reckless, they'll have both.



Drew said...

All my rides are pastry rides these days.

Yash Katsumi said...

Stay out of the Winch you deviants.

RMM said...

I was wondering when you would become upset with us using the Winch.