Apparently 13 is the new small.
The Fraser River Fuggitivi is growing. Last year getting 13 people out to our Sunday group ride was a triumph. This year it’s what happens when a handful of members bail at the last minute to attend to other commitments.
That’s the price, or benefit, of becoming official.
As of Monday, the FRF is a properly registered association, a legal entity with bylaws, directors, dues, an annual general meeting with motions, votes and minutes. Everyone must sign a waiver to ride, limiting the group’s exposure to liability in case of an accident. In the next little while, we’ll even have kit. All we’re missing is a fleet of team cars. It’s an evolution necessitated by our growth and the initiative to get sponsors to foot some of the cost of our kit.
It’s a long way from the loose association of half a dozen or so like-minded cyclists, united by Twitter, gathering every Sunday for a morning out on the road.
Getting bigger and becoming official also raises the cycling stakes; more riders brings a wider range of fitness and speed, especially this early in the season. So keeping everyone together and feeling part of the group, even as it splinters on climbs or during pacelines along the flats, becomes a challenge. Finessing that can make or break a ride.
Fortunately today’s leader, Flying Oakes, designed a 100 km route with a couple of bail-out options for those unprepared or unable to go the distance. That also allowed us all to regroup at a coffee shop and, later, a brewery.
Group dynamics can be a tricky beast. Bring 13 men together and testosterone inevitably comes into play, egos can get bruised. Keeping those elements in check is key to ensuring casual rides for fun, fitness and camaraderie don’t become weekly throw-downs.
The FRF was formed to create group riding opportunities for suburban cyclists tired of travelling into the city to join one of the myriad groups based there. Our easygoing nature is captured by our Twitter hashtag, #moremilesmorebeer. The banter on the road is friendly; we chat about our families, work (or lack thereof), our bikes. Sprints are the exception rather than the rule; they usually happen when a few members get the urge to stretch their legs while the rest of us watch bemusedly.
Last year, our founder, Guy WR, added regular Tuesday night climbing rides to help improve everyone’s fitness in anticipation of the epic end-of-season ascent up Mt. Baker. And create another opportunity for the group to get together, kibbitz, maybe share a beer afterward.
In just a few short years, the FRF has become a community. So perhaps it was inevitable we’d also have to form a government and bureaucracy.