Egos & Mob Mentality

So I got my arse handed to me last night.  I was able to attend our Tuesday Night Hammer-fest ride for the first time in a while.  The winds were howling and the turn out was small so I expected the group to be fast, but not as aggressive as usual.  That was my first mistake.  My second, was to expect the group to think logically.

As we were headed into the howling wind, the group was echelon-ed across the road. The guys at the back were either not cooperating or are not smart enough to form two lines to protect more people.  I’ll take it as they were not cooperating, as they were planning some attacks.  After a big pull, I tried to get some of the less experienced guys to group up to protect everybody before the group blew up.  Only one would come over, so I went back to to the back, and that’s when the first attack went. 

Of course I was in horrible position, but not really worried about it because what solo attack is going to be successful going into a 27mph wind?  The first attempt was what you would expect, the wind shut it down quickly.  Then the second came.  Why should it be any different?  Surely this group wouldn’t be foolish enough to jump on a rider who they could hang out to dry by letting him go.  But no.  They did.  Then the third attempt came, and blew everybody up. 

The guys in front of me were new and inexperienced, so they were quickly gapped, and I could not get around them.  My night was done.  The whole time I was sitting there expecting that no one would jump those attacks.  I mean, do you really think that one guy can maintain a pace fast enough to hold off a group going into a 27mph wind?  No way!!! 

Though each one was a pretty strong rider, the first proved that it could not be done, so why chase them at all?  The best chance the rest of the group has is to let him sit out there off the front fighting that wind himself.  Let him lop his own head off.  But bike racing is not always about logic.  Often egos get in the way. The guys up front could not let someone get ahead of them.  They had to show right then who was toughest. And once one tried to jump the attacker’s wheel, the others had to follow, and so it goes.  An ego cost us all, because by the end of the ride, the only ones who had anything left were the attackers.  They used short efforts, one after another, to blow apart the rest of the field. 

Kuddos to those guys for a brilliant tactic.  Knowing the ego played a huge role in how they were successful.  They knew the older guys up front couldn’t let one of these young guys get a gap.  They had to show the young guys who was boss.  And for that, they paid dearly.  The young guys kept it coming until the older guys buried themselves. 

It was a good learning experience for me.  I may not have seen all this had I been in the right position and been able to jump in.  I can in no way say that my ego would not have gotten the best of me as well.  It sure hurt my ego to get shut down so early in the race.  Also, I learned that my assessment of the situation on the road really doesn’t matter if it is not the same as the rest of the group.  I am certainly not “Il Patron” of the local peleton and was not in the right place to make my thoughts known.  The group’s actions rule the road. After everything shook out, I got to limp home with a Korean guy on a time trial bike that didn’t speak English and refused to take a pull.  It was a painful night, but good lessons were learned.

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~ by Velosophy Esq. on April 8, 2009.

One Response to “Egos & Mob Mentality”

  1. Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for sharing. I’ll certainly be coming back to your posts.

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