Night Riding Behind "the Motor"...
a nearly full moon lit up the night
We have all probably ridden with someone, at one time or another, who seems to possess a massive internal engine. The kind of engine that, once ignited, can power along for mile after mile daring anyone else to match his pace. Often times, though not always, that engine is encased in a big body. One or two of you readers may even be the motor on whatever group ride you do, where ever it is you do it. For those attempting to keep up with the motor, that size is a good thing - larger mass out front = greater wake behind. I figure there is some mathematical equation to explain the coefficient of draft; I will have to search for it some time. Right now, though, it is not really the point.
"the motor" eerily ghosts past my camera
The motor is expert at employing a strategy based on the concept of attrition - ride hard, ride fast, until one by one other riders fall off the pace. Erik's Night Ride yesterday evening came equipped with a guy I would toss into the motor category. After the opening stretch of road the motor did what motors everywhere do, he moved to the front and took charge of the pace. At one point, after sitting on his wheel for a while, I began to wonder just how long he could keep rolling along like he was; I was feeling somewhat guilty about benefiting from all the work he was doing. Though he did not move perceptibly to either his left or right, never flicked his elbow, nor made any other indication to solicit assistance, I moved up alongside the motor to let him know I was ready to take a pull for the common good. The motor never glanced my way, never slowed or fell behind. He seemed to eschew the very idea of the paceline, which put me in a kind of awkward position. I was nearly at maximum effort as it was, so I could either red-line to get past him and hope there would be someone to take over the pace-setting efforts, almost immediately, from me, or I could go ahead and fall back into line. The longer I rode beside the motor, the more frustrated I became:
"why the hell isn't this guy slackening his pace?"
"why isn't he participating in a proper pace line?"
"what the hell?"
Of course my mistake was assuming that the motor was operating under the group ride premise - share and share alike. Just maybe the motor was there to do as much work as possible. Nothing wrong with that; just because it's a group ride does not mean one must participate in a group ride kind of way. What ever that means. The motor may have his own agenda; kind of like me and any upward tilting road more substantial than a sprinters' hill - the pace will be pushed. In the end I said heck with it (using less kind words), thinking "if you want to do all the work, be my guest." And I slipped back onto his wheel. The motor does not ask for any quarter, and he is certainly not going to give any. Keep up, or die.
"The motor", one of the many characters of the peloton.