Friday Query: Somebody, or Anybody?

There is this old rail line at Wheeler Avenue in LaVerne. It is unused with rough, buckled and uneven pavement. There is often gravel on the roadway, so you have to look for the sweet line, it can change ride by ride. One of those chunks of gravel targeted my front wheel; there was an ever-so-slight delay during which time I thought I had escaped. Fifty feet later, riding on the rim, was proof otherwise. Man, I hate flatting on group rides. Like happened last night. 

But before I get to that let me briefly take you back in time, and ask a question: Are you a somebody, or are you an anybody? I have done a lot of different group rides over the years, some large, others small, some social paced, others extremely fast. Generally speaking, everyone tends to know one another on the smaller ones, and when someone suffers a flat the ride will stop en masse. It is one of those cool little camaraderie, no one left behind, we are all in this together, aspects of cycling. It makes you feel like somebody when everyone stops and waits as you fix your flat, cut out a broken link of chain, or what ever.

Then I started doing larger rides, like the Montrose Ride. I began to notice that the ride did not stop for just anybody. I also noticed that when it did stop it would be for the riders who were well-known, while for others it would tend to roll on. Mostly the stop or no-stop decision depends on who is around the flatee at the time, and in turn how loudly the "flat siren" is vocalized. For "somebodys" known by all, the siren is "FLAT", and resounds rider to rider until it reaches the front of the bunch, the drivers who bring the ride to a halt. If the flatee is one of the "anybodys", the siren may only be a "flat", not able to reach the front, which continues pushing on its merry way. The difference between somebody and anybody. Fortunately I don't recall ever flatting during the Montrose Ride so never had to face that moment of truth - somebody, or anybody?

So back to last night; there I was, the bobber near the end of the trawling line. Only one rider was behind me, Shark Bait, at the very end of the string. As I listened to the air quickly evacuating my front wheel, Shark Bait went by me and I was on my own, casting a forlorn shadow underneath a street light in LaVerne with six miles to home. There was no shout of "FLAT", not even a "flat" - apparently I had become one of the "anybody" masses.

I had taken the front wheel off before realizing that I had forgotten to switch the saddle bag back over to tonights bike choice; I had a tube in my jersey, but no way to get air into it. Faced with a very slow ride home, I called the home phone: No answer. I called the wife's cell: No answer. I started cursing, and people opened their curtains, looked out their windows to see what the fuss was all about. Just another bicyclist. Luckily for me, Big E was having an off night and was a couple minutes back. When that super bright headlight came into view my hope was renewed. My savior had arrived. A quick change and we were back on our way. The bunch was long gone, but in place of the speed-fest, our relaxed pace allowed stories to be exchanged, stories of the '80s / '90s SoCal racing scene. That made up for the loss; the silver lining supposedly contained in every dark cloud.

Keep in mind, I am not finding fault here, nor directing it at anyone. Last night I quietly pulled over. I could have let out a loud "damnit" to draw attention to my plight but chose not to, as I think most riders would do in similar situations. So, should you choose to respond, here is the Friday Question: Does the group have a responsibility to stop for simple things, like flats, or is it the personal responsibility of each rider? Much depends on the type of ride, of course; I would never expect a race/training ride such as Buds, or the Rose Bowl, or the old Griffith Park Ride to stop, but what about other types of rides?


  1. Somebody, or Anybody?
    A fine post, makes you think... (and not just about cycling ...)

  2. Nice read. I helped a fellow cyclist a few weeks back who flatted. This post reminded me to double check my pack to make sure I replaced the spent CO2 with a new one.

  3. Haris, thinking is always good. Glad I could help.
    Jason, I know just what you mean.


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