Now I'll grant that these as(s)terisks come in all shapes and flavours, but generally you're dealing with one of the following subclasses:1) The Pseudo-Racer:
The bulk of the "racers" in team jerseys on these rides are the sorts of club racers and/or tri-geeks who are too chickenshitted to show up at a mass start event. They thus limit their actual race days to one or two ITT or hillclimb events per year, and often do quite well at these since there's no denying they're strong, plus they don't have to focus on any sort of skills or tactics besides riding one speed as hard as they can for a predetermined length of time. Pseudo-racers will go on every group ride their club holds because a) they aren't training for anything besides the weekly Testicle Tour and the annual Mount Doom Hillclimb, thus they're not suffering dead legs from having done a brutal race the previous Saturday, Sunday and/or Tuesday night; and b) To justify their existence and the "team" jersey they've bought, they feel compelled to prove to everyone else just how tough they are. These sorts of riders almost universally have terrible pack skills, know (and care) zilch about safety and love to ride around pretending they're Europros by blowing stop signs and riding three and four abreast blocking traffic. They'd ride without helmets if they could get away with it, thankfully most LBS hosted rides forbid it.2) The Century King:
Another subset are your fast recreational types. These guys don't care to race, and they don't give a crap about training in any organised fashion. They just want a hard workout, and in the process of doing this, they like to feed their own egos by boasting about how high an average speed they can maintain, and what "real racers" they are able to drop on any given ride. These guys have even worse group skills and manners than Subclass 1. They are often to be seen sporting permanently attached aerobars, helmet mirrors and Nashbar closeout deal jerseys. They generally don't give a snowflake on a hot stove about "development" (their own or anyone else's) or "encouraging new riders". Screw that noise, their goal is to get their workout in by dropping as many riders as they are physically capable of, and everyone else else be damned. I've actually heard one of these prats boasting how hard they "dropped" former Euro-pro Jonathon Vaughters (who happened to be riding in old CA kit, hence recognisable). I know JV pretty well, so what this donkey probably didn't suss onto is that JV had almost certainly been out 5 hours to the asshat's one (not to mention on a recovery lap from an interval set, to boot).3) The Wannabe:
A third subset are essentially poseurs who do group rides to facilitate their personal sense of identity. These are often has-been or never-was racer groupies who are now well-upholstered fiftysomethings. These guys show up with matched Euro team kit straining over their ample midriffs, World Champion edition shoes, on the latest unobtanium frameset. Considering said frameset was originally designed for a buck-twenty Basque climber, it creaks ominously beneath their Biggie Sized buns. These are the guys who either 'forget' their lid at home or let their handlebars wear it at any and all opportunity. They wag their jaws ceaselessly about how fast they "used to be" or "are gonna be". They typically get dropped like a bad habit on the first climb though, so at least you won't have to listen to it for long.4) The Henpecked Spouse:
These are the riders who do race occasionally througout the season, but who are only able to negotiate a "hall pass" to do so on a limited number of weekends, due to family / lifestyle constraints and a nagging spouse with limited understanding of their partner's desire for personal fulfillment, and Gestapo-esque control of any expenditure not directly targeted towards home improvement or personal haberdashery needs. These riders must achieve their race-pace miles and group skills building whenever and wherever they can, and ad hoc training is difficult to impossible to work around their 40+ hour/week jobs, in-law requirements, and the obligations of serving as social coordinator and taxi service for the offspring. The LBS group rides at least offer an acceptable schedule / structure for them to get a regular workout. These are the guys sporting faded, ripped local team kit circa 1997, shoes they bought during the Clinton administration, ride ten-year-old knackered Cannondales, and are damned fast by virtue of being pissed off at the world in general.
::/Denis Leary Mode::
So... you're still wondering. If I have such an issue dealing with a stack of douchebags on a weekly basis, then why the heck don't I just go do my own ride. Well, quite a bit of the time, I do. I ride solo to work every day. I do long solo interval workouts when I need specificity in my training
. And I know this is really hard to believe, but I do get sick of myself (it's easy, trust me).
Honestly, I'm fortunate. The club I belong to
has a couple of motivated, sane individuals who either work at the LBS or show up regularly on rides. These guys are strong AND smart, a rare combo in the cycling subspecies Lycratus microencephalus roadii roadii
They generally take it upon themselves to alternately praise, bust heads and enforce the 'first hour no-drop' rule. This is why I do this ride. I know that the first hour of the ride will, indeed, be a proper warm up and social klatch. After which we can let the dogs out, have fun, and all bets are off. The transition generally occurs after a pee break, at which time neophytes are warned that the gloves are gonna come off; the wise ones typically elect to turn for home. It's a positively civilised idea: a friendly group ride where one can still indulge in some good old-fashioned head-banging anaerobia. Usually without pissing anyone off.
In a nutshell, I've found a group of generally good dudes. Besides which, riding by myself, I certainly don't get the chance to gaze at lovely scenery such as this: