Recently I have really gotten into cycling, not just for recreational use, but also for competitive reasons. I am definitely new to their community unlike I have been in the free software community now for more than 15 years. The one thing I noticed is that their community is exactly like ours. Everyone is very welcoming and friendly and it is easy to find a spot just for you. I have done my first 3 group rides within the past week. A group ride is where a bunch of road cyclists get together and do a nice long, fast paced, ride in a group, or what is commonly referred to as a pace line in cycling.
The first ride I went on was with what are called leg shavers. People who are about as close to Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Alberto Contador, and others. They ride super fast and they know what they are doing. Well, I definitely didn’t fit in with this crowd but they didn’t discourage me from trying to ride with them at all. Actually some of these semi-pro to professional cyclists took some time with me to teach me the basics, something they probably learned many years ago.
The second ride I went on was with leg shavers as well with a local racing team, which I will probably join in the upcoming months. On Monday they went out for what is called a recovery ride. This type of ride is a slower paced ride with very high RPMs, or cadence in the cycling world. After racing on Saturday and Sunday, these athletes need to keep their legs, lungs, and hearts fresh, so they do a somewhat easy ride. This ride was considered a “no-drop” ride. This means that they will not let you drop off and will always help you through. Now those of you who know me, know that I am a fairly large guy. I am not obese, but I used to play football, did wrestling and martial arts, lifted weights forever. I was always into getting bigger. Well because of this, my cardio is absolute garbage. I can ride for 100 plus miles, but I can’t do it all that fast. This ride was my fastest paced ride at the distance we did to date. There was a woman who made sure I didn’t drop the entire time, her name was Sandy and I am forever in her debt as she was not only patient, but she was a ton of help teaching me the ropes.
The third ride was last night. A nice 31 mile ride that is by far the hilliest ride I have done to date. I didn’t even know we had hills like this in the Chicagoland area. I was great with rolling hills, flats, and downhills. Because I have a solid 220 plus pound body, I can easily toast a lot of people down hill that we were riding with. Now, what goes down, must come up, and my lord did it ever come up. There were 3 hills, and all of them had those scary movie names too. Devils Back, Heart Attack Hill, and I can’t remember the other. Well, those hills kicked my ass. I dropped into the lowest gears I had, and I run triples thankfully. I had dropped from doing 18 mile per hour to about 7 miles per hour, I pushed and I pushed, I saw dots, I felt sick, and my legs were on fire. To my rescue to help me up the hill and make sure I didn’t fall back, another woman cyclist. Sandy was also riding with us that night, but I told her to not fall back because of me, I know the route and I will catch up. Thankfully she listened and got a good workout. The lady who did help me was just as friendly, very motivational, and a lot of fun to ride with.
Since these 3 rides, the last 2 I have made some cool friends and already they are emailing me asking me to come out for a bike ride this weekend and a barbecue. Really cool, and this is the type of stuff I really need, the motivation and camaraderie that will help me from burning out in the open source community. There you go Jono, add cycling to your list of burnout preventors 🙂 As you can see, they welcome me with open arms the same exact way the open source community has as well. Cycling and Ubuntu are so darn close in community representation that I am falling in love with both more and more every day now.
Another moral to this story, which has become somewhat of a hot topic over the past couple of years deals with women. I am here to tell you that women can be as strong and even stronger then men, in so many ways. When I say stronger, I don’t necessarily mean strength. The past 2 rides I have done has given me even more appreciation for the women in our communities. I am proud to say that I was at the brink of quitting and had women come to my rescue. For those of you out there that want to bash women and say they don’t belong, I know some on bikes that are waiting for you to mount up, and I know plenty who have their IDEs fired up ready to code you a paperbag to crawl into. So I had 2 women stick with me during my rides and help me through it, help me succeed. I had women in the open source community do the same. One of them is my good pointy stick buddy Sarah who probably helped me more than Jonathan Riddell, Brandon Holtsclaw, and Daniel T. Chen put together.
COMMUNITY! COMMUNITY! COMMUNITY!