Construction: it’s the bane of every cyclist. To find out that our favorite Strava route or segment is under construction is among the worst things we can imagine happening to dampen our riding spirits. With the immediate loss comes a temporary inconvenience, which can overshadow the positive, future benefits the improvements will bring.
We can be the same way with people, too. New, inexperienced cyclists can be perceived as an inconvenience, with their ignorance of cycling etiquette, group pace, and other aspects of the group riding experience. Nonetheless, we were all newbies once, and as one who is still new to group riding (last year was my first year) I can recall instances when I have been treated with distain by more experienced riders for my perceived slights. I have also been in groups where cyclists have spread gossip about other riders in the group. Whether a cyclist’s behavior on the bike is worthy of correction or not, talking behind other’s backs achieves nothing except to alienate individuals.
Rather than tearing people down, I strongly believe we should be looking out for each other instead. The person I help and show grace to today may be the person who watches my back tomorrow. While I have had my negative experiences, I can honestly say (thankfully) that over the course of the past year I can recall many more instances of those who coached me gently through my inexperience instead of mocking me or developing a distain for my participation. I am truly grateful for their mentoring and hold these folks in very high regard – ones who serve as a model for the rest of us.
The bible, as you would imagine, also weighs in on the matter:
Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves. Care about them as much as you care about yourselves.
As with a construction project, there is a worthy goal awaiting when we invest in the lives of others, whether we’re simply out there on the road showing grace to a fellow cyclist, or (more importantly) when we take the time to care about people while we’re on this journey through life. It’s a lesson we can all pass forward….