So I was the bad guy today. Last week’s bike ride was fun, but resulted in about a half hour or maybe even 40 minutes of five of us riding in the dark, where two of us had full sets of lights, two had taillights, and one had nothing. The time before that with this group, we had a flat and got back into the dusk, and I recall that I either turned on my lights or wished I had them with me.
My experience with the other group, the mountain bikers, has been that we haven’t yet gotten back before dark resulting in some fairly scary rides for me.
So for tonight’s ride, I commented that everyone should bring lights, or buy lights, or let me know and I can bring an extra set for them.
Reply: we’ll be back before dark.
My reply: yeah, but one flat tire or person not going fast enough and you are out after dark.
It was clear I stepped on some toes.
Part of me feels bad about that; we did get back before dark tonight. But part of me says hey, c’mon, bringing lights when we are quickly running out of daylight is just a sensible idea. People make mistakes. People get flats. And asking participants on a ride to wear a helmet or bring lights just in case is not an unreasonable burden, even if your plan is to be back in time.
I know I’m just the newbie here, and so I don’t get credit for 12 years experience of leading my own rides. No one knows or cares what a League Cycling Instructor is and using the credential to bolster the argument is arguing from authority, which isn’t right either. That frustrates me. It also frustrates me to see the rejection of sensibility in mitigating risk. We might get delayed beyond what we expect. So we prepare for the eventuality.
So internally there is the discomfort between not being the bad guy, and knowing that it is my belief that yes, I am willing to be the bad guy on this issue. It’s not a nice place to sit. While I hope I am constantly learning wisdom on how best to handle people in these situations, I hope I am also willing to state what someone or no one wants to hear when it is the truth, and it matters.
There’s nothing wrong with championing the Boy Scout moto, “Be prepared,” or, “Preparing for the worst and expecting the best.” Good grief, you would think a bunch of seemingly, “outdoorsy,” mountain bikers or regular bikers would be all over that idea. In the future, just bring extra supplies in your vehicle and if someone seems short, you can make the offer and say, “Better safe, than sorry.”
Let me say that my vehicle is my bicycle, and it has limited carrying capacity. So carrying extra for someone else is not a matter of shoving a small item in the back of my car. I am willing to help out, and I have expressed this, but I am not willing to carry a bunch of extra stuff “just in case” — this becomes burdensome on me.