You know that feeling, you’re stomping the pedals, your heart is beating so fast, so hard. The cool morning air is burning your lungs.
The wind is in your face, you’re pushing, sweating, hanging on to your group by the skin of your teeth. All of a sudden a little gap opens up....
Words Katie Quinn
...The riders to the left of you check over their shoulder, as if to say, “are you going?” A moment passes and then they shoot you the “what the hell are you doing?” look. They know what’s going on, they can see the inevitable, and now it’s “you’re toast mate”. Someone fills the gap. You’re pushing so hard, the gap widens again, and widens some more. Now it’s a whole bike length. “Noooooo” you’re screaming inside, push harder. But you’re done and that’s it. You’ve been dropped.
You know it happens to everyone, but that doesn't make it any easier. Being spat out the back of the bunch is a demoralising and often heartbreaking experience. But never fear, Katie’s here with the top 10 excuses you need to explain to your mates why you were dropped like a hot potato (again).
1. I had a mechanical
That’s the beauty about bikes, even a layman knows with all those fiddly little parts there’s a lot that could go wrong, and sometimes it does. It could all be in your head, but whether it is or isn’t the old “mechanical issue” is the ultimate ‘get out of jail free’ card. You’re not to blame, it’s your bike, you little ripper!
2. I got caught at the lights
Oh this is bad, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it. You were hanging off the back and then those lights up ahead have split the group. At times traffic lights are the respite you need to just slow down those incredible humans in front, just enough so you can claw your way back. But when the lights cut the group in half, or at least leave you dangling off the back in no-mans land, and you can see tumbleweed blowing across the road, your heart breaks a little knowing that it’s all over now, you’ll never catch up. You may as well be at a traffic light party and wearing all black. Game over for you.
3. It’s the weather
Like sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives. But how many days of the year are we going to have perfect conditions? And then how many of those days are you actually available and able to ride? Now I know that when the rain is stinging my eyeballs it may be time to turn around. But the weather excuse for getting dropped is a cracker, because let’s face it, when you’ve all been out in the same conditions but you’re the one that it’s affected the most, then you’re probably in Struggletown, population uno.
4. My coach said....
To take it easy? To concentrate on hills? To prep and plan for your upcoming race? Pretty sure he didn't say to get dropped mate, because we all know this isn't going to do much for your psyche. Danger Will Robinson, few will believe that you didn’t want to stick with the group! Truth be told, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But if you don’t listen to the coach they may actually try to kill you with a new and improved training program. Stick to the plan, stick to the plan!
5. I had a hunger flat
Oh so hungry... Three main options here...
a. You needed to have something to eat and didn't, causing the lack of pep in your step
b. You ate the wrong thing, at the wrong time and now you feel sick, like you're literally going to see your breakfast (avoid the frame, avoid your mates - they won’t be impressed)
c. While eating the group ramps it up, you couldn't swallow your mouthful in time or stuff that wrapper in your jersey pocket fast enough, and now they're gone baby, gone. Particularly when racing, there's nothing worse than eating when the breakaway happens. One moment you're concentrating on getting the last little drop of gel squeezed out of that small sachet, the next you're left wondering what went wrong!
6. I was waiting for a mate
So where's that mate exactly? Oh, they turned early? Of course they did. Imaginary friends are the best, and make the perfect cover story for your lacklustre performance. And if there's no one to corroborate your story then you can't be proven wrong. Or when the inevitable occurs I know deep down you’re hoping to see a familiar face that was willing to wait for you. The thing is that if you do you can pretty much guarantee that they are struggling as well. Strength in numbers!
7. I was doing my bit for the team
There’s no “I” in TEAM, but there are 5 in INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE. I’m pretty sure you’ll still feel average even if you do your bit for the team and then get spat out the back. As noble as your self-sacrificing may sound, your mates probably know what’s going on. This was a group ride, not the Tour. Choose your own adventure.
8. I’m sick [insert various symptoms of illness or injury]
This is a tricky one. Even when I’m sick or have been sick, I always feel better having gone riding. The problem lies in getting dropped; because then you’re not only physically still sick and tired, but now psychologically you’re also in ruins. Don’t hang your head; just resolve to return to ride another day (hopefully once the man-flu has resolved, careful – it’s known to be contagious).
9. I had to take / make a phone call.
Now I’m not sure who’s calling my mates at stupid o’clock as we are doing our best to tear up Beach Road, but by golly it must have been important. All of a sudden that urgent call has come in from the office/family/next door neighbour’s cousin’s sister twice removed, simply forcing them to have to pull over, take a long breather, have a break (and quite possibly a Kit Kat), all of which serves as the perfect excuse as to why they didn’t arrive with the others.
10. It wasn’t my fault
Just like Shaggy said, it wasn’t me. Pointing the finger at the guy in front when he was “the only one” that dropped a wheel simply proves beyond reasonable doubt that there was no way it could have been your fault. It doesn’t matter that where there’s a wheel, there’s a way. You could crawl your way back but now the injustice of it all has you too fired up.
Essentially if you're not getting dropped you're either a legend, the best in the group or you’re not challenging yourself by riding the harder rides and trying to improve. Even though I hate it, I for one celebrate getting dropped; it means you’re pushing yourself beyond your capabilities. Keep at it, try harder and know that there’s always another ride on the horizon when you'll be rolling your turns all the way back to the cafe and arriving with the bunch, not miles behind them. Just because a few minutes may feel like an eternity, one bad ride doesn’t make you a bad cyclist.
Throw a couple of these excuses into the cafe conversation, and you never know, once in a while people might actually believe you!