It's funny how sometimes what you think is a perfect teaching opportunity becomes a lesson for yourself.
I should have kept my mouth shut. My intitial instinct of keeping my observations to myself was spot on. But no, I thought with the right approach, I would be able to help someone. Instead it back fired.
Saturday's group ride rolled out 20 guys strong, two ladies. A pretty typical scenario - and usually by the end of the ride the group shatters into smaller groups. Riding with the guys is awesome. I know they are pushing me harder then if I went solo and if it was an all women ride. Not to mention it's an awesome way to practice racing, positioning and setting up for the sprints. Positioning is so crucial from not only a horsepower standpoint, but also a cross/head/tailwind aspect that I am often thinking about where I am in the group ten steps ahead of the sprint or power climb. Some weeks I celebrate my success, some I fail, but I always come home and learn something new or affirm good habits.
Saturday was windy and cold. With a smaller pack and a few really strong guys, the pack shattered pretty quickly after the first sprint point. It was one of those days where I had my head down, concentrating on following the wheel in front of me thanks to a vicious cross wind, and next thing I know the pace lightened just enough for me to watch a lead group of 5 ride away, about 300 meters ahead. Shoot. Positioning.
The fellas in our group were keen on chasing so a rotating echelon began. I did my share of work after recovering from the mole hill and observed the other riders in the group. Some guys were starting to fade, some dropped off the back, and one guy would pull through and steer all the way to the center line, then drift back to the white line. At first I thought it was fluke and then I watched him do it every other time he pulled through. I filed it away as we continued to chase and I positioned myself in our group so another rider was between him and I.
Final sprint to the turnaround, my legs cracked. A pack formed, picking up dropped riders along the way. And then I noticed said guy on the ride. (Enter in my conscience - I had a 50/50 chance of how this was going to go - I decided to go for it.) Rolling at a conversational pace, I asked, "Are you open to suggestions?" And he responded yes.
I proceeded to tell him what I observed and before I could get to the teaching aspect, things went from okay to worse. Another rider overheard me talking to him and added his input and the guy thought we were personally attacking him. Uh oh.
I thought I did the right thing. I asked first before offering feedback if he was open to it. Instead, he responded with, "Well I guess I'm not open to suggestions!"
So the lesson? Sometimes it's best to keep your mouth shut, even if you see room for improvement. Not everyone is open to change the way they do things. On the flip side, it's a reminder to be open to such things. To know that even if you are a master at something, there is always something new to learn. And personally I never want to stop learning.