Cycling’s certainly not the only sport that’s built on strong relationships. But, it’s definitely one of a few. Try having a 3 hour conversation while swimming, playing football or soccer. Cycling is a very social sport. Yet it can be brutal at the same time.
Golf is pretty social sport, bowling too, even baseball, if you count the dugout. But all lack the component of trust. In cycling you need to absolutely trust the skill, talent and concentration of the people your riding with for your own safety. One false move from the person(s) around you can cause catastrophe. Cross a wheel and you could be picking teeth out of the tarmac. There’s really no room for yelling “fore” or “heads up” in cycling.
It’s not really that calculated, but I think cyclists choose their cycling buddies and group rides carefully. It’s not like a pick up game of basketball at the park. Really, when was the last time you rode with complete strangers? And when you did, did you try to get a read on them, check out their calves, and make sure their bike didn’t have down tube shifters? You’re guilty of cycling profiling. Me too.
You need to trust the people you ride with have the skill to ride 3 inches off your wheel without touching it for hours at a time, still have the concentration to point out every single wheel-swallowing pothole and engage you in a great conversation. Dare I call it a relationship? You want to ride and race with people that will graciously give up their last Gu or lend you their spare water bottle. Yes, that’s a relationship. And, somehow out of all this trust, friendliness and companionship is an underlying fight to sprint for the town sign, be the first to clean the log obstacle, attack on the climb, make a bushwack pass in the single track and bring your riding buddies to the brink of the pukes.
No wonder people don’t get it.