There was a Rapha ride last weekend that took riders down Las Flores Canyon. My father lived up that canyon in the early 80′s and I know it like the back of my hand. I’ve been riding it since 1983…. and I just rode it last week. I always give every descent my full attention and I treat every descent the same way a surfer treats a big wave… with the respect and attention it deserves. The rider that died simply overcooked a turn near Hume and Las Flores. A moment’s inattention on a diminishing radius turn and he’s gone. Riding is playing.. but its also a skill. Always always always treat your riding like a skill that takes devotion and patience. Have fun… but never bite off more than you can chew and never be afraid to slow down or take a break. I’m not a fan of fondos and fun rides…. they tend to celebrate disconnected riding. I hate that someone died on that road. I hate that the shop chose Las Flores when there are other descents that take so much less skill (when I read the email I commented to a friend that it was too technical a descent for that kind of ride and that someone would get killed). I’m tired of seeing folks ride like it doesn’t take skill. I’m tired of seeing guys that are more worried with getting faster than they are about getting better.
I traded messages with a friend.. we host a slow long Saturday ride up the coast. We’ve decided to change the focus of the ride to being about the group riding old school, perfectly aligned 2 abreast with nary a wheel overlapping. I love the Lance effect and all… but how you ride is what matters. It’s easy to get strong, it’s an endless conversation with yourself and the bike to get connected. Ride beautifully. It’s what matters.
You may think it’s ok to die riding because its doing something you love. I call bullshit. Dying having overcooked a turn is a real shit way to die. We’ve all over cooked a turn in our lives… its not worth dying over and knowing how to save it is a basic skill. Yes it takes luck. Yes people die every day in any number of stupid ways, and people die on their bikes.
Work on your descending. Dont get suckered into anything above your level. Dont be afraid to melt a rim or pull off and think about the next set of turns. And really think about those big group rides. If the nature of the ride is that being off the front or the top ten folks is the only good place to be… tap out. It’s not worth it. I love Rapha products. I’ve come to love them. I love the branding and the adverts… but you know it isn’t real. Don’t show up for that ride thinking what you see on the website is real. Riding isn’t a sentimental act. It’s not romantic until you’re off the bike and the photos are processed and printed. Ride present, ride smart, think critically and make your own luck.
I saw a picture of the guy… he looks like he was a lovely fellow. His bars were too high, too many spacers. I’m willing to bet his stem was too short. How you sit on a bike matters. How your bike fits matters. How much weight you have and where your center of gravity is going down a hill matters. It’s life and death.
Thanks for indulging my rant. I’ll probably take this down later.
*edit. I’m inclined to add that i dont represent any company veiw here. i dont speak for any entitiy or person involved with Vanilla. these are just ideas in print about something tragic for all parties. any conversation is important.