The Local Hero
There is always a local hero, spoken of in hushed tones of awe, who’s name you all know.
He rides for a local team, holds the record for your local hill climb, and his name crops up in Cycling Weekly from time to time; but you couldn’t pick him out of a line-up if your life depended on it.
He exists as a name and a reputation.
Sometimes you’re out for a ride and a rider will go past in the opposite direction who is so impossibly quick, smooth, and well dressed that you think ‘that was him!’, but as quick as he came he’ll be gone.
He exists in a blur, but a blur of such obvious class and style that he seems to be riding to a different set of physical rules than the rest of us.
It’s a pretty small community where I live, and people know people. There are never more than a couple of degrees of separation between you and anyone else – not so with the local hero.
He must live somewhere? He must work somewhere? He must have a brother, an uncle or a wife who moves in the circles that the rest of us do?
It seems the only way to know him is to ride like him, and that narrows things down a little; if you can’t keep up, you’re not in his world. He’s a cyclist whose name you know, and that’s as close as you’re getting.
The Life and Soul
Mr Sociable – the life and soul – is always up for a ride.
The reasons he won’t come for a ride are few; either his wife is currently in labour (although even then, he might sneak out for an hour), he’s contracted a rare and painful disease, or he’s already out on a ride.
He’s one of those guys who can’t sit still, and so will never fancy an evening in front of the telly when there’s the sniff of a ride in the offing.
Mr Sociable is so sociable that not only will he always accept the offer of a ride from you, he also seems to be part of several other social groups of riders. It’s not uncommon to find yourself out riding, and as you pass and nod to another group heading in the opposite direction there’s your mate, smack in the middle of this other bunch of lads you’ve never met, apparently the life and soul of this lot too.
Most of us might struggle to muster four or five lads to ride with on a Wednesday night after work, but Mr Sociable seems to have four or five groups to choose from.
He is so sought after because he’s a great bloke, but also because he falls in that perfect sweet spot of ability where he’s no threat to any of the local alpha males, but he’s also no mug – he can hold his own with anyone and has nothing to prove.
Whatever the characteristics of all your riding companions – age, ability, friendliness, willingness to ride in bad weather, local knowledge, fashion sense – if you were to plot them all on a Venn diagram Mr Sociable falls at that point where he overlaps with everyone in some small way or another.
Of course, if you’re the kind of person who thinks about plotting your friends on a Venn diagram, that might explain why you’re not the life and soul.