Biking Behaviour (part 15) – The Routemaster

Arrange a ride with a group of mates and usually, more accurately, you have simply arranged a meeting point and started an argument.

After everyone has casually rolled up to the agreed spot and got busy winding each other up about their choice of kit, or the cleanliness of their beloved bike, there is a moment where a sudden silence descends and everyone thinks, in unison, ‘right…err…where we going then’.

A free-for-all ensues.

Various members of the group suggest routes; the guy who’s feeling in good fettle thinks up a route taking in every climb within a 30 mile radius; another suggests a particular loop that, conveniently, heads homeward right past the front door of his house; while others look on in amusement, as the bickering and the one-upmanship begins.

Then the Routemaster, that member of your group who seems to have a GPS system wired into his brain, pipes up to put an end to this charade…the group goes quiet as he makes his decision.

“How about we go out through the Trough of Bowland, turn left through Dunsop Bridge, over to Slaidburn, turn off at the war memorial and do the climb over the Cross o’ Greet, and then we’ve got two or three options to home from there”.

Everyone nods and climbs on their bikes, with a chorus of ‘yep’, ‘sounds good’, ‘nice one’.

No need for a map when the Routemaster is around (Photo: Dr Greg Wikimedia Commons CC)
No need for a map when the Routemaster is around
(Photo: Dr Greg Wikimedia Commons CC)

To those who don’t know the Routemaster, it may seem like he has simply plucked a well-used local route from his memory banks at random, but his friends have seen this too many times to trivialise the man’s decision.

Whilst everyone else was busy bickering like schoolchildren on a day trip, he was processing the relevant information – air temperature, wind direction, time of year, likely traffic conditions, size and average ability of the group – before feeding it through his mental database of great rides and coming up with the best possible route for the circumstances.

Occasionally, a newcomer to the group might not have sensed this man’s natural authority in such matters, and so jumps in belatedly with his own particular gem of a route.

There will be raised eyebrows from the group, and perhaps the odd chuckle, before the Routemaster generously muses “well, I suppose we could go that way”, the inference being that ‘just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, and if you stand there staring at me long enough I will give you a list as long as your arm as to why.’

The sound of cleats clipping into pedals gives the new boy his answer, and the group rolls off on another perfect ride.

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14 comments

  1. Do this: make a photocopy of the map of Tolkien’s Middle Earth and take it to your next ride. Whip it out of your jersey in the discussion and ask about riding a certain ridge line around Mordor. If your Routemaster immediately suggests the valley of Gondor and ride the coast of Belegaer, you DEFINITELY have a master! 🙂

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