In response to Steve Loversuch letter “Rider Etiquette – Yeah Right!” I feel a reply is due and as the 16 Nov ’14 Hunterville ride co-ordinator it is appropriate the response is from myself. It is sad to read Steve’s letter when looking at his local cycling history, Steve has been a good friend and great advocate to recreational cycling for many years and has helped many cyclists take up bunch riding in his Saturday morning circuits.
Firstly, it should be kept in mind the Hunterville ride of 140km was advertised as a training ride with a target time of 6-7 hours, i.e. aimed at cyclists entered in this weekends Taupo 160km solo event, it was not advertised as a “long slow ride” such as Tom & Catriona Pirie hold.
Secondly and to the ride, all 27 or 28 that assembled formed one bunch and left Memorial Park at 7AM. The decision to form one bunch was due to the strong head wind and early morning low vehicle density on the roads we were using. The plan was to proceed into the strong westerly to give shelter until reaching SH1. Surprisingly along Campbells Road near the Taonui Aerodrome a message from the bunch advised that Steve Loversuch had dropped off the back after 15-16km of the 140km ride, I dropped back to with the view to help Steve but the gap was very wide so I rode to the front of the bunch and advised them to slow and allow Steve to catch-up, the bunch rode much slower all the way to Feilding. Also along Campbells Rd, an observation and another surprise, the bunch had swelled in numbers to mid-thirties since we left PN, late arrivals joining on the tail as we proceeded. Through Feilding a long route was taken, South and West Sts to Sandon Rd, but no still no sign of Steve and at this point someone in the bunch advised that Steve had not planned on doing the whole ride, that was news to myself, but relieved my concern at the time.
Thirdly, the bunch size changed along the way, started at less than 30, grew to mid-thirties and along the way numbers dropped off as cyclists left to do their own rides. From memory at least 9 cyclists left the bunch throughout the ride. Of note on the ride to Kakariki/SH1 when we rode as one bunch, both genders, ages varied from a teenager through to mid-70s with both females and males of the more mature ages. To the best of my knowledge after Steve fell away no other cyclists dropped off the bunch due to fatigue.
Last comment on the Hunterville ride, at SH1 after Kakariki and the head winds, we formed 2 bunches, to ride with cross wind to Hunterville and complete the ride with cross and tail winds back to PN. From reports the first bunch returned to PN about 12.30PM to 12.45PM the second bunch remained a tight unit returning to PN between 1-15PM to 1-30PM, i.e. within the original target range. On reflection of the Hunterville ride’s cyclists gender, ages and experience I feel Steve was not fit enough to undertake the Hunterville ride, this is not intended to be a criticism but more an observation of Steve’s weekly life for some time, home in PN at the weekends and working away Monday to Friday meaning little time to maintaining cycling fitness?
Other observations Steve makes about Sunday rider etiquette I do agree with, i.e. the Sunday 8AM rides from Memorial Park are often like a children’s lolly scramble at the start with the co-ordinator(s) trying to limit bunch size but cyclists of selfish mind from all over the gathering area joining bunches which then end up way above the recommended 16 cyclists, the bunch size limit is for your own safety on the road. Another comment often heard is an 8AM Sunday bunch splitting up or cyclists being dropped. If cyclists do not advise of departing a bunch during a ride it is not acceptable to leave them to their own means, it is attitudes such as this that will see the demise of 8AM Sunday bunch rides from Memorial Park.
My apologies to Steve for not going back to help him along Campbells Road, I did feel when we slowed and took a long route through Feilding this would give him time to catch up only then to be advised he was not doing the full ride, this relieved my concern.