Friday, June 28, 2013

Musings on the Morning Ride Annual Winter Dinner

You can tell from the title of this blog, this is also a throw-back column, which happens to be from January 2009.  This was written shortly after we started the original blog, so excuse the "we just started with the blog" aspects and just be amused (slightly) by the rest of it.

This blog is an experiment for the three riders who make up our team. [Editor's Note - In the dark ages we only had three riders.  Now, just short of 50.  It's better.] None of us has ever blogged or had any experience with this process. That is why it was a surprise to me, when I read the Terms and Conditions of starting a Blogger blog, that I was required to use the words "Musing", "Random" or "Miscellaneous" in our blog on a regular basis. Up until now I had assumed that "Random Musings about . . ." or "Miscellaneous Thoughts on . . ." was just a lazy bloggers way of justifying not having enough substance about one topic to fill a post. Oh well, since the credo of the Team must include something about playing by the rules, we are certainly not going to deviate from our obligation to provide "Random Miscellaneous Musings."

To that end, let us muse about a ritual known as the "Annual Morning Ride Dinner." Dr. Spalm, as a student of languages, might point out that the casual observer would be struck by the "random" collection of words here, but those in the cycling circles in Spokane understand completely. The Morning Ride was begun and has been organized by a local rider, Bill Bender, since the end of World War II (I might not be right on this, but I think they started riding at 5.45 am because of a hold-over on black-out restrictions). In any case, this group of primarly South Hill residents met at a secret location for all of the important points of a group bike ride: sandbagging, trash talk, meaningless shows of testosterone, and checking out new bike equipment. But they also celebrate the camaraderie of riding together. There is an elemental human satisfaction in seeing a group of people regularly to keep up in at least a loose way on each others conditions, careers, kids and new cycling gear.

The communications of the Morning Ride are a microcosm of society's communications. From the earlier telegrams, to party-line telephonic communications, mimeographs, and now, amazingly, widespread use of the internets in the form of list servers and google groups. The spread of communication has grown the ride from its very close-knit beginnings, to a wider group due to the looser restrictions on the spread of electronic communications. Nonetheless, if you show up for a Morning Ride, you had better be able to ride. This group not only doesn't have a "no drop" rule, they seem to have a "mandatory drop" rule. The guys at the front just can't go home to the wife and kids unless someone was left as a quivering mass somewhere in the depths of Hangman Valley. If nothing else, it is up to the climbers to set things right on the way up Hatch Road.

Well, these things are all set aside once a year for a winter time gathering. All the important elements of a group of guys getting together for a meal are present here: sandbagging, trash talk, meaningless shows of testosterone, and discussing new bike equipment. The other thing that takes place is the sole award given by this group to one of its members for the Most Improved Rider of the season. The award winner receives a sculpture, in recent years a lamp, made of broken and discarded bike parts made by Mark Buescher. The decision process is shrouded in secrecy, as there is not an official vote, although there is lobbying during the course of the season, it is hard to tell its effectiveness. There is no question though, the Buescher original is valued.

This year the winner was Steve Weinberger, a local physical therapist who overcame an early season injury to rise through the ranks to become this year's Most Improved. Steve is a quiet guy, so it is hard to imagine he did any lobbying except for that done by his legs. As Rider Two says, "Bikes don't lie."

It would be nice to put together a list of winners from prior years, but this blog post has met the statutory requirement for musing, so that will have to wait for another day. If you have a picture of one of the Buescher originals, or a list of prior Most Improved winners, e-mail us and look for more random thoughts on the Morning Ride later.
Rider Three

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