I’m about to head out for a group ride, so this will be a quickie.

I think I may know why I like the rides I do with the people I ride with: Trust.

I grew up on a farm, where the people I worked with were my grandfather, father and brother.  I trusted them implicitly and expressly.  If we had to move a piece of equipment, I could be standing in very close proximity with my dad at the controls, and not worry about the danger of the situation.  I mean, we tried to minimize unnecessary danger, but there are dangerous aspects of farming.  You don’t trust a spinning PTO, but you do trust that your dad will look to make sure you’re clear of the PTO before turning it on.  It’s just unspoken.  We didn’t have a lot of ‘lockout/tagout’ procedures that most companies have.  Maybe we should have, but we operated in large measure on the premise that none of us wanted to do anything that would harm another of us.  None of us wanted to work less, as it meant that our brother or father would have to work harder.  None of us quit a job, because we knew who would pick up the slack.  We trusted in each other, and we protected each other.  We did things that would make me cringe if I saw them in a ‘normal’ workplace.

I think I liked working on the fire department for the same reason.  You quickly found who you could and could not trust, and who did and did not pull their weight.  When there was a fire, by some unknown forces, the people you wanted to work with always ended up on your crew.  And going into a fire, you knew they had your back and you had theirs.  So many things were beyond your control…but the things you could control, such as how you responded to a situation…those you handled in the fashion that protected your crew.  And you trusted that they would reciprocate.

That kind of trust is not common in society.  It is hard to find.  That sort of selfless, unflinching partnership.

I think that’s why I do the rides I do, with the people I ride with.

I don’t have to look up the road past my Axletree friends to look for potholes.  I trust that they will call them out.  I don’t have to second guess a decision to cross a street.  (I might look for myself, but it’s because I’m looking out for the whole group).  I don’t have to leave a little extra room in case someone does something stupid.  I can trust.

And I try to do my work, even when I’m feeling weak, because I know that if I don’t take my pulls, someone else has to take up my slack.  I have to reflect others’ selflessness.

I also think that’s why it is so jarring to me to ride with others who don’t meet those expectations.  With a new rider, I’m going to leave them extra room…but I would expect them to pull their weight and work with the group.  It may be why I don’t find most races to be exciting…because I’m not interested in the competition, but rather in the relationships on the team.

I hope it’s a good ride tonight.  It’s been a hard day.  A good ride would be nice.  Either way, I’ll pull my weight, and trust my friends.


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