Monday, January 30, 2012

Cyclo-banter: Trash Talking, Jest or Jibe...

Scene - the weekend group ride. You're climbing one of the many small hills along the route. You pass an older gentleman in full pro-team kit, and riding a nice bike. As you pass you put out your hand and give the peace sign, to which he responds with a "good morning". Mere moments earlier the front of your group (who had made a light further back while you did not) passed the same rider. You don't know if there was any exchange of pleasantries. There is a general regroup at the top of the hill, and as you're waiting the solo rider comes up and slows to give a quick hello to the group. One of the group quips "see you in a couple minutes." Challenge! Was it a cheap shot, or simply the good-natured ribbing that roadies frequently engage in? I know, you can't realistically be expected to answer; there is too much you don't know, or can't see from the information provided. But, if you were on the receiving end, what would your reaction be? You don't know these guys who blew by you on the climb, you were pleasant and said hello, yet one of them seemingly throws a challenge in your face, belittling your ability.

I have been around roadies long enough to know there can be an almost constant stream of back and forth trash talk, usually all in jest. It is part of the camaraderie amongst friends, battle brothers, not really meant to be taken seriously; but does this type of banter extend beyond the group? I have never known it to do so. I also know that groups like this (by which I mean the kind where you have to be seen as paying your dues, before being accepted) tend to be rather inclusive, not readily accepting of outsiders. So there you are, real event, hypothetical question. I was neither giver nor receiver; I was a stand-by witness. I'm not accusing, simply pondering a question. Like the others I momentarily chuckled, but at the same time thought that the comment was unnecessarily harsh. If you were the outsider, how would you view such a comment? If you were one of the group, could you ever see yourself making such a comment to someone you did not know? I think trash talk has its place among friends and acquaintances, but directed at a stranger it is too likely to be misinterpreted, taken the wrong way, a black-eye to the group.

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