Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
 
They say you should never go to bed angry. I suppose they also say you should never blog while you're mad. But I'm going to anyways. I have a beef with the Wolfpack Hustle, as friendly as they have been with me on Twitter, because they completely misrepresent themselves to the community as an open group ride. I call shenanigans on that. Major shenanigans. This is from their site regarding the Wolfpack Hustle ride:


The Hustle Ride rolls out every Monday from Tang's Donut on Sunset and Fountain in Silverlake at 10pm. 

The routes change up from week to week and cover wide swaths of territory. Riders that participate will experience a completely different Los Angeles than most trapped in their coffins will ever know. Distances range in length from 25-50 miles. We climb walls we break into shit we scuttle through hoods like rats on the run. The pack rolls as a group, there are no winners there are no losers. Understand: This is not a race. This is a HUSTLE. 

If you aren't riding a fixed gear, track, or a geared road bike you will likely have a hard time keeping up. All are invited but not all will make it to the end. Unfortunately, sometimes riders DO get left behind and that's the madness that is Wolfpack. If you ride hard and complete enough rides you might even get a spoke card (that is unless we lagged again on making more.) 

ALL ARE INVITED to ride with us but understand that YOUare your own rider. Leave the ego at home. Be safe. Don't get lost in someone's wheel. Be aware of traffic and road conditions at ALL TIMES and avoid risks that will endanger the Pack, yourself, other riders, or pedestrians and vehicles on the streets. We respect the reds, we respect the cops, we respect traffic, and we respect the sweat, the tears, and the blood that flows through our bodies. BE VOCAL about all hazzards and ever changing road conditions. Before you do anything read Bicycle Street Smarts to help prepare yourself.
Okay, so here's how it went down: I arrived at Tang's about 930pm, I was the first one there, and got myself some coffee to prep for the ride. About 15 minutes later, more riders were arriving, and I met Tom (name changed for anonymity), who I had communicated with a bit via Twitter, and he and I discussed the ride. At about 1010pm, one of the riders starts making the rounds telling everyone the first leg of the route. He comes up to Wayne and explains it to him, I don't really hear it all, and then the guy turns to me and instead of telling me the route, just tells me to follow Wayne. Okay, pause here.

This guys who's walking around telling the route is doing so like he's pissed off he even has to bother sharing such vital information with other riders. When he looks at me, the only woman there, he basically blows me off as if I don't deserve to know the route because it's my first time there and I'm the only woman. The directions are very vague, and all I really understand is that we're going to meet up in some park. Of course, there are like a thousand parks in LA, so that's not extremely useful information. So I'm already a little irritated that I don't know the route, and if I fall behind, then I'm done for. So much for the no rider left behind philosophy professed above. So much too for that bullshit about it not being about ego. In the few minutes when I actually interacted with that group, it was extremely clear that the guy who was supposed to be giving us the route directions was full of himself and his ego. 

Then, completely out of nowhere, with no warning, two of the leaders start riding, people jump on their bikes and race up to catch them. So I jump on my bike, and now I'm already behind. Within a few blocks I'm in the back of the pack, then behind the pack, then the pack is gone. Since I don't know the route, I have no clue how to find the pack or catch up with them, so I'm screwed, as are a couple of kids who also got left behind. Now to be clear, I was only a block behind the group until I got stuck at a red light. That's when I lost them. On their website they say they respect reds. That's also a crock. If they respected the reds as I did, I would've been able to catch up. 

So here's my final verdict: I have no problem being behind the pack or even left behind. I can handle myself on the streets of LA quite well, I do it all the time. Heck, I just finished my first century from LA to Oceanside completely unsupported and by myself. (Will update blog on that later--had to blog about this first.) But communicating with the Wolfpack leaders via Twitter, I understood that it was fast-paced but that it was a group ride and that the route was shared information at the beginning of the ride, not that the route was privileged information only given to a few spandexed-out ego freaks. I feel like I hit up against this issue whenever I ride with men. They want to be the only ones who know the route. 

But why would you ENCOURAGE someone to come on a ride just to be so egotistically rude to them? Why would you encourage people to join the ride, but not share info on the ride with them when they do show up? There was nothing about that ride that was a hustle. It was flat out an egotistical race. I am not slow, and I have kept up with my fair share of fast male cyclists who don't slow down for amateurs like me. 

So, Wolfpack, take down your post on Midnight Ridazz and edit your website so it's no longer advertised as an open group ride. That's a bunch of horse manure. You guys seem to just want to show off to each other how fast you can dust each other in shiny spandex, and only seem to welcome people who look like you and ride like you. 

Wayne tried to encourage me to train and come back and dust them all. But I'm not about ego. I don't need to prove myself to anyone but me, and I did that on December 25th when I completed my first century, and I'll do it again this Friday when I improve my time on the century. I ride because I enjoy riding. I want to say I enjoy the cycling community as well, but lately my experiences with that community have been very negative. Critical Mass has been extremely negative, and I see unsupervised minors tagging buildings and riding on the wrong side of the road, and breaking other laws. And tonight, I expected to be with a slightly more mature crowd, and instead was surrounded by what was, from the get-go, clearly a group of men out to tout their egos. It's highly likely that I'm attributing the actions and attitude of one man to the entire group, but that was my experience, and, as I understand it, has been the experience of others.  
 


Comments

12/29/2009 00:51

Alright, let me clarify. I was ticked off when I wrote the post, as I mentioned, and I used the phrase "no rider left behind". That's not exactly true of the ride; however, saying that "sometimes" riders get left behind versus "always"- which I now understand after certain discussions-is extremely different. In addition, if it's a group ride, you intend to ride as a group, which also emphasized that you would start out as a group, not bolt out unexpectedly.

12/29/2009 01:35

Wow. That's quite a harsh review. Initial response is Who are you talking about when you say ride leaders encourged you? The only leaders are myself and Hayden (aka wolfrider1) who recently had a baby daughter and hasn't been making it out. I suspect what happened is that since I'm en route to New Orleans I couldn't make it out. I sent Hayden a text a few days ago but he either missed it and didn't come out or he handed the ride off to someone who has never led the ride before. if as such This would have been the first night ever that neither of us were there to lead.

Hayden and I are extremely adamant about encouraging women to ride. But don't Listen to me. Ask any of the other women who ride. I'm always sensitive to comments about how to encourage more women to participate.

As far as Wayne or anyone else goes, many ride but none so far have had to lead the ride so it can be intimidating and perhaps what you interpret as egotistical snubbing could also have been shyness and lack of experience leading. I usually take care of introducing myself at every ride and so does Hayden.

I will ask around and get more info on what happened and address more of the issues you raised. I'm definitely bummed you had a bad experience cause I know I was one of the ones who encouraged you. There are a lot of regulars on the ride, but only myself and Hayden lead the ride and lately it has been mostly my task. I should have double checked to make sure whom ever was to lead had the proper training to do so.

12/29/2009 05:56

as a girl, it's why i hate riding with dudes.

EGO. EGO. EGO.

Critical Mass in San Francisco even becomes an ordeal sometimes - like you mentioned, people not paying attention, kids up to shenanigans, and just overall mayhem.

At the end of the day, I'd rather just ride on my own.

12/29/2009 06:26

Felt the need to chime in here even though I myself havent been on a wolfpack hustle ride in over a year due mostly to traveling, conflicting schedules, and sheer laziness.

What you described above does NOT sound like a typical WP hustle ride, which if Roadblock is right that neither he nor Hayden were there would be the reason. Those two guys have been insanely diligent about keeping the ride going all this time and inviting new people in. It's definitely not a 'no rider left behind' ride but in the 20 or so times I did the ride I've never seen a ride start without making sure everyone knew the route. Additionally Roadblock usually walks around to find any new people and makes sure they have his mobile number in case they get dropped and are lost or want to meet at the next stop.

One of the reasons WPH is so great is that it's one of the few rides in LA without the ego, kids and shenanigans that Kimberly refers to. It's definitely the opposite end of the spectrum from critical mass. And some of the fastest people I've ever seen on WPH have been women so whatever was going on I'm sure it had nothing to do with that.

It sounds like something was very off last night, and not the norm by a long shot.

12/29/2009 07:17

HI, I don't know you, but, as I am in love with the Hustle, I had to read your post when I saw the link to it on Twitter. I have a few comments after reading it.

I live in San Francisco, and try to make the Hustle whenever I'm down here in LA visiting family, have a bike, and am in shape enough to keep up--not often enough, unfortunately.

I remember the first time I showed up to the Hustle after hearing about it somehow. I was super nervous, as I didn't know what to expect. Having grown up in Orange County, where people engaged in their hobbies (e.g., surfing, skating, dirt biking) have this really bizarre need to establish their coolness, often by being standoffish assholes to everyone else around them, I expected the same of a bunch of people so explicitly focused on speed. I was taken aback, though, a when Roadblock and Hayden both came around and introduced themselves to me and the couple of other newbies in the group, asking our names and how we heard about the Hustle. I've watched the same thing happen before every ride I've been able to go on since--a smile, a handshake and an introduction--and I think it's awesome. It's a really surprising contrast to the all-out-ness of the ride itself, which is, of course, the main reason for the Hustle's amazing-ness.

Apart from this, regarding the "no rider left behind" idea, it seems clear enough in what you quoted from the Hustle site in your blog that this isn't the case:

"If you aren't riding a fixed gear, track, or a geared road bike you will likely have a hard time keeping up. All are invited but not all will make it to the end. Unfortunately, sometimes riders DO get left behind and that's the madness that is Wolfpack. If you ride hard and complete enough rides you might even get a spoke card (that is unless we lagged again on making more.)"

Besides the fact that you're banging around LA through city traffic on a Monday night, seeing the city from a new vantage point, with wind in your ears and your tongue hanging out, I think one of the coolest things about the ride is the question of whether or not you'll get dropped, especially when juxtaposed with the friendliness that those two display at the start. It's like, "We're glad you're here and we care about you and all that, but we're here to ride, first and foremost. Whether you make it to the end or not is up to you, but we're still gonna be friendly up front."

If you make it, great; if you don't, then it's all the more reason to train harder so that you do make it next time. In a time in which we're raised to think we're all winners, it is refreshing (and daunting and disconcerting) to be reminded that we all aren't. But, luckily for those of us who aren't, the ride happens every week, and so you have a weekly opportunity to make it if we want to keep trying.

In almost all of the Hustles I've done--sadly, less than ten--there has been at least one woman on the ride. On most of those occasions, the women present have finished with the group. I can't speak to the quality of their experiences, but that's what I've seen.

The ride is a mixture of the planned and the slapdash, so, if you do decide to do it again, make sure you get in front and can hear the directions when they're given. They might not make complete sense though--I found that to be the case, not knowing the LA streets super well myself--in which case make sure you're sticking with the pack at all costs. Sure, it's gonna be hard, and sometimes impossible, but that's what makes it fun.

The thing I like and have been surprised about the LA biking scene is the number of options, group ride-wise, available every single night of the week. We don't have that in SF--and definitely don't have anything as fast and as visceral as the Hustle. If the Hustle isn't your thing, you've got a couple more options available that night--and even more than that there for you over the course of the week.

That's my two cents.

Miles

Jerome
12/29/2009 07:23

It's just riding bicycles.

Jeronimo

12/29/2009 07:26

I'm currently preparing a response to Sean & Roadblock, but I wanted to address something from Miles quickly.

Miles, as you'll see in my addendum comment to the post, I clarify "sometimes riders DO get left behind" part of the post. As I said before the ride advertises this as an occasional instance, whereas I understand now from Roadblock himself that approximately half of the riders drop from the ride each week. That's a huge difference from "sometimes"! How can a rider know what to expect from a ride if your flat out misrepresenting or LYING to them about the ride and what it's like?

Furthermore, I've already said I have no problem being left behind, that's not what my beef was about. My beef was about the total disorganization and the ego I felt presented to me when I attempted to ride with the group.

I appreciate your comments, but as you see from Roadblock's comments above, neither he nor Hayden appeared to be there last night. So your experiences and my experience of the WPH would be very different.

I do appreciate your take on the ride. Please stay tuned for my response to Roadblock and Sean. Hopefully I will bring up some good points. =) Thanks again for your input!

Warrenpeace
12/29/2009 07:40

Last night was probably the least representitive night of Wolfpack ever due to the absence of Roadblock and Wolfrider1. I think you will find that most of the observations you made are false. I've been with the pack many times helping form a wind barrier for towing in first timers and etc. All in all you picked a very rare night to try it out.

12/29/2009 07:41

Sounds like the critique is centering on the substitute host of the ride. So it may not have been the best night for a new rider. I think Roadblock hears you loud and clear perhaps we can now move on. Hopefully you'll come back if/when you're/they're ready.

12/29/2009 07:57

First off, I want to thank everyone above for your input and comments. I've given myself some time to consider Roadblock's and Sean's comments in defense of the Wolfpack Hustle, and some things just don't jive with me. I don't want to this to be a never-ending thread, but I hope that my thoughts and suggestions can help to perhaps better the understanding of the ride to outsiders.

Roadblock, yes, it was a harsh review, but I felt set up to fail the challenge that was the WPH, which I was so excited about. I had no qualms about possibly being left behind. I've failed before on rides: um, like my first attempt at a century, Thanksgiving weekend, when my muscles were cramping and frozen and I nearly couldn't make it out of Camp Pendleton? In fact, getting left behind by the WPH would have been a little badge of honor for me, because at least I would've tried. But I feel like I didn't even get a chance to get left behind. I feel like I was left out entirely; like your little brother you ditch at the mall so you don't have to look after him (not that I need looking after). I appreciate that you're saying that you or Hayden usually lead the ride, but the fact that someone else is leading is honestly not an excuse for the ride to fall to pieces, is it?

ALso, the website specifically says it's not a race, it's a hustle. It's a fast-paced group ride, right? Well, what I came to understand from last night (and yes, this is my one experience with WHP) is that the ride is really everyone attempting to keep up with the two fastest people. How is that NOT a race? (I have not been able to convince the people who have attested to this to post anything, but I have had a few people say to me via Facebook and Twitter, to paraphrase, "duh!")

When I speak of ride leaders, honestly, at this point, I'm not sure who I'm actually talking about. I know Roadblock and Hayden are the point men. But last night there was a cyclist walking around giving out vague directions; was he a leader? There were the two cyclists who darted out of the parking lot in front of the pack, and everyone scurried to catch up with them. Were they leaders? It seemed to me that multiple people were making decisions that affected the group last night, which implies they were taking on leadership. Now the fact that different people were making decisions and no one was sure who was leading the ride can surely be added to the reasons that things happened as they did last night.

One last thing: I appreciate everyone saying "oh, it's not about ego. No, no, we don't shun people or snub them." But this is exactly what I experienced, for WHATEVER reason--either because of someone's incompetant leadership skills (really, you're going to use shyness as the excuse?) or because of the actual ego of the group. Either way, that's what happened. I was waiting for someone to call the group to order, but in the end, if was a more chaotic start than Critical Mass (my sincerest apologies, but I have to say what I saw). In his comments, Sean says, "And some of the fastest people I've ever seen on WPH have been women so whatever was going on I'm sure it had nothing to do with that." Now, I can't read minds, so I can't say with 100% certainty if it had anything to do with me being a woman or not; however, I clearly felt that the fact I was an outsider affected how I was perceived and treated.

I also want to reiterate that the "sometimes riders DO get left behind" language is extremely misleading. The description of the ride entices the rider to come out and face the challenge, but doesn't accurately describe the possibility that you might get completely dusted. What if I was from out of town? Who takes responsibility for a couple of out-of-staters who get stuck in East LA or wherever the ride loses them?

So, in closing, I hope that my experience can (1) help the WPH know how to deal with new riders when Roadblock or Wolfrider1 are not present; (2) make it so not just Roadblock and Wolfrider1 are the ones being open and friendly to newcomers; and (3) strengthen the organization and spirit of the ride with or without the normal leadership being present (it's a hustle not a race).

I've gotten a lot of comments that last night was the least representative night of the Wolfpack, and I chose a bad night to ride, etc., like it's my fault the ride was a mess. I appreciate that it may not have been a typical ride, but that fact doesn't change my experience. I hate to be squeaky wheel or the one who has to bring up this crap. I didn't want to have a crummy experience. I wanted to go out and see if I could keep up, then come home and laugh about my almost certain failure to keep up the entire way.

So, I'm done and letting it go. Not sure if I'll make it back to the Wolfpack. Last night has left a very sour experience in my mouth, which is really sad because I so wanted to enjoy the Wolfpack

Warrenpeace
12/29/2009 08:32

Im really sorry you had such a bad experience but I must say some of your comments in your last post are still seem to come from your frustration which I certainly have sympathy for. Trying to keep up with the strongest riders is definately not a race. It is what makes a hustle and makes you better every week.

This isolation you felt was definately due to the rest of us trying to figure out what was going on ourselves. There was disorganization at the beginning that is uncharcteristic of the starts. I've seen Roadblock go out of his way to welcome new faces and explain turn by turn directions to everyone. Please do not take it personally.

I strongly encourage you to try again and talk to other female riders like Beatriz or Lindsay as well if you are uncertain. I think you will find it to be a much better experience.

12/29/2009 08:41

Warren,

My comments are completely out of my frustration! And I think I've reiterated enough where my frustration originated and why it remains. Thanks for the encouragement to try again. Regardless of everyone's defense of the Wolfpack Hustle, I'm still not feeling too positive about it.

bike riding person
12/29/2009 09:03

dancerlamode, you sound like you want to stay defeated, i would say not to come to wolfpack again until you are willing to leave your ego behind that you are accusing others of having.

12/29/2009 09:15

Bike riding person,

It's not about ego, it's about discrimination. Don't worry, I have no plans on returning any time in the near future, but it has nothing to do with my ego, which I assure you was not hurt last night and which I was not flaunting--I don't ride with ego, I ride because I like to ride. I won't be returning anytime soon because of the discrimination I felt was directed at me by other peoples' egos, and which you are pushing right now because you don't like hearing something negative and honest about your group.

And if you're not pushing your own ego right now, then use your name. It's clear who I am.

anotherbikeridingperson
12/29/2009 09:34

No offense, but it takes a pretty massive ego to show up at a popular weekly ride that's been in place for years, and criticize them for giving bad directions, going to fast, discriminating...

It's painfully obvious, from your first paragraph, that you misread and misinterpreted the details of the ride.

This is a face-pace, challenging ride. They can't be expected to slow down for you and hold your hand.

12/29/2009 09:39

Wow, can you read? I clearly state that I don't need to be looked after or need hand-holding. I also clearly state that I had been in contact with the ride leaders for awhile before attempting the ride, asking questions, etc., so I would know what to expect. I also CLEARLY state that I don't expect them to slow down or wait for me, that I can handle being left behind, and that I had expected, on my first ride, that I might not be able to keep pace. I suppose it shouldn't amaze me that you miss the entire point, or that other riders have acknowledged that things went awry last night.

I appreciate that you want to defent the group. But your arguments are irrelevant since I've already stated the above.

Joe Borfo
12/29/2009 09:39

I'm sorry you felt discriminated. That sucks if it was true.

I've been dropped on the two WPH rides I've been on. I blame it on my lack of being in shape and not memorizing the route when I lost the group at red lights. Nevertheless, I still had fun. I encourage you to try it again. And let me know if you do go because I want to try it again too.

12/29/2009 10:01

I'm a girl.

Wolfpack is a right of passage.

When I have ridden with Wolfpack, I had read the description on their website and realized that I may not be able to keep up.

The group is very frank about the fact that riders get dropped. I would wager that nearly every rider who is on Wolfpack for the first time (if said rider has no racing experience) will be dropped.

It is for that reason that the ride is so alluring.

I have never been to any group ride where the ride leader sat and explained the route to each person. As a ride leader, I tell people to follow, and rely on others who know the route to spread information.

I have been treated extremely well while riding with Wolfpack. I've never had any negative comments about my gender, although I haven't gotten special treatment either. That made it all the better when I was able to hang on.

To this day, I have never finished a Wolfpack Hustle. Sometimes it is because I pull off, sometimes it is because I don't want to run a light, and other times it is because I'm just not fast enough. But being dropped inspires me to work harder.

I think your criticism of the ride is especially harsh. And I think your sexist characterization of the ride is inaccurate.

The dropping was not personal, and I guarantee that for every woman dropped, 15 men are dropped.

I also think the characterization of the people who ride Wolfpack by a commenter as men driven by ego is slightly off. I think believing a ride that has been going on the same way for years should suddenly change to accomadate others shows more ego and self-centeredness.

That said, I am typically impressed by this blog. I think this is a case of hurt feelings.

My advice would be to use the experience as motivation, ride with some women who are faster than you, join a Cat 4 road race.

Team CICLE is a good resource for women who want to get started moving fast.

12/29/2009 10:02

Joe, thanks for the encouragement too. I'm trying to take the positive comments here and weigh them against the bad experience. I'll let you know if I decide to try again.

12/29/2009 10:11

Hey Bike Girl,

Thanks for the advice. I do want to say though, it's not like I dropped in on this ride without researching. I asked questions, I followed the Twitter, etc. checked out the website, I wasn't looking to get into something without any idea of what it was. That said, again, this was not about getting dropped. I've stated that again and again. I knew, as I've said blatantly, that I might not (and probably would not) be able to keep up.

The fact that last night was apparently an anamoly could account for what I experienced; in fact, many people have already stated this, so at this point, I'm going to concede that the lack of the usual leadership probably accounted for my experience. At the same time, I stick by my guns about what I experienced. Perhaps it wasn't MEANT that way, but that's the way it seemed to me.

On another note, I'm honored that you've read my blog and added your opinion. I love your blog and think of you and your philosophies daily!

12/29/2009 10:12

I dunno...fuck Wolfpack. I don't see how a bunch of men on bikes on a ride called a "hustle" could not become a dick waving contest. Shit has always won a major eye roll from me.

Let's start our own hustle - women only.

I'm down.

another MR rider
12/29/2009 12:00

"I also think the characterization of the people who ride Wolfpack by a commenter as men driven by ego is slightly off. I think believing a ride that has been going on the same way for years should suddenly change to accomadate others shows more ego and self-centeredness."

what she said...

Liz ride a bike..

12/29/2009 12:23

I want to clarify a point that seems to be going around. In no way am I saying that the group should have slowed down for me or accommodated me in any way. Once again, people seem to have lost their ability to comprehend the words in a sentence that says I fully expected that I would not be able to keep up the whole time, and that I would be dropped. My expectations were based on my communication with @wolfpackhustle on Twitter, information on various websites, and the WPH's website itself, which I believe misrepresents what the ride is like and about. However, if you see Roadblock's and other frequent riders' comments above, according to them, the pack went went, well, wild last night. Roadblock has as much as admitted that it's not "sometimes" as stated on the website but every ride at least half the riders get dropped. So it's quite clear that the ride is being promoted as something it's not. The question is, is what happened last night honestly an anamoly or truly typical. I've gotten feedback on both sides. I've been told I'm getting double talk from the leaders and that it's always a race full of ego, and I've been told that it's a challenging hustle that's supposed to be a good experience, even if you don't make it. It's a conundrum (sp?). The only way to know is to ride again. At the same time, I don't care to ride again. That's not defeatist; I don't have anything to prove to anyone, so why do I HAVE to ride again? What, so you guys can show me otherwise? You only get to make a first impression once. If you screw that up, then you've screwed it up.

I also don't think I'd be getting such strong responses if what I was saying wasn't at least a little bit true. If there was no question that the ride was not as I described it, you'd just ignore me, but you haven't.

Of course, most of you will continue to read what you want and ignore the entire point of my post, which has to do with the disorganization of the ride, as well as the attitudes of the people who were attempting to lead the ride last night.

And as I said at the end of the blog post "It's highly likely that I'm attributing the actions and attitude of one man to the entire group, but that was my experience, and, as I understand it, has been the experience of others."

Although most of you won't read that either.


Comments are closed.