There are two ways to ride with a group of people. The first is in loosely organized, meandering group where some may share the work, but others just sit in and get dragged along. These rides can be massive, like the multitude of rides that exist in Portland.
The second, is comprised of a group, but exists on another level. Once in a pack a solitary rider disappears and becomes a working part of a whole. Each part takes equal time at the front, eating the wind for its fellow parts. Then takes equal time tucked within the shelter of the other parts. To take a too short a pull or to drop the pace, increase the pace as you pull through, even to take too long a pull is to do a disservice to the pack.
It is the unwritten rule, but one you’ll be reminded of when you break it.
In the pack I lose all sense of my uniqueness. I am not special a little flower, with my bike specially made for me. I am not working on some story, or wrestling with some existential quandary. I just am. A mindful moment, surrounded by the sound of shifting gears, the chatting of the people in front of you. You, talking to your partner in the pace making without thinking about the words that are about to leave your mouth. You just are.
Later there are the pulls you took. The pulls others took. And that moment when the pack dissolves into coughing and spiting as everyone plays their hand for the sprint points. But in those moments there is no time to think about what’s happening, or what just happened. There’s only the moments of spinning your legs out at the back of the pack, or the half work of being in the draft and finally the moment where you first kiss the wind. Taking your turn at sheltering the pack.