After working at my new job for a few weeks and realizing how cool the scene was, I had no problem letting my boss know that I'd like to target Thursday as the day I take a 2 hour lunch and go ride with some friends and eat some tacos.
Today (Thursday) I had a clear afternoon (no meetings) so I joined the ride. Mark Savery was also there. There were a couple of new riders there. Liz and Mike.
As we rolled east toward the BK Bridge, I heard Leah telling Liz the genesis story of the U.P. ride. It goes like this:
"Fred started this ride."
I've heard that a few times. It's not true, but I have been thinking about where the idea may have come from and I might have an explanation.
I don't remember how I heard there was a group of people who rode every day at lunch but when I started working at The U.P. about 14 years ago, I was also riding my bike pretty regularly. Maybe after a couple of years working at the U.P. I was telling somebody - "So I was riding my bike and ..."
"Say - you know there's a bunch of guys that go out for a ride at lunch time ..." somebody told me.
I didn't know what time and neither did the guy who told me. Also, I have no recollection of whether or not this happened before the new building. I don't think it did. It's funny I can't remember if I rode down there before the new building or not.
Anyway, it was a little bit of trial and error. I went down to the bike rack a few different times on different days before I caught up with a regular. He told me everybody's welcome and they start the ride at 11:45 A.M.
In those days, Jack was a baby (he's 12 now - so I guess it was the new building) and I was looking to get a hard ride in. I would ride hard to work. Ride hard at lunch and ride hard home.
The U.P. Lunch ride was a nice friendly casual ride. Good guys, but I wanted to get a hard ride in. I would start the ride with them and then take off. I explained this to them and there were no hard feelings.
After a while, some of those guys decided they wanted to ride hard too. Then it really got fun. Pretty much every day, we'd beat the hell out of each other. There were still casual riders there, but it was all good. They knew we'd be playing our games.
Ed Brown was always up for the challenge. Well - except on Friday.
I don't know if they do it anymore, but Ed started what we called "Easy Friday"
Easy Friday meant at least one day a week, we would hearken back to a simpler time when the U.P. Lunch ride was not some horrible lunch race. We'd all play nice. We'd all ride together just like back in the old days.
Except no. We just couldn't help ourselves. Easy Friday became a joke that meant "Let's make Friday the hardest day ever." YPG.
When new people would come to the ride, we'd do the same games. The new people would get mercilessly dropped. It was similar to the current affair at WNW.
Right or wrong, I didn't care. I enjoyed the competition and felt I needed the workout. I didn't think I needed to wait for new people. I didn't want to exclude anyone, per se, but I saw lunch as the best time to get my ride in.
So did I start the ride? No. Did I have a part in what it became? Probably.
So I'll accept that. But honestly, up until about 20 minutes ago when I figured out what I was going to write about, I thought the idea that I started the U.P. lunch ride was beyond ridiculous. I didn't believe it at all.
I think I get it now but please understand that at 4:30 this afternoon, I was still of the opinion that I had nothing to do with the incarnation of the U.P. ride. All I knew that was there are a few people who would back me up on that if I made the claim (even if I myself didn't agree with it).
So I was leaving work (at not the U.P.) today. It was at about 4:30 in the afternoon or so. I was unlocking my bike when some guy walked by and said, "That's a really nice bag. You've got good taste."
It was a guy leaving the company who had a Banjo Brothers backpack exactly like mine.
If I'm just commuting, I don't use the bag, but if I do the U.P. ride, I take all my gear and stuff.
"Oh yeah, I really like it," I replied as I was getting ready to go.
But the guy wanted to talk about bikes and stuff for a while so we swapped stories for about 10 minutes.
At one point he said that his bike is just an old beater, not a premium race machine like mine. I explained that I normally ride a more utilitarian bike to work, but that I went for a lunch ride with my friends down at U.P., so I needed my good road bike.
The following is 100% true:
Mike (my Banjo Brothers bag buddy) said, "Oh shit, those guys are fast. The U.P. guys. They're not fucking around. Damn. You ride with them?"
I did not say, "Well actually, I started that ride."
I was tempted because I knew the lie could be verified. But I didn't say it. I promise.
I mentioned earlier that there were a couple of new people there today. I was totally ok with JRA. It's not like it's my ride or anything. But I will say this. If I go on the U.P. Lunch ride again and it's this 13 mph thing we were doing today, Ima ride up ahead a ways and recreate the U.P. lunch ride, because that shit was lame.
You're welcome, U.P. Lunch ride.