By Sandy Cheek
I’ve heard the refrain from some newcomers to endurance (and others as well) that there is a clique-ish or clubby vibe they’ve encountered when at ride camp. EDRA has worked hard to counteract that by always providing a
central gathering place at ride camp for everyone to mingle, and developing a robust mentoring program so newcomers have at least one person with whom to connect.
But I’ve been thinking lately about my own endurance friendships, and why, at ride camp, I tend to migrate towards some folks and share an adult beverage and tell lies together. Why them? Why, in particular, are those my ‘enduring’ friendships? (See what I just did there? Pun fully intended).
Most of the faces I see across the campfire I’ve also seen at boring, boring meetings on Sunday mornings after a PNER convention, hammering out the duller aspects of taking care of our sport. I’ve worked on policy with them. Ugh. Budgets. Double ugh. Put together a convention, which, without a village, is impossible. Helped create a new distance organization and got both accolades and arrows slung my direction. Together, we have weathered some storms!
Sure, we ride together too. Those miles late at night on a hundred help forge friendships like none other. But here’s my point.
That closeness that some perceive as elitism, that sense of connection we have with one another doesn’t just come easily. It’s pieced together over years of working together in adverse conditions, without recognition, not just for what’s in it for me, but for a larger purpose—a shared belief in what is important for our beloved sport. When you connect with someone over the management of a ride, or how to mark a trail, or put through a budget proposal—it’s hard. And you learn stuff about that other person you’d never have known about from just riding with them.
So here’s the takeaway. Are you feeling left out? Like you want more endurance friends to hang around with? Then ask yourself: When was the last time you really gave back to the endurance community? If your answer is “well, I helped mark trail once two years ago…” well, maybe it’s time to jump into the mud and do some more work. Believe me; you will discover the meaning of friendship. And respect. And that goes both ways. The next time you’re at a ride camp, there will be faces across the campfire you’ve seen in other contexts. You’ll look each other in the eye, grin, raise a glass, and know—that you are now part of the “club.”