Uncle Dave A-Hole
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Dear Uncle Dave: My Riding Buddy is a Total A-Hole

Words Dave Tolnai
Date Feb 6, 2018

Oh man. Man, oh man. This is one of those ones that I just hate right from the get go. I don't want to write about this stuff. I don't want to subject you to it either. But here we are. I was working on a response to the Commencal artwork schmozzle, but that's too tricky to wade into without a bunch of thought put into it. I was working on flushing out something further on the art of picking the right bike, but that's just horrendously boring. I had a last minute hail mary on bullshit claims of suspension designers, but that's going to take a bit more work. So what are we left with? Yelling at some poor bastard on the Internet. Sorry. I really mean it this time.


Dear Uncle Dave:

We have a great group of guys who have been doing a group trip every June for over 25 yrs. As you can imagine, over time things have gotten more complex. We now have upwards of 25-28  guys & the planning is a big job. We have had more than one CEO crack under pressure at the last minute! We've been all over B.C., Whistler, Squamton, Sunshine coast, the Island, Kootenays, Okanagan & the Chilcotin.

Here's my problem:

McDuff (name disguised to protect identity),is a (somewhat) valued member, that thinks it funny to not get a deposit paid in a timely manner. He has been known to show up on the bus as we are leaving, with money in hand, while everyone else paid months in advance. The usual threats don't seem to work. I was considering killing him in his sleep, but that could be messy & the ensuing legal issues might prevent me from crossing the B.C./Alberta border, as planned this year! Thanks for your valued advice.

Frustrated Joon Ride CFO


Dear Poo Ride:

I find everything about your e-mail confusing. Most of it is related to why anybody would want to do something with 24-27 other people. But I’ll accept that this is a “fun thing to do” and that all you need is a few little tweaks to turn this into a well-oiled machine and a roaring success.

This relates closely to problems I see that occasionally come up at my work. One person relies on another person in order to get their job done. The task is more important to the person who makes the request than the person who is supposed to execute it. So nothing happens until the requestor gets fed up enough to do the task themselves. The requestor continues getting frustrated and eventually just turns into a sad, rage-filled shell who talks to themselves in the bathroom. The requestee continues to  coast along, oblivious to the problem, wondering why everybody is complaining about being so stressed out all the time.

This gets worse when you have multiple people making similar requests. They each start to figure out their own workaround and pretty soon nobody knows what is going on and it’s total chaos. The company suffers until it gets bought out by a hedge fund and everybody gets laid off.

In a professional environment there are numerous things that can lead to this. Unclear expectations. Over-work. Lack of an underlying process. And this is where this analogy breaks down a little bit. Because while some of this may be present, I think your problem is much simpler. I think your problem is simply that your friend is a giant asshole. A total and complete asshole.

But that’s fine. The solution is the same. It’s actually really quite easy to change somebody’s behaviour when they keep doing this.

Step 1 – Clearly lay out expectations with everybody involved

I think this would be something like an e-mail to all parties with a message along the lines of “Hey everybody. It’s really important that we get the numbers nailed down this year. If you aren’t able to provide your deposit by this date, I’m going to assume that you’re not interested in being a part of the trip. Anybody who hasn’t placed their deposit will **clearly laid out consequences to this action**. No exceptions.”  Lay out expectations. Explain the consequences. Make it clear that you're in charge and you've explained what's going to happen if people don't get their shit together.

Step 2 – Stick to it

This is generally where things fall down. Everybody loooooooves laying out consequences but seems to have a huge problem sticking to them. Somebody always has a plausible sounding excuse and they whine and they cry and you feel a bit bad and you cave in. And then you cave in once and you’re sunk. They’ll know you’re a soft little baby who can’t stand up to anything, and they’ll walk all over you. I hate to say this…but you have a weakness, and your friend knows it and he enjoys messing with you. He loves the fact that he can do whatever he wants, and you’re just going to let him. I understand cutting a bit of slack to the guy who has a reasonable, justifiable situation for requiring some flexibility with the rules. You can work with those kinds of people. But this other guy...the giant asshole...you can't  cave in to this guy, even just a tiny little bit, because he'll just keep pushing you. And if you let him keep pushing you, then it’s not his fault, it’s yours. If you allow somebody to do something, continually and repeatedly, then do not complain about it when they go and do that thing again. And again. And again.

I don't know what consequences you should create for this guy. I really don't. I'd be tempted to just stop e-mailing him when he doesn't get his deposit in on time, and to tell him that you cut him off of the trip roster. I honestly can’t even imagine being friends with a guy who does the things that you are describing. I would relish watching him standing on the side of the road, bike in one hand, wad of cash in the other, as he chokes on the fumes of the bus as you leave him behind on our way to a (supposedly) enjoyable trip thick with dudes on dudes. It would make me so, so happy if you send me an e-mail next year describing the confused tears rolling down his cheeks as the rest of you laughed and hi-fived off into the sunset. But, you know...that's just me.

Sorry,

Uncle Dave


Uncle Dave's Music Club

I know you won't believe me, but I was so, so close to writing about the Fall with the last music club. But the thought of wading through their insane catalogue of releases was too daunting. So I didn't. And then Mark E. Smith died.

So, a few people put together a couple of compilations of the Fall's best tracks for us. Take a look here and here. My favourites are these two:

"Victoria" was an awesome Kinks song, and it's just as great as a Fall cover.


I swear to goodness that I first heard and fell in love with a slightly different version of "Theme From Sparta FC", but nevertheless, this one is still enjoyable.



Since you are going on a big trip Poo Ride, with a bunch of dudes who may be brutal about how your bike is treated (especially  failure to pay dude) it'll probably make sense to have your frame, fork and cranks protected. The best DIY solution we've come across is from Invisiframe. The company will ship you everything you need to apply a custom clear protective film over your entire frame as well as your cranks and fork.*

*Note - this prize is contingent on you owing a bike that is on Invisiframe's extensive list of pre-cut packs which you'll find under the Invisiframe shop heading. Send us an email to claim your prize. 

If you'd like to win a sweet prize fire a witty and astute (or asinine if you want to be a target  of Dave's ire) question over to Uncle Dave

Yeti SB 5.5

The Yeti SB 5.5 has lots of angles and curves that makes slapping on flat pieces of 3M plastic challenging, but Invisiframe's custom cut panels make the process easy. Or easier at least. 

Below you can see how this all goes together. 

Comments

rigidjunkie
+1 Cam McRae
Allen Lloyd  - Feb. 6, 2018, 7:50 a.m.

For years my group leader would show up late and unprepared for rides.  It drove all of us crazy till we just started to all show up later and later.  Eventually the leader would get there first and have time to figure out how to fix his bike before we got there.  Of course we then had to re-fix his bike because while he was great at keeping the group together he was useless at fixing anything.  I miss those days.

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mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - Feb. 6, 2018, 12:54 p.m.

In every one of these examples from the comments section, I say "cut this guy out". I have a very limited amount of time for dude-weekends, and to start it irritated because one guy can't (or won't) get his shit together would be outside my realm of patience.

Reply

andy-eunson
0
Andy Eunson  - Feb. 6, 2018, 7:57 a.m.

Dave nails it. I was involved in a cat skiing trip where it was cheaper if we organized our own group of 12 plus we could chose skiers we knew were capable of skiing hard lines. Similar issues. Guys would bow out at the last minute and want their deposit back, or not pay the deposit, or bring friends that weren’t strong skiers. Or some guys were all about “guys week out” so we will get too drunk and be pigs. Ultimately we quit doing it because it was more hassle than it was worth. 

Set out the parameters at the beginning to all. That way it doesn’t look as though anyone has been singled out. “Deposits are required by X date and failure to pay means you won’t be booked in. No exceptions. Hold to your guns.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 6, 2018, 11:38 a.m.

There are things you do to mess with your buddies, and things that just aren't cool anymore (and never were, but young teens get a bit of a pass). Tight groups of friends that stay together over the years seem to be good at maintaining a codified if unstated set of rules, as well as helping each other sort it out if they're blowing it. With each guy you add to that, the possibility of someone not sticking to those rules increases - perhaps exponentially. Group trips of that size are a minefield for that sort of thing. 

I wonder if 'guy that won't pay' is also the one who doesn't unload bikes, offer to take his turn retrieving the shuttle vehicle, or bring beers for the other dudes in the hot tub? I'm betting he is.

Where's @tehllama when we need him to write a 50-page document about this?

As men age, sometimes they get worse at maintaining friendships. Guys like that illustrate one of the many problems that lead to that, but I agree with Dave - there's a huge onus on the buddies to get him back in line, and the only solution just may be a heavy dose of tough love.

Reply

tehllama42
0
Tehllama42  - Feb. 7, 2018, 4:38 p.m.

Where am I?  Apparently showing up late, chasing after the bus, with the wrong amount of cash in hand.

Reply

DaveSmith
0
Dave Smith  - Feb. 6, 2018, 1:31 p.m.

Uncle Dave is a Fall fan so we can totally hang out.

Reply

JBV
+1 jaydubmah
James Vasilyev  - Feb. 6, 2018, 2:06 p.m.

i'm with Dave, once the numbers get above about 8 for me, i just don't see the point. a group of 'friends' of 20 plus guys sounds like a headache on every level, and a real PITA for other riders out for a rip as well.

Reply

MattyB
+1 James Vasilyev
MattyB  - Feb. 6, 2018, 3:22 p.m.

I regularily ride in my shops Thursday night ride, typically with around 20 people and getting as many as 35 people out a couple weeks of the season. It's been a good for business, but its been harder and harder to keep the ride good for all skill levels and safe for everyone involved. The biggest thing we do is have at least 5 shop employees keeping everything organized on each ride. I can't imagine why anyone would want to travel as a group of 25

Reply

Endur-Bro
+1 Cr4w
Endur-Bro  - Feb. 6, 2018, 4:22 p.m.

Sounds like the shop employees should start grouping into rides based on skill level and/or intensity.

Reply

MattyB
+1 Endur-Bro
MattyB  - Feb. 6, 2018, 4:48 p.m.

We do currently split the group, into a fast group and a more chill group, but dealing with larger groups is still tough to organise. We've had issue with riders not calling features on trails, or riders riding features blind crashing. It's just problems with keeping large groups with lots of new people to run smoothly

Reply

Shroomyk
+1 Cam McRae
Shroomyk  - Feb. 6, 2018, 6:56 p.m.

I got it under control, the threat of killing him in his sleep seemed to relax his grip on the deposit money!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Jitensha Kun
Cam McRae  - Feb. 6, 2018, 9:19 p.m.

So you got a sweet prize and a sweet result? Attaboy Uncle Dave!

Reply

TonyJ
0
TonyJ  - Feb. 6, 2018, 9:47 p.m.

R.I.P. Mark E. Smith. 

Great cover of a a great Kinks track, the Kinks  seem to be an overlooked influential band of their time.

Another great Kinks cover, by Wye Oak, performed live, with little rehearsal (AV Undercover is/was a cool concept)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jB3YK1T0_c

PS. Used to do/organize the big ride groups, now I would rather ride on my own or with a few friends. Timeline rule seems to be, for every person in the group, add 10 minutes to the total ride time. "Ain't nobody got time for that".

Reply

another_waki
+1 ZigaK
another_waki  - Feb. 7, 2018, 12:21 p.m.

I’d say ask a random teenager how would they approach the problem. They have malevolent group dynamics down to science. Mobbing may be illegal in school and at the workplace but mountain biking is a perfect safe space to practice. Eventually the smart subject would improve his/ hers behavior by employing a variety of sympathy gaining strategies or quit. Both may be a sign of intelligence. Dummies and weak units always quit under social pressure, after peforming a plaethora of self destructive acts, which strenghtens groups morale - it was us who were the righteous. But you started talking behind his back. That’s a progress for your group. I wish you luck, even though a group of so many people going for a ride together makes me cringe and I’d rather spend the rest of my mtb days being a lone wolf, riding IMBA approved trails on an E-bike with rear hub located motor aka Copenhagen hub. 

Signed: a proffessional asshole.

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