I could hear it accelerate as it approached the four way stop. Although I arrived to the intersection first, there was no way I was pedaling forward. A red Dodge Neon came into view and then blew through the intersection, slowing just enough for its driver to flip me the bird as I pointed up to the stop sign. Normally, this wouldn’t provoke anything more from me than a headshake. Shitty driving was a staple here. Zone 1 was a battlefield, where four wheeled deadly weapons raced up and down residential streets like the agitated ghosts from Pac Man. But this time it pissed me off.

I had a wicked case of writer’s block and approaching deadline, so the nuances of life on two wheels were getting to me more than usual. Yelping dogs made my skin shrink to the point of suffocation, and the sight of cycling kits made my eyes vomit. I was cranky and uninspired and in desperate need of an iced coffee.

The last couple weeks had put a foul taste in my mouth as far as Tempe social cycling was concerned. It got dramatic and childish, and why would I want to glorify any of that? I had done so for a ride once before and vowed to never do it again. For now on, I’ll leave the canned coverage of bike leaders rides to the Valley’s local newspapers.

This wasn’t to say stay away from the Tempe social ride scene, but a small part of it was getting a little obnoxious. It shouldn’t be this complicated. It shouldn’t be ruled with an iron fist. It shouldn’t be the source of an overblown and immature pissing match. New group rides didn’t need to be obsessively micromanaged or championed as a symbolic middle finger to the other group rides on which riders no longer felt welcome. Most importantly, social cycling should never be about choosing sides at all. It should be as easy as riding a fucking bike.

Written by: Bradley Sutherland