Having just survived another long, hard, tense Homeboy training ride, I feel this is the perfect opportunity to relate some impressions of Gainesvilles bad boy cyclists.
I'm sure every cycling community hosts a group of gnarly, tough dudes with a reputation for gritty training rides and even occasional race glory. Our community's love-hate relationship stems from an admiration for their staying power to disapproval of their short tempers and crudeness.
In short, Homeboys ain't pretty.
Homeboys have full-time jobs and responsibilities which leave precious little time to train, much less tool around the county doing base miles. Thus every ride is a tough, fast, no-mercy, macho-man theatre of pain.
Neither do they have the yuppy ability to skip out during lunch for a leisurely training session.
Homeboys don't believe in personal fitness trainers, crystal power, or ramtha--and whine a lot less than those who do. They simply go out and train hard when they can.
Some Homeboys are the nicest, most polite people you'll meet anywhere--at least until they climb on a bike. At that point get ready for the veneer of civilization to peel. When heart rates soar and adrenaline flows, tempers flair and cursing often follows. When the ride gets hard, Homeboys are like badgers with migraine headaches. So I'll mention a few tips to ease your transition should you choose to join in the ride.
How to Survive
1. Polish your pack skills or sit on. You must be able to ride 28-32 mph in a tight paceline with your wheels two inches off riders fore and aft while gagging down a Power Bar and bunny hopping road-kill blobs.
2. Maintain your bike. Homeboy bikes are grubby, mismatched machines, but they are tight and serviceable. Never allow anything to distract your concentration. This includes rattling pumps, swaying seat packs, flapping clothes, or skippin derailleurs.
3. No tri bars. I repeat, no tri bars. They are unstable in packs, unfair on the flats, and look geeky. Homeboys fantasize about the good old days of classic European road races and are dogmatic about how a bike should look.
4. Getting yelled at. Get used to it. Homeboys, like most people, hate what they fear most--pain. Pain comes from wrecks. New guys cause wrecks. Thus, new guys are hated and yelled at. Don't take it personally. Yell back if you feel unjustly dressed down. Much of it is just letting off steam. Unfortunately, the yelling can be graphic. Some verbal assaults have been known to peel paint off bike frames. Yet all is usually forgotten by the next ride.
On the whole, Gainesville's Homeboys are of some benefit to the cycling community. They provide a good measure of fitness for up-and-coming racers and good training partners for our seasonal influxes of the Beautiful People each winter.
As to the names of the Homeboys, well, maybe I'll just withhold them to protect the guilty. But look for about a dozen-or-so guys raging around the county (rain or shine) in a tight, tense formation like a ground comet with an attitude.
What you do now is your decision.