I’m a road cyclist by heart and passion, but on a regular basis I try to push myself outside my comfort zone. I’ve heard that’s where the magic happens!
Every year I try to add a few cyclo cross races – or CX as the inner circle calls it – to my agenda. It’s dirty. It’s hard. And it’s technical! Especially since it so incredibly hard, I’m not really that good at it. But it’s so much fun. And I’ve heard that someone has to finish last 🙂
I’ve done two races recently. The first one I did a beautiful face plant (literally), making me so confused that I had to abandon the race. But on Saturday I was back at Superpokal here in Oslo. No face plants this time and I didn’t even finish last. There were five riders (out 69) behind me. And I had the true honor of being called out on by the speaker as a ‘not so impressive 64th place’. Well – they say bad PR is better than no PR and he did add a good description of Oslo Dawn Patrol and all the work I’m doing there.
I might not be a good CX rider, but I’m quite confident that I’m becoming a better cyclist overall by adding things like this to my repertoire. I don’t care if finish last, as long as I get the training and the fun out of it. And generally, I believe that whatever you do, you should go out of you comfort zone from time to time. At least to get the feel of it. You may discover something great. And if not – it makes it so much better when you are back at your routine.
One of the things that I’ve learned about Oslo Dawn Patrol, is that when people share a passion there is a high appetite for socializing – also in settings that doesn’t exactly involve the shared passion. I’ve realized that a lot of the people who show up for Dawn Patrol are connecting with each other also outside the core setting of Oslo Dawn Patrol. Friendships have been made and I even have a feeling that some might have hooked up (but I’m not gonna pry into that – you’ll have to pick up your gossip somewhere else!). I don’t think you can imagine how good it feels when you see people build relations through something that you’ve arranged. That alone makes it worth it all.
This eagerness to spend time together was also why I decided to throw a fairly low key party on Saturday. I pretty much did it the easiest way possible: reserving a few tables at Calmeyer’s Hage – a cool sky bare at the top of the newly renovated Clarion Hotel The Hub in Oslo city center. The manager there happens to be one of the regulars at Oslo Dawn Patrol. Thanks Aaron! All I did was to invite people to come over for drinks at their own expense. Aaron pulled some strings and arranged a bit of complimentary champagne and some seafood snacks to get the conversation going. But from there we were on our own. And we had a blast! About 35 people showed up – both those who’ve done 30+ Dawn Patrols and those who’ve only done one! Again I saw people talking to people they’ve never met before like they were old friends. And it wasn’t just because of intoxication.
Obviously, I made sure that there was an option join a social ride in the afternoon. I have a theory that the longer the time span is between hanging out together on the bike and an off-bike activity the more difficult it is to convince yourself that it’s a good idea to go. And it seemed to work, since most of those who joined me riding in the afternoon showed up for drinks as well!
I get a lot of questions about how Oslo Dawn Patrol has grown into such a great success. There are a number of reasons to this that I’m happy to share. But before I go into that I’ll call out the most important one: Oslo Dawn Patrol would never have been what it is today if it weren’t for all the people joining and supporting it. I’m fully aware that someone has to drive it and make it an option to join. But still – the support from all the fantastic people I’ve met over the last year on the bike is what really makes all the difference!
That being said, I’ve identified three key factors: Predictability,
Consistency and Passion.
Every Tuesday morning we do the same thing. There are no changes. We depart 5.40 sharp (no hanging around for late comers). We take the exact same route. And the pace is the same (more or less). We have a bit of racing halfway through at a 2,5 km segment. After this we stop, regroup and split into groups of varying speed when heading back to town. And we have coffee at the same café every week – and they like us 🙂 When having the same setup, people know exactly what to expect. No one needs to worry about whether the route will include too many long climbs, scary descents or whatever. It’s the same and they know it. Just as they know what to expect in terms of the effort that is required. This is significantly lowering the threshold of getting out of bed early.
Just keep on doing it. No matter what! We ride all year in all kinds of weather. From -16 to +30 degrees. I admit that it may not always be just hilarious, when you sit there with frozen snot on your chin and gloves. But afterwards you are invincible! And by being consistent people get the idea that you mean it. It’s not like they have to check the weather forecast to figure out if there’ll be a ride or not. There will be a ride. It’s that simple.
You have to be pretty passionate about cycling to get up that early and go out for a ride. That goes for everyone who is there. But to organize it to the degree of success that we’ve seen in Oslo, it’s more than just passion for cycling that matters. For me it’s about the passion I have for organizing something and trying to give people an enjoyable experience. It’s passion for getting more people out on the bike. And to be honest… I just love to get the chance to be the leader of the group and managing all the people in it. I can’t deny it, but you need that when 65 people show up to ride with you! (I’ll write another post one day post all the leadership and management learnings from this.)
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Therefore, the success of Oslo Dawn Patrol as an open social group ride boils down to predictability, consistency and passion. But none of that would matter if it hadn’t been for all the people who keep showing up every Tuesday morning at 5.40am.
The name alone of this piece of road on the Norwegian west coast sounds promising. The core Atlantic Ocean Road is actually just an 8 km section crossing the gap of the fjord right where the open ocean begins and Iceland is next stop! When visiting a friend in the region last year, I brought the bike and we got the chance to ride this beautiful road. It basically goes from rock to rock for 8 kilometers. With the Atlantic on one side and the mountains and the fjord on the other side the scenery is stunning. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the area for reason!
When we rode it we extended the route to a 35 km stretch along the coastline and back again. No doubt, there are other options for longer or shorter loops which includes the Atlantic Ocean Road, but that will have to wait for next time. We ended up in a small village called Bud, where we found a much needed cafe and had some waffles with traditional Norwegian brown goat cheese. It sounds weird, I know, but it is good 🙂