About 6 years ago I returned to mountain biking fold. I don't know that I was ever really IN it, as I only really tried it twice with my husband when we were newly-weds. Regardless, I found a fellow mom who rode a Yeti and she made it fun. The first time we rode together she introduced a phrase that has never left my soul. "The LF." It went something like this on Lair of the Bear:
Me: My chest hurts. This is so much harder than road biking.
Her: You are doing really well!! I'm definitely 'The LF'.
Me: What's that?
Her: My husband calls it "The Limiting Factor." You know. When you are the rider that is not only the worst in the group, but you are actually holding the group back by your slow-ness.
Me: (Gratuitous, canyon-echoing cackling).
From that day forward, I worked just hard enough to not be the LF. It lasted approximately 3-4 years. Then I got lazy, bought a cruiser and now I happily embrace being the LF at least once a week. Allow me to break down for you the reasons why.
The 4 major benefits to being the LF:
- Friends: I've found that the most interesting people are often the slowest--or at least they hang out at the end. True story. I've met some of the most wonderful people while being "lapped by the field", nearing the cut-off times, or just at the back of the ride. Plus, it causes me to shut my mouth and listen.
- Deer: I'm a sucker for wild-life. Or just wild things in general. By being the LF, you are guaranteed to see/witness cool stuff the fast people never see. By being at the end of a crit, for example, I saw a cooler roll out of the back of a pick-up truck across the course and land right side up, lid down in someone's yard. While LF-ing rides and races I've seen a LOT of deer, several spectacular car crashes (where no one was hurt), listened in on hundreds of fascinating conversations, taken several thousand pictures of sunrises and sunsets, and learned that humanity in general is pretty good. More good than bad, anyway.
- Cookies: I like em'. I bake em'. I eat em'. Sometimes I eat them WHILE riding my bike. [Side-note: I was even the LF at a cookie bake off with Katie Compton, but that's another story]. But the point is not the cookie. The point is, I've always figured that if I'm on such a rigid plan that I can't eat a cookie that my kids bake, or I can't slow down enough to enjoy the smell of someone ELSE baking cookies, (or lose at a cookie/dodgeball competition) then riding my bike is no longer fun.
- Beer: By being the LF, it is automatically assumed you are the type of person that would enjoy a good beer. A hand-up during a race, a beer mid-ride, a beer post ride, it really doesn't matter. The significance of this is more than just alcohol (although that's a nice perk). It could be a San Pellegrino hand-up and the fact would remain that you connect with another human being in a happy meaningful way. Often with a smile and mayhap even sharing amusing anecdotes. In person.
Some might call this a "thinly veiled excuse to not fully apply yourself." And they are probably right. But on a recent ride up Lookout, I had the opportunity to play checkers with a baby deer, so you be the judge. I'm not saying everyone is "LF material". No-ho-ho-ho-hoooo. Definitely not. But there are some of you out there that have been working rather hard this summer and maybe it's time for an LF break. All I'm saying is remember the 4 benefits; friends, deer, cookies, beer. Maybe aim for one a week. You might be delighted with who you meet, what you see, what you drink and what you eat.