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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

February 3, 2015

From the Sidelines of Endurance: Social Bullying

One thing about being a part-time endurance rider is that you have a bit more time to sit by the sidelines and get a view of sport from different angles.  There are things I will never understand completely because grabbing up this sport late in life I will not get the opportunity to experience them first hand.  But one thing that I'm extremely well-versed in is the sometimes difficult process of breaking into a sport that on one side proclaims "WE WANT YOU" "ALL ARE WELCOME" "WE ARE AN ENDURANCE FAMILY" (exclamation points here)!  Only to be promptly hammered down with a crop for asking what apparently is some sort of endurance inept question to a rider that considers themselves elite.   I'm happy for those riders.  I look up to their experience and talent (and the funding sources to participate).  But their sometimes meanness, social bullying (and that is what it truly is) probably is the most damaging thing we have to the growth of the sport.   What is even more disturbing is that cross section of demographic that is the very segment that keeps the dues being paid, the ride managers breaking even (hopefully),  and keeps the sport very much alive.   I understand people have their close knit social groups, but those are no excuse for tearing down an excited new rider.  That period of growth for the budding rider is vital to the sport. It decides their future, to ride endurance or not ride.  The time when a person has SO MANY QUESTIONS which may seem awkward, head-scratching, and inept is also when they are forming their opinion of our sport as a whole.  Has it been so long that you have forgotten your start at endurance?  What if your social group had turned their backs on you, or offered repeated ridicule when you were trying to learn?  Yes, there are all kinds of resources on the web about endurance. Yet, nothing replaces an experienced  positive mentor.   That is a role that every card carrying AERC member should hold close to their hearts, that the green bean, newbie, whatever you want to call them, are the FUTURE of our sport.   Find you a new rider, be a friend, lead, and squint your eyes at the mistakes (they will make some, we all do...), and represent our organizations (AERC, GREENBEAN ENDURANCE) well.

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