Bringing folks out for their first time in a new style of riding is a delicate matter. Winter cycling is no different. Most people tend to overdress for their first ride no matter what you tell them. They also tend to not have all the handling skill and body english that make riding on snow easier. Both of which mean they probably won't be going very fast. And when you have a large group of people who have been riding multiple times a week all winter, there is potential for frustration; unless, of course, you have a really nice guy with you. We have Zombie Jeff.
In addition to being a master mechanic (read trail bike paramedic here), Jeff is also that guy that is willing to wait for a friend who is trying to get the hang of it. I remember my first time out shuttling years ago on a seven inch full suspension freeride bike that I had just bought the week before. All my riding until that point had been road and commuting. I hadn't ever rode dirt before. I tried to get everyone else to go in front of me so I wouldn't hold anyone up as I rode my brakes all the way to the bottom of the hill. Jeff insisted on bring up the rear. I was embarrassed about how slow I was and Jeff was a consummate teacher. I remember him helping me set up my seat angle and offering me simple tips like keeping my weight back. At the end of that first ride I felt excited not only that I hadn't died, but also that I had learned something.
While every group benefits from have a few competitive guys thrown in to keep everyone challenging themselves, the value of having someone that makes sure everyone is having fun too can't be underestimated. So happy birthday Stan, I look forward to future rides.