We’re frequently asked by customers if we can recommend group or club rides. Usually this question comes from those newer to cycling or folks that are new to the area. Novice cyclists want to incorporate some new skills but both groups want to experience the camaraderie of cycling with others.
A typical group ride generally lasts from 2 - 4 hours and can consist of any number of riders. The type of ride you have will be determined by the experience level of your fellow riders, how many rest stops you plan and the topography of the land. You never know how many riders will show nor what their skill levels are. It makes for an interesting time. These rides are a great opportunity for the less experienced rider to learn from some top notch riders.
We always encourage riders to find the group that best suits them. Ask questions about a group’s general policies. Some rides are billed as ‘no drop’ rides. This means no rider gets left behind and there will always be experienced riders with you. There are also many ‘drop-in’ rides. These rides begin at a designated location and the pace is determined by the participants that show up that day.
No matter which group you choose here are a few tips to make your ride more enjoyable. Follow these suggestions and any group will want to see you back.
BEFORE YOU GO
Perform a safety check on your bike. Make sure everything is tight and check your tire pressure. Pack a pump, a spare tube, a water bottle, food and money for those rest stops.
KNOW YOUR HAND SIGNALS
Before your group takes off, ask the leader to run through hand signals. Every rider needs to be on the same page. The safety of the group depends on everyone thoroughly understanding what is being communicated. Signals are passed from the lead rider down the line.
The goal is to keep the ride as smooth as possible. Sudden movements in any direction can throw everyone off and ultimately be very dangerous. Less experienced riders need more room and their reaction time may not quite be up to Lance’s. Never brake suddenly as any change in speed becomes more difficult to absorb the further you are down the line. When the group slows, always keep your position in line.
Keep your head up. Watch the rider ahead of you as well as the road. Don’t look back as you’ll inadvertently change your line and speed, which causes havoc for other riders.
HOLD YOUR LINE
Groups generally ride two abreast but formation will always respond to conditions. To change the lead, riders on the outside line roll up to the front and over to the inside line. Avoid gaps between riders. Keep your formation tight so that riders benefit from the shelter of the group. If you find yourself feeling tired, shout ‘steady’ to alert lead riders to slow down a bit.
These few basics only touch the surface of group riding. Get out there and give it a try. The real benefit is enjoying a sport you love with like-minded people.
If you are interest in riding with a group check out our weekly rides and join us!