What to do when you find yourself in a GROUP ride…
Riding is more fun when you ride with others! There’s no better source of motivation, knowledge and camaraderie than your fellow riders. Stop the carnage, A group ride does not need to end like this. Below are a few simple rules that are easy to follow.
USING YOUR ABILITY:
1. Keep an appropriate distance according to your skill. If you feel uneasy you are unsafe. Don’t hit the brakes, simply pull out of the line after looking back and let yourself drift back a little before you rejoin the group. The key is letting the riders around you know what you are up to BEFORE you make a move.
2. If you are new to group riding (even if you have been cycling for a while) Find an appropriate group to ride with, never ride up further than you are comfortable. Just because you can ride at 28 MPH does not mean that you should in a group. it is best to start with a beginning group then work your way up. (I recruit for cat 5 racers out of beginning ride groups, people who understand there limits make for better team members).
3. Take an appropriate pull, if you don’t have the energy to take a pull simply rotate back as soon as you get to the front, most riders can respect the rider who is unashamed and willing to go to the back for the betterment of the group. Remember if the group has to wait for you because you took too long of a pull and got dropped they will be less likely to want you in the front later. (always ride well within yourself) ) OH yeah, don’t contest the sprint if you didn’t take a pull its bad form.
COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY:
Let others know what you are up to…What to say and how to say it:
1. SLOWING, if you find yourself in the front of the group and have to slow the group for a stop sign or any other obstruction YELL out so that at least three to five riders behind you can hear you SLOWING, BREAKING, or STOPPING depending on what is going on. Here is the key say it way before you do it, allow for a five to ten count. example: SLOWING, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 then let off the pedals slowing to the new speed. (a good way of making sure you give enough time is to say the command then place your weak hand behind your back and wave off the rider behind you repeating the command). This will insure that you give enough time for the riders behind to react and it will make sure that you don’t hit the brakes or slow down too soon.
MANAGE THE HILLS:
Climbing is an art form, each of us attack a hill with a different goal. For some like me survival is the goal. For others domination is the goal. All of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. So how do you manage the hills. Simple take them at your own pace. The hills are not the place to practice your paclining. It only takes the smallest of errors going up to cause an accident. Leave plenty of room between you and the person in front of you so that if they stop suddenly you can get around or stop safely.
If the rider up is slower than you want to go- check your 6 then pass them quickly a word of encouragement as you pass would be a nice bonus too. Don’t pass if you are going to slow down as soon as you do, this causes the yoyo effect and can frustrate the riders behind. Pass at a steady sustainable speed and continue at that pace until you are well clear of the rider back. Remember that the rider back may challenge themselves to keep up. Encourage that it is how we all get better. In short leave room and expect to be passed don’t worry all will wait at the top.