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  1. #1
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    dealing with pace on group rides

    Hi i am down to 186 from 221, 5'9, in my 40's, since 5/2011. When i started i tried a slow recreational group ride and had to pull over after 1/3 a mile uphill.

    This past Sun i did a group ride that was 54 miles and was quite hilly by my standards. Probably about 2000' elevation over the course of the ride. The leader didnt even consider this hilly and said on these rides they usually maintain an AVERAGE pace of 14mph (including the hills.) My average pace up to the hills was 12.5 then halfway over the hills it was 10.5 then at the end it was 9.0 (all #'s from my bike computer.) So i got dropped at the halfway point. Numerous people got dropped it was not 'no one left behind'. I didnt mind since i expected it and know the area.

    I told a more experenced rider i know who i see on local rides and his thoughts was I am pessimistic and controlling when i tell him if we plan to do the same route we have to plan that MY pace will be 10mph and we should also budget 1.5 hours for lunch and rest breaks, making the total ride time about 7.2 hours. He says from seeing me ride he knows i can ride a lot faster than that and he wants to get me out of my comfort zone. I told him yes he has seen me ride faster (ie 14-20mph, 20mph for 1 second to see if i could hit it) but that is only on flats and for brief periods not a long ride over hills like this. I find the cumulative nature of these hills to be really tough.

    My question here is how do you deal with going on group rides where you are clearly outpaced and get dropped and people give you comments like i say above.

    What i mind is not getting dropped (if i know their anticipated average mph in advance and know it is a lot more than mine, I expect it) but that when i try to plan a ride with other people and discuss what i want to plan as MY average pace and need for rest breaks that they think I am too pessimistic and controlling. I say I am only being realistic based on my recent rides and i have to be realistic so i leave enough time and dont get stuck out riding in an unsafe situation like top of a mountainous area after dark or on a bike path that has history of muggings after dark, etc.

    It seems to me that some of my biker acquaintances either dont want to plan the pace or timing so much in advance, or think my estimated pace /need for breaks is pessimistic and if i ride with them they will push me to be faster like them.

    There are many rides i wont do when i ask and am told the average mph up front. For instance one local group ride was organized by someone who said they will lead up the fast group at 19-21 mph, then the people will divide up in medium groups of 17-18 mph and a slow group of 14-16 mph. (On a flat route.) I said that is not realistic for me, my average pace will be 10-12 mph and I will get dropped and if i try to do the whole route it will take me a lot longer than he has scheduled. He said i am unduly negative. I didnt do the ride. What happened i found out later was he and his small group too off at 18+mph and everyone else was dropped and left on their own.

    (Bike is not a factor, I am on 1980's road bikes with triple cranks.)
    Last edited by GaryinLA; 12-12-12 at 10:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    You ride like a recreational rider, not a club rider.

    1.5 hours of breaks is way to much time for a 54 mile ride.
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  3. #3
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    I would say find a different group to ride with or work at improving your climbing skills. By raising your fitness you will not require that many breaks over that short of a ride. If you don't have the desire to improve then like I said find a different group as this one obviously is not catering to what they say they are.
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    IF i am going to do a 54 mile hilly ride starting Sun morning at 9am, I want to take a lunch break halfway of at least 30-40 minutes. I also want to take 3-4 rest stops of about 5-10 minutes each, ie a top of the biggest hills. One group i ride with (lowest level of fitness probably) is fine with this-- this is what they do. Other groups dont seem to think this is so appropriate. Trying to plan my own rides with 2-3 other riders, they seem to balk at this, both the slow pace and the breaks.

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    Sounds like you should ride with the slowest group, then everyone us happy. Most riders who are in clubs and riding at a 15mph pace are not stopping on a 50 mile ride.
    Best thing about cycling is when I'm at work I'm thinking of cycling, when I'm cycling I'm thinking about cycling.

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    This is one reason I don't mind riding alone or with a very small group of friends. 1.5 hours for lunch, to me is overkill. for lunch.... 30 minutes max really.

    Last week on a club ride, it was 57 miles with 3,500 feet elevation gain with pizza stop in the middle for lunch. I left about 2 hours before them, knowing I am slower on the hills and enjoy riding in new places with myself (or a small group of friends). I did not stop for an hour lunch like the club did. I stopped at a grocery store, grabbed fruit and two cliff bars and left. When I take long breaks, my legs hurt and its rough to start up again.
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    The ride was too fast for what you want to do. Find a no drop social club and go with them and you'll be happier. If those rides are too fast then find a few people that ride like you or ride by yourself. Most people want to go faster (everyone I've met) so maybe that's why they think you're negative.

    Sometimes I ride with the local social club when I need motivation to get out and ride a longer ride and want to ride with a group. They have three groups but even the fast group isn't super fast, but it's nice to shoot the breeze and spend an afternoon on the bike.

    My problem right now is I'm looking for something with a pace in between the super serious weekend racing guys and the super social recreational riders though.

  8. #8
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    There is a reason why I ride with a small group of 3 or 4 riders, we do our own thing.

    As mentioned earlier, a club ride of 50 miles I wouldn't expect more than a short potty break. If you like more, probably best to organize your own rides with riders of similar ability or outlook on cycling.

    If I did club rides with Gina, she'd give up riding.

  9. #9
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    I'd vote to try and find a different group. Riding at your pace solo is ALLOT different then riding in a group. Learn to draft, how to find a good wheel to follow, ect and most important no matter the speed is to socialize with others. Like 10 wheels said, your body is used to rec rides not surges of speed of a club rides.

    My club doesn't have a B group or anything. But there are 1-2 regroup points and its usually to wait for me. But they do and I don't expect a 5-10min break on top of that. I know I'm slower now and just sit in and recover before we get to the next hammer section. Our rides start at 8:30am and back to the start point by 11 or so. Average loops are 45-55 miles w/ 2-3kft of gain + what ever miles I put in to ride to the start point and/or to limp home around 17mph. I usually end up with about 60-69 miles, I keep doing it cuz its FUN no matter how or # of times I get dropped. I have the drive to ride fast though my body is built more for endurance and the next week I try to position myself better so I don't get shelled. I'm about 220 and 6'1.

  10. #10
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
    My question here is how do you deal with going on group rides where you are clearly outpaced and get dropped and people give you comments like i say above.
    Ride with who you want.

    I constantly ride with faster riders than me (they all are). But this has allowed me to ride faster myself (I enjoy going fast) and improve my close-group riding skills (which has improved my safety on the bike). If you want to get faster, keep going. If you give up, nobody'll notice. You earn alot of respect by continuing to come out, even though you get dropped.

    Any group rides I do, I conform myself to the ride's established protocol/character. If I don't like it, I stop going (like the poor bike handling, group riding skills on charity rides--I've pretty much stopped going to them, even though I help organize one) and find other rides. The SFVBC regularly has long stops on the Sunday ride. But that's what it's about: social ride with a nice, relaxing stop to chat, gossip, and socialize. I know it's coming, I have no problems with it. Others do, so they stay for 10-15 mins, then leave. No biggie: to each their own.

    Quote Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
    What i mind is not getting dropped (if i know their anticipated average mph in advance and know it is a lot more than mine, I expect it) but that when i try to plan a ride with other people and discuss what i want to plan as MY average pace and need for rest breaks that they think I am too pessimistic and controlling.
    Ride with different people. Let them know up front what it'll be.

    If you want to go faster, then riding with faster riders is an acceptable means to that end. Go on faster rides. Expect to be pushed out of your comfort zone. Or if you're happy where you're at, then ride your own pace. Find other riders at the same pace/abilities and ride with them. Or, find slower-than-you riders, and you slow down for them.

    If you don't like the ride's established protocols (quick stops, few, fast pace, no waiting for dropped riders, etc...) organize your own ride & invite people you think would like the format. Keep in mind, though, that you cannot control other people. If they want to go fast, they're gonna go fast. Or slow. Beauty of cycling, man.[/COLOR]

    Don't sweat the details. Enjoy it. It's all good, Gary.

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  11. #11
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    It can be hard to find group rides at slower paces. You may not be able to find one. I wish I could find a group ride of slow-but-ride-hard folks -- the few rides around me that have been at a pace I can hold are fast groups having a social "slow" ride, which can be off-putting when I'm pushing myself and someone tries to chat because they can hold 13mph and a conversation simultaneously. And they say 10-12 and then go 13-14mph. Plus, all the slower rides around me are no-drop, and I'd actually prefer to get dropped if I really can't keep up -- I do know the area, I'll be fine, and I'd rather hang as long as I can and then let them go.

    I do think it's rude of your friend to say that you're being pessimistic, though -- you're being realistic, and he should just tell you if he isn't in the mood for a ride at that speed with very long breaks. You should make sure he knows it's OK for him to say no, though. Maybe offer to go on a shorter ride with him some time, which will still be at a pace you can manage but with fewer breaks?

  12. #12
    Senior Member IBOHUNT's Avatar
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    First, congrats on the weight loss.


    Depending on where one is from or used to riding that may not be considered hilly.
    2000' in 54 miles is only 37'/mile. I know for me that is watch your dog run away for a week flat.


    Hilly for me starts at 50'/mile.


    IMHO, a 54 mile ride is a 2 Cliff bar ride and should consist of a stop to refill the water bottles and a bio break.


    Why so many breaks? Is it the bike doesn't fit and you need to recover form pain somewhere or out of breath or...?
    Any chance of finding a slower group?
    Perhaps organize your own group ride?


    Now if you want to ride with this group my only suggestion is to


    1. Ride the routes with them and get dropped. Try to get dropped later in the rides. This will make you faster.
    2. Go out and solo ride the routes that they ride and push yourself until you know you can ride with them.
    3. Get more base miles in. You didn't say how many miles you have on the bike since you started but a tonne of base miles is likely to help out. Bike fitness is key to long rides.

  13. #13
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
    I told a more experenced rider i know who i see on local rides and his thoughts was I am pessimistic and controlling when i tell him if we plan to do the same route we have to plan that MY pace will be 10mph and we should also budget 1.5 hours for lunch and rest breaks, making the total ride time about 7.2 hours. He says from seeing me ride he knows i can ride a lot faster than that and he wants to get me out of my comfort zone. I told him yes he has seen me ride faster (ie 14-20mph, 20mph for 1 second to see if i could hit it) but that is only on flats and for brief periods not a long ride over hills like this. I find the cumulative nature of these hills to be really tough.
    Sorry to say this, but the guy was just being honest with you. Let's say there are 20 people in the group. By insisting that the other 19 adopt to your style and pace, you are being controlling. And selfish. But most importantly, self-limiting.

    Do you want to average 10 mph the rest of your riding life? If that's all you want out of it, you're on the right track. The honest truth is that to improve, you have to accept that you're going to have to suffer a little (in the 41 they'd tell you to HTFU). You have to push yourself. Not every ride. But once or twice a week you have to grit your teeth and get used to hurting a bit. And one of the best ways to do this is to ride with better people, and try to hang with them for as long as you can. I'm not saying show up for a group ride and head out with the A group. You can try the slowest group, but you can't go on insisting that everyone wait at the top of every hill while you lumber up, or wait at every turn to make sure that you don't get lost. It's not fair to the group dynamic. On the other hand, you're never going to get any better if you find a group that will just cruise around at your speed. I would focus on solo rides for awhile, with the aim of improving your cycling fitness. Let the group rides be for awhile, or join one of those "cafe tours" that meet up and ride to bagels and coffee on weekend mornings if you really want a social ride once a week. Use the rest of the week to focus on you. Those hills that everyone drops you on? No one gets dropped riding solo. Find one and don't just climb it once. Do repeats. It'll be painful at first. Very painful. Your thighs will burn and your lungs will feel like they're on fire, and you'll feel your pulse in your temples. But, in a few weeks, you'll be a lot faster up those hills. You can hit 20 mph on the flats? Find a nice long stretch of flats. If you don't have a computer to measure your mileage, mark out a mile stretch on your car odometer. Try to hold as fast a speed as you can over that mile. When you get to the end, turn around, and cruise back to the start. Ride the hell out of the mile again, And again. Intervals. They help. A lot.

    The mind is often the most limiting factor in getting better. Cycling's no different than any other sport or hobby. You get better the more you do it, and making your mind not accept its own self-imposed limits.
    Last edited by mprelaw; 12-12-12 at 12:37 PM.

  14. #14
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    I tend to agree that your estimation of required rest stops is way conservative, unless of course you're relatively new to riding. I couldn't tell from the OP if that was the case.

    For reference, if your 54-mile ride had about 2000 more feet in climbing, give or take, it would be similar to one day at Hilly Hundred (though from the ride leader's comment I suspect your hills might not have been as steep). HH is all things to all people, depending on what you want - fast performance riders and Sunday strollers, and it includes formal rest stops at roughly quarter points, with the one in the middle being a big lunch break. I don't know anyone who stops longer than maybe 20-25 minutes at lunch, and maybe 10 minutes at the others - just long enough to hit the head, grab a cookie or bagel and get back on the bike. Lots of casual riders, and a fair number of serious riders who lack the requisite hill training (like yours truly) will sometimes stop to catch their breath at the top of a particularly nasty climb, but even then, it's not for 10 minutes, or even 5.

    In the end, though, there are two things to say: 1 - If it's your ride, that you've organized, do it the way you want and if the others don't care for it, let them go. And 2 - If you're the least bit interested in improving, you'll need to push yourself on a regular basis. That's not to say getting faster or fitter is the be-all and end-all. If you're happy where you are, that's cool. Just know that it takes work to break out to the next level, and you'll never know how much until you try.
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  15. #15
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    Thanks for the comments.

    To answer a few questions/clarify:

    I am not trying to control a group of 20 riders. I already ride with a slow group that is at my pace and takes a lunch and some other short rest breaks. But i look for other rides too, to add on and so it doesn't get boring.

    So it is on the OTHER rides with OTHER groups i may get dropped. But I dont try to control those groups. If I get dropped, I get dropped.

    What I am trying to control is rides with say 2-3 other people who i know from these other groups. We might talk about riding together on a particular route, I am the organizer or co-organizer and THIS is when I say what MY pace is and what i want the pace of the ride to be, with lunch and rest breaks etc. This is where I am told i am controlling and pessimistic. (I am also told I am pessimistic by leaders of faster rides where i ask the pace, explain my pace and that I can't do that pace, but i dont try to control the ride. I just do the ride or dont do the ride.)

    Why I do I need a 1.5 hour lunch break? I dont. What i need is about a 20-30 minute lunch break but up to 1 hour is better. Gives me a chance to rest and relax in the middle of the ride. What I do need is periodic breaks of at least 5 minutes, maybe 10, to rest when I get very exhausted such as after a long period of what for me is a steep hill. On a 54 mile ride with a lot of hills, there may be 3 or 4 times where i would like to take at least a 5 minute break, maybe use a rest room once or twice if there is one around too. So if you add up 30 minutes for lunch and say 8 minutes for 4 other breaks then you are at a total of 62 minutes for lunch + other breaks.
    Seems reasonable to me and to the riders in the slow group i ride with.

    The 54 mile ride i am talking about is from Playa Del Rey through Palos Verdes to San PEdro and back. I dont know the total elevation on the ride but from PDR to base of PV it is mostly flat, then it is maybe a 800 foot grade of hills. Then there are some similar rolling hills through PV until San Pedro. So I am guessing it is maybe a total of 2000' in total uphill sections over the course of the ride. I am guestimating this from the Solvang Prelude 63 I did on 11/10 which I think i read had about 2300' total elevation which i think was a little more hilly. For those that are local one particular hill i had trouble with was after riding to San Pedro I biked from the coast up Western Ave (or whatever it is called at that point ) up to 25th (that turns into Palos Verdes Blvd W.) and that is maybe 1/2 a mile or less of a continuous uphill that i found very difficult after tiring myself out on the ride to San Pedro. There was also a very steep street in San Pedro up to the gate to some Fort that i had trouble with also. After (or during) some of these pretty steep hill on a long ride i might feel the need to stop and take a 5 minute break.

  16. #16
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    I ride like I can and I don't let the comments bother me.

  17. #17
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    To be honest (coming from a new rider who is nowhere close to riding at the pace of my local club, but is busting my arse to achieve it.)

    1.) Ride with the slower individuals and not worry about what everyone else is doing or who owns the pace.
    Or
    2.) Push yourself until you can keep up.


    Just have fun.
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  18. #18
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    One group I have ridden with for a few years does that. The fast guy seems to set the pace and it's up to everyone else to keep up. About half the time I find some folks that are about my own pace, but the other half I find myself riding alone. Sometimes the ride leader circles back to me and then I feel bad about slowing him down. I'm not a slowpoke anymore, but not a speedster either. I cruise at 14-15 and average around 13 by my bike computer.

    I've mostly quit riding with the club that does that. When I do show up, it is to ride someplace different, knowing that I will likely be dropped and I have a cue sheet and printed map so I can find my way.

    Another group I ride with usually rides shorter more social rides, but we recently did a large group ride of 40-50 miles. I was impressed with the way the no-drop ride was implemented. The rule was that everyone was to stay behind the ride leader, and he kept the speed of the group to something that everyone could handle, with periodic regroups. I would call it a touring pace. When there was a flat, the whole group stopped and waited while a few people pitched in to quickly fix it. There is certainly a lower limit to what a group will do, however. There was just one woman who was having a bit of trouble keeping up, but her husband stayed with her and she was never out of sight of the group. We weren't in a rush and everyone had fun.

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  19. #19
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Before you quit the group, find out if there are others within the group that would appreciate a ride at your pace. Then all start together, but quickly divide into two or more groups based on speed. Since "No Drop Ride" is more important to you than speed, make the "No Drop Group" your ride, without moaning, complaining, bitterness, blame, excuses...

    Just remember, There are lots of hot chicks in the slow group. Show them your leadership skills and diplomacy. Who knows. There may be a "littleGaryin LA" one day.
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  20. #20
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    I am curious if this group was a club or a shop ride. Often shop rides can be rather fast paced. My local LBS has shop rides such as this:

    Its a 20 mile ride to the base of the canyon. Where we will climb up Turnbull Canyon for the 3.5 mile climb of switchback and then head back to the store. The total mileage will be about 48 miles with an average speed of 22 to 25 mph.

    I am not anywhere near being able to ride that fast!!! So I don't go. At least they are telling me they plan on riding like bats out of hell.


    I recently left the women's club I joined because there were too many "rules" as to how fast we could go. We were a no drop deal and that is fine but I figured why not just set up regroup points and make sure we have a sweep if there are some who are stronger than others so as not to force those who are stronger to go so slow as to not get any benefit fitness improvement wise out of the ride. I rode with another group that was set up that way....they had a designated sweep and there were regroup pit stops set up. Other than that you were welcome to ride at your own pace. I tried at one point to keep up with the faster riders and got dropped. I had my route slip and eventually met up with them at the next regroup point.

    I have been told that I am a stronger rider than I give myself credit for and that I might need to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone on my rides.

    Another new group I am riding with (less formal than the club) is really good about detailing the type of ride and what the expected pace will be and there are regroup spots but there is no "stay in one pack" rule. Coming up is a "tempo ride" where we are going to push the pace up (aiming for a 17 mph/avg). Looking forward to getting pushed out of my comfort zone.
    Last edited by Beachgrad05; 12-12-12 at 03:19 PM.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

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    HI I would rather not discuss particular groups or people. I am just wondering general how I should handle things. I can look at things from diff. perspectives ie some really fit leader who bikes a great deal for years who seemingly has no clue or concern about what it is like to be an overweight out of shape beginner rider, or someone like me who has been riding for 1.5 years but still carrying around some extra weight and still slow. And someone who is maybe 2-3 mph faster than me on average who means to be helpful trying to get me to get out of my comfort zone and speed up but may not realize how much of a struggle it is for me to ride as i do (particularly on long hilly rides.) Since all of the rides i am talking about are no pay (there might be a small club annual fee with some rides) obviously I cant expect the same level of support from a commercially run situation where I would pay a significant fee and get SAG support and if it is a biking tour kind of things, also get tour guides etc. On a bike tour situation obviously you are much more supported and you will not get dropped (my experience with paid bike tour is limited to one day ride though.)

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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
    HTFU
    Yep...

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    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    OP: Not sure if your last comment was directed at me. No need to answer...I was just curious as you put out there the question about groups and pace. I certainly wasn't looking for specifics like "name of group" or "name of shop"... I have found the shop rides differ from club rides which differ from just a group of folks getting together to ride at same time and place.

    You asked how in general things work for others but I can't speak in general because I don't have others experiences to incorporate into my feedback re: groups, clubs etc. and so I speak to my experiences specifically.

    As you can see from responses here...experiences vary. Maybe I did not understand what you were seeking.
    Last edited by Beachgrad05; 12-12-12 at 06:38 PM.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

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    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GaryinLA View Post
    HI I would rather not discuss particular groups or people. I am just wondering general how I should handle things. I can look at things from diff. perspectives ie some really fit leader who bikes a great deal for years who seemingly has no clue or concern about what it is like to be an overweight out of shape beginner rider, or someone like me who has been riding for 1.5 years but still carrying around some extra weight and still slow. And someone who is maybe 2-3 mph faster than me on average who means to be helpful trying to get me to get out of my comfort zone and speed up but may not realize how much of a struggle it is for me to ride as i do (particularly on long hilly rides.) Since all of the rides i am talking about are no pay (there might be a small club annual fee with some rides) obviously I cant expect the same level of support from a commercially run situation where I would pay a significant fee and get SAG support and if it is a biking tour kind of things, also get tour guides etc. On a bike tour situation obviously you are much more supported and you will not get dropped (my experience with paid bike tour is limited to one day ride though.)
    I know people who really do not understand how hard I have to push it to average between 13 and 14 mph on a long rolling hill ride. Some people can simply ride that fast with very little experience. You can't really have expectations of others beyond what they tell you a ride will be like. When meeting new people I ask what kind of pace they ride at and then I ask if that is really, truly the pace. Some seem to exaggerate on the low end and the ride is actually faster. If I figure the ride is way out of my league I say that it is way out of my league and bow out. I was mislead once about ride pace and never again rode with the group.

    Good luck on finding groups that fit. I found one last winter and it was a joy. This winter I am moving about much more and am less likely to find riding partners.


    What I am trying to control is rides with say 2-3 other people who i know from these other groups. We might talk about riding together on a particular route, I am the organizer or co-organizer and THIS is when I say what MY pace is and what i want the pace of the ride to be, with lunch and rest breaks etc. This is where I am told i am controlling and pessimistic. (I am also told I am pessimistic by leaders of faster rides where i ask the pace, explain my pace and that I can't do that pace, but i dont try to control the ride. I just do the ride or dont do the ride.)
    I ride very occasionally with one rider who is much faster than I am. I am upfront with what I can do. He coaches me but does not berate me nor does he say that I am controlling or pessimistic. He uses rides with me as recovery rides for him. You could say to your chums that this is the best I can do and if they don't accept it, be willing to end up riding alone or skip the ride.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 12-12-12 at 07:13 PM.

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    At your current weight there really isn't a good reason why you couldn't be keeping up with the listed paces. IF, that is your desire. It won't happen instantly, but, you could easily get there.

    If, you feel as though you require as much stoppage time as you say, I suspect you need to work on two things:

    1. Economy. The difference between sitting within a half meter of someone's wheel and two lengths back can be as much as 30% (depending on speed). Effective group riding is about conserving your energy for the times when it is required (hills or pulls at the front). Sometimes this requires knowing when to spend a little bit of your reserves (getting back onto a wheel). Always, it means riding effeciently and being comfortable in close quarters. It is easy to add 5 kmph or more to your solo pace by riding in a group.

    2. Pacing. You have a redline, above which you will wear quickly and deeply. Go too far beyond this redline for too long and you will require a disproportionate amount of time to recover. Learn where this redline is, stay at or just below it during the climbs and you will very probably find that you don't require nearly as much time to recover at the top(s).

    It sounds as though you've found at least one "social group" that you enjoy and can keep up with comfortably. That is great, because it's going to provide you with not only immediate enjoyment, but, also a measure of your realative fitness as you improve.

    Bigfred's Rx for improving your enjoyment of social group rides without needing to become a "racer":

    1. Get stronger and faster by practicing exactly that on your solo rides. At the beginning of each solo workout type ride dedicate it working on one of two or three things.
    A.Foot Speed/Cadence, Do an entire ride spinning as quickly as you can comfortably do so without concern for your speed. Keep the gears easy where ever possible (hills still get in the way). But, try to expand the cadence range that you're comfortable pedaling.
    B. Strength , Practice going faster. There are no end of variations on this theme. All sort of interval, sprints, low cadence hill work. But the idea is to tax your muscles and/or speed. Slower cadences will focus on buidling strenght more than ultimate bicycle speed. But, ultimately, practice going faster for whatever period of time you're comfortable with.
    c. Find your redline (aerobic threshold). That mystical point between you being able to go almost all day and wearing out in just a couple of minutes. This is most easily done with a cycle computer that has a heart rate monitor. But, you can learn it like we did back in the old'in times and just base it on your percieved level of exertion. Most folks find this to be around 7 on a scale of 10.

    2. Don't hesitate to sign up regularly (once per fortnight) for a ride one speed group quicker than you're currently capable of. Use them to learn from. Explain that you need to work on your group riding skills. Ask them to help you close gaps if you let them develop. Try to position yourself near the front of the group at the beginning of hills, but, respect your redline (or, go to no higher than 8/10) as they pass by on the climbs. Don't worry about pulling at the front. Concentrate on economy. Getting as much speed and distance out of the group as possible with the least imput from yourself. Learn about positioning in the group. Learn how to minimize the gaps going into corners and reduce your need to accellerate coming out of them. There's is a lot of nuance to effective and efficient group riding. You'll find yourself capable of staying with them longer and longer.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

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