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Old 06-24-07, 08:54 AM   #1
richjac
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Stuck in a rut - group rides?

Since the weather turned nice about a month ago (darned Wisconsin), I have stopped going to spinning classes and try to get out on the bike at least 2-3 times per week. However, I'm looking for ways to add variety to my rides. I have a variety of routes available from my home, but I usually turn around after 45-50 minutes and end up with a ride of 25 miles, give or a take a few. I plan to go farther and longer, but for some reason I don't.

I'm reluctant to join a group ride because I'm not too fast - average 15 mph. One of the rides I am looking at states average speed is 19-21 mph. How tough would it be for me to join a ride like this?

I'll probably just show up for the local club ride some weekend and see how it goes. Any advice? Should I look for or start a 50+ bicycle club?
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Old 06-24-07, 09:08 AM   #2
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The key is if they have a "no drop" policy. If they do, only your pride will be damaged.

If they don't, make sure you have a good map and a cue sheet. It's no fun to be dropped out in the boonies when you don't know which way to turn.

"Over 50" is no guarantee of having a gentle ride. What if the ride captain is jppe or one of the other Master Hammers?
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Old 06-24-07, 09:37 AM   #3
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Don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in the suburban Motown sprawl there are group rides of all kinds, from 10-12mph MUP rambles on cruisers and comfort bikes to race training rides with muscled mutants on carbon fiber exotics, with a club that includes TDF and Olympic riders like Frankie Andrieu. If New Berlin WI is anywhere near a metro area you should be able to find a group to your liking -- and groups to join if you want to "stretch" a bit. A group that might seem just a few MPH faster than your usual solo rides may be do-able; a group cuts the wind for you and you can reach sometimes surprising speeds with little effort. Exhilarating! But forget about that 19-21mph ride for now! Try 14-16 or maybe 16-18. Advertised pace is somewhat vague in my experience; as the season prgresses and people get fitter they tend to drift upward a tad. Depends on how firm the leader(s) are about it.

I generally go faster and farther on group rides than I ever would alone. Just yesterday stretched myself a leeeetle bit too far on a 45 mile/18-22mph ride with some actual hills. Needed a nap after, you bet!

I agree about the no-drop policy if you're new to group riding. Someone should be willing and able to accompany you back to the start point if you don't have a map and cue sheet (or even if you do, maybe). Don't be shy about asking & making your concerns known before the ride. Everyone was a newbie once.
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Old 06-24-07, 09:41 AM   #4
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Don't want to be discouraging but an average speed of 19-21 would be a big leap from what you're accustomed to right now. You would not enjoy it and it's not the best fit for the group.

It does sound like you need to join a group to increase distance-look for one with a lower avg speed and a no-drop practice. They are out there and there are a lot of folks just like yourself so don't get discouraged.

The other thing you can do is to ride to somewhere you've never ridden to before. Find some place that is a stretch to get to but still in your comfort zone. Then you get to enjoy the added distance with ride back. You have no choice but to ride back and add distance. The motivation is getting to some place you've never ridden to before and seeing it via a saddle. And watch people's faces when you tell them you rode your bike to where?????

Another option is to use the Point to Point method. Do the same as above but find a route that has 2 end of ride goals or points to ride to-the second further away than the first. The first one may still be within your shorter mileage but provides you with a bit of accomplishment midway. Of course you still ride back and will have more mileage overall.

These have worked well for me.......although sometimes I talk to myself on the way back if it's into a good headwind!!

The main thing is just finding what works for you. Unfortunately the only way to get accustomed to added distance is to go out and ride it. While it is more than you're used to doing, you can do it. You've just got to push yourself to get 'er done.
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Old 06-24-07, 09:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jppe
Don't want to be discouraging but an average speed of 19-21 would be a big leap from what you're accustomed to right now. You would not enjoy it and it's not the best fit for the group.
+1

Another option is to look for some sponsored rides that offer different distances. Most have an entry fee but for as little as $15-20 you get food stops and SAG support. They're great for increasing your distance without worrying about keeping pace with others.

Our cycling club and other clubs in the area offer many of these throughout the warmer months. They usually have route from 20-100 miles.
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Old 06-24-07, 09:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcoppola
Don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in the suburban Motown sprawl there are group rides of all kinds, from 10-12mph MUP rambles on cruisers and comfort bikes to race training rides with muscled mutants on carbon fiber exotics, with a club that includes TDF and Olympic riders like Frankie Andrieu. If New Berlin WI is anywhere near a metro area you should be able to find a group to your liking -- and groups to join if you want to "stretch" a bit. A group that might seem just a few MPH faster than your usual solo rides may be do-able; a group cuts the wind for you and you can reach sometimes surprising speeds with little effort. Exhilarating! But forget about that 19-21mph ride for now! Try 14-16 or maybe 16-18. Advertised pace is somewhat vague in my experience; as the season prgresses and people get fitter they tend to drift upward a tad. Depends on how firm the leader(s) are about it.

I generally go faster and farther on group rides than I ever would alone. Just yesterday stretched myself a leeeetle bit too far on a 45 mile/18-22mph ride with some actual hills. Needed a nap after, you bet!

I agree about the no-drop policy if you're new to group riding. Someone should be willing and able to accompany you back to the start point if you don't have a map and cue sheet (or even if you do, maybe). Don't be shy about asking & making your concerns known before the ride. Everyone was a newbie once.

+1
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Old 06-24-07, 11:48 AM   #7
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Good advice, all. Thanks for the tips - I know that 19-21 mph is way out of my range, so I'll check out the local club (Milwaukee) or perhaps call them first to check it out.


In the meanwhile I will just keep extending my distance and start to drive to different starting points, but that takes planning. Gotta go now - I'll shoot for 30+ miles this afternoon.

Rich
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Old 06-24-07, 11:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richjac
I'm reluctant to join a group ride because I'm not too fast - average 15 mph. One of the rides I am looking at states average speed is 19-21 mph. How tough would it be for me to join a ride like this?
My average sounds about like yours. If I tried to stay with a group with a real average of 19 - 21, there would have to be a vehicle following the group, an ambulance or a hearse .

Call the bike shops in your area. They should have the latest info on group rides.
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Old 06-24-07, 03:25 PM   #9
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15 to 19+ is a HUGE jump. Find a group ride with a more appropriate pace. One of the local clubs has multiple groups/speeds for their weeknight group rides. I may still be riding in a hammerfest, but I'm riding in the SLOW hammerfest. (If I wanted to ride solo, I'd grab a cue sheet and take off on my own.)

There are several clubs/groups/shop rides in my area that organize rides with distance and speed appropriate for just about any type of rider. It's worth taking the time to find them. Find the ones in your area (it may take some asking around) and see which ones work for you. You'll find all ages and experience levels present. I've noticed that the social rides (where the post-ride lunch spot is a big part of the selection) have a more mellow pace than the "training" rides. If the ride info lists an email or phone for the ride leader, call/email them ahead of time so you have an idea what to expect.
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