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Old 09-10-07, 08:43 PM   #1
BikeArkansas
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Learning to ride in a group

I am surprised at how little we discuss having riding groups, such as clubs. I started riding one year ago. For the first four months I rode alone in the parks and local roads on my hybrid. I thought I was progressing well. In January 2007, I bought a road bike and in the middle of January I rode my first group ride. It was cold, but not miserable by any means. I kept up for about 2 miles, but with my nose running, coughing, extreme gasping for air and mumbling words that could not be understood, I fell off the group. A very nice lady with the group rode beside me and said she understood. She told me to just stay with her, which I did. I finsihed the ride. It was basically the same for the next couple of weeks as I started to understand how much work I needed to be able to ride with a moderate group. It basically proved that my solo riding was not doing that much good.
I have now finsihed a couple of century rides and can easily stay with my groups. Most certainly I would not have been to this point by riding solo. If you really want to impove your riding and heath, find a group, or two and ride with them. Just my experience.
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Old 09-10-07, 09:08 PM   #2
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Great story! Maybe I should get out with the local club more!

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Old 09-10-07, 09:11 PM   #3
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I would agree that if there is a desire to get faster and stronger, it greatly helps to ride with folks that are stronger riders......as long as you can stay with them.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:03 PM   #4
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It is also fun to ride with groups just rolling along, not trying to go fast. But going fast in groups is a lot of fun too, as long as they aren't so fast you can't keep up and you wear yourself out trying.

There are many here who don't like riding with others. I'm not one of them.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:29 PM   #5
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I ride all the time with this group. After a long ride, we sometimes like to play Monopoly.



Most of these guys have lost a lot of weight since this picture was taken back in '06.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:55 PM   #6
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I ride all the time with this group. After a long ride, we sometimes like to play Monotony.



Most of these guys have lost a lot of weight since this picture was taken back in '06.
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Old 09-10-07, 11:17 PM   #7
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Hi,

Great story and great advice. Our club have three different levels of group rides for our Saturday ride. Riders who are new to group riding start with our C group which has a no-drop policy. This policy extends through our B group. If you ride with the A group you take your chances, but since the B group does the same route and starts after the A group, you can fall off the A group and still end up on a group ride.

You definitely accelerate your learning and fitness curves in a group ride.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:25 AM   #8
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My standard advice for anyone wanting to improve their performance is to do group rides. Nothing will increase your speed quicker than trying to hang on to a fast group. We have about 5 large >30 rider groups in my area some very fast and one 300 member group has 6 different rides they do just on Sunday so anyone can find a ride regardless of ability.

This last year my MO has been to just fall into one group or another as they ride through my town. I know their schedule so if I get to point A at 8:30a I can get 3 miles at 28mph. I find I like this a bit better as I can cherry pick which group, how fast and for how long I want to ride. All of them are Ok with people riding in as long as you know what you are doing. My favorite group ride is a big S. American group we call the Cartel. No English or discipline in the pelaton so its every man for himself at 28mph, with numerous shouts of "Venga!" "Venga!"
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Old 09-11-07, 06:25 AM   #9
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If you really want to impove your riding and heath, find a group, or two and ride with them. Just my experience.
+1 Take the plunge and find a group you feel comfortable w/riding. When I first started w/my club I could barely hang on and finished many rides gasping for air. But how can you finish, if you never start?

I started many, many rides feeling nervous and out of my element, but...I started despite my fears. It does get better and without my club I never would have been able to progress.

"Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying, when you know you can lose."
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Old 09-11-07, 06:45 AM   #10
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If you really want to impove your riding and heath, find a group, or two and ride with them. Just my experience.
+1

I joined my cycling club two years ago. Prior to that I rode solo, with other bike patrol members or with the grandkids and usually had around 700 miles annually. Last year I had 2500 miles and I'm shooting for 4000 this year.

I've seen big improvements in my cycling over the past couple years. I'm able to do longer rides, climb hills and feel comfortable riding the roads. I usually do class C rides (12-15mph) but often do the class B/C rides and hang with the faster group for awhile. I've seen the time I can hang with them increase from 3-4 miles last year to around 8 miles this year. Maybe in a couple years I'll be able to complete a ride with them

Riding with others is not only a good way to improve your abilities but it's a lot of fun, too.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:37 AM   #11
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This summer I began riding with the Encinitas YMCA's MasterFit group. I like their early start time (07:00 on Saturdays, versus 08:45 for the San Diego Bicycle Club's C group) and the fact that they start within 2 miles / 3 km of my house. (I have already done 15 mi / 25 km and climbed Torrey Pines by the time I start with SDBC.) I prefer smallish groups and some space between cyclists.

You have to find a group which suits your personal objectives and fitness level. SDBC's C group is "just right" for me, as is the Y group, although the pace varies according to who attends on a particular day.

One can improve as a solo cyclist (well over 95% of my cumulative experience), but it takes an extra measure of discipline. One good tactic is to chase down or to try to keep up with faster cyclists one encounters on the road; I have been doing this for years.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:28 AM   #12
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Of course, keeping up is only half the battle.

After that it's holding your line and keeping smooth. I'm only just getting to this latter part. I can tell I'm improving since lately, other riders will ride next to me and on my wheel.

I'm hoping Santa will bring me rollers so I can work on this over the winter.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:48 AM   #13
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+1.

I don't necessarily agree that you can't get faster rider solo, but group riding is something that you should at least try - it's a different ballgame. Doing group rides was a goal for me this season, and I'm really happy about the way it turned out. Group riding is the closest I have come to the feeling of flying on a bike.

I rode this season with two groups, one on Mondays and one on Wednesdays. Originally, both were billed as beginner-intermediate rides. The Monday night ride claimed it was a 14-16 MPH ride. It actually turned out to be way faster, but I found I could hang with the pack for the most part. Although the routes were well organized, it became mostly an "every man for himself" kind of ride. I found that I rode with the same folks for the most part, and I discovered some great routes that I had never known.

The Wednesday night ride has been perfect for me. My wife found it (it was organized informally through her health club), and it was very much organized around learning pacelines. This group definitely rides together for the most part, and the leader acts as an informal teacher. There are a few "ringers" that also help out in this regard. Over the season, the speeds have really picked up (and different people have joined/left). We now are averaging a bit over 18 MPH for the last few rides, something I would never have thought possible in the spring - it's partly the magic of pacelines and riding in a group.

There is a bit of a downside to this that speaks to the OP. My wife, who was the advocate of doing this ride is in attendance less as she gets dropped more often (the group does wait). Despite the fact that she's faster and stronger than ever, she's a bit discouraged. There are several people that originally came but do not anymore most likely because they also have some trouble keeping up. The group is happy to wait, but there is a real mental challenge here -- the same as if I went out to ride with the "big boys" that average 22 MPH (I'd be dropped like a hot potato!). It's all relative, but it may not feel that way at times.

So I think the key is to find a group that's fast enough to challenge you, but not so fast that you get too discouraged. Most people that I've talked with had to go through the mental pain of "getting dropped every week" (read: humiliated) before they improved. Personally, I like the challenge, but I have no less respect for people who exclusively ride solo or who aren't interested in riding faster.

But it's somethig to consider.
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Old 09-11-07, 01:41 PM   #14
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In a group

Please learn to use your back brake to slow down, as the person behind you is ( or rather should be) only looking there.
Using the front brake could lead to a crash!!

thanks
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Old 09-11-07, 01:45 PM   #15
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My standard advice for anyone wanting to improve their performance is to do group rides. Nothing will increase your speed quicker than trying to hang on to a fast group.
True true. Most think that they can self motivate and ride just as hard solo. Many years ago, I thought the same. However, there is NO motivation like a group ride with the fast guys. You will push yourself to your actual max - not your perceived max!

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Old 09-11-07, 06:50 PM   #16
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I like club rides, they are really motivating. I try to do ones that I know will be challenging but not way out of my league. I also have a few regular people I ride with a few times a week - we push each other and motivate each other. I also ride a few days alone. I use of each of these rides for different types a training and for variety. To be able to keep up in a fast paced group you need to get the miles in, they don't all have to be flat out. The other thing you need are the skills to stay in a pace line, and safely take you place in the lead. It feels great when you have come off a nice steady pull and the folks in the pace line are complimenting your effort.
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Old 09-11-07, 10:48 PM   #17
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In a group

Please learn to use your back brake to slow down, as the person behind you is ( or rather should be) only looking there.
Using the front brake could lead to a crash!!

thanks
george
Better yet, learn to ride pace lines on a track. Everybody's on a fixed gear, and it's not possible to brake. You just have to watch out for the beginners who try to backpedal to slow down. The best riders never backpedal. They'll just "float" the pedals and use the banking to adjust speed. The better the rider in front of you, the closer you can get to his rear wheel.

And track experience carries over to the road. Even on my road bike complete with brakes, I very seldom even touch the brakes in a pace line in a group. I just ride slightly off to one side (always the leeward side), and if the rider in front slows down, I just ease up on the pedals and move further around the wheel in front. There could be some temporary wheel overlap, but it keeps it smooth for the guy behind me.

Typical Cat 4 pace lines tend to be very jerky. Too much braking and nervous riders. Cycling is an art, and track riders consummate artists.

I guess the next best thing is to get your club to do fixed gear rides on the road. Back in the 30's, fixed gears were all anybody rode in North America, and Americans were among the best track riders in the world.

- L.
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Old 09-11-07, 11:02 PM   #18
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I would agree that if there is a desire to get faster and stronger, it greatly helps to ride with folks that are stronger riders......as long as you can stay with them.
There are 3 other serious bikers in my area. One bikes 40 miles from and to home regularly. The other two are 20+ years younger. One rides for a pro club and the last one rides because she likes riding--25 yrs. difference. We rode together, and I couldn't keep up. My MHR went over what I couldn't even imagine----but she is a beautiful young lady worth keeping up with--hope this grammer is not critiqued--

While I agree whole heartedly w/your post, I stayed up w/her, but the pain was not worth the pleasure.
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Old 09-12-07, 05:37 AM   #19
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Groups that do semi pacelines are fun but once you have done this for awhile try to find a group that rides more in a pelaton style. Instead of a disciplined rotation to the front everyone is grouped with the strong riders moving to the front and the rest staying behind in a big pack with riders moving up and back on both sides of you. Once you are comfortable holding your line and keeping your front wheel clear this type of riding really gets the adrenalin flowing and unless you are really strong you will never take a pull you will just spend you time trying to stay in the front part of the pack. This is as close a pro racing style that I can find.
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Old 09-12-07, 09:50 AM   #20
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However, there is NO motivation like a group ride with the fast guys.
And/or fast women. I get towed by faster women roadies all the time...
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Old 09-12-07, 05:27 PM   #21
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I'm hoping Santa will bring me rollers so I can work on this over the winter.
It's funny how Santa almost always brings me what I wish for - that never worked when I was a kid.
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Old 09-12-07, 05:32 PM   #22
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I ride all the time with this group. After a long ride, we sometimes like to play Monopoly.



Most of these guys have lost a lot of weight since this picture was taken back in '06.

Good Job, DG! That's nice, and the composition is great!
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