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Old 02-15-08, 08:42 AM   #1
HandsomeRyan
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"Fitting In" Choosing a bike group.

Although I have loved to ride bikes since I first learned how, until recently I have been mostly a solo rider. Through the miracle of the interwebs I have been able to get hooked up with a few different groups of cyclists in town. I'm having trouble figuring out how to find the best "bike scene" for me. Below I'll describe some of the groups I have met and what I like or don't like about each:

Group 1- Racer Clubs
My city has several clubs for serious racers. Road bike, mountain bikes, 'cross, women's only, etc. I'm not a racer so I don't have any personal experience with any of these groups, but I'm sure that if I progress in my riding I could find a local club who could help mentor me in becoming a "better" cyclist.

Group 2- Local 'Hardcore' Riders
I met these guys through a local cycling forum where they hang out. They seemed nice enough online. I tried to meet up with them for a ride and I did not find them to be overly friendly or welcoming to new members. They all ride very nice bikes and most of them do race road, mtb, cross or all three. They seem like individually they are all good guys but I felt like an unwanted outsider when they were together as a group. I believe these guys would be a great source of local knowledge about where to ride and current conditions at the local hot spots. I think some of these guys are more serious than I want to be about bikes though.

Group 3- Urban 'Social' Riders
I met some of these folks last night and had a great time. They hosted a critical mass style V-Day ride where they encouraged dressing up and bike decorating. We rode around downtown passing out hand made valentines cards to some local people and businesses. The group was all younger people (I think everyone there was in their mid20's). The ride was a little slower than I'm used to riding on my own, and they were not observant of most traffic laws, but the streets where we rode were mostly deserted so they were not creating a traffic problem. These folks were riding all types of bikes from vintage steel road bikes to a 50's model schwinn that was so rusty I wanted a tetnis shot just looking at it. Some fixies and SS's as well. The group was not big on helmets but almost everyone had lights and reflectors. The overall vibe was very relaxed.

I don't really have a question, but maybe some other members can discuss what the various 'bike scenes' are like in your town and what group or groups you are a part of.
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Old 02-15-08, 09:14 AM   #2
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Bike scene in my town?...I are it Actually there are a few riders around, but most of them are base utility riders, that have a bike so they don't have to walk. AFAIK there are no roadies in my town, at least I have never seen any. I do see the occasional family out and about on the local R to T, and of course the hoards of kids on BMX bikes that they abandon as soon as they get their license. I do see the occasional tourist coming thru town headed towards the coast on one of the US highways that comes through.

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Old 02-15-08, 11:04 AM   #3
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Bike scene in my town?...I are it ......
Don't feel alone I'm the same way. About the only people riding around here are mainly young kids (mostly on BMX), homeless or very poor (on whatever they can find). There are 4 over the top 'uber-road-cyclists' that look like they took a wrong turn during a big race that I see from time to time (Never seen them below 25mph). Not even sure if I would want to get into their group if they would have me witch they wouldn't (Clyde on a MTB). There are only 2 LBS for 50 miles. Neither of them even sell a road bike (evenly split BMX, MTB, hybrid) Also they seem to either sell the over the top $2000+ bikes or $400-, neither of them have much middle ground. So I am the only member of my cycling club. I have tried to get some friends to ride with me and I lose them as soon as I say I want to take a short 10 mile ride.

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Old 02-15-08, 02:30 PM   #4
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I' m also a scene of one, I got tired of fitting into groups years ago. I do my thing and if I happen upon someone who is into the same groove as I, it is a good day!.
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Old 02-15-08, 02:51 PM   #5
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I'd go with the folks who are there for fun .

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Old 02-15-08, 04:11 PM   #6
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On the bike trails, I'll see a lot of families out riding at 8 miles an hour as well. I haven't really seen any groups where I fit in. I've enjoyed some of the charity rides, but was still basically riding by myself in a big group of people, if that makes sense. I ride slower than the serious riders, faster than the families.

I had the same problem when hiking in Colorado. I'd see other guys out hiking with 3 women with 'em and I couldn't even get my own wife to go anywhere. I met lots of people that "used to backpack when they were younger" but nobody that currently did.
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Old 02-15-08, 05:44 PM   #7
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We used to have a wonderful variety of bike clubs in this town but it has recently degenerated into the citizen's racing club and the university racing club.

I prefer to reserve the race bike for racing and centuries. My Soma is set up as a high performance 24 lb. commuter and I prefer to use it as my workhorse. It's more comfortable and only gives up about 1 mph to the race bike. However, when I show up on it, the "B" group takes it as an insult and I spend the evening getting cut off and squeezed out of opportunities to take my turn at the front simply because everybody out there seems to think they should be able to outride me based upon equipment alone. The "A" group is fast enough that I need my race bike and they similarly feel a need to show anybody who isn't a regular club hammerhead their rightful place in the pecking order.

What used to pass as the local recreational and touring club is now dominated by a bunch of upper middle class posers on expensive race bikes who like to say "casual pace" and proceed to drop anybody who shows up on an actual touring bike let alone a less expensive hybrid or a mountain bike. It's sad because this club used to be a great place for beginning riders to learn basic roadside adjustments and look at different options for bags, tools, tires, lighting, and just about everything else under the sun. People used to show up on all kinds of bikes with all kinds of accessories because classifying a ride as 13-17 mph or as a "no drop" ride used to mean just that.

The posers that have now taken charge resent the fact that I can still manage to dominate the pace on a steel cross bike, will often go back and ride with noobs (gasp!) on a lightly loaded touring bike, and when I actually do show up with my old neglected race bike and show them what a Cat. 3/4 pace is really like, they resent that too. I think they pretty much resent everything, especially anybody won't act their age until they have to and refuses to conform to their norm.

I absolutely positively love having company on a ride and am quite accomodating when riding with others but I've once again found myself a solo commuter 90% of the time.
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Old 02-18-08, 08:04 AM   #8
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If you lived in Los Angeles right now you would have a nearly overwhelming choice of groups to ride with...from roadies and their clubs to midnight or fixed gear madness, racers, cruisers on the beach, commuter support groups, singles looking to meet other singles, bar crawls, low riders, vintage collectors, all-female, mountain bikers, double century riders, political rides...on and on...
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Old 02-18-08, 10:18 AM   #9
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W~snip~

What used to pass as the local recreational and touring club is now dominated by a bunch of upper middle class posers on expensive race bikes who like to say "casual pace" and proceed to drop anybody who shows up on an actual touring bike let alone a less expensive hybrid or a mountain bike. It's sad because this club used to be a great place for beginning riders to learn basic roadside adjustments and look at different options for bags, tools, tires, lighting, and just about everything else under the sun. People used to show up on all kinds of bikes with all kinds of accessories because classifying a ride as 13-17 mph or as a "no drop" ride used to mean just that.

~snip~

I absolutely positively love having company on a ride and am quite accomodating when riding with others but I've once again found myself a solo commuter 90% of the time.
Pretty much the same thing around here...the "slow training ride" on Saturday's is at a 17+mph pace and is not family friendly. I used to get together with a couple of like minded older riders and do 20 mile loops at a touring pace, but those guys have moved or aged out. I ride for the love of the ride, not to set any speed records or to train for the TDF. About 2/3's of the time I am riding my Raleigh Superbe 3 speed and everybody's knows that they aren't a "real" bike I have taken to doing day long rambles around the county where I live, outside of a couple of roadie types that I see going the other way there aren't any cyclists around, that are just out for the ride.

Edit: this is actually in the larger town a few miles down the road from where I live

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Old 02-18-08, 11:53 AM   #10
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Group 3- Urban 'Social' Riders
I met some of these folks last night and had a great time. They hosted a critical mass style V-Day ride where they encouraged dressing up and bike decorating. We rode around downtown passing out hand made valentines cards to some local people and businesses. The group was all younger people (I think everyone there was in their mid20's). The ride was a little slower than I'm used to riding on my own, and they were not observant of most traffic laws, but the streets where we rode were mostly deserted so they were not creating a traffic problem. These folks were riding all types of bikes from vintage steel road bikes to a 50's model schwinn that was so rusty I wanted a tetnis shot just looking at it. Some fixies and SS's as well. The group was not big on helmets but almost everyone had lights and reflectors. The overall vibe was very relaxed.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:25 PM   #11
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Group 3: I'd probably try to hang with this group most often. If you go to a few events you might find some other riders who want to keep a faster pace but still have fun while doing it.

Group 2: It still might be worthwhile trying to meet this group a couple of more times. Could be that they are a bit more focused but once you become a more familiar face then you might fit in better.


I've been since gradeschool but it wasn't until last fall that I decided to try some of the local group rides. The first one I went on, there were maybe three of us who were keeping the same pace: not the fastest but faster than most. It was classified by the club as a C and CC ride (with CC being faster - around 14-15mph). I found out I was a CC. A couple weeks later I met the same club for a CC ride but there were 20 different people. This time I was nearer the back, but it was still a fun ride. They did have a no-drop rule and somebody had been designated to be the caboose before ever leaving the parking lot. My goal for this spring is to mostly do the CC rides at first but then try to join some B rides once I know some more people and some of the clubs regular routes.
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Old 02-18-08, 03:33 PM   #12
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I tried joining a CC ski group and it turned out to be a bunch of nannies... kinda scared me of joining any group at all for biking- anyone know of a portland OR group that rides for fun in town?
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Old 02-18-08, 06:03 PM   #13
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Although I have loved to ride bikes since I first learned how, until recently I have been mostly a solo rider. Through the miracle of the interwebs I have been able to get hooked up with a few different groups of cyclists in town. I'm having trouble figuring out how to find the best "bike scene" for me. Below I'll describe some of the groups I have met and what I like or don't like about each:

Group 1- Racer Clubs
My city has several clubs for serious racers. Road bike, mountain bikes, 'cross, women's only, etc. I'm not a racer so I don't have any personal experience with any of these groups, but I'm sure that if I progress in my riding I could find a local club who could help mentor me in becoming a "better" cyclist.

Group 2- Local 'Hardcore' Riders
I met these guys through a local cycling forum where they hang out. They seemed nice enough online. I tried to meet up with them for a ride and I did not find them to be overly friendly or welcoming to new members. They all ride very nice bikes and most of them do race road, mtb, cross or all three. They seem like individually they are all good guys but I felt like an unwanted outsider when they were together as a group. I believe these guys would be a great source of local knowledge about where to ride and current conditions at the local hot spots. I think some of these guys are more serious than I want to be about bikes though.

Group 3- Urban 'Social' Riders
I met some of these folks last night and had a great time. They hosted a critical mass style V-Day ride where they encouraged dressing up and bike decorating. We rode around downtown passing out hand made valentines cards to some local people and businesses. The group was all younger people (I think everyone there was in their mid20's). The ride was a little slower than I'm used to riding on my own, and they were not observant of most traffic laws, but the streets where we rode were mostly deserted so they were not creating a traffic problem. These folks were riding all types of bikes from vintage steel road bikes to a 50's model schwinn that was so rusty I wanted a tetnis shot just looking at it. Some fixies and SS's as well. The group was not big on helmets but almost everyone had lights and reflectors. The overall vibe was very relaxed.

I don't really have a question, but maybe some other members can discuss what the various 'bike scenes' are like in your town and what group or groups you are a part of.
Hey Ryan. Remember Kerry? Btw, thanks for sharing the PBR. Drinking the whole thing by myself would've been a bad idea. I understand completely what you're talking about. Until I found the 'urban group' I was almost always riding alone around Knoxville except in rare instances where I could convince my girlfriend to come along. I'm definitely not a racer but I try not to poke along either. I'm glad we could show you around this end of Knoxville. I commute/ride recreationally around downtown, North Knox and Ft. City. However, I've never had a chance to check out the greenways on the west side. We should make a trip of it sometime. I know the riding rules of the urban bunch are sort of loose. I'm actually a pretty dedicated to VC on my regular commutes. In fact, I refused to blow the redlight at clinch and henley, so that's why I was playing catch up for five minutes. I saw your theme ideas of the bike blog and they all sound really cool. Especially the pirate one. Anyway, happy riding and I'll see you around.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:22 PM   #14
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Why need to fit in? Just ride solo, more you ride more people will try to fit in with you.





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Old 02-19-08, 04:14 AM   #15
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I have found that many groups are a bit leary of a new rider because of the dangers of riding in a group. If a new rider does not know how to group ride or simply does not like to "go by the group ride rules" someone could get hurt. Once you have shown you know how to group ride you are readily accepted. May be the case for you, may not.
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Old 02-19-08, 05:53 AM   #16
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Some wannabe champion racing cyclists' egos are SO HUGE, that it's amazing their $10,000 ultra light c/f frames can carry them, however some of the friendliest guys I've met are Olympic gold and silver medallists or of similar ability......maybe the boof head wannabes should take note and just relax and enjoy riding?
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Old 02-19-08, 06:16 AM   #17
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Hey Ryan. Remember Kerry? Btw, thanks for sharing the PBR. Drinking the whole thing by myself would've been a bad idea. I understand completely what you're talking about. Until I found the 'urban group' I was almost always riding alone around Knoxville except in rare instances where I could convince my girlfriend to come along. I'm definitely not a racer but I try not to poke along either. I'm glad we could show you around this end of Knoxville. I commute/ride recreationally around downtown, North Knox and Ft. City. However, I've never had a chance to check out the greenways on the west side. We should make a trip of it sometime. I know the riding rules of the urban bunch are sort of loose. I'm actually a pretty dedicated to VC on my regular commutes. In fact, I refused to blow the redlight at clinch and henley, so that's why I was playing catch up for five minutes. I saw your theme ideas of the bike blog and they all sound really cool. Especially the pirate one. Anyway, happy riding and I'll see you around.
Whoa, it's a small world! I've been invited to a meeting tonight to share some of my 'theme' ideas with the people in charge of the KnoxTrans rides. I posted a thread here that is full of even more great ideas that I hope to steal and present as my own. You guys (and girls) were the most fun group I have had the pleasure to ride with and I'll certainly try to join in for any future rides. Having fun on a bike is way more important to me than going fast or covering distance.

I'll PM you my contact info if you ever want to go for a ride. I have no sense of direction when it comes to downtown so I need a guide to avoid getting hopelessly lost. I like the 3rd creek/Neyland greenway and I recently learned the way to ride all the way out to Ijams Nature Center in S. Knoxville.
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Old 02-19-08, 07:35 AM   #18
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I hated cliques in high school and I sure don't care for them now.

Lets see... roadie commuter fixed gear mountain biker touring cyclist with long distance aspirations.
Wherever cyclists fit with multi interests and a shorter attention span is where I go.
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Old 02-19-08, 10:18 AM   #19
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Get the emails of some of the guys from that group 2 and set up some rides of your own with a couple of them.

A lot of times, you're the newb and when the group's around you have to prove yourself competent not to knock people down, screw up the paceline, etc. But one on one, if you set up the ride, you can lay out route / pace / get tips in a low pressure way.

Be sure to buy the beer.

And if your town's big enough to have a group 3 like that, there are plenty of options. And don't feel like you have to limit yourself to just one group. I do different rides depending on time of year, what I'm training for, boredom etc.
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Old 02-19-08, 11:52 AM   #20
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Some wannabe champion racing cyclists' egos are SO HUGE, that it's amazing their $10,000 ultra light c/f frames can carry them
Love seeing the local veteran take 'em down on his homebuilt Tange Prestige frame with (if I remember correctly) Ultegra 600 components. There's I guy I work with who rides an old Crescent with a 5-speed freewheel that's not exactly welcome in the "B" group either. I myself prefer to avoid laying down $10,000 on a wonder bike only to have to go out and justify the expenditure with an ego that exceeds my talent. If a guy is a $1,500 talent, he should be on a $1,500 bike.

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Lets see... roadie commuter fixed gear mountain biker touring cyclist with long distance aspirations.
Wherever cyclists fit with multi interests and a shorter attention span is where I go.
Don't forget mountain biker hiker roadie backpacker commuter backcountry skiier bike tourer snowshoer photographer carpenter dart thrower billiard player book reader amatuer chef ...

Whichever friends have the shortest attention spans ...
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Old 02-19-08, 12:30 PM   #21
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I seem to hang out with most of the riding groups, or their members, except for the hard core roadies and DHr's...

I commute and live a car free life so I spend a lot of solo time on my bike getting to and from work and getting my errands done... a little company is always a ni8ce thing.

We have formed a nice little group of guys here (not that women aren't welcome) and we ride the trails and singletrack and get out on a good number of road rides, albeit on vintage steel. We keep a good pace on these rides but it is not such a pace where we can't still be social. The age range of our little group is 21 to 42 with me being the 42 and no-one ever gets dropped since we are pretty fit.

I ride with a smaller group of 20 somethings that likes to get out on weekend road rides where the distance is usually around 100 km and the pace is brisk... we averaged close to 30kmh on our last century and I had no problem with this.

Our commuter's society stages a lot of social and midnight rides and these are an immense amount of fun... those commuters tend to be pretty strong riders so the pace is decent but we take a lot of breaks to socialize and "refresh". I am quite a bit older than most of the folks who ride but they do tell me I am the coolest "old" guy they know.

I plan to join our local touring club on a few rides and this tends to be an older group with some very nice bikes... they seem to like the fact I ride some pretty vintage touring bikes (I have 2 1955's ) and don't think there will be much snobbery. Because I sit on our Commuter's Society board it is also a good way to promote some crossover between two riding groups that are very similar.

And among all these people I have a few good friends who just like to get out and cruise and we can often make a day of riding through the city, running errands, and hitting the good coffee spots. This is probably as fun as it gets... just spending time with good friends, on bikes.

So I pretty much ride with everyone regardless of their age, their equipment, or their economic status... I consider myself a cyclist and like Donna... a funnist.

I'm just as happy to cruise along on the Superbe 3 speed or take the fixie out on midnight rides as I am to take the road bike out with the kids and put the hammer down for 100 km... it's all cycling and it's all fun.

I plan to start our own Zoobomb here in the spring as we have the big assed hill and a zoo and a bunch of 16 inch bikes I don't know what to do with...
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Old 02-19-08, 12:51 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by alicestrong View Post
If you lived in Los Angeles right now you would have a nearly overwhelming choice of groups to ride with...from roadies and their clubs to midnight or fixed gear madness, racers, cruisers on the beach, commuter support groups, singles looking to meet other singles, bar crawls, low riders, vintage collectors, all-female, mountain bikers, double century riders, political rides...on and on...
Correct, there are many groups that fall between OP's Group 2 and Group 3.
I like to hang and ride with several different groups depending on the type of ride and mood I'm in...
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Old 02-21-08, 04:11 AM   #23
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Wow, the 3 OP's groups fit the three main groups in my town exactly. Group 1 would be the university cycling club where most people are racers, group 2 is the local city club where the people are a bit older but has more of a mix of racers and middle aged people who still ride fast. The third group he described is just like it is in my town, but everyone in it is a college student. I'm a newbie road rider and go out on a lot of solo rides, luckily I found the first two groups reasonable friendly and accepting of newbies.
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