Ride what you have, wear what you like, enjoy the ride. Group riding can be fun but it can also be overrated. Sometimes riding with just one more buddy can be great, sometimes the group dynamics can get old.
I've not ridden in a group for over a year or two now. I'll be joining some groups again as I ramp up my riding for 2014. I know I'll have to take it slow with them, be friendly, hang near the back, be predictable etc. After a while I'll know where its good to start in the pack, who to watch for, who likes to push the pace etc. After a while i'll be a regular.
That's the way I approach it all. They don't owe me anything.
This has been a most interesting and eye opening thread... I never realized how many other factors were involved. I have been very naive. I thought it was all about getting on a bike, pushing each other and having a good time.
It is about having a good time.
If basketball is a good time but a guy is a foul-monster or shoots air-balls all day it can be annoying.
If golf is a good time but a guy tears up the green and has to hunt in the woods all day for his 14th swing at the same hole it can get annoying
If beach BBQs are a good time but one guy is raucous, vulgar and drinks till he pukes every time it gets annoying.
If going to a classy event is a good time but one guy in your party always looks a step away from homeless it gets annoying.
and so on
We all have our personal norms and what we are comfortable with and willing to accept. Why is cycling any different? Each group has their own standards and to a certain level that's just fine. When I go out with my wife to spend $100 per plate on our anniversary I DO NOT want to have to sit next to a guy who should be at Margaritaville.
Seems people event treat Commuting like its the TdF ./.
And touring like its a Stage Race .. knock your self out .. :50:
They feel as ridiculous as they look when someone like you can keep up with them
You guys have convinced me..I will never make a good rider for a group. Thanks for all of your input. It definitely helped me understand the mindset. All are valid points...If anyone out there ever comes my way...York Pa. let me know. We can ride the local rail trail. It runs about 100 yds from my office...I will make sure I have a watermelon ready for when we get done....:)
If you wanted to ride with a road group I don't think it would be a problem, but you'd have to find a more casual group. Road riding is fun even if you don't have all the gear, because of the drafting, taking turns to pull, etc. I eschewed a road bike (or even anything other than a MTB) for many years, partly because of cost and partly because of my perception of the road crowd, but now I ride road rides more often than others (excepting commuting).
Group riding requires social as well as biking skills. If you lack either you will be less welcome in a group. Both types of skills can be learned but it requires an open mind and the ability and inclination to accept instruction.
Some road cycling clubs can be more cliquish than high school girls. That's just the way it is, and as far as I know it's always been this way.
However, this may bring you some cheer.
I see now how serious some people take group rides. I just thought you did it to stay in shape and you rode along with a group of guys. I never realized how structured they can be.
Now you know.
Re Reading :
the dress code violation may have set the whole , 'lets drop the Fred' thing going with the roadiesQuote:
I wear the skateboard helmet because I also unicycle and I need more protection
who have their own self image issues ..
Anyone in the group a friend from work? or any other affiliation?
Sure, there are the few group rides out there where dudes in full kit are taking it easy and a newb can struggle and keep up. But let's be serious. For most of the serious rides in my area, no untrained 60-year-old is showing up with a rack and a large bag in street clothes and keeping up. Just not happening. I'm a young guy in fairly good shape and there are times on my local weeknight ride when the guys get chippy and they can literally ride away from me on the flats. As in, I cannot keep connected while drafting, no matter what I do, and have to meet up at the next stoplight. I personally love it, keeps me honest. But no: non-serious cyclists are not showing up and making them "feel as ridiculous as they look." Not happening. In fact, this last summer, a VERY fit, young Ironman triathlete showed up to get his cycling workout and our ride leader, gent that he is, had to take him on a truncated route so he wouldn't get dropped.
Being rude is of course inexcusable, but don't expect roadies to roll out the red carpet to guys who haven't earned their stripes.
This ^. Well said NatUp.
We've beat this a bit to death, but we only have the OP's side of the story. Maybe he could keep up with them because they were on a slow paced ride, or felt they had to take it easy to accommodate him. Or maybe he's crazy fit and could keep up with them. And there are MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra - a funny term I hadn't heard before and hey I'm middle aged!) that are all hat and no cattle. On one of the group rides I went on that was billed as brisk (not crazy - 18 mph in the flats) an older guy showed up on a mountain bike with slicks and Fredly kit (he had a regular helmet though). Well guess what? He got dropped. Well the route passed near his house and he dropped himself. Nobody was rude and people checked in with him to make sure he had a plan, but I doubt he'll be back for that ride until he has a road bike and maybe some more training. There are rides billed as easy and moderate that he could try. The rudeness the OP experienced was inexcusable and I wouldn't want to ride with people who behaved that way even if I did fit their mold.
I have an old mountain bike I use for short commutes and utility purposes. It's got platform pedals, rack and panniers, fenders etc. I jump on it in whatever street clothes and shoes I want. But when I go for a group (or solo) ride where the purpose is to ride and ride hard for 1,2-3 hours I wear cycling kit. Sure it helps me fit in, but it is also functional. I eschew corporate logos and neon colors (not my style) but hey that's just aesthetics. Clipless pedals are awesome and I wouldn't want to ride without them.
There's a group for everyone (I hope) but not everyone is for every group.
In my experience, the more and higher category racers in the group, the less they'll care about whether your kit matches and the more they'll care whether you can handle your bike.
If I don't find a group to ride with, I'm perfectly OK riding solo.