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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 05-04-12, 06:39 PM   #51
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With a group of 60 engulfing you, it's likely that most didn't even know you weren't a part of their pack.
I was thinking the same thing.
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Old 05-04-12, 07:40 PM   #52
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With a group of 60 engulfing you, it's likely that most didn't even know you weren't a part of their pack.
That, and it is quite likely that the OP inadvertently sped up a bit when he got in the heavy draft in the middle of the group. If the OP didn't want to be in the group, all he has to do is fall back until he is dropped. I'll admit to being a member of Portland Velo (though I was not at the monster cookie ride), and they are actually a very good group. Yes, there are some inexperienced riders in there, but they are quite etiquette and safety conscious.

I typically don't ride "event" rides, but understand that with 2k people on a stretch of road, groups will form and this is part of the dynamics of an event ride. I mean, why would you pay the money if you wanted to ride by yourself? It is a de facto social event. Every other day of the year the same roads are rideable perfectly for free and a credit card for lunch is pretty light weight.

That said, I understand the OP's discomfort. My first group rides in large groups was a bit nerve wracking, and a group of 50 riders of varying skill is a bit of a cluster-fk. But understand that there is no real "leader" in a group of cyclists, even if there is an official leader appointed to lead. A peloton is a creature of assimilation; the behavior of the group is made up totally of the aggregate behavior of the individual riders. More ant farm than military parade formation. For example, the aggregate behavior was to "amoeba" around the OP because he started as an obstacle to the group and became a de facto member once the first few people passed. From the outside, it looks like the group is one entity, but once one gets into the middle of it, he or she will find they are a bunch of individual riders responding to the cues, both explicit and implicit, of the riders around them.
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Old 05-04-12, 08:07 PM   #53
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Unfortunately, that's nearly inevitable if you get ahead of a big group that's about your ability. The draft effect is big enough that it may be too difficult to stay ahead of them.

What to do? Seriously, if you see them coming and you really don't want to join them, just go far right, slow down a LOT, and wave them by wayyy in advance. They'll go right around you. You might even consider outright stopping at a convenient location (doesn't take much room) - the pack will be by you in less than a minute.

I can see how you feel you were 'wronged' but seriously, you'd have done the exact same thing if you were with the pack, where it's arguably safer to ride in traffic, and came across a slower solo rider - you'd go around them exact same way.
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Old 05-04-12, 08:39 PM   #54
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I had just the opposite experience as the OP when I did a metric century ride in late March.

I'm fairly new to cycling, was doing it off/on for the past 2-1/2 years, then much more on from last Dec. I found out about the metric Century in January, and trained for it, built up my miles so I'd be ready. Went from nearly 0 riding to 58 miles.

So the big day came, and they had 3 'heats' or seeded starts. But they weren't based on estimated completed time (which was asked). I ended up in the first heat because I registered early, and most of the fast people were in the 2nd or 3rd. I knew this meant I'd get passed, and I expected it.

I was averaging about 17-19mph for the first ~12 miles. I held with a couple of people here/there. Around 12 miles in, nearly the same thing that the OP described happened to me. A large group came up, the leader yelled they were coming so I moved as far right as I safely could. Once I was 'absorbed' into their borg, I doubt people beyond the front even realized I didn't belong. I really wished I could keep up, but as it was to be my longest ride, I didn't want to burn myself out so early on. That said, my average jumped up to 22-24 for the 3-4 miles I hung with them. Yes they did get close, yes I was kinda freaked out for a while, and yes if something had happened I'd have been toast. But they all were friendly, those at the front said, "morning," and I really wish I could have hung with them longer, that was the easiest part of the ride for me.

My goal is to get fast enough that I can ride with a group like that longer next time.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:32 PM   #55
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That, and it is quite likely that the OP inadvertently sped up a bit when he got in the heavy draft in the middle of the group. If the OP didn't want to be in the group, all he has to do is fall back until he is dropped. I'll admit to being a member of Portland Velo (though I was not at the monster cookie ride), and they are actually a very good group. Yes, there are some inexperienced riders in there, but they are quite etiquette and safety conscious.

I typically don't ride "event" rides, but understand that with 2k people on a stretch of road, groups will form and this is part of the dynamics of an event ride. I mean, why would you pay the money if you wanted to ride by yourself? It is a de facto social event. Every other day of the year the same roads are rideable perfectly for free and a credit card for lunch is pretty light weight.

That said, I understand the OP's discomfort. My first group rides in large groups was a bit nerve wracking, and a group of 50 riders of varying skill is a bit of a cluster-fk. But understand that there is no real "leader" in a group of cyclists, even if there is an official leader appointed to lead. A peloton is a creature of assimilation; the behavior of the group is made up totally of the aggregate behavior of the individual riders. More ant farm than military parade formation. For example, the aggregate behavior was to "amoeba" around the OP because he started as an obstacle to the group and became a de facto member once the first few people passed. From the outside, it looks like the group is one entity, but once one gets into the middle of it, he or she will find they are a bunch of individual riders responding to the cues, both explicit and implicit, of the riders around them.
At some point, I may resume larger group riding, but this one was too much like the one that "retired" me from riding in them. I have to say that the leaders of the group did a good job of calling out "Large group on your left!", but my feelings of gratitude were ended when the riders in the pack kept moving from my left to dropping in only inches off my front wheel. It was a desire to stay upright that rattled me. More of a condition brown few minutes than I would have preferred.

I know that I could have easily hung with them if I had so desired, but I would have felt like I was invading somebody else's ride. And yes, by definition an organized ride is a sort of a group ride, but I prefer the ones where folks string out and the groups are smaller. I like the social interaction as you progress through the ride, chatting with other riders as you pass or are passed, sometimes hanging together for some miles for fun.

I suppose I should be kind of happy about one aspect of it - a year ago I wouldn't have been assimilated - I was too slow.
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Old 05-04-12, 09:55 PM   #56
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Might be a case of false imprisonment here.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:05 PM   #57
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Might be a case of false imprisonment here.


Hey, VV! I got to ride in Tennessee for the first time in 36 years two weeks ago, on a club ride out of Huntsville, AL. Last time I rode a bike I was a student in Vol land. Now that was the kind of group riding I'm most comfortable with - a handful of folks about the same ability and working together. Being part of the Borg was unnerving, but like I said above at least I can be happy I am fast enough to have been assimilated, and only got spit out because I intentionally slowed down.
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Old 05-04-12, 10:25 PM   #58
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Every year I've done Tour de Cure at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there's been an ambulance on the track picking up the injured from a mega-pack wreck. The thing sweeps around the track at probably 30, with a tail end of hangers-on who've probably never ridden either than speed or in a pack. A lot of people probably get a "personal best" century, for what it's worth, but I want nothing to do with that train wreck. Unfortunately there's no leaving early or late to avoid them - it's a 2.5 mile oval so they will be back by after a bit. Wrecks happen either because someone crossed wheels, or the pack "swallowed" a slower rider with too big a speed difference.
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Old 05-04-12, 11:56 PM   #59
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I had a similar situation a few years back at the El Tour de Tucson. Not my first organized ride but it was the largest. 9k cyclists with about 3k on my route. I took the experience as a schooling. I was passing and being passed in large groups of 100's of riders. Quickly learned the etiquette and improved my skills. Best cycling experience Ive had.
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Old 05-05-12, 07:37 AM   #60
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I had a similar situation a few years back at the El Tour de Tucson. Not my first organized ride but it was the largest. 9k cyclists with about 3k on my route. I took the experience as a schooling. I was passing and being passed in large groups of 100's of riders. Quickly learned the etiquette and improved my skills. Best cycling experience Ive had.
At this point, I can't imagine a ride that large. Mind-boggling - I don't think I am to the point I would consider it a positive cycling experience. Aside from the often ridiculous cost, I so far have avoided the Gran Fondo rides just because of the mass roll-out and my aversion to the fellowship of the shared road crash (CX crashing is a different story, no real aversion there...).

Maybe some day I will find myself a willing member of the Borg, and volunteer for assimilation, but as of today I prefer smaller groups. And it appears that today might actually be spring here in Oregon, with actual sun and a temperature out of the 50's on the same day, and a nice small group ride with a pint of Rogue inserted about an hour before home.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:54 AM   #61
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At this point, I can't imagine a ride that large. Mind-boggling - I don't think I am to the point I would consider it a positive cycling experience. Aside from the often ridiculous cost, I so far have avoided the Gran Fondo rides just because of the mass roll-out and my aversion to the fellowship of the shared road crash (CX crashing is a different story, no real aversion there...).
It's not as hard as it sounds. I managed to get off course on the STP (which has 10K riders) because I got where I could see no one ahead or behind me. If you take no breaks for the first 50 miles, you'll leave all the slow people behind. The hammerheads will leave you behind. This leaves you with open road.

I sometimes enjoy impromptu packs or pacelines, including those with riders of mixed skills. When I first started riding in groups, I appreciated the pointers the more experienced guys gave me, and I'm happy to work with people who are still developing their skills. You just have to keep an eye out for people riding outside their ability and trust your spidey sense. I've seen many group wrecks but never been involved in one myself *knock* *knock*.

If you're looking for local rides that are fun, I can highly recommend the Crater Lake Century. It's not exactly a hilly ride, but with 7500 feet of climbing, it's not flat either. The event is limited to 200 riders, the scenery is outstanding, and the climbs are fun but aren't particularly steep or long. They stagger the riders at the start line so you never see large groups, and the support is excellent. It's possibly the most civilized century that I've done, so it's on my calendar every year.
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Old 05-05-12, 04:36 PM   #62
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Banerjek,
Crater Lake sounds really good - but I will likely do the one my local club does out of Diamond Lake. Will be my first trip up there.

There are numerous smaller centuries between here and Eugene which don't attract the as many folk - just far enough from Portland to keep the numbers down a bit. Considering Tour de Hood for some climbing, but I understand that the pack won't break up until after the initial descent.

So far, in my very short cycling career to date (just over one year), I have found I like the impromptu groups that form and break up during a century. Of course, last year all the groups would be rather slow and conversational. As my fitness and speed increase, less conversational and more just plain work.

Today was almost an ideal group ride. 5 riders, similar ability, one veteran that used to race who is patient with us and will "coach" us as to how to act if needed. Most ideal was that two of the group members were royally hung over from the previous night's celebrations, and we dragged them up into some hills. Upon return to our starting point - Chatoe Rogue - they felt so bad that even the free tastes of barleypop weren't appetizing. Haven't been so motivated to ride hard in quite some time.
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Old 05-05-12, 04:54 PM   #63
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Bottom line is they spit you out the back....
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Old 05-05-12, 05:05 PM   #64
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Bottom line is they spit you out the back....
Feel better? That was truly funny!
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Old 05-05-12, 05:30 PM   #65
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Banerjek,
Crater Lake sounds really good - but I will likely do the one my local club does out of Diamond Lake. Will be my first trip up there.

There are numerous smaller centuries between here and Eugene which don't attract the as many folk - just far enough from Portland to keep the numbers down a bit. Considering Tour de Hood for some climbing, but I understand that the pack won't break up until after the initial descent.
Your route will be be a blast but a little different than the Crater Lake Century even though both go around the rim. You will miss some scenic agricultural land and climbing in the the woods. In exchange, you will gain a fantastic descent off the north rim where you can easily hit 50 if you want. That's one of my favorite descents in the state.

Take more water than you normally would because you'll go through it faster and there's only one point where you'll be able to replenish. Don't be fooled by the short distance from Diamond Lake to the lodge -- you may find that 2 bottles is not adequate to get you there. Also, keep in mind that freeze/thaw cycles can mess up the pavement around the rim plus rocks often fall on the road so be ready for that.

I won't ride close to people on descents unless I'm very confident of both their skills and judgment.
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Old 05-05-12, 05:51 PM   #66
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Your route will be be a blast but a little different than the Crater Lake Century even though both go around the rim. You will miss some scenic agricultural land and climbing in the the woods. In exchange, you will gain a fantastic descent off the north rim where you can easily hit 50 if you want. That's one of my favorite descents in the state.

Take more water than you normally would because you'll go through it faster and there's only one point where you'll be able to replenish. Don't be fooled by the short distance from Diamond Lake to the lodge -- you may find that 2 bottles is not adequate to get you there. Also, keep in mind that freeze/thaw cycles can mess up the pavement around the rim plus rocks often fall on the road so be ready for that.

I won't ride close to people on descents unless I'm very confident of both their skills and judgment.
The CL Century sounds like fun, but I like Diamond Lake and doing a ride with club folks sounds fun. If my training works at all this spring/summer, it should be a nice ride.

Going to get one of those Triathlete double water bottle seat thingys, so I will have four - doing the Mt Shasta Century (or trying it) in August, and I prefer to err on the side of too much.

As to descents - I stay waaay away from other folks. I am not a confident descender, I understand gravity and the universal truth, and don't want any exchanges with any fellow riders as we try to use the fun side of gravity, since the un-fun side is, well, not fun.
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Old 05-05-12, 07:16 PM   #67
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Old 05-05-12, 08:08 PM   #68
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Hey, VV! I got to ride in Tennessee for the first time in 36 years two weeks ago, on a club ride out of Huntsville, AL. Last time I rode a bike I was a student in Vol land. Now that was the kind of group riding I'm most comfortable with - a handful of folks about the same ability and working together.
There's not as many Borgs here as there are in some other areas.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:01 PM   #69
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The CL Century sounds like fun, but I like Diamond Lake and doing a ride with club folks sounds fun. If my training works at all this spring/summer, it should be a nice ride.

Going to get one of those Triathlete double water bottle seat thingys, so I will have four - doing the Mt Shasta Century (or trying it) in August, and I prefer to err on the side of too much.
The Shasta Super Century is one of my favorite rides -- I think this will be my 9th year doing it. Scenery is very good, and the ride is challenging without being epic. If you're doing the regular century instead of the super, you'll have a great time but you miss the best climbs which are only on the super century course.

Be aware that aqua racks can eject bottles. When you ride around CL, increase following distances around the rimif others in your group have bottles behind their seats as surfaces are rough and you'll hit them going pretty fast.
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Old 05-05-12, 11:56 PM   #70
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when the pack appears to be on the approach, reach down and grab your frame pump. Extend left arm outward with the frame pump extended further. When the first rider slams into your pump, with their bars or their hands, they will swerve to the left taking the rest of the ******** morons with them. That is the way to handle the pack.

Those that overtake are supposed to keep clear, it would be their own fault for the impact. Of course you should stop after the impact to have them pay you for the damage to your pump.
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Old 05-06-12, 06:00 AM   #71
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"folks less skilled than me" ????

Sounds like you are the one with less skills. Honestly, anyone with "skills" shouldn't be afraid of riding in a group. And the people that integrated you into their group had NO way of knowing whether you were in the group in the first place, or had been "sucked in". It sounds like their behavior (brakes squealing, etc) is just typical jockeying for position. If you are as skilled as you make yourself sound, you should easily navigate such a group without any stress.
Can agree with some of your post but definitely not this. If squealing brakes is "typical jockeying" then I've got to say we have very different ideas about "experience."

Otherwise I agree that these things happen. I don't mind getting pulled into groups but finishing your ride in an ambulance sucks and I would've been out of that group posthaste as soon as I started hearing brakes, especially if the OP isn't exaggerating. I guess the question then is what is the best way to get out? I prefer just "stepping out" to the left. Creates less gap than slowing down and encouraging others to pass.
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Old 05-06-12, 08:04 AM   #72
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when the pack appears to be on the approach, reach down and grab your frame pump. Extend left arm outward with the frame pump extended further. When the first rider slams into your pump, with their bars or their hands, they will swerve to the left taking the rest of the ******** morons with them. That is the way to handle the pack.

Those that overtake are supposed to keep clear, it would be their own fault for the impact. Of course you should stop after the impact to have them pay you for the damage to your pump.
The best part would be when you got pummeled by a pack of dentists on Serottas
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Old 05-06-12, 08:45 AM   #73
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the point is, those overtaking have a duty and obligation to keep clear. Something missing in the mental capacity of most roadies who NEED the pack to hold 20 mph, let alone achieve it on their own.
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Old 05-06-12, 09:06 AM   #74
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They were afraid of passing you on the right.
Hahaha
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Old 05-06-12, 10:24 AM   #75
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the point is, those overtaking have a duty and obligation to keep clear. Something missing in the mental capacity of most roadies who NEED the pack to hold 20 mph, let alone achieve it on their own.
Those passing him did keep clear. It's just that the entire pack was not able to pass him at once for whatever reason. These things happen when you sign up to do a century/gran fondo/publicized group ride.
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