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  1. #1
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Club ride, novice group...got a question

    With the help of some club members and an idea, it was put forth to create a novice pace (D if you will) grouping for the club rides a couple of nights a week. I have had the privilege of being the ride leader most nights, and it has been a whole lot of fun and largely successful. The idea was to make a group that actually went the speed of the slowest member and stuck together as a group, not only as a teaching tool, but also to allow for that feeling of camaraderie that forms between a bunch of riders. The pace is between 11-15MPH average. 11 allows for the group to be back at the starting point before dark, the ride is 19 miles.

    For the months that this ride has been going on, the distance alone has been enough to deter anyone who wasn't capable of doing it. Let me define that a bit. There is no problem with going slow, but the group rides on the presumption that all riders are at least familiar with the bike enough to know how to operate the gears and brakes, and is fit enough to actually go 19 miles at 11 MPH. It certainly is not much to many of the riders here, or even a fit young person, however there are many people who could not do this.

    Tonight, I experienced this first hand. I absolutely have to give this person props on the can do attitude. She mentioned never having done a group ride before, we had a bit of a safety briefing and discussed the distance and time requirement, and she assured me she could make it. We took off down the first road and immediately myself and the other participants were well ahead. The first stop is right up that road to collect everyone after a stop sign, asked if all was well, and she stated yes and resumed the ride. It was fairly evident not far in that she was nowhere near prepared to be outside a neighborhood or big parking lot learning how to operate her bicycle. I attempted to give a few "on the fly" instructions, but the result was we turned around and got her safely back to the shop. Afterward the rest of the group resumed a shorter loop in order to get miles in for the afternoon.

    Went though all the backstory to get to this.

    I want new riders to feel welcome, but at the same time I recognize that there is a certain base level of knowledge and ability on the bike required as to be able to keep up with the group, even at a slow pace, and for safety issues.

    How could something like this be avoided, before the ride, without embarrassment to the potential riders, or against the spirit of the ride?
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  2. #2
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    Sounds like you need co-leader. Who can handle this situation in case of rider issues like this.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by punkncat View Post
    but the group rides on the presumption that all riders are at least familiar with the bike enough to know how to operate the gears and brakes, and is fit enough to actually go 19 miles at 11 MPH.
    Put that on the brochure, on your website, and on the waiver the new riders sign when they join you.

    And when someone contacts you about riding with you, ask them about their most recent ride.

    I organised randonnees in Alberta ... shortest distance: 200 km. I once got a call from someone who was interested in riding the 200K, and I asked him about his cycling experience. He told me that the longest he had ever ridden was 10 km, and that was several years before. He had just recently purchased a bicycle and was keen to start riding. I encouraged him to keep riding and build up his distance, but suggested that a 200 km might be a better goal for the next year after he had some experience. I also explained that there would be no support, no rescue if something went wrong. He opted not to ride.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Put that on the brochure, on your website, and on the waiver the new riders sign when they join you.

    And when someone contacts you about riding with you, ask them about their most recent ride.
    +1

    Group rides are excellent and fun tools for riders to gain fitness, friends, and skills.

    However, there are certain responsibilities that an individual rider does have toward the group. OP mentioned some of them, like basic riding skills, shifting, using brakes, perhaps riding in traffic, etc...

    Also, though diminished on "No-Drop" rides, a rider also has a responsibility to not slow down the group or make them wait an inordinate amount of time. Unfortunately, in OP's situation, it was advertised in such a way that any person could join with minimal-to-no skills at all.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  5. #5
    Cardiac Case Drag's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bored117 View Post
    Sounds like you need co-leader. Who can handle this situation in case of rider issues like this.
    This is a good suggestion. Someone who can ride along with the slower rider(s) to give them encouragement and pointers. Kind of in a sweep role.
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    I don't know how many is in the group but maybe some of the regulars could take turns being the co leader. When working with children you have the "engine" (leader) and the "caboose" (co leader) that are responsible for the "train." Maybe some of the regulars could rotate being the caboose and keeping track of the back of the ride.

  7. #7
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    "This is an 19 mile No Drop ride, with a typical pace of 11-15mph. While this ride encourages new riders, you should be familiar with the basic operation of your bicycle and capable of riding 19 miles at an 11mph pace. Any questions, call 505-1212."

    As for the particular evening, I would have asked one of the regular riders to ride sweep for the group, and turned back to the shop with the new rider.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

  8. #8
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    So what was up with the women? had she never ridden a bike before? I can't even begin to understand why she would join a group ride if she can't peddle in a straight line.
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    ^some people don't know what a "group ride" is. They assume there are those people who ride in the Tour de France, and everyone else is just like they are. No differences in ability.

    They hear "group ride" and they think "group of friends going out for a fun little ride". That's not a bad thing, as long as the group doesn't beat them down and they quit. They need what he is trying to do here to help them get to the A ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AMFJ View Post
    ^some people don't know what a "group ride" is. They assume there are those people who ride in the Tour de France, and everyone else is just like they are. No differences in ability.

    They hear "group ride" and they think "group of friends going out for a fun little ride". That's not a bad thing, as long as the group doesn't beat them down and they quit. They need what he is trying to do here to help them get to the A ride.
    Its funny because i was the exact opposite of that, the first bike I had was an old early 80s schwinn and I didn't think i would be fast enough averaging 17-18 mph for a group ride.
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  11. #11
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    My riding group coordinates through a mailing list. This year we started up a 'B' ride to lure back some experienced guys who have lost fitness and tired of being dropped by the regulars, and to encourage some other guys who are novices to group riding to come on out. When some of the experienced guys show up, we have them lead the B group otherwise one of the experienced regulars who likes to coach takes the B group. We're using the weekly e-mails to continually publicize the B ride and encourage participation by group members of all levels.

    A lot of working with the new riders is on-road coaching -- conversations to get to know them, help them get to know the roads, nutrition and hydration tips, training tips, group riding tips, etc. etc. We all know there's no easy path to being a fast, experienced cyclist. Having a mentoring environment certainly helps people up the learning curve.

    I've been the new rider in the group and the generosity of the experienced guys with their knowledge and time (both in coaching me and waiting for me) was instrumental in getting me to where I am today as a cyclist.

  12. #12
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    Our local bike club has a "leisure ride" on Fridays. This ride has a maximum speed of 15mph for 23 miles. You see everything from mountain bikes to beach cruisers, to full carbon bikes on it. I rode it a few times when I first got into cycling a few years ago. It has new people, older riders just looking to get some miles in, people who don't like riding by themselves, etc.

    I rode with the "B" group on Tuesday (I think they are officially the "A" group and the race team isn't classified on that ride). It is stated to be a "moderate to fast" ride with speeds around 20mph.

    The group on Tuesday scared me to death with their riding tactics. The leisure group never did.

    There is a tremendous need for more group riding skills clinics.

  13. #13
    Schleckaholic K&K_Dad's Avatar
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    Just be blunt, and honest. If they can't handle it in the parking lot they sure as hell can't handle it on the road. My first ever group ride I immediately spoke up saying I had never ridden ever with more than 1 person, mind you I had been riding solo for 3 yrs at this point. Fine they told me and put me in the 'slower group' along with the guy who just got his first road bike and some dude on a mountain bike. I spent most of that right wondering if that was the way group rides were held. I kept pushing the pace to hard(on a drop ride, tue nite worlds) scenario and kept getting yelled at to slow down. We made it back to the start eventually and I never ever saw the people I had been grouped up with on another ride again after that night.

    Inform participants that the slow ride is not a critical mass ride. 11mph? I'd go freaking nuts if I had to tag along a group like that, and realize that I am quick to drop back and pick up a straggler at any time. If they can't hack it they don't belong. Sacrifice the one to save the many. What's going to happen when a new person gets fishy and takes out a dozen. I've wrecked taking off at a green light because some Tri-Alete couldn't clip in and mind you they are 'competent competing athletes'.

    Be honest up front and you'll get a lot further.
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  14. #14
    blah blah blah milkbaby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    "This is an 19 mile No Drop ride, with a typical pace of 11-15mph. While this ride encourages new riders, you should be familiar with the basic operation of your bicycle and capable of riding 19 miles at an 11mph pace. Any questions, call 505-1212."

    As for the particular evening, I would have asked one of the regular riders to ride sweep for the group, and turned back to the shop with the new rider.
    Hear, hear! Well said, merlinEL!

  15. #15
    Senior Member DropDeadFred's Avatar
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    tl:dr

  16. #16
    Senior Member MegaTom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DropDeadFred View Post
    tl:dr
    Your input is valued nonetheless.

  17. #17
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    First, cheers to you for working to get people more involved with cycling. I've run sweep on some group rides (and, I have had people run sweep to make sure I got home safe when I tried pushing myself with faster groups) but don't know if I would have the patience to work with people who don't know the pure basics like riding in a straight line or getting air in the tires. But I have two friends who organize rides like that and they deserve a ton of credit for doing it.

    As to your ride, one thing that pops out is that you list a pace of 11 to 15 mph. That is a HUGE difference. It can become just as frustrating for the slower as the faster riders. Could you (meaning the club, not necessarily you personally) set up a monthly or bi-monthly new cyclists workshop to help brand new riders get the basics down? I know some stores near me put these on (with REI being a national chain that does these); maybe you could coordinate with one of them? In fact, one of the guys a mention above did this for his group.
    May your tires or beer never be flat.

  18. #18
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
    "This is an 19 mile No Drop ride, with a typical pace of 11-15mph. While this ride encourages new riders, you should be familiar with the basic operation of your bicycle and capable of riding 19 miles at an 11mph pace. Any questions, call 505-1212."
    This. You need to be explicit about what people need to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by KoNP View Post
    So what was up with the women? had she never ridden a bike before? I can't even begin to understand why she would join a group ride if she can't peddle in a straight line.
    I've ridden with people who'd gone almost 20 years without getting on a bike at all (and before then, they'd only ridden a little). It's like riding with people who are still learning. They're extremely unstable, their reflexes are horrible, and you need to work with them a bit in a really easy area.

  19. #19
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    There's a local ride that's 30-40 miles, but at a moderate 16 mph-on-the-flats pace. About once a year, a new rider shows up that can't go faster than 12 or 13 mph on a flat road. The ride leaders don't abandon the rider, but might have someone lead them back early or shortcut a loop. Most new riders can handle the pace, and at these slower speeds, the group isn't tightly spaced, either. Probably the longer distance keeps completely new riders from coming out.

    I would think that most of your new riders handle the ride with no problems. Even a strong warning notice wouldn't always keep a problem rider from trying the ride.

    There's a few local rides that advertise "15-18" average speeds (with hills included). That's a big range. Many riders that could handle 15 would get dropped at 18. A rider needs more than 50% higher power to average 18 mph compared to 15 mph.
    Last edited by rm -rf; 05-17-12 at 05:27 PM.

  20. #20
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bored117 View Post
    Sounds like you need co-leader. Who can handle this situation in case of rider issues like this.
    This is the right way. Just get somebody to volunteer as a sweep and that person stays with whoever is last in the group, no matter how slow they go.

  21. #21
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    Maybe I'm not understanding something, but doesn't, "No Drop Ride," indicate that no one will get dropped?
    If that isn't the intention, maybe you need to rephrase it.

  22. #22
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Yes, 11-15 is a HUGE difference. The next group up does 16+, so really there is no other group for them to be in. Most nights we actually do 14-15, but I want newer and slower riders to know that if 11 is what they can do, the ride is here for them. The reasoning behind the 11 pace is, as stated in the OP, that is the pace required to get back before dark. There is no easy way to loop back given our area for riding without either doubling back, or hitting a dirt road.
    Understandably, there are issues with the situation, but it is still a vast improvement over what existed before for the novice riders..which was a 16 average "no drop"...which in reality turned into riding by yourself off the back to each stop and regroup point. I can ride alone at home, and so can many of the folks who show up to participate in this new group. And I am glad to have the company and hopefully get riders more prepared for riding in a faster paced group. Scared the hell out of me my first time back in better than 20 years.
    One Foot Less

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    Indicate approximately how long you expect the ride to last. Knowing that a ride lasts approximately 1-1.5 hours might mean more to a new rider than "19 mile / 11-15 mph pace". It gives a better indication of what is involved. Also, explain if any hills are involved, and that you will be riding on the road and in traffic. Explain what your expectations are (knowledge, type of bike, etc).
    And I agree...no drop means no drop. I started off on a ride like the one you are organizing and I struggled the whole way on my first ride. THankfully, the sweep stayed with me and encouraged me to keep going. Because of that experience, I kept going back. I'm still not fast, but I ride on a regular basis and love it.
    Thanks for helping us slow pokes out.

  24. #24
    LBKA punkncat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penny4 View Post
    Thanks for helping us slow pokes out.
    The slow pokes help me out as well. It is nice to be able to take a look back in time at your own self some time before and realize what the hard work you have been doing has achieved. It is also very rewarding to see folks ride with you a few weeks and then step up into one of those faster groups with confidence.
    One Foot Less

  25. #25
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    I am really new to cycling. Have ridden a bike off and on over the years tho. But until this past Feb it was more of a here and there sort of thing. So I rode by myself on the local bike trail near my home about 17 miles RT at about 11mph avg speed. But this past Feb, I got a kick in the rear and began to get serious. I signed up for my first 30 mile ride (which was this past May 5) as something to shoot for. If I knew I needed to be ready to ride 30 miles, I figured I would get out and ride more.

    Someone suggested I find a group to ride with. So I did some searches on Meetup. Found one local group that starts their rides near me. I contacted them. And found out that I was nowhere near ready to ride with even their C group. Discouraging for sure. So one day I was browsing my LBS FB page and saw a post from a women's cycling group about a ride they had done the previous Saturday. The post had a link to their meetup page. I checked it out and requested to join up. I was stoked to finally find a group to ride with and when I saw pictures of the rides they had done, I also found that I would fit in reasonably well...as they had what appeared to be women of all shapes/ages and on hybrids and roadbikes. The group was just getting off the ground as well which is why I hadn't seen it before in previous searches.
    So I found them in early March and was anxious to go on my first ride. It rained a few weekends in a row which delayed my first chance to ride.

    So my first ride I show up expecting a 15-20 mile ride. I get there and the ride leaders from the LBS that sort of sponsors the group had plans for a 25 mile route. No mention was made of pace but I knew it was a no-drop. I am also the ONLY rider not on a road bike and the heaviest rider of the bunch. One of the LBS guys led the ride and the other rode with ME. According to Runkeeper I averaged 12.5 mph for the ride. I didn't hold up the group too terrible badly and the sweep guy was very encouraging and supportive of my efforts.

    The next week only two of my group showed up for the ride and so it was the two LBS guys and the two of us. I am still on my hybrid. This ride was much harder. It was windier and had some hills. The same LBS guy rode sweep with me. The other guy and the other group member were able to go much faster. They would stop and wait for us (ME) to catch up and as we approached they would take off. I found it ironic that the one who was struggling didn't get to rest as much. LOL Eventually toward the last part of the ride, they left us behind (the LBS guys were scheduled to work when the store opened at 10am and we were taking too long to get back thanks to me). Once again, the LBS guy that rode sweep was super encouraging and supportive. The next week I was at the LBS and bought my new road bike from him.

    I have been very active in the cycling group. My first ride after buying my road bike, we had a member come for her first ride with the group on her garage sale special steel hybrid with a rack and basket on the back for her little dog. I offered to ride sweep for the group despite my itch to see what my new road bike could do. I rode with this woman and encouraged her. I knew what it was like on a non-road bike. I didn't want her to become discouraged and not ENJOY riding. She has attended another ride since then and I encouraged her once again. After the last ride, she was looking at new bikes.

    Our group has done all no-drop rides until now, we have instituted pace rides where you need to keep up. We also use online mapping to map out rides so folks can be educated as to the distance, route and elevation changes before saying they will do that ride.

    Sorry for the long story...having been in the position of the slowest person riding and causing everyone to wait but wanting to ride with others, makes me empathize with the women in the OP. Riding with a group can be a ton of fun.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

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