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  1. #1
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    First "group" ride of the year

    My wife, who is somewhat new to cycling in general, wanted to ride the tandem in the local shop group ride.
    It ended up being a small group of around 10 riders on single bikes. When we arrived it was pretty obvious that our 40+ year old bodies & tandem bicycle were the brunt of some humor. This is North Ga. after all. It was like "who wants to ride with the old slow people?". Not that we are all that old or out of shape but it's all relative. Shortly into the ride we came to a gradual down hill for about 3/4 mile. My wife & I were pushing around 37 mph for that 3/4 mile & left the group behind. We never saw them again.
    Anyway my wife was stoked about the way it unfolded.

  2. #2
    Florida rider bikeguy's Avatar
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    Good job..... always love the downhills

    "might" have been different if it had been a long uphill.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
    My wife, who is somewhat new to cycling in general, wanted to ride the tandem in the local shop group ride. ... & left the group behind. We never saw them again.
    As a ride leader, often on a tandem, of our local group, this kind of sticks out at me. You wanted to ride a group ride, but then you blew the group away and never saw them again? Something is wrong with your goals/actions here.

    Anyone can ride alone. If you want to ride with people, you should, um, ride with people.

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    One of the reasons we love cycling is because it is a lot of fun to do it in a group. The more the merrier. But one thing we have learned is that for everyone to enjoy the ride, the ridders need to be relatively close in strength and ability. There is always going to be someone that is a little stronger or a little weaker. Let the stronger ridders pull the most and let the weak ones suck wheel. As a tandem we have a definite advantage on the flats and a huge advantage on the downhill. If we are doing flat terrain, when it is our turn to pull, we try to pick up the pace gradually and only take it to the point where the weakest ridder can hold on. On the down hill, before we let the beast loose, we make sure every cart of the train is in place. It works most of the time.

  5. #5
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgg3 View Post
    As a ride leader, often on a tandem, of our local group, this kind of sticks out at me. You wanted to ride a group ride, but then you blew the group away and never saw them again? Something is wrong with your goals/actions here.

    Anyone can ride alone. If you want to ride with people, you should, um, ride with people.
    Yes, I see your point. Sometimes the annoying thing about group rides is that folks tend to treat them as a race with the pack breaking down & so forth. Here we are racing everyone? I guess my only defense is to say "You just had to be there".

  6. #6
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Have literally led hundreds of rides with our club in the past 30-some years; most of those on our tandem.
    Always made it a point that we would supply route sheet/map and we would lead from the rear, making sure anyone needing assistance would get it from us as we would be tail-end-charlie.
    Have also ridden many rides as participants, in which case we would ride the average pace; if it was a really fast paced ride, we'd do our share of the pulling x 2.
    In a group ride, the emphasis is on 'group' . . . not blow he ride apart!
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

  7. #7
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    While I wholeheartedly agree with what jgg3 said, it sounds to me like the group in question needed some education, and you guys schooled them with your legs. I say, "Good on ya!"

    I suspect you will be greeted with a great deal more enthusiasm the next time you show up for that ride, at which time both cornucopia72 and zonatandem's advice is spot on.

    I equate it to the old man and the mule story .... sometimes ya gotta get their attention first!
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  8. #8
    hors category TandemGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by embankmentlb View Post
    I guess my only defense is to say "You just had to be there".
    Not to be just another little dark cloud, but often times when an unknown commodity shows up for a group ride that the group is not comfortable with for any one of a number of reasons, the regulars will usually do one of two things as part of the vetting process if the new riders don't follow group ride etiquitte:

    1. Drop 'em
    2. Let 'em go

    I suspect you may have experienced #2 if you went off the front early in the ride while they were still doing their warm-up mileage.

    It takes a bit of diplomacy, commitment, patience and rigorous attention to group ride etiquitte to successfully integrate as a new rider to a group even when it's a group of what might appear to be peers. It demands double the effort on all fronts when you're not cut from the same cloth, e.g., younger, older, less fit, more fit or riding a tandem with your spouse.

    There's just too much at stake on a group ride -- safety, relationships, quality time, training goals, and the ride tempo -- for the regulars to welcome in anyone with open arms before the newbies have made it clear that they will respect the group's norms. It's pretty much the same off the bike in life as well, but it becomes painfully obvious in cycling where fitness and riding skills can be exploited to put distance between the group and an unknown commodity, one way or another. Case in point: Go watch or recall the scene from the movie Breaking Away where Dave Stoller attempts to 'ride with' the Cinzano pro team.

    Cycling's unwritten rules of the group ride were written a long time ago and it is what it is. You must respect a ride group and earn their trust before you will be welcomed to the group. Riding rear wheel is where that starts and if you can hang, then all else will follow in due course.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgg3 View Post
    As a ride leader, often on a tandem, of our local group, this kind of sticks out at me. You wanted to ride a group ride, but then you blew the group away and never saw them again? Something is wrong with your goals/actions here.
    You have a point but sometimes the situation changes what's the proper thing to do. If they're "dissing" you (and you can do it), bury them.

  10. #10
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    These are all very good points. I am not sure we handled the situation the correct way. Maybe not. It is also quite likely they just let us go to do our own thing.
    The pre-ride dynamics in any case were a bit stressed. The general feeling was that this group of young people felt we were not "real" cyclist, or at least not at the level they were. The undertone was that we were going to be a burden or embarrassment because this was a quality ride for quality cyclist. Maybe by sticking in the group we could have altered these feelings. Two wrongs don't make a right as they say.

  11. #11
    Senior Member rishardh's Avatar
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    Interesting turn of events. Plan to ride with that group again?

    We have groups for different levels and distance. The entry to mid level groups have designated leaders and a sweeper with re-grouping points. These are no-drop rides. The advance levels are a hammer fest. They only soft pedal for mechanicals and if you are dropped you will never see them again

  12. #12
    Senior Member embankmentlb's Avatar
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    Well, probably. The owner of the shop is a very nice guy, he happened to be absent from the ride last evening.

  13. #13
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    When we first got into tandeming (1975) we used to get get comments like 'look at the old folks on the tandem'. On a long distance ride it was amazing how less than halfway through the 100 miler, folks would be sucking our wheel.
    Eventually we got comments like 'Unfair! There's 2 of you pedaling!' or . . . 'oh-oh, there's that tandem again.'
    Now in our mid-70s we really are 'those old folks on a tandem' and go only half as far/fast as we used to . . . but we still have fun.
    Pedal on TWOgether!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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    Groups vary considerably. The group that I ride with has 3 sub-groups, so there's not much worry about being either blown away, or intimidated by other members. We're officially a no drop crowd, but it's best that if you're worried about being dropped, you should ride in the next lower group. The slowest group rides pretty fast at times, but there are two leaders, one in the front and one in the back, so everyone makes it home safely and at the same time, the racers can pound away all they want without fear of being held back.

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    Interesting thread it should be mandatory reading for all new cyclists.

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    I have never ridden with a group, but joined the mailing list of a local crowd over the winter. They portray themselves publicly as a "social" riding group but the "welcome to the season" email basically said....."hey....we ride fast and if you can't keep up we will drop you".

    Not exactly welcoming is it?

    I am no slouch but I have no idea whether I am slow, fast or a liability. Needless to say, I wasn't at the kick-off ride yesterday and I doubt there is a big roster of active new members.

    I suppose my point, and this is echoed in some of the posts contributed here, is that there is a certain arrogance and exclusiveness surrounding organized cycling when you are standing on the outside looking in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scouse View Post
    I suppose my point, and this is echoed in some of the posts contributed here, is that there is a certain arrogance and exclusiveness surrounding organized cycling when you are standing on the outside looking in.
    You just have to find the right group for you. I like a group that's somewhere in the middle: friendly, but up for some speed and suffering.

    Last summer, I did a few group rides on the tandem with a 5-y/o stoker. It worked out fine, we would fall off the back on hilly parts. So I only rode that combination when they were doing a less hilly route.

    I also did the same group ride, on a hillier route, with my younger brother as stoker. He's a casual runner, not a cyclist. Hills were tough, but we could go pretty much as fast as we wanted on the flats, and had to slow down on the descents.

    Tandems don't tend to mix well with singles on hills, IMO...
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

  18. #18
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scouse View Post
    They portray themselves publicly as a "social" riding group but the "welcome to the season" email basically said....."hey....we ride fast and if you can't keep up we will drop you".

    I am no slouch but I have no idea whether I am slow, fast or a liability. Needless to say, I wasn't at the kick-off ride yesterday and I doubt there is a big roster of active new members.

    I suppose my point, and this is echoed in some of the posts contributed here, is that there is a certain arrogance and exclusiveness surrounding organized cycling when you are standing on the outside looking in.
    I guess they are social with all that keep up! Seriously, a group can be social but at the same time be a group that is out to train for speed and endurance. If that's the nature of the group, it's quite right to warn everyone up front.

    Keep 2 things in mind:
    A. "Ride or be dropped" groups have a right to exist too, and
    B. Wherever you find a "fast" group, they usually grew up out of a more casual group.

    That's the one you might want to find first. It's a good way to guage where you fall in that fast/slow arena. As for the liability part, well, liabilities come at all different speeds. A fast-ass, solo-training rider is a MAJOR liability on any group ride. There's just too much they don't know about group riding. They never had to practice getting their water bottle out of the cage while knuckle to knuckle at 27 mph. They often don't know what "crossing a wheel" means and how dangerous it is, they screw up the rotation timing in a double paceline, ride their aero bars in the middle of the peleton, let their attention (and their bike) drift, etc.

    The issue with all of these is that if they make a single MINOR mistake, they not only go down themselves but they also take down everyone behind them. We're not just talking road rash at that speed, but broken collar bones, fractured wrists, shattered hips, etc., not to mention the 1000's of dollars worth of destroyed bikes and equipment. All because they let someone who wasn't qualified ride with them.

    Those "issues", (and the desire to protect themselves from them), are what many who are "on the outside looking in" to the sport see as a "certain arrogance and exclusiveness". Some riders, much to their detriment, help nurture that view by their individual displays of over-the-top arrogance as well. That's quite sad, but it has nothing to do the reasoning behind the exclusiveness of faster rides.

    So, training safely is what these groups are really all about. And the (occasionally incorrect) assumption is that if you're not fast enough, you're not skilled enough to be riding in a group at this speed. Unfortunately, the only way to get good at riding in a group at speed is ... well ... to ride in a group at speed! That's why many clubs have "rated" rides ... A, B, and C groups .... so that one can learn the skills of group riding BEFORE you're doing it at 25+ mph.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

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    There's just too much they don't know about group riding. They never had to practice getting their water bottle out of the cage while knuckle to knuckle at 27 mph. They often don't know what "crossing a wheel" means and how dangerous it is, they screw up the rotation timing in a double paceline, ride their aero bars in the middle of the peleton, let their attention (and their bike) drift, etc.

    The issue with all of these is that if they make a single MINOR mistake, they not only go down themselves but they also take down everyone behind them. We're not just talking road rash at that speed, but broken collar bones, fractured wrists, shattered hips, etc., not to mention the 1000's of dollars worth of destroyed bikes and equipment. All because they let someone who wasn't qualified ride with them.


    I think I am probably in the "liability" class as I confess I don't know anything about this stuff. However, you make some really good points and now I do understand the importance of matching the rider to the group and the need for "ride smarts", especially at speed.

    This forum is great, because the thread has inspired me to head down to the start point next week and "have a go" I'll be sure to hang at the back and hope to keep up. If not, it is a city ride so I guess we will pass a few pubs ;-)

  20. #20
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scouse View Post
    This forum is great, because the thread has inspired me to head down to the start point next week and "have a go" I'll be sure to hang at the back and hope to keep up. If not, it is a city ride so I guess we will pass a few pubs ;-)
    Whether it's a "fast and furious" or a "no drop" ride, I always find the ride leader and ask about the route. Then I tell him, "If I drop, DO NOT wait for me. I know where I am, have everything necessary to fix any conceivable flat or mechanical, and I'll re-join you at the rest stop or the cafe at ride's end.

    You'd be amazed how quickly group riders warm up to the "new guy" when they hear that. With that one statement you've told them:
    A. You're capable of fixing your own flats and mechanicals
    B. You neither need nor expect any babysitting
    C. You're courteous enough to not want to slow the group down

    One caveat, of course. Make sure you DO have everything with you to fix flats and mechanicals!
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

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  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=Onegun;8572461]Whether it's a "fast and furious" or a "no drop" ride, I always find the ride leader and ask about the route. Then I tell him, "If I drop, DO NOT wait for me. I know where I am, have everything necessary to fix any conceivable flat or mechanical, and I'll re-join you at the rest stop or the cafe at ride's end.

    Good advice!!!

    And I know where the pubs are ;-)

  22. #22
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    Since we are on the subject....can we take a quick poll of your "moving average" speed when you ride with your group? I have seen some (to me) scary speeds posted. I ride with a GPS so I know roughly what my moving average is for each of my bikes and over local terrain.

    So....for a sub 40 mile ride....what is your moving average speed??

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    We ride with two clubs one in Fresno and the other in our little town. The Fresno Cycling Club has a news letter on print and online where the local rides are posted. The rides are named A,B,C or D depending on expected rider level/speed (social to training; no drop to no wait; single file to pace line; etc). Then there is a number from 1 to 5 with 1 being flat and 5 having steep long climbs. Last there is a number that tells you how many miles the ride is; any where from 15 to 150+. So a A/1/15 is a social/flat/short ride and a D/5/120 is a training/steep/long ride. When someone rides with us outside of the FCC, if they ask, we will tell them where we think they fit.

    The local group is mostly a set distance (about 25 miles) and flat. We have a mass start but then things sort out and only the fastest most experience riders remain in the front group. Then an intermediate group forms as well as a slow group. We try to stay towards the front during the mass start because a tandem is a lot harder to maneuver around inexperienced riders than a single is.

  24. #24
    Oldie, just not here! Onegun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scouse View Post
    So....for a sub 40 mile ride....what is your moving average speed??
    Scouse, it's a moot point. Depends entirely on too many factors. The average speed I quote you would be for riding where *I* live, i.e., sea level, flat, hot, humid, usually windy. It would have no bearing at all on a rider in Denver, i.e., 5000', hilly to mountainous, mild to bitter cold, yada, yada, yada.

    Do a search on google for "your city cycling club", whatever your city is, (or county or region). It will most likely net you a few listings of clubs that have "rated" rides in your area. They usually post right on the club's site all the information cornucopia72 was talking about and more. Several club rides around here even state the actual ride speeds.

    For instance, check our local Suncoast Cycling Club's C+ group ride. It states an 18mph max speed, and they make everyone stick to that. The ride is both a learning and a social ride, has a no drop policy, and the ride leaders make everyone adhere to the 18 mph limit even on downgrades. The idea is to allow the new guy to be certain he can keep up first of all, and secondly to give him a chance to get used to group riding before he finds himself shoulder to shoulder at 25 or 30 mph.

    That's the kind of local club you want to find! They are usually the bigger clubs, so you get to meet more cyclists as well as work your way up through the rides so that by the time you're showing up for the fastest rides they already know you belong there.
    BICYCLE - [bahy-si-kuhl] - Noun :> A medical device used to correct the common geriatric condition of OFS, (Old, Fat & Slow), in a manner that does not induce brain-decaying boredom like walking or running.

    2005 Trek T2000 Tandem, 2003 Burley Tosa Tandem, Pacific Dualie beater tandem, and 6 singles including 2 fixies.

    TampaBayCycling.com - A LOCAL Cycling Forum
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