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Frustrated with cycling clubs

Old 03-23-22, 09:27 AM
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Bald Paul
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Frustrated with cycling clubs

I do not like riding solo. Actually, let me clarify that. I DO enjoy riding solo, but I no longer feel safe doing so, after being struck three years ago by a distracted driver who left me lying in the middle of the road (he was caught, and my injuries were limited to some stitches and road rash, thankfully.)

I joined a local cycling club to participate in the group rides. Safety in numbers and all that. Unfortunately, at 70 years old, I'm no longer as fast, nor can I cover the distances or do the climbs I did when I was younger and racing bikes. A heart condition and arthritic knee mean I must limit my heart rate and watch the effort on hills I subject my knee to.

Club rides are classified by pace - A (20+), B (18-19), C (15-17). I guess now I would be considered a D rider, usually averaging 13.5 - 14.5 MPH, depending on the severity of hills on the route. There are no D pace rides. The closest ride they offer at that pace is what is known as the "Beginners" ride (12-13MPH) designed for those new to cycling. I usually participate in those, even though I would hardly consider myself a beginner. I help out the ride leader, riding with the newbies, generally riding sweep to observe and help when needed.

The problem is, that ride is only held once per week. I have tried to organize a D pace group to piggyback with the usual club rides, hopefully drawing on some of the beginner group that wish to pick up their pace slightly. Sometimes I'll get one or two riders, sometimes no one wants to ride with the 'old, slow guy'. When that happens, I'll skip the ride. That riding alone paranoia thing, y'know. Oddly enough, when I do get one other rider, we'll often catch those who tried to hang with the C group, burned themselves out, and were dropped. Next week, they'll still head out with the faster group, though.

I still renew my club membership every year. The club does a lot of work with local authorities to help make cycling safer in the area, and hosts some good charity rides as well, including the "Tour de Paws" to raise money for the local animal shelter. (My wife and I have four rescue mutts, so it's something dear to our hearts.) The $25 membership fee includes a $25 gift certificate to the local bike shop, so I always get a new pair of socks or gloves each year, and consider it a wash.

Okay, rant done. It's raining today, so it's a good excuse to get on the smart trainer and ride in Zwift. That is, after I rub down my knee with some Aspercreme. It doesn't like it when it rains.

Our four "girls":

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Old 03-23-22, 11:01 AM
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Thanks for sharing this part of your journey. I'm 75 and have been a member of my club for about 20 years. We have ride levels like yours but probably a little slower for average speeds. But, average speed is not a perfect predictor of ride levels. Things like elevation, group size and weather always affect a ride. In recent years we have turned to having individuals offer rides and state where they intended to go and how they intend to ride. Unlike you, I will do group rides but I much prefer riding solo or small groups of select friends. Those rides allow me to ride at my pace and in a manner that suits me.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:06 AM
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When I first got back into riding I thought it would be fun to ride with groups and like you I realized I couldn't keep up. I also didn't know at the time how unfriendly most road riders were.(lol)
But then I found the MTB community and the rest is history. I settled into riding fat-bikes on mountain bike trails. Far more fun and safer. Solo rides are preferable to me now.

Love your little ones, I too am a proud owner of multiple rescues.

I hope you find what you're looking for in a club.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:20 AM
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Anyone in our bike club can call for a lead to ride at any speed they want to name. Try doing that yourself. You might be amazed at how many show up.
BTW label it a NO DROP ride, and make sure that is abided by.

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Old 03-23-22, 11:21 AM
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Slow as molasses on the flats with no group riding discipline and once a Strava hill segment appears, it is off to the races. That is my club experience of late. I miss the 80/90's wheelman rides, much more civil.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:28 AM
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I can sympathize. Everyone in my club is younger and faster. They wait for me on the hills but i feel bad about making them wait for me.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
In recent years we have turned to having individuals offer rides and state where they intended to go and how they intend to ride. Unlike you, I will do group rides but I much prefer riding solo or small groups of select friends. Those rides allow me to ride at my pace and in a manner that suits me.
I have published routes and designated ride pace several times on the club message board. I rarely get replies to any ride during the week, or with 'piggyback' rides. I guess I should be thankful that my neighbor also rides at my pace, but he's only available on weekends.

Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Anyone in our bike club can call for an lead a ride at any speed they want to name. Try doing that yourself. You might be amazed at how many show up.
BTW label it a NO DROP ride, and make sure that is abided by.
See my comment above. BTW, when I lead a "no drop" ride, it means that the ride maintains the pace of the slowest rider, as long as they maintain the minimum posted speed. Too many rides advertised as "no drop" actually turn out to be "we'll drop you and make you ride alone until you catch up to us at the next turn, where we have all been waiting and resting, and as soon as you finally arrive, we'll give the 'let's roll' command and drop you all over again." On one ride, where there were three riders (including myself), I had posted the average pace would be 13.5-14.5 MPH. The slowest rider averaged 14.1 MPH, and I rode next to him the entire time, chatting. The third rider went off the front and later complained about how slow the ride was. I later saw on his Strava that he averaged almost 15 MPH.
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Old 03-23-22, 06:06 PM
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This sounds like the classic reasons to get electric assist. More and more of the er, more mature riders in our club are going that route rather than going on slower-paced rides. Something about riding with their friends.
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Old 03-23-22, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
This sounds like the classic reasons to get electric assist. More and more of the er, more mature riders in our club are going that route rather than going on slower-paced rides. Something about riding with their friends.
An e-bike has certainly crossed my mind and I know several people who have them. For now I'll still provide the watts myself.

I have been riding with one club for 33 years and joined another a few years ago because they are more slow friendly. Neither club advertises any average speeds or letter designations. You just show up and find someone of your ability. Since covid turnout is smaller, however.

I have made friends and they will wait for me after climbs or even on flats if I am slower. I did 2000 club rides between 2001 and 2020.
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Old 03-23-22, 10:35 PM
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As whipnet said, perhaps you need a new type of cycling. Gravel bikes and mountain bikes are super popular and there a tons of trails. That will get you off the roads and away from cars. But since you don’t state your location I am only guessing there are trails or MUPs. Gravel bikes are easier to ride because of less rolling resistance and in a pinch work just fine on roads, in case you slip up.
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Old 03-23-22, 11:21 PM
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I keep getting back to where you said you like riding solo. If that's what you like, it seems that's what you should aim for. I don't know if that's a different type of cycling like gravel or trails, or lower traffic roads, or otherwise addressing your fears.

Personally i prefer riding solo or with one closely matched partner. I do what i can to mitigate risks, with visibility, road selection, and situational awareness, but i also accept the inevitable risks.
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Old 03-24-22, 03:30 AM
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I ride solo most of the time and have never been involved in a formal club. I am in my late sixties and although I still ride classic racing bikes , I have no interest in going faster than what is comfortable just to try to keep up with younger folks. I have been passed on narrow rural roads by large groups on modern racing bikes that show no courtesy to others . I met a few guys from my neighborhood that ride and about once a month we get together and ride the rural roads and canyons . It is fun and no one pushes too hard just a friendly ride of about 30 miles or so. The rest of the time I’m on my own.
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Old 03-24-22, 09:17 AM
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I like to ride solo too, but still have a lot of friends that ride. So I have my 12mph friends, 14 mph friends, and 16mph+ friends. Never more then 3 of us total on any ride, which really simplifies things.
I realize that getting older, friends tend to drop off, sometimes literally. Just have to keep finding younger friends, Also, all of us being retired, we can pick our times, 9 to 11am, and 1 to 3 pm on weekdays seem to be best for avoiding traffic.
Not really a fan of cycling clubs, or anything structured for that matter, I’m trying to enjoy my retirement.
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Old 03-24-22, 09:33 AM
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I ride with a couple of groups of mostly retired folks on weekday mornings. We still belong to the "club" but ride at a much more friendly pace. Ride briskly, stomp up the hills, but no one gets dropped. Ever. Ask at your LBS if they know of any such group, or move to Ohio and join us!
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Old 03-24-22, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bblair View Post
I ride with a couple of groups of mostly retired folks on weekday mornings. We still belong to the "club" but ride at a much more friendly pace. Ride briskly, stomp up the hills, but no one gets dropped. Ever. Ask at your LBS if they know of any such group, or move to Ohio and join us!
Appreciate the offer, but Ohio gets an average of 28" of snow every year. I moved away from snow when I retired. Can't stand the stuff.
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Old 03-24-22, 09:08 PM
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My club has the opposite problem. We are mostly 60+ and cannot get younger riders to join in. We need younger members in order for the club to have a future. All of our rides are no drop and there are 2 levels with the slower group having a max speed of 15 on the flats. To bad you are on the wrong coast.

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Old 03-25-22, 01:02 PM
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Bald Paul
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Originally Posted by Bmach View Post
My club has the opposite problem. We are mostly 60+ and cannot get younger riders to join in. We need younger members in order for the club to have a future. All of our rides are no drop and there are 2 levels with the slower group having a max speed of qt on the flats. To bad you are on the wrong coast.
That would be nice. Right now, I'm the only one in my "club", but at least I have a cool jersey!

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Old 03-25-22, 01:50 PM
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I am pretty solo for the most part. I never got on well with most clubs be they motorcycle, bikes , R/C planes etc. I have my own schedule for most things. I have a set group of friends I ride with and a few others I golf and bowl with. The problem for me and bigger groups is people always have different schedules and ideas and then there is a compromise. I'm also a control freak.
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Old 03-26-22, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
I had posted the average pace would be [snip]...
fwiw ^^^this is my biggest beef with most Club rides. Posting what the average speed will (or should) be encourages riders to focus on speed...and, worse still, encourages them to focus on what their average speed will be at the end of the ride, rather than how fast/hard they're riding at any given point during the ride.

My cycle club did a long-term experiement where they tried to get riders to focus instead on perceived effort ...and to strive to maintain that same level of perceived effort regardless of whether the road was tilting up or down. So instead of posting that "the average speed will be 20mph" you would post "the perceived effort will be the equivalent of riding at 20mph on flat ground with no wind". When it worked, the results were sublime: You didn't ride off the front or drop the slower climbers when the road tilted up, and you didn't have a bunch of angry clydesdales cursing you while they grabbed a handful of brake during descents, and (astonishingly) the group remained together for the entire ride.

Of course, this approach absolutely requires that everyone in the group agrees to ride that way, and that they have a modicum of sensetivity about their own perceived efforts.

In hindsight I have to admit the experiment mostly failed; cyclists seem to really want to ride as hard as they possibly can when they can (until they can't), and screw all the folks behind them.
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Old 03-26-22, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
fwiw ^^^this is my biggest beef with most Club rides. Posting what the average speed will (or should) be encourages riders to focus on speed...and, worse still, encourages them to focus on what their average speed will be at the end of the ride, rather than how fast/hard they're riding at any given point during the ride.

My cycle club did a long-term experiement where they tried to get riders to focus instead on perceived effort ...and to strive to maintain that same level of perceived effort regardless of whether the road was tilting up or down. So instead of posting that "the average speed will be 20mph" you would post "the perceived effort will be the equivalent of riding at 20mph on flat ground with no wind". When it worked, the results were sublime: You didn't ride off the front or drop the slower climbers when the road tilted up, and you didn't have a bunch of angry clydesdales cursing you while they grabbed a handful of brake during descents, and (astonishingly) the group remained together for the entire ride.

Of course, this approach absolutely requires that everyone in the group agrees to ride that way, and that they have a modicum of sensetivity about their own perceived efforts.

In hindsight I have to admit the experiment mostly failed; cyclists seem to really want to ride as hard as they possibly can when they can (until they can't), and screw all the folks behind them.
And you can imagine, this conversation has been ongoing since the earliest days of bicycling. The rift within the Audax Club Parisien started on the road in 1910, when the designated captains didn't observe the agreed upon speed. We aren't going to solve it anytime soon.

Edit: evidence this rift still chafes is evident, in the edit history of the Wikipedia article on ACP.

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Old 03-26-22, 12:19 PM
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Bald Paul
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Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
fwiw ^^^this is my biggest beef with most Club rides. Posting what the average speed will (or should) be encourages riders to focus on speed...and, worse still, encourages them to focus on what their average speed will be at the end of the ride, rather than how fast/hard they're riding at any given point during the ride.

My cycle club did a long-term experiement where they tried to get riders to focus instead on perceived effort ...and to strive to maintain that same level of perceived effort regardless of whether the road was tilting up or down. So instead of posting that "the average speed will be 20mph" you would post "the perceived effort will be the equivalent of riding at 20mph on flat ground with no wind". When it worked, the results were sublime: You didn't ride off the front or drop the slower climbers when the road tilted up, and you didn't have a bunch of angry clydesdales cursing you while they grabbed a handful of brake during descents, and (astonishingly) the group remained together for the entire ride.

Of course, this approach absolutely requires that everyone in the group agrees to ride that way, and that they have a modicum of sensetivity about their own perceived efforts.

In hindsight I have to admit the experiment mostly failed; cyclists seem to really want to ride as hard as they possibly can when they can (until they can't), and screw all the folks behind them.
I guess we could adopt the Zwift method of ride classification by w/Kg, and say, "this ride will be between X and Y w/Kg". Then everyone has to figure out what their w/Kg numbers are, and must have power meters installed on the bikes. I have to see if there's a calculator screen on my Garmin.
Average Speed means just that - average. Nobody is going to yell at the clydesdales for going too fast while coasting downhill. Believe me, around here there will be an uphill shortly afterwards where the flyweights will catch up (and pass) them. One of my Garmin data screens includes Speed and Average Speed readouts. If we are on the flats and riding above the posted average speed, I'll ask if everyone is comfortable doing so. Usually the answer is yes, because the riding is easy. (If I'm riding above the posted average speed, it must be!) On the other hand, no one says we have to pick up the pace on some long, grinding climb, either. It really isn't that difficult to pre-ride the route at whatever pace / effort you're comfortable with, and then figuring out the average speed and advertise the ride as such.
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Old 03-26-22, 12:32 PM
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For over 20 years I led a no drop ride on Saturdays. The gotta go faster guys blew off the front never to be seen again, whiie the rest of us enjoyed each other's company, and fortunately for me there was no shop talk, just delightful conversation about family and friends. People came and went as the years rolled on, but the core group of slow riders became friends and welcomed anyone willing to ride and talk.
Today I ride with just one other person, no longer in a group as I have since moved, and it happens to be a former boss of mine. We average 14mph and have incredible conversations about the bike industry, politics, and family. Life is grand when one takes the time to see and sniff the roses along the way.
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Old 03-26-22, 02:23 PM
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Start hunting for a group of over 60 peers that you could organize small group rides with.

Talk to the group organizers and see if they have a list of members, their ages, and contacts, and get a list of riders over 60 or so. Potentially even going into past membership records.

Talk to local bike shops. Perhaps make up a flyer that they could give out to anybody they think might fit the bill.

Friends and family contacts. Perhaps even go to exercise gyms and look for elderly individuals using exercise bikes.

A geriatric physician might even be able to help you find some contacts.

Join Strava. I think with a paid account you can sort riders by age or speed. I've found talking to other cyclists is frustrating, but you can add them as friends, or make comments on their rides.

Join, or create a local "Classic and Vintage" cycling group. It is extraordinary how many grey haired people show up on ancient bikes.

On the opposite end, make sure you keep your own bike up to date. So, don't push around a 50 pound Schwinn trying to keep up with people on carbon fiber bikes.

If you do go on solo rides, are there any nearby off-street bike paths that would meet your ride objectives, even if you have to drive to the start? Rails to Trails?
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Old 03-26-22, 09:41 PM
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Paul, similar story here. I rode with the A group just a few years ago until A’s got even bigger and stronger. Last year rode with the B’s and it was nice not having to chase like with tge A’s. This year I just haven’t ridden like past years. I’ve gotten slower and we just don’t have a lot of C riders. But a difference is I still do a lot of solo riding…..when I do ride.
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Old 03-27-22, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
Anyone in our bike club can call for a lead to ride at any speed they want to name. Try doing that yourself. You might be amazed at how many show up.
BTW label it a NO DROP ride, and make sure that is abided by.
I tried a "no drop" ride once. Everybody lit out like their hair was on fire. Wasn't even over the first hill and I was by myself.
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