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Asking to join a ride in progress?

Old 08-13-19, 05:51 PM
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Synack42
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Asking to join a ride in progress?

This might be an odd question, but would it be rude to ask to join a smaller group ride while they are already moving?

I'm more of a "lone wolf" cyclist, but I ride 15 miles daily and can do so in an hour, maybe even a couple minutes under. I've occasionally passed a group of riders going the opposite direction. They are definitely coordinated, wearing proper kit and all on road bikes. (I'm usually riding an older MTB with pavement friendly tread and t-shirt with skateboarder shorts and shoes... (I have finally gotten into the habit of always wearing gloves and helmet...))

Just wondering if shouting "Mind if I follow at a distance?" would be against road etiquette I guess... Would you find that rude or strange? I have a grasp of group hand signals and I wouldn't be doing it for drafting purposes -- Mainly just curious if I could keep up and hang with them.

...That and it would be really neat to find a local group to actually ride with.
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Old 08-13-19, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
This might be an odd question, but would it be rude to ask to join a smaller group ride while they are already moving?

I'm more of a "lone wolf" cyclist, but I ride 15 miles daily and can do so in an hour, maybe even a couple minutes under. I've occasionally passed a group of riders going the opposite direction. They are definitely coordinated, wearing proper kit and all on road bikes. (I'm usually riding an older MTB with pavement friendly tread and t-shirt with skateboarder shorts and shoes... (I have finally gotten into the habit of always wearing gloves and helmet...))

Just wondering if shouting "Mind if I follow at a distance?" would be against road etiquette I guess... Would you find that rude or strange? I have a grasp of group hand signals and I wouldn't be doing it for drafting purposes -- Mainly just curious if I could keep up and hang with them.

...That and it would be really neat to find a local group to actually ride with.
What exactly do you mean by coordinated? Are they all wearing the same kit? If so, that's probably a team/club ride and it would be weird and awkward for all involved if you just asked to hop on. On the other hand, if they're all wearing different kit, it might be a loosely organized ride and they might be fine with riders just joining in.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
What exactly do you mean by coordinated? Are they all wearing the same kit? If so, that's probably a team/club ride and it would be weird and awkward for all involved if you just asked to hop on. On the other hand, if they're all wearing different kit, it might be a loosely organized ride and they might be fine with riders just joining in.
Different jerseys. Though I don't want to mess with them if they are a team and training either.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Different jerseys. Though I don't want to mess with them if they are a team and training either.
Have we really become so sensitive as a society that merely asking to join in can be taken as some gross interference?
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Old 08-13-19, 06:04 PM
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...I do have a couple of blacked out jerseys myself. Maybe I should start wearing them more often to blend in -- my flats would probably give me away though.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:21 PM
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Could always reverse direction well before they reach you and as they pass just ask if you could hang off the back. Would not be problem around here.

Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
................. -- my flats would probably give me away though.
I ride my 1983 Paramount and 2018 Roubaix Expert wearing Nashbar cleated Sandals with top of calf height multi colored striped socks or face socks.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:28 PM
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Well, on no drop rides someone acts as a sweeper and if you join it means someone is going to feel obligated to go back to check on you as well. Additionally, my groups have certain safety expectations / conduct, who knows what you know and don't know about group rides.

Those hesitations aside, there is no harm in asking.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:30 PM
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I join groups all the time. The most enjoyable one was a group of Christian riders from a church about 20 miles away. Really nice, great conversation, and they were going my speed and ended up at a donut shop. How much better than that does it get?
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Old 08-13-19, 06:30 PM
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Just ask "do you mind if I join?".

I'm a solo rider and if I find a group going my pace (or a bit faster) and in my direction., i ask and have never been told no. Depending on how long i'm with them, i'll work my way forward and do a pull. When they go a different way I always say "dropping off" and a rally loud THANKS.

There's a difference between joning in and being a wheel sucker.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:36 PM
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To the OP: please read the "We are Going to Yell at You" thread.

We're going to yell at you.

Sorry in advance. I could not resist.
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Old 08-13-19, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Different jerseys. Though I don't want to mess with them if they are a team and training either.
Then no harm in asking.
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Old 08-13-19, 07:07 PM
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For a few times, when a group of kitted-out, older cyclists on road bikes would, occasionally, pass through my old neighborhood (it looked to me that they were practicing racing each other, very largely spaced out, with large distances between them; sometimes, two or three cyclists would be together and then there would be cyclists who were a quarter of a mile away), I used it as an opportunity to cycle on the busy, main road, rather than slowly on the sidewalk (because drivers were aware of all of the cyclists and giving them enough space by moving over into the left lane and leaving the right for the cyclists.

I didn't follow them for long, just for a short stretch of road, before going back on the sidewalk (because there was a large gap between the cyclists and drivers were moving over into the right lane); I was travelling in the same direction, was curious as to whether or not I could keep up with them, and I wanted to arrive more quickly at my destination.

I didn't bother asking them whether I could cycle on the road, in between their very large gaps; just attempting to say, "Hello" and lift and hand in greeting got me no reply. Cyclists who cycle alone, here, are the ones who usually say "Hello" to me.

So, I understand why some cyclists who cycle alone are a bit wary and unsure of whether or not group cyclists might be friendly toward newcomers, as, in certain areas, it seems some choose to be more cliquey and focused on their own racing.

Last edited by anon06; 08-13-19 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 08-14-19, 05:06 AM
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I don't think what you are describing is "joining" their group, you aren't riding close enough in for there to need to be any coordination. If you were going to ride close enough to draft, you would need permission, but following them at a distance is something you're free to do. It's normal for someone to be behind them and won't affect their ride in any way. Asking them is probably just going to confuse the issue because now they have to figure out if they have to worry about dropping you.

Humblebrag apologies, but I've had the opposite problem on some long rides. I ride pretty fast, and occasionally a group will pass me barely by pushing themselves really hard, and then the pass peters out because they run out of gas. Now I'm in the middle of the group, or the group is just ahead of me, but slowed down less than my cruising speed. I am not going to fall back in that situation because I don't want to lose my pace, and I figure if they didn't want me to draft, they shouldn't have passed me like that. Usually after about a half mile to a mile of drafting, I can shoot past them, and they're pretty spent.

If they're a good, coordinated group, btw, they'll probably lose you well before they know you're there. If not, following them as a speed test violates no etiquette rules I know of. Wheel sucking is an entirely different matter, however.
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Old 08-14-19, 05:26 AM
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FWIW, JMHO, and all that, I'm thinking these guys are for sure riding much farther than the OP is used to, and very likely going faster, plus, they're riding road bikes versus his (heavier, slower) mountain bike. He's kinda gonna be the odd man out, on several fronts, so what's really the upside here?
If the OP tucks into this group, he's likely to be busting his hump just keeping up, and not likely to ride but a few minutes with them, and I don't think he's mentioned if he has any experience drafting and riding in a cohesive group.(yes, I know, you gotta start somewhere, but on a mtn bike dressed like a skateboarder may not be ideal).
That being said, if it's just a group of recreational riders, not an organized team out training, then I wouldn't call it a faux pas for the OP to just tuck in behind them and ride a ways, without actually getting permission. If they're like most group riders, they meet someplace, and whoever shows up, shows up, and they hit the road. It's not uncommon for regular riders on these things, to intercept the group at some point it's convenient for them, and then peel out of formation, the same way. Most of the Sunday club rides I used to do, I'd catch them 6 miles into the ride, and 70-90 miles later, would leave the group at the same point.
So unless these riders are particularly cliquish (which, unfortunately, a lot of "serious" cyclists do seem to be) it shouldn't be a problem for the OP to just tag along, assuming he observes proper group-ride etiquette. Besides, if they don't like you, they'll just drop you like a bad habit !
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Old 08-14-19, 06:37 AM
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The correct way to ask is, “Mind if I sit in?”

I would mot be offended at all.

Just hold your line and do a little work, that’s all.


-Tim-
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Old 08-14-19, 06:50 AM
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^^^ This ^^^
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Old 08-14-19, 06:53 AM
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OP's question was should he ask "Mind if I follow at a distance?" Am I alone in thinking that's just going to create confusion as to whether he is or isn't joining the group? If all he's doing is following at a distance, chances are pretty good the group isn't even going to know he's there or, if they do, they would probably just assume he just happens to be going the same direction. Either way, it won't affect their ride in any way. If he wants to ride close with them he should ask, but otherwise, why would he need or want their permission?
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Old 08-14-19, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Have we really become so sensitive as a society that merely asking to join in can be taken as some gross interference?
And, if you're following "at a distance" aren't you just using the road? Who has the right to tell you you can't use a public road?
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Old 08-14-19, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Different jerseys. Though I don't want to mess with them if they are a team and training either.
Have we really become so sensitive as a society that merely asking to join in can be taken as some gross interference?
???

Have we really become so entitled as a society that we aren't able to refrain from always trying to get our way?

I suspect Synack42 was expressing what he chooses to do personally in a limited case (sounds like he's trying to be courteous). Not being a representative of "society".

Last edited by njkayaker; 08-14-19 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Have we really become so sensitive as a society that merely asking to join in can be taken as some gross interference?
If they're wearing matching jerseys and riding their road bikes in a coordinated manner that would indicate that they were training, I would think that asking if they mind if I ride with them on my mountain bike would be a rather silly question. Of course they'll mind. It would be like trying to hop into the boat of a crew team.

That said, if he's just following them at a distance, there's no real reason to ask.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
This might be an odd question, but would it be rude to ask to join a smaller group ride while they are already moving?
If they are focused on riding, being asked might be a distraction.

Originally Posted by Synack42 View Post
Just wondering if shouting "Mind if I follow at a distance?" ...
This isn't really 'joining".
​​​​​

Last edited by njkayaker; 08-14-19 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:11 AM
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Group rides are hit or miss.
Some don't mind people tagging along while others are of the "We'll yell at you" variety.
Some groups welcome other riders while some do their own things.
It never hurts to ask.

I avoid group rides though as there is too much drama.The only group rides I do is with my wife on our tandem.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Have we really become so entitled as a society that we aren't able to refrain from always trying to get our way?
Interesting that you would consider a polite request, "Mind if I sit in?," as always trying to get your way.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
If they're wearing matching jerseys and riding their road bikes in a coordinated manner that would indicate that they were training, I would think that asking if they mind if I ride with them on my mountain bike would be a rather silly question. Of course they'll mind. It would be like trying to hop into the boat of a crew team.

That said, if he's just following them at a distance, there's no real reason to ask.
Back in the late 80s a rag tag bunch of we locals rode behind 7-11, and later Coor's Lite, the day before the U.S. Pro Cycling Championship. What a thrill. We kept our mouths shut and kept at a safe enough distance. The teams were in a group and we were stretched out in a long line behind them desperately trying to keep up as they rode effortlessly while chatting.
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Old 08-14-19, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
Interesting that you would consider a polite request, "Mind if I sit in?," as always trying to get your way.
It's "interesting" that you missed the point. Did you read the rest of the post?

Interrupting a group that is focused on riding might not actually be "polite".

There are many occasions where it's fine to ask and there are others where it would be kind of clueless.

If he chooses to not to want to interrupt such a group, that's being courteous.

Last edited by njkayaker; 08-14-19 at 07:31 AM.
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