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Am I ready for a group ride?

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Am I ready for a group ride?

Old 08-11-08, 12:22 PM
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Am I ready for a group ride?

Hey, so I really just got into road cycling a month ago and have been going out doing a solo ride almost every day since then. I've been slowly trying to increase my mileage and average speed, but since I'm still fairly fat and out of shape, I feel like I might not be doing well enough to go ride with a group of regulars yet.

My usual circuit lately has been a 21-miler that circles around the city. About half of it takes place on the roads and half is on a paved bike/hike trail. I started out averaging a little over 14mph and an average heart rate of 163bpm and felt dead at the end. Yesterday I felt pretty good at the end of the ride so I put on an extra 4 miles, averaged 16.5mph and 164bpm (This was also the first time I focused on staying in the drops. I was probably in them 75% of the ride compared to normally being in them around 5%). So, the question is, will I be able to keep up with anything over a beginner's group ride or should I keep training solo for a while? I'm perfectly happy with my personal accomplishments but am excited to start group riding.
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Old 08-11-08, 12:25 PM
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You can start riding with a group anytime. Look for a local bicycle club. They will have weekly and monthly group rides. Start with a group that rides at your pace (~15 mph). To increase your speed, you'll need to do interval training.

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Old 08-11-08, 12:28 PM
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sweet, this helped me too, thanks dunning
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Old 08-11-08, 12:45 PM
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Club ride schedules should have contact info for the ride leader. If the ride schedule does not describe pace, hills, and skill level, then ask the ride leader. Recreational bike clubs usually have slow paced rides for beginners. Race-oriented clubs may not have any short or slow rides. Your local bike shop should have a list of local clubs.
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Old 08-11-08, 12:55 PM
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Cool. My other question is, now that I'm averaging at least 16mph consistently, will my average speed increase much by riding in a group or should I plan on staying with a group that averages my solo average? In other words, will my 16mph solo speed translate into being able to do 17mph in a group fairly easily? Thanks for the replies.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:04 PM
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Another thing to try is a spin class. Great way to build fitness. Really helped me out. Try to ride with friends too. That will really help and you'll have someone to gauge your fitness against. Group rides vary greatly, some are gentle and nice and some are really hard core. Whatever you do the worst that will happen is you will ride home alone. So go have fun.

In the past year I've gone from being the slowest, reddest, gasping rider to being in the middle, not turning colors and no more gasping. Plus I've lost about 15lbs.

Don't skimp on the hills! Hit em hard.

With the group ride you'll be learning to draft and getting comfortable riding close to others.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:05 PM
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You're ALWAYS ready for a group ride.

Do it. It'll be fun.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51
Cool. My other question is, now that I'm averaging at least 16mph consistently, will my average speed increase much by riding in a group or should I plan on staying with a group that averages my solo average? In other words, will my 16mph solo speed translate into being able to do 17mph in a group fairly easily? Thanks for the replies.
It did for me, but I had a couple strong leaders that didn't mind if I sat on their wheel and just tried to keep up. If no one in the group will push the pace (we were going 20mph+ on the flats), it would have been much tougher to average a faster pace for the entire ride.

Just my recent experience, your results may vary!
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Old 08-11-08, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51
Cool. My other question is, now that I'm averaging at least 16mph consistently, will my average speed increase much by riding in a group or should I plan on staying with a group that averages my solo average? In other words, will my 16mph solo speed translate into being able to do 17mph in a group fairly easily? Thanks for the replies.
Your average speed in a group should be a couple of miles faster than your solo for two reasons. First, you will have the benefit of drafting. Second, you will have the goal of trying to stay with the group so you will be pushing yourself more.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:23 PM
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Also keep in mind that most group rides aren't all-out from the time people mount their bikes. The faster folks need to warm up so they'll keep the pace down, which may be a darn good workout for you.
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Old 08-11-08, 01:25 PM
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Start with a slower ride ride, especially if you are not familiar with the route or your group riding skills are weak. If that ride is too easy for you, you can always try a harder one tomorrow. Remember that the advertised pace is usually the average, including hills, wind, traffic, etc. The group may move much faster on flat smooth open roads.
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Old 08-11-08, 07:29 PM
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Sweet, thanks for the advice guys. Tomorrow looks a little weak for group rides but Wednesday's calendar is full of 'em. I guess I'll just go for it and see what happens. It starts just a few miles from my house so if I get dropped it's no big deal. This is how it's advertised:

• A road ride of approx 25 miles; 12 – 15 mph
• This is not a beginner’s ride, nor is it a Pro Tour race!
• Ride goes with temperature above 40 degrees and/or dry streets at
the start of the ride (no rain or snow)........so bring a jacket
• This is a group ride so there will be regroup points along the route
• Routes vary depending on the group
• Maps will be provided
• There will be hills and wind (“Totto, we must be in Kansas”)

So, with any luck I'll hang with the guys on this ride and won't make an ass of myself. Worst case scenario, I fail at both goals, but even then I'll just laugh at myself, ride home and watch the Olympics.
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Old 08-11-08, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51
Sweet, thanks for the advice guys. Tomorrow looks a little weak for group rides but Wednesday's calendar is full of 'em. I guess I'll just go for it and see what happens. It starts just a few miles from my house so if I get dropped it's no big deal. This is how it's advertised:

• A road ride of approx 25 miles; 12 – 15 mph
• This is not a beginner’s ride, nor is it a Pro Tour race!
• Ride goes with temperature above 40 degrees and/or dry streets at
the start of the ride (no rain or snow)........so bring a jacket
• This is a group ride so there will be regroup points along the route
• Routes vary depending on the group
• Maps will be provided
• There will be hills and wind (“Totto, we must be in Kansas”)

So, with any luck I'll hang with the guys on this ride and won't make an ass of myself. Worst case scenario, I fail at both goals, but even then I'll just laugh at myself, ride home and watch the Olympics.
dude don't sweat it...I have yet to do a group ride...started riding 3 weeks ago, but unforunately 2 of those weeks I haven't been able to ride. I was doing my normal loop of right around 20 miles when a group of 20 or so flew by me like I was standing still. I was averaging around 17mph. I caught up to them when they stopped at the gas station and asked when they meet up, what the ride was etc.

its a more advanced group and they do about a 40 mile loop on sat. and Sun. and average 20+ on Sunday however the route allows you to regroup the group leader told me not to hesitate and head out there and If I can't hang no big deal, but I can just ride in the back and get some experience with groups, hopefully you can do the same.

Chad
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Old 08-11-08, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by dunningrb
You can start riding with a group anytime. Look for a local bicycle club. They will have weekly and monthly group rides. Start with a group that rides at your pace (~15 mph). To increase your speed, you'll need to do interval training.
Incorrect.
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Old 08-11-08, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51
Sweet, thanks for the advice guys. Tomorrow looks a little weak for group rides but Wednesday's calendar is full of 'em. I guess I'll just go for it and see what happens. It starts just a few miles from my house so if I get dropped it's no big deal. This is how it's advertised:

• A road ride of approx 25 miles; 12 – 15 mph
• This is not a beginner’s ride, nor is it a Pro Tour race!
• Ride goes with temperature above 40 degrees and/or dry streets at
the start of the ride (no rain or snow)........so bring a jacket
• This is a group ride so there will be regroup points along the route
• Routes vary depending on the group
• Maps will be provided
• There will be hills and wind (“Totto, we must be in Kansas”)

So, with any luck I'll hang with the guys on this ride and won't make an ass of myself. Worst case scenario, I fail at both goals, but even then I'll just laugh at myself, ride home and watch the Olympics.
If you're averaging 16+mph over 20 miles solo, this will be cake.

Don't spend so much time thinking about it. Get on your freakin' bike and ride the hell out of it.

Report back on Thursday.
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Old 08-11-08, 08:51 PM
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As was already said, just go out and do it! I was in the same position a month ago going on my first group ride. You learn something new each time, make new friends, push yourself harder and generally just have more fun in a group (sole rides have their place too of course). Expect a few shouts if you do something wrong, but take it in stride, its for safety's sake. You will push yourself extra hard the first time, that placebo effect will kick in. Ride and have fun!
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Old 08-11-08, 09:15 PM
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Check in after the ride and let us know how it goes.

Solo riding is great. . .but group rides give it a nice balance and strengthen you in different ways.

Beth
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Old 08-12-08, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51
Sweet, thanks for the advice guys. Tomorrow looks a little weak for group rides but Wednesday's calendar is full of 'em. I guess I'll just go for it and see what happens. It starts just a few miles from my house so if I get dropped it's no big deal. This is how it's advertised:

• A road ride of approx 25 miles; 12 – 15 mph
This is not a beginner’s ride, nor is it a Pro Tour race!
• Ride goes with temperature above 40 degrees and/or dry streets at
the start of the ride (no rain or snow)........so bring a jacket
• This is a group ride so there will be regroup points along the route
• Routes vary depending on the group
• Maps will be provided
• There will be hills and wind (“Totto, we must be in Kansas”)

So, with any luck I'll hang with the guys on this ride and won't make an ass of myself. Worst case scenario, I fail at both goals, but even then I'll just laugh at myself, ride home and watch the Olympics.
Often saying a ride is not for beginners is not about the pace, but that they expect you to have group riding skills. Pacelines, signaling, etc. You may want to start with their beginner rides first just to get the hang of riding with a group. It may make the exploerience more pleasant for everyone involved.
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Old 08-12-08, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by umd
Often saying a ride is not for beginners is not about the pace, but that they expect you to have group riding skills. Pacelines, signaling, etc. You may want to start with their beginner rides first just to get the hang of riding with a group. It may make the exploerience more pleasant for everyone involved.
Best advice yet. The group ride is initially less about speed and drafting skills than it is about group etiquette and safety.

If unsure, hang near the back - let the ride leader know you're new - and ask questions. On a "beginner" or easy-pace group ride, there will always be riders who are happy to answer questions and teach. Humility and a willingness to soak it up will help immeasurably.

Beth
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Old 08-12-08, 09:01 AM
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I started riding in an informal group ride on my 2nd day with a road bike. It's scary learning to ride a bike, use clipless pedals, and hang 6 inches behind someone...

Don't worry - stay in the back, let everyone know it's your first ride. They'll give you space.
Watch the rear brake in front of you [think of it as a red brake light] and the general movement of the peleton.
Use your chest as a sail to slow down slightly - feather your brakes.

RELAX and don't be erratic.

Have a good time.
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Old 08-13-08, 07:26 PM
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Well, I ended up not going on the ride I'd posted on here but went on a different group ride this evening. Man, it was awesome. I can't believe what i've been missing out on all this time. I only picked up about 2˝mph over my normal average but that's alright. For the last half I was hanging with the pack at the front of the ride pedaling my balls off to keep up and I did up until the last little hill and then I completely lost it and they pulled away. All in all, it was a lot of fun and I learned quite a bit. Didn't realize how much pointing and calling out and stuff there is on a group ride but looks easy enough to get the hang of. Anyway, for anybody thinking about going for a group ride, do it. You'll definitely enjoy it. It pushes you in ways you would most likely never push yourself.
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Old 08-13-08, 10:26 PM
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Good for you, Copper. Glad you had a good time -

Just stay observant and hold a good line. They'll let you know if you mess up somewhere (which you will at some point )

Beth
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Old 08-13-08, 10:55 PM
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HOLD YOUR LINE!


....and we're going to yell at you!



Just f'n do it already. It's a group ride. Kind of like a pseudo pi$$ing match. You're averaging 16? Stick with most club's "slow" group to start.

As others mentioned it is all about learning to ride with others. The speed will come or go depending on the conditions, the other riders, terrain, aggression, etc. No matter what a group "lists" their rides at they are usually much "faster" when you actually show up and ride them. - FYI - take that into consideration.

Lesson 1: Everyone sandbags - even Freds.

"We pretty much stay together. It's a recreational pace. We like to just enjoy the ride and share a common love for the sport."

...translation: "Bring a frickin map, cell phone, GPS and a boatload of gel. If you pause to take a sip we're going to drop your ass. Oh...bring your race wheels, you'll need them. I'll wave "goodbye" if I see you start to disappear from my helmet mirror. If you flat we'll give you a hand, but only so we can recover to kick your ass some more when we start rolling again."

IMHO I find I get much faster by riding with riders that are much faster than me.
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Old 08-14-08, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Psimet2001
No matter what a group "lists" their rides at they are usually much "faster" when you actually show up and ride them. - FYI - take that into consideration.

Lesson 1: Everyone sandbags - even Freds.

"We pretty much stay together. It's a recreational pace. We like to just enjoy the ride and share a common love for the sport."

...translation: "Bring a frickin map, cell phone, GPS and a boatload of gel. If you pause to take a sip we're going to drop your ass. Oh...bring your race wheels, you'll need them. I'll wave "goodbye" if I see you start to disappear from my helmet mirror.

Well, the group ride I did today was listed as 3 different paces since it breaks into separate groups pretty quickly and you ride with whichever pace group your comfy with. The 3 speeds listed were 10-12, 12-14, or 14-16 mph averages. I attempted to stay with the guys up front and we averaged a bit over 18 so I would have to say that you assessment was correct. There was definitely some competition going on even though it was a friendly ride. I'd have to say the things that killed me were
1) I left my water bottle in my car
2) I left my trusty Gu in the car and hadn't properly eaten throughout the day anyway

Anyway, I'll definitely be going with that group again and hopefully will find some friends there to train with for the quickly approaching MS 150.
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