When done right, group rides are one of the most enjoyable parts of cycling—the camaraderie, the speed, and the ability to ride faster and farther than you ever would solo. It’s amazing how quickly 30, 60, even 100 miles can pass by when out on the road with a smooth riding group.
If you have never been on one, then you are missing out. But when you decide to suit up and roll with a group, avoiding these “Top 10 Group Ride Blunders” will ensure you fit in on any group ride around the world.
- Not following the rules of the road. Don’t be the person blowing through stop signs, running red lights, and crossing over the yellow line. You put the other riders in danger and anger other drivers on the road. Follow the rules, even if it means getting dropped.
- Not riding with the group’s best interest and safety in mind. If in the front, it’s your responsibility to call out road hazards. As a general rule, if you wouldn’t want to hit it or run over it, then call it out—and sooner the better. It’s the same principle for calling out cars up ahead and slowing down for turns. Oh, and wait until you’re in the back of the group to get rid of any spit or snot. No one wants to get sprayed.
- Forgetting to eat and drink. It can happen when you’re so excited to be on a group ride that you neglect your nutrition. Now you are 30 miles from home with 15 new best friends, when you go “bonk” mode and your legs turn to cement. Now the group is forced to ride at half speed because they are pushing you back home. Not good.
- Going from pro to slow. It is much better for you and the group to start out easier than you think you should. Riding like you belong on the pro-tour the first half of the ride only to blow sky high the second half, is a sure fire way to lose your post ride lunch buddies. Gradually ration out your effort the closer you get to the end of the ride.
- Not bringing your own gear. There is nothing worse than being on a new ride only to get a flat and not having the gear to fix it. It’s a little awkward asking, “Does anyone have a tube I can have…errr…borrow? Oh, and tire levers? What about a pump or CO2?”
- Not knowing how to change your own flat. There are hundreds of tutorials on the internet that teach you how to change a flat. Learn it, practice it, and be prepared to do this on your own in a timely fashion.
- Blowing up a “no drop” ride. Know the flow of the group, the average pace, the goals, and ride within them. If you are looking to test your fitness, then find the local hammerfest.
- Being unpredictable. Make sure everything you do is deliberate and predictable within a group. Slowly scrub your speed rather than grabbing a handful of brakes. Gradually pull through in a paceline rather than surging. Hold your line and avoid quick swerving. Ease out of the saddle on hills rather than standing up and lunging your bike backwards.
- Being the “half wheeler.” That’s the rider who is in the front and constantly keeps their wheel a little in front of the person next to them rather than staying side by side. The person next to the half wheeler, in proper riding fashion, speeds up to try and bring their wheels even, only to have the half wheeler speed up a little more as well. Eventually the group is going 28 miles an hour and the ride is shot.
- Using aerobars on a road bike-only ride. Some group rides allow people to ride with and in their aerobars. In others this is a big no-no. Make sure you find out in advance what equipment is allowed and choose your group accordingly.
Coach Bryant Funston is the co-owner of BPC Performance Coaching. BPC has worked with hundreds of athletes in the Memphis area and around the nation, helping time-crunched athletes maximize their potential. For more info call (901) 308-7272 or visit buildpeakcompete.com.