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First group ride(14 posts)

First group rideRandyMH
Aug 6, 2001 8:18 AM
I went out yesterday for my first group ride. There are a few going on around me so I thought this was one that had 2 different groups, 1 racing and 1 beginning to intermediate. As others started to show up all I saw was these fancy bikes and guys and girls that looked a lot more experienced then me. Being my first ride I thought they would posse everyone up and ask who was new so they could give some basic instructions and safety guidelines. As I was just riding around someone said lets gets going and all of a sudden everyone started for the street. I said oh well guess I'll learn as I go. I decided to just hang around in the back of the pack until I got the hang of things. About 11 miles into the ride we came up on a major intersection and the light turned red about halfway through the pack. Some of the riders towards the rear started to slow down and then decided to go through the light. Myself and another guy stopped. It really wasn't right to go through at that point I saw full red about 1-2 seconds before I even hit the intersection. When the light turned green I looked at him and asked if he was going to try to catch the pack and he said no I think I'm done for the day, so I took off determined to catch the pack. To make a long story short I never caught them. At one point they I was only about 1/16th of a mile away and knew that I would catch them but I got caught at another light. I finally ran out of gas. So I rode about another few miles along the same road and made the turn for home. Can I just say I was pi**ed that I didn't catch them. I had about an 18-mile ride back to the bike shop to think about what happened. I still feel like it was best to stop for that light. Was I right or wrong for stopping?
If you guys haven't figured it out I'm one of those this could only happen to me people. On my very first ride my chain just snapped. The one and a million thing that could happen on a ride happened to me the first day out. On my first ride I get left by the pack because of a light. But I can't wait to get back next week. In fact I think I'm going to ride with another group tomorrow night.
You did rightmr_spin
Aug 6, 2001 8:47 AM
Never run a red light, even if the group does. Besides the obvious dangers, it gives people one more reason to hate cyclists, and we don't need anymore of those. Cops also get complaints and will stake out group rides that consistently cause problems, and everyone in the group gets cited. Now, what if you are in the middle of the pack? I don't know. You can't just stop, because those behind might not expect it. A dilemma, that you'll have to figure out on your own. Myself, I never like to ride in the middle of a pack. The edges give me some breathing room.

By the way, getting dropped by a group is one of the rites of passage. It shows you where you fit in at the moment. Now you have two options: 1) work harder to keep up, or 2) find a slower group. Choose whichever is the most fun.
Someone in the group should be responsible enough to...biknben
Aug 6, 2001 9:05 AM
...make sure everyone makes it through interesctions. Unfortunately, no ONE person is given the responsiblity and everyone assumes someone else has it.

A group ride made up of those who don't know each other is sometimes every man for themselves. Especially if the pace is fast. When you go out with a group of those you know (friends, or regular riding companions) you'll see more courtesy among the group.

The best thing you can do to help in the future is assign that responsibility to yourself. If the group is large and you're near the front look back every now and again and make sure you're group is staying together. Especially at interesctions or top of climbs. Places where people typically get dropped. If you're not comfortable to take that leadership role (since you're new to the group) suggest it to someone you think should be the ride leader. For instance if you realize a few riders got caught at a light, ride to the front and ask the guy, "A few riders got caught at the light. Should we slow up a bit?" Yeah, a few guy might get bumbed having to wait but they'll be thankfull if they they get caught behind one day.
Bad Apple Syndromejtolleson
Aug 6, 2001 9:23 AM
It could be that the group itself is OK but you went on a ride lead by their lamest and most irresponsible leader. I run the website for our cycling club and lead a lot of rides, and I'm always horrified when I get an email from a rider (esp. a new one) who has had a lousy experience on a ride. Most of the time it is that the ride leader (we're all volunteer and I can't control everyone) has been clueless and unsupportive. If the club has a contact person, let them know your experience. Unless they are all complete jerks they'll want to know and can learn from it.

Good luck finding a better group ride experience. I think there are several groups in my area with attitude problems, but some are just to big to manage good quality control. Have fun!
Once you get dropped, you are toasted...Bruno S
Aug 6, 2001 9:57 AM
I ride with a large group every Saturday. The pace is fast and the attitude is agressive. Nobody will wait for you or advise you in any way. Most people are focusing in not getting dropped because once you do its almost impossible to catch up. When this group gets to a light (60-80 riders usually) if the first half makes it in green the other half just continues even if its red. Everybody just shouts "rolling!". So far (I've done more 20 rides with this group this year) there have been no incidents at intersections with traffic lights.

The first times I did this ride I got dropped as well. There is this section that the group speeds up to about 28-30 mph for about 2.5 miles. I just didn't have the legs yet to be able to do that. But since I started riding with the group my motivation has been much more since I have a goal and I have improved much more than if I would be riding by myself or with a couple of friends. Go back next time and if you get dropped do not return to the way you came. Continue by yourself and do the whole ride. Every week you should be able to hang on better and for longer time.

I do advise you to stay in the middle of the pack. If you are at the back your chances of getting dropped are greater. At the front usually the group is tighter and to a newbie I wouldn't recommend it.

Also its August, its more difficult to start riding with a group at this time of the year because the rides are faster.
re: First group rideLLSmith
Aug 6, 2001 10:39 AM
No, you were not wrong. When the light is red it means the same thing it does when you are in a car.
re: First group rideRandyMH
Aug 6, 2001 11:00 AM
I wasn't frustrated because I got dropped due to lack of skill. In fact I was doing well. I had it in my mind that it would be worse and mybe I wouldn't be able to keep up, but until the light incident I was relaxed and feeling good. For the most part I was braking quite often to stay in my spot. Maybe I would have gotten dropped later into the ride maybe not who knows. I was fustrated at myself for not being able to catch the pack. I was frustated because I was looking forward to my first group ride and I was enjoying it so much until the I got left. The main frustration comes from the fact I was riding so well and I don't know how well I would have done. But there's always next week.
I don't blame any one for not waiting. In fact no one propbably neven knew I was gone. I do agree that there should be someone to monitor these types of things. But stopping was my decision and I feel I did the right thing as far as safety and respect for the other vehicles. Plus If I would have caught them who knows how long I would have been able to maintain since I used so much energy in the chase.
Your chain snapped again?Mabero
Aug 6, 2001 11:05 AM
Make sure they give you a new one!

As for the ride...I have always noticed in my experience, that group rides always follow signs and traffic lights...in the slower rides if they notice a break up in the pack the leaders will slow and let everyone get back together...so that seemed weird that they would all blow the stop light...

Also for your first couple of rides, try really hard to get mid-pack for you really benefit from drafting, and therefore if you do get dropped you have some people behind you that can help bring you back to the main pack...you know what I mean?

Either way...I just started to doing group rides a month ago or so and felt very much the same way. I still do. I can't wait to get on the ride to establish myself beyond beyond what I may look like or not...I mean I do have great stuff...but geezz it is intimidating...but then once I get up in front and start pulling I feel a lot more comfortable.

What really helped me (and hurt me) is that I waited a year to go on my first group ride cause I was afraid of sucking it up. I was very wrong! Of all the rides I have gone on I haven't been dropped and usually am among the strongest riders there, so what has been happening lately is a lot of people have been inviting me to go to other rides with them, which I have done, but I go through that whole "I don't know anyone, and will I get dropped fear..."

It sucks that you almost caught them...and lights do suck!
Your chain snapped again?RandyMH
Aug 6, 2001 12:43 PM
No, I was just making mention to my sucky luck
Hey, don't feel bad ...bianchi boy
Aug 6, 2001 12:44 PM
It doesn't take a red light to drop me. Just about any big hill will do it. I usually last the first 5-10 miles on big group rides and then get dropped, sometimes even sooner. Fortunately, there are typically a few of us slowpokes and someone usually knows the way back.

Most of the rides in my area are graded, so it helps to seek out the rides that match your level. I don't even bother with the A rides (20 mph+) because I know I'll be dropped right away. I don't blame the fast guys for dropping me, though, because I wouldn't enjoy waiting for someone who's riding 12 mph. They're out to ride as fast as they can and more power to them. Now, when they're 47 like me, most of them will be riding with the B or C groups or not at all ...
I know how you feelKristin
Aug 6, 2001 2:12 PM
Everyone has already posted a ton of information. But I just want to post anyway! I've faced a similar experience with a light on my club ride. But thankfully, our group is diverse and the pack usually splits up after a while. This darned light is usually a defining moment for me. The fast group rolls through regardless. I'm not opposed to rolling through a light as long as I'm not blocking a driver who has the green. So I usually wait back with a few other law abiding riders. We form the third group, and they're plenty challenging for me. Riding in a group can be SO intimidating. Much of the sport side of cycling is about intimidation. Those bright jerseys with all their sponsors and the beautiful bikes put butterflies in my stomach. However, I forced myself to hang out afterwards in the parking lot and I've met a great group of people. I even have some weekend riding partners now. Keep trying different groups. Find one with some diversity--one that has a couple of pace offerings. Its a great experience. I work harder on group rides than any other time. The fear of being looked down upon and the need to prove yourself can be great motivators. And all that stuff shows up front and center at a group event. Good Luck!!
re: First group rideJohnnyA
Aug 6, 2001 3:00 PM
Wow, interesting insights.. Most of the club rides I've been on will stay together until we clear town. Yeah it kind of stinks waiting for folks to clear lights or deal with a mechanical, but at least we make it out the country in a large group. After that groups get spread out.

I'm feeling pretty fortunate here.
re: First group ridespindry
Aug 7, 2001 11:02 AM
While it is certainly not wrong to stop for a light, I'm generally of the oppinion that if the light was green when the group started to go through, then it's fair game for the rest of the group to make it through. Kinda like if your driving a tractor trailor and the light changes after the cab passess through, your not going to just stop.
Natural SelectionKevin M
Aug 8, 2001 9:16 AM
That may sound very harsh, but personally - I would not want to ride with anyone (or a group) who rides through a red light. Eventually someone is going to get hurt or killed.

Find a different group or hook up with the ones who are smart enough to stop at a red light.