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Local club ride protocals/expectations?(16 posts)

Local club ride protocals/expectations?curtybirdychopper
Jan 8, 2003 1:33 PM
I've wanted to check out a local club that I'd heard good things about for a while, so I decided to do one of their rides last weekend. I called the leader to make sure everything was kosher, and started to get excited about maybe joining the group.

It was a great, sunny, mild day which brought out over 30 riders, many of whom seemed not to know eachother that well judging from the parking lot conversations. There were a few small groups within the general group that seemed to be familiar with eachother, but many seemed to be new or just infrequent. I was mentally preparing to be courteous and safe and not make a fool of myself on my first ride with the group. I hung near the back of the pack and drafted along. The ride was about a 50 miler, moderate pace with only rolling hills.

After a while I started to get annoyed at the few riders I was following b/c they werent signaling hazards like I thought they would. I could have dumped a couple of times if I would have hit a few potholes just right that were not pointed out. I know the guy in front of me knew I was there--he was wearing a mirror and I had been following him for a while.

As the ride went on, I noticed the group only occasionally signaled hazards, and they were generally staggered and did not draft closely behind one another. Is this normal for this size of group? I imagined a closer riding group. This sort of thing I'm sure varies greatly depending on a number of things about the club, but is this type of riding generally common for most bike clubs? Do riders mostly fend for themselves regarding hazards?

i think I'll give it another go with different expectations. any comments?

curt
re: Local club ride protocals/expectations?mickey-mac
Jan 8, 2003 2:19 PM
It sounds like you. ended up with a pretty disorganized and inexperienced group. Riders not calling out hazards is a major problem. The fact that riders were so spread out is probably a sign that they're not comfortable with their handling skills in groups. You may want to find a smaller group to start with and learn the personalities and habits of your fellow riders. Knowing who you can trust to keep you out of harm's way is crucial. Instead of trying "different expectations" with the same group, I think I'd try a different group. Just MHO
do typical club rides draft, or simply ride together?curtybirdychopper
Jan 8, 2003 3:06 PM
I thought most typical club rides draft and call all hazards and ride closely together. they might feel out newcomers whom they don't know or trust yet, but themselves ride together and trust eachother to commmunicate.

anyway, I still wonder if it was an atypical day because it was unusually nice out and and a greater than usual number hopped on their bikes to work off the post holiday insulation like me.
do typical club rides draft, or simply ride together?mickey-mac
Jan 8, 2003 3:11 PM
You're right; you'll find that most club rides are well organized. Riders call out hazards and generally ride close enough to reap the benefits of drafting. If you think your negative first experience was an aberration, give the group another shot. Just be prepared to avoid unexpected road hazards. Good luck and have fun.
thanks mickey; any other points of view?curtybirdychopper
Jan 8, 2003 3:30 PM
different types of clubs.MR_GRUMPY
Jan 8, 2003 4:22 PM
They are different types of clubs. Some very organized, some not. Some are just groups of riders who want to hammer each other into the ground. For some, the ride is their "race". Others just want to chat. Find a group who want to ride at your pace, and the way you want to ride.
thanks mickey; any other points of view? nmcurtybirdychopper
Jan 8, 2003 3:30 PM
Racers vs. "tourists"Kerry
Jan 8, 2003 4:47 PM
IME there is no such thing as a "typical" club ride. Some of them are huge double pace line packs, while others are a "here's the map, see you at the break" kind of affairs. The club in our area definitely falls into the latter category. The only organized paceline in this neck of the woods are those of us who do not do club rides. When we see them on the road, they're scattered all over with few of them drafting, many riding in side by side pairs, and many riding solo. It sounds like this ride was a "something in between" group with some degree of organization, but not nearly enough to be defined as a paceline. I'd try to link up with those who appear to know what they are doing, and keep your distance from those who don't.
Racers vs. "tourists"curtybirdychopper
Jan 8, 2003 4:54 PM
This ride was a mix, as you mentioned, some drafting, some solo, some riding in pairs, and some trying to kill me apparently.

I guess we all live and learn. Thanks for your comments.
The best group rides in area split along those lines.dzrider
Jan 9, 2003 7:13 AM
Everybody takes off together and rides essentially the same route, but the ride breaks into smaller groups along the way. People ride together based on speed, friendships, comfort with drafting, attempts at mating or other reasons. In most every case, riders come back feeling good about the ride. At the start, the leader often points out riders who can be counted on for little emergencies and knowing the way home.

It takes tons of mental energy to keep a large group of riders with diverse abilities and experience riding together harmoniously. Smaller groups, can usually do quite well with no real leader and only small accomodations from individual riders. It's basically a smaller version of what happens on large charity rides. I like it!
re: Local club ride protocals/expectations?The Human G-Nome
Jan 8, 2003 4:13 PM
if it's a slow-paced all-level ride, there probably won't be very much organization especially in re: to drafting though they SHOULD be pointing out hazards no matter what. if i were you, i'd make a point to lead those folks who aren't living up to their end of the bargain and start pointing out hazards appropriately. lead by example in other words. also, it would be safer for you. everybody wins. in a faster paced group, there will be plenty of drafting.
Where was this ride?AaronL
Jan 8, 2003 4:53 PM
Sounds like a typical club. I've been in many, and they all have common faults. What you pointed out is nothing unique.

JMO

AL
Things you need to consider in bike club/rides...wasabekid
Jan 8, 2003 6:05 PM
are:
1) no. of members of the club - There are different clubs in our area ranging from less than 200 active members to as much as 6000.

2) the demographics of the members and the type of rides they normally organize - from short/leisure to long/strenuous training rides. Older members tend to organize the leisure/social/Low moderate rides and younger or older but more experienced groups organize the faster/longer rides.

3) the RIDE LEADERS - as you do more rides you get familiar with the leaders' quirk/wants and desires in conducting the group ride. There are good ones and there are some that are also just learning how to lead (I won't say bad ones because I thank them just the same for leading the ride and giving me a good exercise).

4) the riders that show up in these group rides - not everybody that shows up are members of the club, familiar with the leader or each other and are not equally experienced. Some are fairly new and some are moving up in "Pace".

In summary, one of the reasons why you want to partake in group rides is to learned how to ride in a group. This is where you learn to spot riders that are just "accident waiting to happen" bacause of poor riding skills. You also learn that not because there are common courtesy rules everybody abides by it, THEY DON'T. So, you learn HOW to draft close but still look far enough ahead (especially if you do not know the person) for any hazards so that you do not totally rely on the guy in front of you to point everything out. You learn WHO to draft from/with and how close.

Over the years, one thing I learned about drafting is that you have to trust the lead not to make any sudden moves left or right, or stops. This takes time and familiarity with each other. However, you still do not abdicate your responsibility to yourself by looking far enough ahead to anticipate what he may not, and maintaining the presence of mind even when you think you're too tired. In the end, these things will make you a better rider.

JMHO

W.
re: Local club ride protocals/expectations?KeeponTrekkin
Jan 9, 2003 5:52 AM
The experience you describe would never happen in my club. It is larger and very well organized, sponsoring rides almost daily during the riding season (in the North East) with as many as 4 or 5 on Saturday and a different 4 or 5 on Sunday (about half that level during winter months). We grade each route for terrain and set a pace expectation for each ride, using the following parameters (formatting lost in the cut/paste):

Pace Avg. Speed Comments
A 16 - 18 mph Hard fast riding, few stops, riders may be dropped.
B 14 - 16 mph For fit cyclists, riders may be dropped, leader rides at listed pace.
C 12 - 14 mph Accomplished cyclists, terrain varies, leader sweeps no slower than 12mph.
D 10 - 12 mph Easier pace, frequent stops, leader sweeps no slower than 10mph.
Casual 8 - 10 mph Relaxed riding, no steep hills, frequent stops, group stays together.

The riding speeds listed are average speeds while riding.
Riders should insure they can ride at the pace listed. The tourleaders will ride at the advertised pace. Novice riders should start off with a "Casual" pace ride, or possibly a shorter D pace ride.

We sponsor a modest number of D and Casual rides that are "family oriented". All longer rides feature an optional rest & food stop.

C-pace rides tend to be in several small clumps that are not really pacelines and are generally about 30 - 40 miles.

B-pace rides tend more to pacelines and greater distances (as much as 60+ mi, in season), but that reflects the higher skill and fitness level of those riders and the realistic needs of maintaining the higher pace.

A-pace rides are sponsored infrequently.

Our emphasis is not racing/training; it is cycling, recreation, friendship and fun.
Depends on the Club / RideRay Sachs
Jan 9, 2003 5:58 AM
My club rides are very much like what you mentioned, except people are pretty good about pointing out hazards. We're more of a tourist club, the "A" riders split off to form a smaller racing club years ago, so "B" rides are our most aggressive with C and C+ being more typical. These rides, even at the B level, tend to be pretty touristy, with B rides being faster than C or C+, but still usually only averaging about 14-16 mph, albeit in fairly hilly terrain. The occasional paceline develops on B rides, but it's usually only for a portion of the ride, as we tend to regroup periodically, and it usually only consists of a portion of the group who happen to be riding together and wanting to push the pace a bit.

If you're looking for paceline rides, look for the racing clubs or the A rides in the local club. If you get into a B or lower ride, generally expect it to be more of a social ride generally without pacelines. Pointing out hazards should be happening regardless though.

-Ray
re: Local club ride protocals/expectations?commuterguy
Jan 9, 2003 7:39 AM
Your experience is pretty typical with what I have encountered with the main local touring club in my area. The one thing I would add is that group rides here are consistently faster than advertised (e.g., a "B" ride that is supposed to average 16-18 mph in the flats will clock in at >20 mph over hilly terrain).

I think that these groups can be very useful for helping you find other serious cyclists in your area, but that, until you establish personal relationships with other riders of similar ability and interests, you can't be sure of the treatment you will receive. (On a group ride, I once learned of a big pothole ahead by hearing an ugly sounding "DOINK" as a rider in front of me, but well back from the vanguard of the group, hit it head-on. Fortunately, no one wrecked.)

Final note: at the risk of sounding sexist, I found that rides headed by women were much more likely to be at the advertized pace, that female ride leaders are more likely to try to keep the group together, and will stop to wait/assist riders with flats or other unforeseeable mechanical issues. Furthermore, female ride leaders are more consistent at setting a tone (and creating an expectation) that road hazards will be signaled and that traffic laws will be respected. Just IMHO--please don't flame me and I am not saying this is always the case.