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Club rides for more casual riders: suggestions?(19 posts)

Club rides for more casual riders: suggestions?ridgerider
Mar 13, 2003 3:48 AM
Our small bike club is considering adding a weekly club ride for more casual riders. (Our road rides now tend to be hammerfests with lots of hills.) We want to attract folks in spin classes ready for the great outdoors, riders who didn't ride through the winter who wouldn't enjoy the pace of our current road rides, even some teens from the local high school. I've also heard from a female friend that the ladies are somewhat intimidated by the fast rides. Any ideas about setting up a club ride for these types of riders?
The most important rule..Dave Hickey
Mar 13, 2003 4:13 AM
Nobody gets dropped. Nothing will turn off a casual rider more than getting dropped on a club ride.
Mar 13, 2003 6:37 AM
You also might search the web to find out whether the offerings of any larger clubs appeal to you as models. These days, I belong to the Potomac Pedalers bike club (, which sponsors regular rides at very different levels of difficulty. You could check out the way they list some of their rides. I think that quite a few larger clubs around the country probably have similar offerings.

But I think the nobody gets dropped thing is crucial. Like it says in my little girl's alien/hula/elvis/broken family disney video: nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.
re: Club rides for more casual riders: suggestions?Scot_Gore
Mar 13, 2003 5:13 AM
Here's a link to the ride key for the largest recreational bike club in my area.

To attract more casual rider set up some "C" rides and live up to the expectations of a "C" ride bike leader. i.e. ride at the back, fix the flats, and have regular rest stops.

It can be hard to lead this kind of event when the open road is calling, but I think it's what it takes to attract the casual rider to your club.

Good luck

re: Club rides for more casual riders: suggestions?Live Steam
Mar 13, 2003 6:36 AM
I have to agree that a "No one is dropped" policy is paramount. I believe nothing can be more intimidating to a novice, riding with people with whom they are unfamiliar, on roads that they may have no understanding of and in traffic conditions that they may feel threatened by. Even seasoned riders, new to the group may feel like an unimportant outsider, if they are dropped, even if it is on an easy ride. The only thing I can suggest about advertising this to what may be relatively "new" riders is, don't stress the "no one dropped" policy too much as this may also frighten them off. They may not know it happens in the first place (how naive of them :O), and the phrase may lead them to think that their fitness or skills are not up to the task. If it truly is an easy spin, they should not have any problems or be forced to struggle.

Our club is in the same mode of trying to attract new blood. People move, lose interest and get more responsibilities that take time away from their group riding capabilities because of time constraints. A constant infusion of new members is necessary to keep the club solvent, viable and interesting. Good luck and let us know how it goes and of what works in attracting new interest in your club.

PS I understand wanting to get young riders interested as they are the up an coming. However have you looked at the liability for the club and it's members when having minors who are unsupervised by a guardian? We require 18 and under to have a legal guardian on the ride.
Here's the perspective from one casual - wannabe faster riderKristin
Mar 13, 2003 7:10 AM
I've found that club rides still tend to be solo rides at my pace. I think there are a few reasons for this.

*At the 13-15 MPH average pace, most of the people who ride the
course don't know how to paceline.

*Because no one rides in a pack, people tend to ride at different
paces, so by the end of the ride the
mid-paced group is spread out over a couple miles. Everyone ends up alone. Sometimes by the end
of the ride I wonder why I bothered putting my bike in the car. I could have ridden solo right from
my front door.

*The behavior's above ensure that no one will ever learn to ride in
a group, and the trend will continue.

This is the purgatory that most novice riders are condemned to until they become fast enough to actually hang onto a pack. In an ideal world there would be an option for those of us who are novices and slower, but who want to learn skills and eventually merge with the mothership. Here's what I envision:

* Each week a fast rider would take a day off from the hammerfest and would lead the touring paced group.

* There would be a specific skill taught to that group on the night of the ride.

* The ride leader would give a 5-10 minute lecture before the ride
about the skill, then would help the riders
apply it during the ride.

Of course there will always be a few slow tourers who just want to go ride solo, then return to have a brewski with the club. That's cool too and I guess you'd have to decide if you want to offer a show-and-go option or not.
Here's the perspective from one casual - wannabe faster riderLive Steam
Mar 13, 2003 7:26 AM
These are all great suggestions Kristin. You are correct that more skilled riders should take a day or two each season to help the C/D riders with their skills. It is difficult to get volunteers for this, but I am going to propose this at our next board meeting. I may not be intentional, but I think many skilled/fast riders expect the less skilled to pick up these skills on their own as possibly they did. I am as guilty as the next person in doing this.
That makes me chuckle. Does riding 6 inches off a wheel...Kristin
Mar 13, 2003 7:49 AM
Come "naturally" for anyone? I would never have learned to suck a wheel if someone hadn't taught me specifically. I'd love to find a club around here that had regular "clinic rides."
That makes me chuckle. Does riding 6 inches off a wheel...Live Steam
Mar 13, 2003 8:11 AM
Well let's just say that there are many people that won't even seek out the information they need on their own as we all have done by coming to a board like this. So do some things come naturally to people? I believe they do. I never took a skiing lesson in my life, but the first time I ever hit the slopes I was parallel skiing. That was a long time ago when I was a teenager with no fear :O) However, my cycling skills are self-learned. I started road riding/racing 5 years ago at 38. No one taught me how to paceline. I did what everyone else did and had success at it. Unfortunately our club is like most - it leaves one to their own devices. I do not favor this as it can lead to unsafe riding conditions as a new member to the group may not have the skills to keep things safe.

Here in NYC there are a few riding/racing clubs that run clinics. They have the benefit of a large membership base - read thousands. They have the advanced riders participate in clinics to teach the less skilled. Smaller clubs have a tough time getting people to volunteer for this.
Kristin, those rides sound -- horrible. What a shame. You needbill
Mar 13, 2003 8:31 AM
a better group. It's hard to believe that, in Chicago, you couldn't find something better. That ain't the way it's supposed to be.
I love group rides. I realize their limitations for structured training, but the whir of wheels around you, that little bit of push you get from the "I'm not going to let that guy (or woman, which is a very powerful motivator for a male, even a middle-aged one) drop me," and the fellowship of it are all very important to what I love about this cycling stuff. And, for newbies, they are essential to the first rule of going faster -- in order to go faster, you have to go faster. Unless you're pushed, you're unlikely to recognize what you actually are capable of.
If you can't find a group that embraces your ideas, which I think are great, start one. Or, better yet, hijack an existing one. Most groups are looking for a good lead. Some of them are stuck with bad leads, and these are left in place only because no one else has bothered. You're just the Kristin to do it.
I lead such a ride...Dale Brigham
Mar 13, 2003 9:49 AM
The Monday evening "Harem Ride" (named by my wife because it was all gals except for me when it began) is run on these principles:

1) Nobody gets dropped. We regroup periodically on the route at designated places, and I come in with the last rider, if there is separation late in the ride.

2) Group riding skill-acquisition is emphasized. We devote several rides to structured paceline practice and bridging drills. I explain up-front what we are doing, and debrief afterwards.

3) Individual riding skills are developed through occasional skill sessions (e.g., hill climbing techniques) and gentle prodding ("That looks like a pretty big gear") on a as-needed basis.

4) New additions to the group get special attention and coaching until they get up to speed.

5) What I say, goes. I try to be a benevolent dictator, but I do dictate. If there's too much traffic for paceline practice, we go single file on that stretch. If the rider up front is blowing the group apart (you should see how frisky some of these gals get), I get her to cool it a bit. If gaps open, I get them closed up. I aim to give almost exclusively positive messages and reinforcement, which is just good coaching practice, but I am not averse to laying down the law for the sake of group safety and cohesiveness.

6) I usually have help in policing the group from another experienced rider. As JS says below, it's ideal to have a person up front and another in back to take care of both ends of the group. Also, since the hills on our route frequently split the group for awhile, it lets us each accompany a group until the group gets back together.

We'll start up again this year after Daylight Savings Time begins.

Sign me up...and I will helpRoadnMtn
Mar 13, 2003 9:49 AM
Wonderful response and very valid points. I would also like to ride in group rides, but I am not interested in keeping up a 25 mph pace for the duration of the ride. Maybe we can figure out a way to set something up for people who are novices and wanting to learn? I live over near Ohare Airport, and while I mountain bike a lot, I also like road biking. It would be nice to find a group that wanted to ride with the intent of keeping a group together and progressing as a group to better performance...I am certainly willing to help anyway I can. Email is smithg1053 @ aol dot com.
Here's the perspective from one casual - wannabe faster riderJohnniO
Mar 13, 2003 12:37 PM
The ride you are referring to is a "Show and Go" not a club ride. Also the paceline you refer to is more of a frantic
see if you can hang on pack. I see nothing wrong with it as long as you understand the nature of the ride before hand.
The people tha ride in this "pack" know this going in and for most it's the reason they show up. They challenge themselves to just hang on. Most of the people in the Pack
probably don't see it as a club. They hear about it through
the grapevine and just show up and ride.

p.s. who am i
Is it Radical Ron?Kristin
Mar 13, 2003 12:54 PM
But I must debate. It IS a club. We gather around before hand. We chat and someone makes announcements. Then someone prays--something unique in our club. The club has a name. We pay dues. (Oops, I still owe mine from last year.) And each pace is sent out together. Now if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck; then its a duck--even if it swims a little strangely.

I will admit that part of the reason I found myself alone on the road this summer was because there group shrunk so much after the church ousted us. That and the enourmous discrepancy between fast pace and the touring pace--thanks to one or two riders who will remain unnamed (RRP). It might not be a good club, but it was and (I believe) still functions as a club.
The church ousted you?ColnagoFE
Mar 14, 2003 8:58 AM
There's gotta be a story there...did you turn into the Hells Angels or something?
LOL. Yes. And no...but we did start meeting at a biker bar after that.Kristin
Mar 14, 2003 9:57 AM
I say ousted with tongue in cheek. We did have a couple tailgait parties after rides, but I don't think that was connected to the ousting. I actually LOVE belonging to a church that can handle some cyclists enjoying an adult beverage in the parking lot after a hard ride. (DISCLAIMER: At no point in time has Willow Creek Comm. Church EVER provided alcohol to ANYONE. Nor did any one ever approach Willow to seek its approval before popping the lid off a cold one in the back lot. People just bring it on their own and share it with others. And no one has ever misbehaved.)

The history:

A long time ago some cyclists who attended Willow would meet at the church for informal rides. It grew over time and the church decided to took it on as a ministry. It was given a pastor, and dubbed Willow on Wheels. Basically, the church made some cuts because of the economy. Understandably, the cycling group got the ax. And for legal reasons we couldn't meet in the parking lot any longer, so the group moved to a local biker hangout down the street. The Penny Road Pub may look scary, but its a really great pub!

Alas, I don't want to sound too down in the mouth about the group. It can be a little unstructured in its style, but the people are super nice. The only reason I would have considered looking for a new group this year was because I found myself riding alone alot last year. Then I moved 30 miles south of the group, which pretty much settles it.
Jesus turned Water into Wine.... He wanted you to drink.russw19
Mar 14, 2003 11:42 AM
So raise your next pint of Guinness to Jesus!
re: Club rides for more casual riders: suggestions?JS Haiku Shop
Mar 13, 2003 7:15 AM
agree with already stated--nobody gets dropped, and there should be a ride leader and sweeper. the ride leader can also function as sweeper, but this isn't ideal.

both ride leader and sweeper should carry extra supplies--patch kit, tubes, etc., and cellphone. "casual" rides are bound to attract "entry level" riders, many of whom don't carry what they need, or know how to use what they might carry.

another consideration is maps/cues with the ride leader's cellphone listed, in case someone gets dropped with a mechanical, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, or if they get lost, or otherwise.

something that also helped me feel welcome on one of my first group rides, which was a "casual" (social) ride, was the "new rider contact" approaching me and introducing herself. consider this as a club position, or the responsibility of all ride leaders/club officers.

Some suggestionsfracisco
Mar 13, 2003 11:47 AM
- Have the slower, casual ride start at about the same time the hammerfest ride ends. You may find some of the more involved hammerheads will do a casual ride as recovery and to help the club. This only works if the fast ride is a loop.

- Have a slower ride that goes to fun places from time to time.

- Have people on the slower ride 'sign in' with name and contact info. so you can follow up with them in the future.