How to practice riding in a group with no group?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by gary-trek, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. gary-trek

    gary-trek New Member

    Feb 24, 2014
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    No group.

  2. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

    Oct 24, 2004
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    Not much you can do alone that will compare to riding with a group. You can scan through web searches on the subject and become familiar with group ride etiquette and potential signals , you can make sure you can hold a straight line at any pace, you can continue to improve fitness.

    I know there are a lot of cycling clubs in Florida because I have searched and considered riding with some while vacationing at the beach. The ones that I sent emails to were friendly and had various levels available based on a variety of fitness levels.

    The best thing I could suggest is to jump into a beginners group. If you decide to do this just talk to the ride leader and let them know this is your first group ride and I bet they will watch over you. This is how I started long ago by joining a large metro Atlanta cycling club. It did not take long before I graduated to the next group. The more time you spend observing and then beginning to participate your confidence will grow. After a few years I graduated up to the top group and then began leading rides of those that used to mentor me.

    I think the best thing to do is start searching the web to see if the local bike shops have beginner group rides or if there are any local clubs. It seems like just jumping into a beginner group is better than searching for web articles or practicing something alone because so many groups are different in how they work together, use different signals and so on.

    Best wishes
  3. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

    May 17, 2005
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    I agree with Felt, and would add the following. Group riding involves three parts, two of which you can prepare for and one of which you can't. Part one is the physiological demands of group rides compared with solo rides. Group rides are going to be a lot more hard/easy than solo rides. This is because little gaps will open up and riders will go hard to close the gap to retain the draft, creating an accordion effect that ripples through the group. You can practice this by doing your solo rides with hard/easy efforts rather than a steady state effort. Part two is riding position. You want to absolutely avoid overlapping your front wheel with the rider's rear wheel in front of you. It is your responsibility to stay clear of his wheel and not his responsibility to look back before cutting left or right and if your wheels tap you will go down instantly. I also suggest to new riders who ride in my groups to use their rear brake first or simultaneously with the front brake because the rider behind you can see it and anticipate that you're braking. If you use your front brake first or only, you're more likely to catch the rider behind you off-guard and if he's close to your wheel he could end up in an overlap quickly. Part three is the group etiquette with the specific group you ride with. You can't prepare in advance for this, and the unwritten rules can vary all of the map. Some groups do a lot of talking, some hardly talk. Some groups don't want you to stay on front more than a minute or two, and some groups let you stay on front as long as you want because they understand training and that you may be trying to get in an aerobic effort. You'll just have to watch and learn when you join a group.

    My final suggestion is to avoid one of my pet peeves in group riding, and unfortunately it is very common. If you're on front and you see an obstacle large enough to take down a bike (e.g., a large rock, a tree branch, or anything else that could take down a rider), steer the group well to the side of the obstacle and point it out. If you simply ride by the obstacle a foot or two to the side and point down at it as you go by (as many riders do), there's a good chance somebody behind you will go down. If they're right behind you and offset a bit to the side of the obstacle, you're blocking their forward vision and by the time you alert them to the obstacle by pointing at it as you ride by, they're committed to their line and can't do anything to avoid it. This happened on a ride I was on and a guy went down and broke his femur. Totally unnecessary.
    gary-trek likes this.
  4. kopride

    kopride Member

    May 17, 2006
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    Another way to practice group riding without a group is to get some rollers. Its not a perfect substitute but its a great way to learn to be aware of your footprint on the road, ride straight, ride consistently. and don't do anything erratic. Rollers were the standard prescription for pre-group riding many years ago. If you can't stay on rollers, you've got no business riding in a big group at high speeds
  5. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

    Feb 5, 2010
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    It is much easier to find a group than to try and simulate the dynamics. You will benefit by reading up on group riding etiquette, lingo and logistics before heading out.

    You also need to find the right group. The twin cities bike club has a good key:

    The details are interpreted loosely, average speeds are determined by who shows up, the weather and terrain.

    If your goal is distance and speed, you may want to search out a B or B/C ride. Let the ride leader know you are a beginner.

    When out by yourself, work on being able to hold a steady pace, ride in a predictable manner (holding a line) and keeping keenly aware of obstacles and surroundings.