Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 1st, 2015 at 12:28 pm
This post is sponsored by Cycle Oregon, who’d like to remind you that their Weekend Ride is coming up on July 10-12 and there are still spots available.
Do you remember your first time riding in a group? When you finally got up the nerve to ride a bit closer to someone’s wheel and managed to cheat the wind?
For some riders, the thought of riding in a group is terrifying, others might be curious but aren’t sure how to take the first step and give it a try. Whether you are looking for an aerodynamic assist or simply camaraderie with fellow riders, being able to ride in a group is an essential cycling skill.
With riding season upon us, my friends at Cycle Oregon and I figured now would be a good time to share some tips and hear your input and experiences.
I’ve asked two experts for insight: Tori Bortman is author of The Bicycling Big Book of Cycling for Beginners and founder of Gracie’s Wrench, a Portland-based company that teaches people how to ride bikes and work on them; Jim Anderson is president Team Oregon, cycling team and manager for the Northwest USA Cycling Talent ID Camp and organizer of the Monday Night Race Series at Portland International Raceway.
— Be aware of what’s around you and communicate. It’s easy to get lost in the scenery or the conversation with your new friend up that never-ending climb. Make it a point to assume that there is someone coming up or riding behind you who may be faster. Point out potholes, roads narrowing and communicate if you’re pulling over or moving to a new position in the road. If you’re passing someone from behind, let them know you’re approaching. Cycle Oregon is a great place to have a bell installed on your bike. It’s fun and practical!
— Celebrate the diversity of the ride instead of creating divisions. In life everyone has their own agenda and Cycle Oregon is no different. While everyone wants to have a good time, every rider is going to get there their own way– whether that’s leaving at the crack of dawn or getting out of camp late and busting a move down the road. No matter what your speed, there is always someone faster and someone slower than you. Absolutely no one’s way of getting there is the best, there’s just the best way for them. Everyone has a better time when they leave the judgement of themselves and others behind.
— Be prepared and predictable. Many new riders in groups tend to get the “stare” and get hipnotized by their riding buddies front wheel and end up staring at that, when they should be looking 2-4 riders ahead in the group. This helps keep the group safe and consistent speed. Since a pace line is similar to an accordion, anything that happens at the front of the group flows backwards and compounds as it goes. Things you can see when looking 2-4 riders ahead are: obstacles, turns, terrain changes and slowing/stopping. Keeping your head up and looking ahead is the way to go – the ride is in front of you not down at the ground!
— When you are on the front, you are in charge. Call out turns, obstacles, traffic and anything else to help keep the group moving safely forward. You are in control. It’s up to you to know the route and make adjustments if needed. Call out obstacles and get your riding mates to “pass” it back though the group. If there is a huge pot hole, take the group around it not through it or split down the middle. Point or call those out with plenty of time.
As you train for your next big ride, soak up these tips and get some practice in with friends before trying to latch onto a new group. As with anything, the more you do it, the easier it will be.
Do you have tips to add? What are your experiences riding in groups on event rides?